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Woman using virtual reality headset

Phil Lander
Samsung’s IT and Mobility Enterprise sales

5 minute read

14/02/2017

Smartphones are changing the way SMEs work

 

Vodafone’s research on how smartphones are fuelling businesses uncovers some fascinating findings. It’s incredible to think that 82% of the UK population now owns a smartphone (up 29% over the last four years) and how quickly the smartphone has gone from a nice-to-have to a necessity for many people.

Smartphones have cemented their position in the business world too. The research supports my belief that smartphones are now key to small business owners and employees who want to enjoy more good days at work. They’re changing the way we run and grow small businesses in the UK. They’ve opened up opportunities for SMEs to create exciting customer experiences that can increase sales, boost productivity and recruit top talent.

It’s an easy win for SMEs – communicate with your customers in a creative way and you can create lots of love for the brand and engagement that’s often consumed via their smartphone.
Phil Lander, Samsung’s IT and Mobility Enterprise sales

Data drives sales via smartphones

The Vodafone report shows that 73% of ambitious SMEs believe that analysing customer data – including real-time location data – is vital for a successful business. Real-time geolocation marketing is one way SMEs can effectively reach engaged smartphone users.

Geolocation marketing uses the smartphone’s GPS to locate the user, so you can target them with timely and relevant offers and marketing via a smartphone app. If the user has given the app permission to use their location details, it’s an effective way of targeting customers with offers and promotions whenever they enter your store, or even when they visit a competitor’s.  

Engaging experiences are made for mobile

Smartphone apps are a great way of connecting with customers. Besides encouraging purchases with real-time marketing, you can also use them to reward customer loyalty. Brands like Nando’s have given their loyalty cards a digital makeover – rewarding repeat visits by uploading loyalty points straight to the smartphone app. Applications are also often the best way to optimise the customer’s mobile experience – they can be used to easily browse and order products, find stores and unlock the latest promotions.

Still, even without a dedicated company app, small businesses can create conversations and showcase products and services through social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Snapchat – which can be accessed any time, any place on a smartphone.

It’s an easy win for SMEs – communicate with your customers in a creative way and you can create lots of love for the brand and engagement that’s often consumed via their smartphone.  

Enhancing the customer experience

51% of all online purchases are taking place on either a smartphone or tablet.

The research reveals that 96% of the internet-enabled population goes online as part of their purchase journey. On top of this, 66% of all e-commerce traffic and 51% of all online purchases are taking place on either a smartphone or tablet. These stats show just how important it is for businesses to optimise their content and create experiences that delight customers on mobile devices.  

Opening up a new world of experiences

As the report rightly identifies, smartphones are supporting new and exciting marketing methods. Virtual Reality (VR) could be the answer for SMEs looking to lead the way and create memorable customer experiences.

Smartphones can be connected to virtual reality headsets to take creative marketing to new levels: the Irish estate agent chain Sherry FitzGerald can show you around a house that hasn’t even been built yet via virtual reality, increasing their sales of off-plan homes; and Audi took customers on the drive of their life, letting them go for a spin in the VR version of their new TT model at their London showroom.

You don’t necessarily need a big budget to create something special. VR apps and programs are becoming more popular and easier to use, enabling small businesses to create their own bespoke virtual reality experiences using smartphones and VR headsets. Customers aren’t the only ones benefiting either; SMEs can use VR to improve communication between employees by creating virtual meeting rooms that let colleagues interact with each other without being in same room. Virtual interviews can help businesses find the perfect candidates, and VR is increasingly being used to train staff – putting them in a more realistic environment, enabling them to interact with objects, and offering an effective way of learning new skills.  

Boosting productivity

Smartphones are creating more good days for employees too. The report found that by implementing real-time digital channels into a business, communication is improved by 49%, working practices are made 47% more efficient and decision-making is enhanced by 43%. Whether it’s communicating with colleagues over mobile messaging services, using VoIP or accessing files and documents on your smartphone via the cloud, smartphones have become an essential communication tool for businesses.

This is underlined by the report’s finding that a UK small business misses an average of four new business opportunities every working day it does not have access to a functioning smartphone.

Using smartphones to boost productivity is something that the public sector excels in. Both Surrey Police and West Yorkshire Police gave their officers Samsung Note smartphones so that they could perform a number of everyday tasks while policing their communities without having to return to their stations, saving each officer around two hours per day. By developing bespoke smartphone apps, officers can issue paperless tickets and fixed penalty notices, as well as make database checks and fill in missing 3 reports.

West Middlesex University Hospital also used smartphones to save time and money by developing a way to detect atrial fibrillation on the Samsung Xcover3 smartphone instead of having to perform expensive heart monitoring tests. The productivity-enhancing opportunities smartphones offer are endless.  

Building internal talent

Smartphones empower employees. But they also help to bring the brightest talent into your business.

The Perspective series report, ‘Millennials, Breathing New Life into the Workforce’ found that the majority of millennials are searching for jobs online, with 64% turning to Google, 57% using job search engines and 51% looking to company-specific websites; 42% of these are using their smartphone to find their next role. This figure is likely to grow too, with an increasing number of employers requesting creative applications through the likes of smartphone-friendly apps such as Snapchat.

As this report shows, smartphones, coupled with a powerful network, are a smart move for SMEs looking to enjoy more good days.  

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