Students and parents aren't the only ones preparing for back-to-school season. Small businesses also have many tasks to address to be ready for the end of summer breaks and the return to productivity and routines. For retailers, coffee shops, and quick-service restaurants (QSRs), in particular, the start of this new school year brings unique opportunities to revamp business strategies, get a head start on holiday planning, and support an influx of new customers. As the National Retail Federation found, people are spending more than ever despite the recent pandemic—and they're back to shopping in-store. This year, back-to-school spending is expected to reach an all-time high of $37.1 billion with less than half of those purchases made online. So, what should small businesses have on their checklists as they prepare for the Fall and holiday season? Let's take a look.
Build support for more foot traffic
With more people coming through the door—and staying to enjoy a cup of coffee or use connected devices—small businesses have to make sure their WiFi networks can stay online during peak hours. According to a 2020 report from Cisco, 70% of small businesses across the world are accelerating their digitalization. Those who already operate at what Cisco deems the highest stage of digital maturity saw 8X faster revenue growth than others. To reach that level, many small businesses are making investments in cloud solutions, hardware and software, and security. For example, small businesses should have a system that lets them set up a guest network for customers and control bandwidth usage to ensure reliable connectivity throughout the business. Think about it. If too many people are working on their laptops in a coffee shop, you don't want the demand to impact your point of sale system or halt any purchases or critical business communications. You want to know that your network can easily adapt to your business's needs. Plume's WorkPass, for instance, allows small business owners to create a custom portal for guests and track the resulting analytics. When you can see how often and for how long customers are on your network, you can better set up your systems to support an influx of foot and internet traffic.
Enhance in-shop customer experiences
Once customers are in your store and on your network, you also want to help them stick around by providing seamless experiences that meet their needs. Are a lot of people streaming music while they shop or sit down to work? Make sure their streams never skip a beat. Are customers who are conducting business in your cafe concerned about data privacy? Give them (and yourself!) peace of mind with an AI-powered cyber-security. At the same time, get a bird's-eye-view of all your business's connected devices and make changes with a tap. As Inc. reported, many people are learning to take advantage of what's been dubbed "the coffee shop effect." It's the experience of enjoying increased productivity due to background noise—or what's scientifically known as "stochastic resonance." Especially since the number of full-time remote workers is expected to double this year, cafes and QSRs should be prepared to welcome and retain them in their shops.
Manage seasonal employees
With more customers comes the need for more help. That's where the customer traffic data we discussed above will come in handy again. Understanding in-store traffic patterns and peak times can help you more efficiently hire and schedule your seasonal employees. After all, half of small businesses say it's gotten harder to find qualified employees compared to last year and 41% say they're experiencing a rising cost in wages, according to CNBC. The right cloud-based system can give you the data you need to maximize employee productivity and engagement—which can be crucial during the holidays and as the economy recovers from the pandemic. The Keycard feature in WorkPass, for instance, supports custom employee profiles and analytics, including digital timecards, app and data usage, and onboarding processes. You can use these tools to manage employee experiences from the palm of your hand.
Are you ready for the new season?
As more people look for opportunities to ditch their home offices and head back into stores and coffee shops, small business owners have to be prepared to meet them with superior customer experiences. Make sure you're ready with WorkPass, the cloud-based, enterprise-grade tool for small businesses. With the WorkPass app in their pocket, business owners can manage their networks, connected devices, insights, and productivity in-store and on the go—so they're always in control.