Businesses that don’t invest in the right tech will struggle to offer their customers the optimal experience and they will go elsewhere – it’s that simple! That’s why it’s essential that SMEs make the full use of the cloud in order to grow and improve their customer offering as we head into 2018.

The huge variety of technology solutions available poses a challenge for SMEs. Making their way through all the options and ensuring they invest their hard-earned cash into solutions and services that meet their customer needs, while also being scalable and updateable, is crucial.

At First Data we found that well over half (60%) of small businesses don’t use cloud computing at all, and this is a worrying statistic. Why? Below are some of the key reasons why SMEs looking to get ahead next year should adopt cloud-based technology solutions.

Achieve a better work-life balance

Perhaps one of the first and most obvious benefits of moving to the cloud is the fact that time-poor business owners and their staff can achieve a better work/life balance

Perhaps one of the first and most obvious benefits of moving to the cloud is the fact that time-poor business owners and their staff can achieve a better work/life balance – as having access to all business’ data and apps in the cloud means that they can work remotely or on the go.

Cloud-based business solutions frees up business owners from being always stuck in the office or the store, to concentrate on getting on with the most important work of running your business and focusing on planning, strategy and ensuring their staff and customers are getting everything they need to keep them happy and motivated. Either on doing the best job they can, or being happy to spend their hard-earned cash on your business’ services or products.

Working remotely adds a necessary level of extra productivity to businesses. Not only that, a move to the cloud is also able to help SMEs work in real-time and help them meet the demands of customers across multiple areas, no matter where they may be, whether that’s in store, on mobile, or on their laptop at home.

Move to the cloud to make the most of peak times

This is particularly beneficial for retailers around the busy festive period. That’s because online and mobile e-commerce has completely revolutionised the way we shop for gifts and seasonal treats.

As consumers, we are more demanding and harder to please than ever before, because we expect increasingly tailored and personalised experiences from retailers, restaurants and small businesses. Online shopping and mobile e-tail applications have changed our expectations of what makes a decent retail experience. We expect and demand far more bespoke shopping experiences, with retailers offering us discounts on the right products and at the right time for us to take advantage of them.

From First Data’s survey of 1,000 UK consumers, 1 in 5 (21%) also said that they would avoid independent stores during the festive period because they believe they will be too busy. And yet a third (33%) said that if the store was using the right in-store tech to ensure there were no queues, then it would tempt them to spend their money.

Happy customers love personalised experiences

Happy customers are more likely to be returning customers and to spread great word of mouth with their families and friends and be far more likely to have positive and encouraging engagements with businesses on social media.

So investing in the cloud ultimately means investing in the best payment technologies and ensuring that you are offering customers a speedy, personalised and therefore quality experience. Offer this type of convenience and seamless experience and you will be sure to boost profitability at this, at any time of the year.

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Cloud-based technology, like First Data’s Clover Station, ultimately provides SME owners with the flexibility to collect and act upon useful data allowing them to better understand their business and their customers from wherever! It also gives business owners the option to back up their business and de-risks them from over-reliance on a piece of hardware. Ultimately moving to the cloud is a cost-effective approach giving businesses the agility and flexibility to easily try out the next big trend as an add-on, rather than committing cash to a whole new proprietary solution.