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Achieving a competitive advantage with cloud-based tech

Written by Phil Moss, Product Manager, Health and Fitness at Xplor Technologies

Cloud technology has become an integral part of our daily lives, especially as we move nearer to a digital, subscription-based economy. In everyday scenarios we are constantly using technology to make everything more seamless, even for seemingly mundane tasks. From paying for a home repair to dropping your kids off at school or reserving a bike for a spin class, intelligent software solutions deliver the tools that small businesses and their customers need to thrive.

Business owners need immediate access to tools and data to operate a profitable business in today’s fast-paced world. Phil Moss, Product Manager, Health & Fitness at Xplor Technologies, explains how cloud-based technologies can deliver a competitive advantage by powering all-in-one business management software apps that can be accessed in the office, remotely, or even on the go.

Increase productivity and streamline operations

Before we explore how cloud-based technology helps everyday life companies, it’s important to first touch briefly on the concept of software as a service, or SaaS for short. When using a SaaS application, a  user logs into a website to access a system they need to run their business rather than needing to download specific software. This is why you often hear people refer to SaaS applications as operating “in the cloud.”

The SaaS model provides a way for small to medium businesses to use powerful apps that were once only available to larger enterprise-level organisations, by getting access to tools to help them manage their business, and value added features like CRM, customer messaging, advertising, marketing automation, payments, reporting and analytics. By removing the burden of high upfront costs, these businesses can now benefit from affordable, easy to use, SaaS tools that will reduce admin, increase productivity, streamline operations, and make it easier to communicate with their customers, regardless of business size. Local leisure and recreation centres have reported savings of up to 20% of time spent on admin like processing payments and bookings, and managing memberships and facilities, from their cloud-based management software.

The ease of switching

One of the biggest advantages of using SaaS products is how easy they are to set up and use. When compared with on-site tech, usually deployed, hosted and maintained on location, all you need to do with SaaS is log on and start accessing your application, wherever you are. This means that any apprehension you may have about shifting your business from older, more established hardware and software to plug-and-play cloud-based tech can just disappear, along with all the time and energy which used to be spent on managing and maintaining system access, and training, for employees.

Bringing the CX alive

In addition to helping businesses operate more efficiently, cloud-based technology also provides more fluid customer experience (CX) journeys – put simply, that means much simpler and easier ways for customers to book or buy from you. This ongoing shift means that small businesses must prioritise improving CX – how your customers experience your products or services or engaging with your business – because this is just as important as the back-office efficiencies which can be gained from cloud-based technology.

The global pandemic has also had an undeniable impact on cloud technology, CX, and consumer behavior to varying degrees. Businesses and consumers are increasingly moving to a digital-first mindset, which can be seen in the acceleration, and preference for contactless payments, online booking, ordering or shopping. We’ve seen this in the fitness industry with the new ability to offer digital health and fitness services through live streaming or on-demand content, to meet changing consumer preferences.

Think about how many times you have made a booking over the past year. Whether for a meal at your favourite restaurant, booking your car in for a service or to attend a group exercise class at your gym. You will have noticed those good examples of quick, simple, easy-to-use CX journeys – did you get a confirmation email after booking, a reminder of what to expect before the appointment, and were you asked for feedback afterwards? Cloud-based tech helps business owners automate these processes, so small business owners can keep their customers happy and coming back, and manage their business anywhere.

The Value of Integrated Payments

The value of cloud-based applications is enhanced even more with integrated payments. This is when SaaS providers enable payment capabilities straight into their software instead of asking clients to run their business payments through a separate provider. Built-in payment processing brings tremendous time savings as businesses don’t have to duplicate their sales transactions into their business accounting software at the end of each day – or deal with separate systems to run their business. Together, SaaS apps continuously communicate with payment processing, so businesses can provide a seamless booking or checkout experience to customers, know exactly how their business is performing day-to-day, and ultimately use just one solution for all their business needs – so much simpler!

The advantages of integrated payments for SaaS providers are just as powerful. Instead of just developing and managing new features for their software, with in-built payment processing they can offer their clients a one-stop-shop solution – allowing businesses to focus on doing what they love and growing their business.

The future of Cloud-Based Solutions

Without a doubt, smaller businesses have often been slower to adopt new technologies, largely because they’ve been consumed by the day-to-day tasks of running a business and have limited financial resources. In today’s world, the face of tech is constantly evolving, and more and more software solutions now offer everything you might need to run your business. Thanks to SaaS, and the growing integration opportunities now available through modern APIs, businesses of all shapes and sizes, now have affordable access to plug-and-play software to help them optimise their operations, grow, and ultimately succeed.