European Executive Director, Square
Staying ahead of the competition presents new challenges for small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) who are increasingly in need of digital transformation.
In the wake of the pandemic, Irish business owners need to think more ‘digitally’ to keep in step with some of the key trends emerging.
As we move towards a cashless society, entrepreneurs will have to ensure they have installed online tools beyond just payment processing if they want to keep on top of their game.
Statistics from a study undertaken in 2021 by the Banking and Payments Federation Ireland (BPFI) found €70.7 billion was spent using cards – up from the pre-pandemic level of €57.2 billion in 2019.
Beyond shifting trends in payments, we are also seeing a noticeable trend in the need for consolidation in the supply chain. There is increasing demand for a full stack of integrated business tools to meet the needs of businesses of all shapes and sizes regardless of whether they are mostly doing business in person, remotely or online.
A need for cohesive systems
Our advice to businesses is to thoroughly assess their needs and find a partner that helps them take the complexity out of the tools available and also gives them the flexibility to scale and grow.
For example, a retailer might start out with only one site, just using our payment solution. However, we are by their side when they grow to a multi-site business that needs to juggle staff, an e-commerce site and make sure inventory keeps track of online and in-store sales.
For business owners, that means an integrated business model that will provide them with the best tools to respond to this demand. Entrepreneurs will need better data at their fingertips to ensure they understand customer trends and can react to them in real time. Data-driven decision making will give business owners the edge they need to stay abreast of changing consumer demands.
Another positive change we have seen during the pandemic was the way in which consumers in Ireland supported their local shops.
Importance of brand experience
For consumers, digital solutions have become an important part of the shopping experience so effectively the pandemic has supercharged omnichannel and that change is here to stay.
Consumers switch effortlessly between social media, website and in-store offering and therefore demand a seamless brand experience at any time. Regardless of time, place or channel, the aim is that the whole of their brand experience leaves them with a positive, memorable impression.
When we speak to business owners they often find that with the different providers they use for different aspects of running their business, they don’t have the necessary transparency or control to run their business seamlessly. That’s why we regard Square’s full transparency a huge enabler to businesses of all sizes.
Loyalty is a priority
Another positive change we have seen during the pandemic was the way in which consumers in Ireland supported their local shops. It is imperative these businesses make sure they tap into that customer loyalty and further develop it.
With the pandemic bringing an increased demand for a diversification of retail channels, businesses need to satisfy those demands and mirror their customers’ flexibility in order to never lose a sale.
It is a new journey for entrepreneurs to manage and we believe that we are best placed in helping them do so.
Managing every side of your business
Beyond payments, we are seeing increasing requirements for tools to help with inventory management, staff management, invoicing and many other day to day tasks and activities that can be supported via integrated software tools.
Since our launch here in Ireland almost a year ago, we love seeing our customers’ businesses thrive, despite the pandemic, as we help them grow their business through the right tools – when our sellers succeed, so do we.