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Shopping for your small business can often seem like a nightmare. Everywhere you turn, a new offer is on the table, and after so long, it can seem that everybody is selling something you simply must have. The majority of these pitches are meant to sell you accessories that you may not necessarily need. The solution to the overflow of potential business investments is to sit down and determine exactly what you need to help your business become efficient, profitable, and sustainable.

StrategyOnce you’ve satisfied the basic requirements for getting your business to run and succeed, you can begin to examine some of your secondary and tertiary investments. Before that, however, are the bare-bones ingredients for success. Here are the top five essentials to get you on the road to growth.

Point-of-Sale Customization

Hopefully your business has already implemented a good Point-of-Sale (POS) service. POS is one of the true heroes of the new business era, according to Entrepreneur - combining automatically-managed data with a system built for user comfort and accessibility. Every transaction, employee shift, or price point can be recorded and accessed by authorized users. Once you have a POS system, however, you need some meat for the bones. To upgrade your POS experience, you can begin by getting accessories that will enhance the actual platform, such as an improved network for data connectivity and user access.

For desktop setups, you should start with Wi-Fi enhancements and Ethernet access points. For other POS systems, such as Shopify’s iPad-based platform, there are a variety of iPad stands and hardware plugins to fulfill your retail needs. Some companies produce card-readers and barcode printers that are fully integrated with POS, enabling lightning-fast output of your products and data.

Social Media Presence

It’s a shame that more companies haven’t embraced this technological marvel. One of the major benefits of the social media bloom is the amount of connectivity between consumers and businesses, which has swelled to new heights in the last few years. Many consumers trust the opinions of sites such as Instagram and Facebook to glean information about potential products and services, which can provide your company a direct route to making a sale. When using social media, try to focus on offering rewards to your costumers, including discounts for subscribed users. In addition, you can build your brand name by promoting good ethics and customer service in the public sphere. On top of all of that, it’s completely free, if you’re using a site like Twitter or Facebook!

Cloud-Computing

Another recent invention you can put to good use is the magic of cloud-computing. Cloud-computing is based upon the concept of a server hosting all of your company’s information, and enabling your employees to access the data from a range of devices and locations without the need for a physical copy. If you have pricing records on your POS system, and the system is linked to a cloud server, anybody with proper authorization can access and change the files, as you desire. Cloud-computing also prevents the random loss of data if your machine or device happens to fail, and will automatically keep data saved and stored in cache files.

Thermal Printing

If you’re involved with any sort of shipping, distribution, or retail, you should already be looking into thermal printing. Thermal printing is a process which uses heat transfer to melt the surface of a special printing paper, according to Cable Organizer, using no ink or toner to deliver its programmed text or designs. Because of the lack of moving parts and ink, a thermal printer is generally more cost-effective than its dot matrix or laser counterparts. Ink can truly break the bank, particularly if you’re constantly printing receipts or other papers in your operations. In addition, a thermal printer enables greater detail on what you print, which makes for fantastic quality in your barcodes or labels. A thermal printer is among the fastest devices you can buy for printing, which makes it ideal for receipt-production and use in high-speed operations.

Professional Appearance

This may not be a purchase in the strictest sense, but you should always maintain a clean and professional appearance for your business and any websites you host. It may be a good idea to use a dedicated professional, such as a web developer, to increase your web traffic or use designs to spruce up your site. By doing this, you give off the impression of an outstanding business with an eye for detail and quality. A well-designed website can also enable an easier visit for the consumer, with graphics and a clean-cut look helping to direct any inquiries or site visitors.

When combined, these five essentials will give your business a head-start and place it squarely above the competition. When upgrading your business or making your first purchases, be sure to focus on staying current with all technology and making the most of free resources such as customer opinion and interaction. With a bit of hardware, excellent management, and foresight regarding your integrated technology, you’ll be well on your way to success.

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