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Shrink business stress by streamlining for success: five tips for business owners

4.5 -minute read

Many small business owners are feeling the pressure from challenging trading conditions – from increased costs to reduced consumer demand. Could new technology help? We look at the ways it can assist: reducing time and money spent on admin, streamlining processes and making it easier for customers to pay.

Small business owners are being squeezed by the rising cost of living. On the one hand, customers are tightening their belts. On the other, businesses are facing their own hikes when it comes to the costs of energy and goods. It’s a long-term concern for 74% of SMEs.[1]

Even considering these circumstances, it’s still alarming that 80% of SME owners have suffered with symptoms of stress-related mental health issues.[2] Volume of work, coronavirus-related anxiety and new challenges or demands all add to the unwelcome toll.[3] Accordingly, optimism among small business owners fell between June 2021 and January 2022.[4]

However, small business owners are nothing if not resilient, and many feel that they can buck the trend. Barclaycard research found that:[5]

Smartpay Touch


believe their revenue will increase in April-June 2022 against the same period in 2021


expect more revenue growth over the coming year


are planning a high level of investment in their business over the next 12 months, with just 13% planning no investment at all


plan to invest in new technology, making it the second most popular area of investment after recruiting staff[5]


In the face of so much uncertainty, here are five simple ways that SMEs can take control and reach their goals:

1. Automate and streamline admin

Excessive admin is a drain on any SME’s time and resources. Worse, it’s easily overlooked when faced with a long to-do list – but the cost is potentially missed orders and lost custom.

Payment solutions can provide an answer. For example, Barclaycard’s innovative new all-in-one POS solution, Smartpay Touch, enables businesses to simplify admin while maximising profits. It integrates payment and business management solutions, helping businesses keep track of stock and manage bookings while allowing access to vital data in-store, or even on the go, with the online portal.

2. Embrace innovation – digitise and thrive

It’s always more efficient to build loyalty among existing customers than to acquire new ones. Just a 5% rise in customer retention can lead to a 75% increase in company profitability.[6] Offering a personalised customer experience is key to strengthening loyalty.

This isn’t only possible for large-scale businesses;  SMEs can help build customer loyalty by choosing a POS solution such as Smartpay Touch that allows them to store customer information and record notes such as allergies, favourite stylists or birthdays. Some solutions allow businesses to manage customer bookings, offering preset appointment types and lengths to minimise downtime. Automated SMS reminders can help cut the number of no-shows, which cost the UK hospitality sector an estimated £17.6bn per year.[7]

3. Review and combine subscription services

From appointment systems to accounting software, it’s increasingly common for SMEs to license products and services on a subscription model. Almost half already operate in this way, saving them time and boosting security. Some 42% expect to sign up for more subscription services over the coming months.[8]

With 20% of SMEs devoting between five and ten hours per week to managing their business through these subscriptions, it’s easy to see what a time drain they can become.[8] Although 76% of businesses say subscription services can help them manage finances at a time of rising living costs, 49% are looking to streamline those subscriptions due to increased costs.[9]

To make sure subscriptions don’t get out of control, selecting a POS solution like Smartpay Touch, can help you to consolidate some of your subscription services. It’s a cost-effective and convenient solution, helping you to manage your business in a simplified way.

Small businesses that are Barclaycard Payments and Barclays Business customers can make direct savings by accessing free accounting software from popular suppliers such as FreshBooks and Xero. Other integrations are on the roadmap. 

4. Reduce abandonment rates for eCommerce sales

Some 28% of all retail now happens online.[10] But while eCommerce offers the ease of one-click shopping, it’s not always as smooth as businesses and customers would like: in March 2021, almost 80% of online shopping orders were abandoned.[11] Barclaycard research found that £39.4bn worth of online shopping baskets were abandoned in one year during the pandemic, due to delivery fees, cybersecurity concerns and the absence of a preferred payment method.[12]

Payment gateways that use advanced machine learning technology to carry out Transaction Risk Analysis (TRA) can speed up the rate of payment acceptance and reduce friction in the customer experience. Some solutions even allow retailers to set discounts in advance or deliver offers at basket level.

5. Offer customers what they really want

In 2021, our merchant survey found that 30% payments were made via digital wallets, and this figure is on an upward trajectory[13]. Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) is also forecast to boom, especially among younger customers.[14]

As customers find an increasing number of alternative ways to pay, businesses need to consider how to provide frictionless payments and enhance the customer experience Solutions that offer the ability to group payment channels into one intuitive and efficient system can reduce costs, smoothing the process for the customer and encouraging repeat sales.

There’s no doubt that small business owners are feeling the squeeze, but the right payment solutions can provide support. Our new all-in-one POS solution, Smartpay Touch, is the streamlining stress-buster that allows businesses to focus on the things that matter.

The new Smartpay Touch. Built to work as hard as you do

Our all-in-one POS payment and business management solution gives you the tools you need to take managing your business to the next level.

Discover more about Smartpay Touch

[1] Barclaycard SME Barometer, Q2 2022

[2] Mental Health UK, 2022

[3] CIPD, 2022

[4] NFIB, 2021

[5]  Barclaycard SME Barometer, Q2 2022

[6] 29 Interesting Customer Loyalty Statistics for 2021 (

[7]  #Showupforhospitality – industry rallies together to highlight the devastating impact of no-shows – CGA (

[8] Opinion research on behalf of Barclaycard: SME subscriptions MHPC – Barclaycard

 Opinion research on behalf of Barclaycard: SME subscriptions MHPC – Barclaycard

[10] Office for National Statistics, Monthly Business Survey, Retail Sales Inquiry, September 2021 Payments strategies to filter out fraud | Barclaycard Business

[11] Shopping cart abandonment rate by industry 2021 | Statista

[12] Opinion research on behalf of Barclaycard carried out among 400 retailers in 2021 ‘Fantasy Basket’ trend sees Brits abandon £39.4bn worth of items in online shopping baskets during pandemic (

[13] Understanding a fast-moving payments landscape (

[14] Understanding a fast-moving payments landscape (