Business owners need immediate access to tools and data to run a profitable business in today’s fast-paced world. Scott Miggo, chief technology officer at Xplor Technologies, explains how cloud-based technology delivers a competitive advantage by powering robust applications that can be accessed in the office, out in the field, or on the go.
Cloud technology has become an integral part of our daily lives, especially as we move closer to a digital, subscription-based economy. Just look at all the ways we engage with technology, even for seemingly mundane tasks. From paying for a home repair to dropping your kids off at childcare, reserving a bike for a spin class, and more, intelligent software solutions deliver the tools that commerce-enabling businesses and their customers need to thrive.
The Evolution of SaaSÂ
Before we dive into how cloud-based technology helps everyday life companies, it’s important to first touch briefly on the concept of SaaS, which stands for â€œsoftware as a service.â€ When running a SaaS application, the user typically logs in to a website to gain access instead of downloading software. This is why you often hear people refer to SaaS applications as operating â€œin the cloud.â€Â
The SaaS model provides a way for small businesses to subscribe to powerful applications that were once only available to larger enterprise-level organizations. By removing the burden of high upfront costs, small and medium-sized companies can also benefit from affordable SaaS tools that increase productivity and streamline operations.Â
Transforming the Customer Experience
In addition to helping businesses operate more efficiently, cloud-based technology has also played a significant role in evolving the customer experience. Consider how the introduction of the iPhone raised the bar on how we measure and define a seamless user experience, and our expectations only continue to grow. This ongoing shift means that companies must prioritize the front-end experience even as they begin to realize back-office efficiencies from cloud-based technology.Â Â
COVID-19 has also had an undeniable impact on cloud technology, the customer experience, and consumer behavior. Businesses and consumers are increasingly moving to a digital-first mindset, which can be seen in the acceleration of contactless payments, the growth of online ordering and curbside payments, and the creation of new ways to pay online.Â
You’ve probably been a part of this growth firsthand. Think about how many times you have made a payment at a contactless terminal over the past year, curbside via a mobile device, through an e-Commerce website, or by clicking on a secure payment link that you received by text or email through services like PaylinkOpens a new window . The good news is that keeping up with these changes and adding new payment options is easy when you have a cloud-based solution. The result makes it more convenient for customers to pay, which means businesses get paid sooner and can reduce accounts receivable balances.
Strong Technology Drives Growth and Profitability
Many cloud-based applications offer the added benefit of customer relationship management (CRM). These systems are a great way to organize, manage, and access data about customers and prospects. All of the data is in one place, so business owners can quickly identify profitable segments, nurture relationships, and develop tailored messaging and campaigns.
For example, a boutique fitness studio that offers specialized workout experiences can use a SaaS application that combines studio management software with an end-to-end CRM and marketing automation platform, such as BrandBotOpens a new window . The studio owner would have everything they need to build a profitable business right at their fingertips. From automated communications to email and SMS marketing campaigns, these solutions can help build lasting relationships and re-engage customers.
The Value of Integrated Payments
The value of cloud-based applications is enhanced even further with integrated payments. This is when the SaaS provider embeds payments functionality directly into their software instead of running payments through a separate system. Built-in payment processing creates tremendous time savings as businesses don’t have to re-enter transactions into their accounting software at the end of the day. The SaaS application seamlessly communicates with the payment processor, so the business only needs one solution and can provide a seamless checkout experience.
The benefits of integrated payments for the SaaS provider are just as valuable. Instead of developing and managing functionality, they can partner with a payments expert and focus on growing their business. Integrated payments also create a valuable recurring revenue stream and make the software more useful to end-users, which fosters longer-lasting and more profitable relationships.Â
Consider a home services provider, such as an HVAC specialist, electrician, locksmith, or plumber who spends a significant portion of their day in the field. To run their business efficiently, their field techs and office should be seamlessly connected through a cloud-based field services management platform, like FieldEdgeOpens a new window . By doing so, they could easily schedule and dispatch technicians. A mobile solution would help them take their operations on the go, and plug-and-play mobile card readers offer a seamless way to accept payments in the field at the time of service.
Scaling With a Subscription-Based Business Model
For most SaaS providers, subscriptions are their revenue model of choice. In addition to creating a steady stream of revenue and a stable customer base, this can lead to higher profits and a greater valuation for their platform long- term. However, for a subscription model to work, the focus must be on retaining customers, improving the customer experience, and continuously increasing the value of the software. Without this focus, the value proposition deteriorates, and customers become susceptible to attrition.Â
There are a few services available through payment integrations that can help. SaaS providers must work with a payments provider that offers tokenizationOpens a new window , the engine behind recurring payments, to run a subscription-based business. With tokenization, sensitive cardholder information is replaced with a randomly generated code, known as a token, securely stored for future use. It’s a critical component of the subscription business model because it automates repeat payments and allows businesses to run ad hoc transactions without re-entering cardholder information.
Subscription-based businesses also benefit from services that automatically update card information as it changes, such as if the card expires or if the cardholder changes their billing address or receives a new card. This is why services such as Account UpdaterOpens a new window are incredibly impactful for subscription and service-based merchants who need to store cards on file and process recurring payments. When a card is declined, the business is at risk of losing both the individual sale and the overall relationship with the customer. They also have to track down the cardholder to get updated information, which focuses on their business. With Account Updater, this becomes a non-issue because companies won’t lose loyal subscribers, and customers don’t need to be bothered.Â
Growing Access to Cloud-Based Solutions
In the past, smaller companies have often been slower to adopt new technology, either because they were consumed by the day-to-day tasks of running a business or had limited financial resources. Today, though, the face of tech is changing with more solutions than ever before. Thanks to SaaS companies worldwide, businesses of all sizes have affordable access to plug-and-play software that can help them grow and prosper and optimize operations.
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