If so, then now could be one of the best times to kick start the plan. Small- and medium-size companies in England are growing at the fastest rate since the recession. On average, some 16% of all businesses are now classed as ‘fast growth’1.
The improving economy is stimulating this expansion, but it’s also being boosted by the way many businesses generate revenue. That includes harnessing the web and adding more ways for people to pay for services and products.
The amount of money spent on cards has more than doubled over the past decade in the UK2. It’s helping both traditional and e-commerce businesses – as well as those that offer both – to find paths to fast growth. To help you achieve it for your business, here are some ideas to increase your revenue.
Where can you add additional payment acceptance to grow your business?
Give your customers payment choicesMany online-only businesses might consider taking payments as a relatively straightforward process. But there are options that can help grow your business, with one being to offer customers payment choices.
One company doing this is online estate agent www.settled.co.uk , which launched just over a year ago and is based in London. Co-founder Paul Young says they have been thinking hard about how to use their current online payment system to offer more flexibility for their customers next year; his company currently charges a flat upfront fee in return for a self-service style online agency.
“When we first launched the fee was taken upfront when a customer signs up and there were no other options available. In the New Year however we are looking to offer more flexibility and this will include delayed payment options, pay per month and a pay on completion, innovations that only today’s payment systems can offer."
Use payment technology to expand your businessOnline payment systems, contactless card readers and mobile payment solutions have all, in their different ways, given customers new expectations about how to pay. But they can also increase your revenue.
A good example is London T-shirt manufacturer and retailer, Sold . It saw its revenues jump by 30% after founder Mike Roberts started using a mobile card reader on his market stall at craft fairs.
“When selling my T-shirts on a market stall I find that many customers don’t carry cash,” says Mike. “I always offer directions to the nearest cashpoint to customers looking to purchase, but around half of them don’t return. With the card reader it means I can capture those impulse buys. The majority of sales I make on the markets now are through the card reader.”
He’s also exploring other paths to growth.
“My business has been going four years now and while craft markets are fun and a great way to meet my customers, in the New Year I am going to concentrate on growing the business online.”
Mike says that 90% of his sales used to come from market stalls at craft fairs while online sales represented only 10%, but over the past year that’s changed. Now, half of all his sales come from online. To boost that further he’s recently signed up to an email marketing service and used it to contact his customers about the latest Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals he ran.
“Everyone thinks January is bad time to be going for growth but online that’s not true, partly due to customers looking to spend their Christmas money. I’m preparing a big mail out for the new year and launching a 20% discount offer for those customers.”
Convert more of your visitors into customers“The secret to converting online browsers into buyers is to make their journey to checkout seamless,” says Maria Shaw, Head of Acquisition, Small Business, Global Payment Acceptance at Barclaycard.
Maria says it’s the same in a shop. For example, new payment technology means if there’s a queue for the till you can get a spare member of staff to go out and take payments on the floor. You could say it’s another way of converting a customer (before they walk out without buying).
Treat your business as oneMany companies consider their online and offline activities to be two separate businesses. It’s much easier to grow your business and do it faster if you treat it as a single enterprise with two ‘channels’ through which you sell.
One company with the ‘one’ approach is Harrogate-based touring bike manufacturer and retailer Spa Cycles . It started out as a bike shop but has developed into a manufacturer of bikes, accessories and spare parts, and even recently bought a competitor.
But its biggest revenue growth has come through going online . This now accounts for 75% of its turnover and has helped turn it into a national, and even international business.
“One of the things we are doing in the New Year is launching a new e-commerce website. We’re also looking at how the payment systems will work and possibly integrating that with the shop payment system,” says website manager Sam Huby.
“At the moment they are separate, which isn’t ideal, as sometimes it’s time consuming to track where the revenue is coming from the two payments systems.
“For example, if someone sees a bike for sale online and then phones us, we use the shop payment system when they pay. But if the transaction is wholly online, they use our online payment provider; the two aren't tied up.”
Joseph Jessup, Small Business Segment Director, Global Payment Acceptance at Barclaycard, believes one of the biggest challenges is linking online and offline channels to give customers a consistent experience so they can engage and buy the way they want to.
“One solution is to have all of your payments services provided by a single provider, that way you naturally get connectivity between offline and online,” he says.
Find out more about the payment acceptance options that Barclaycard offers.
1 ‘Growth Dashboard reveals UK-wide SME growth at fastest rate since recession’, Business Growth Service website, June 2015.
2 ‘Decade of card spending data shows boom at pubs, restaurants and online’, UK Cards Association website, December 2015.
http://www.theukcardsassociation.org.uk/wm_documents/11122015 10 years press release.pdf (118KB)