by James Thornton
Published on 12 November 2015
If you have a small business then Black Friday may feel like a day of getting relentlessly punched in the ribs. But the smart retailer leaves the feeling of getting battered and bruised to the customers who are scrambling to get their products.
By leveraging the power of cloud-based business applications and integrating them with your existing software systems, you can banish the Black Friday blues, ensuring that your operation runs slickly and that you all have to really worry about is counting the cash at the end of the day (and yes, there's an app for that!).
Below I've set out some areas of your business which will need to be geared up for Black Friday. For each of these areas I've pulled out a bunch of applications which, when used together, give you a powerful arsenal to smash potential Black Friday disasters before they arrive. The apps mentioned are all designed for small businesses and all of them have free trials - so you can set them up now and use them for free during Black Friday. Happy selling…
If you have a small team, answering requests from deranged deal hunters on Black Friday is the customer service equivalent of fending off a zombie invasion armed with only a toothbrush. There are plenty of tips that can help you keep your wits about you to avoid a Black Friday apocalypse, but you'll need the right tools, too.
Desk.com, which topped our Q3 GetRank of customer service software, is a great solution, with a whole gamut of features designed to help you respond swiftly and painlessly to customer requests. With an attractive user interface, Desk.com centers around helping your customers to help themselves, using the software's self-service online help center. Other features of the app include customer relationship management, issue reporting, and customer profiling.
You've still got time to set up and play around with these apps and get a feel for the ones that fit your business best before the big day. Check out this full list of customer service software for small businesses with free trials.
As Liberty Accounting points out in its article on gearing up your books for Black Friday, many small businesses forget to pay attention to their accounts in the run-up to the big day. Tips include collecting outstanding balances within 30 days of receipt, reconciling accounts, understanding your profit margins, and donating surplus products to charity to help you lower your tax bill at the end of it all.
But the thought of knuckling down and sorting all this out is probably making your stomach turn. Don't worry though, there are plenty of cloud accounting apps that can lighten the load - they're so easy and painless to use that you might even enjoy it!
Of all the accounting software for small businesses with free trials, the application that scored highest in our Q3 Accounting GetRank was Xero. It's ideal for small businesses that manage their own accounts independently, as well as those that have accountants in dispersed locations. Xero takes care of things like bank reconciliation, invoicing, expenses, inventory, and financial reporting.
Other cool accounting apps to try out include FreshBooks, Zoho Books, and FinancialForce Accounting.
Black Friday can be a logistical nightmare for human resources. It'll be all hands to the pump (you hope!), so you'll need to make sure that schedules are in shape. It's possible that you'll want to bring in some extra help, too, and of course this means training and getting these temporary employees up to speed quickly.
Guess what? There are applications that can help you get on top of all this. By onboarding a small business HR application, you can avoid a staffing crisis and help make sure that everyone reports ready to work at the right time. The best HR apps come with payroll integration so that employees are rewarded properly for their efforts.
Leading the field in the Q3 Human Resources GetRank is Bamboo HR, an all-in-one HR solution that takes care of issues such as recruitment and applicant tracking, centralized employee information, and time off management.
Workable is a great choice for making your hiring process more efficient. The app harnesses the power of LinkedIn's 200 million+ professionals, offering a slick SaaS application that allows you to easily compare candidate profiles. Workable also has features for posting openings to popular job boards and social media recruitment.
Check out our full list of HR software for small businesses that have free trial options.
Hold on a sec, what's the point of preparing for this customer invasion on your outlet if no one's going to bother turning up? You'd better get the word out about all the juicy offers in your store or service business or you'll be standing outside watching the Black Friday frenzy kicking off down the street at your competitors' businesses.
Email marketing apps such as Q3 GetRank category leader, MailChimp, Campaign Monitor, and Autopilot can help you set up newsletter campaigns to mail out to customers and potential customers with details of deals in the run-up to Black Friday. This infographic shows you at-a-glance how to formulate your email newsletters for maximum effect.
HubSpot is a great all-in-one marketing automation software suitable for small business. The software allows you to conduct, track, and measure all of your online marketing activities such as blogging, email marketing, and social media marketing. One of the best things about HubSpot is that it integrates with a huge range of other business applications, including Zendesk, Freshbooks, WordPress, and Google Apps.
Another big consideration you'll need to take into account for Black Friday is your inventory and order management. With orders flying around here there and everywhere, it's important to get a grip or your inventory could be cleaned out and your store shelves left empty.
Inventory management software can help you reduce write-offs, eliminate stock-outs, and prevent time wasted hunting for inventory. It can also lower the risk of inventory theft, which is reassuring to know if you're bringing in temporary workers for Black Friday and the holiday season.
The leading application in our Q3 Inventory Management GetRank is Stitch Labs, a SaaS inventory control software for multi-channel retailers, as well as wholesalers and brick-and-mortar retailers. Its toolkit includes features for inventory syncing, multi-warehousing, FBA stock control, order management, analytics, and purchasing. Stitch Labs integrates with software such as Xero and QuickBooks to send invoices and payments to your accounting applications.
Stitch Labs isn't the only inventory management option for small businesses, of course. Other noteworthy apps include TradeGecko and Unleashed Software. There are also plenty more inventory management apps for small businesses that you can try for free.
Are you feeling a bit more prepared for Black Friday now? Go make yourself a nice cup of tea, sit down and take a look at some of these apps by signing up for the trials. You might also find it useful to have a look at the user reviews for customer service, accounting, HR, email marketing, and inventory management to help you make your mind up.
Do let us know how you get on in your Black Friday quest. Did you manage to stay sane? Which applications did you find most useful?