It’s tough keeping up with technology. With new tools, products, and solutions vying for your attention daily, choosing the most efficient technology for your business needs can seem like a daunting task. So let’s unpack the process - from the initial brainstorm to investing in a new product or service, here are some tips for finding technology solutions that will help you maintain order (and sanity) as your business scales.
Map it Out
To begin, map out your company’s operational landscape. What are your company’s KPIs (key performance indicators)? How are your current processes (e.g. inventory management, customer service, marketing efforts, processing returns, warehouse storage, etc.) performing against these measurements? Once you’ve identified the weak links in your chain of operations, you can decide where you want to prioritize implementing a new technology solution
Ask the Right Questions
How much does it cost? While this is a tempting first question and the answer will certainly affect your decision, it’s important to look at a potential solution holistically. Austin Smith, VP of Operations at Fab Fit Fun, tells us, “The best thing is really to evaluate your integration points. I don’t care about price points...losing control can really cost you a lot.” Focus more on return on investment and scalability than on the initial price tag. Here are some questions to help guide your search:
- What does the implementation process look like?
- Does the solution integrate with other technologies you currently have in place?
- Will this solution continue to scale along with your business?
- What support resources are available to you upon purchase?
- Will the solution be accessible to your team members who will most rely on it?
Do Your Research
Soon after you begin to research products or services, you may become frustrated that a one-size-fits-all solution to your problem probably does not exist. Many technology tools can fix part of a larger problem - or at least integrate with other solutions to tackle a larger chunk - but most will never claim to be a fix-all (and be wary if they do!). Once you’ve identified several potential solutions, see what other businesses have to say about them. Technology review sites like GetApp or Capterra, app marketplaces (check out Shopify’s), and case studies are all ways to discover possible solutions as well as delve deeper into use cases
A more personalized way to start your research is simply by looking at your current technologies. We asked Brian Hahn, co-founder of Nomad, how he established his company’s current technology stack:
"In my opinion, the best way to find business software is to look at the best SaaS applications you currently use, say Slack, and then see who they integrate with. Nearly every company that integrates with Slack is A+++. It’s how I found Trello, Help Scout, etc. From Shopify, I found DCL, Stitch Labs, etc. It's like a web, where if you know you have a really cool person, likely his friends are cool, too."
Start a Trial
Now that you’ve discovered a possible solution to help your company scale, it’s time to take it for a test drive. Most SaaS companies will offer a free or discounted product trial, giving you the opportunity to experiment with the newest addition to your workflow. For Brian, actually working with a tool gives him the opportunity to break through the noise. He says, “I look for free trials. I love getting in and actually clicking the buttons...you get in and you’re like, that’s what it actually does.”
For more guidance in determining the best technology for your growing business, check out the Finding The Right Technology To Scale Your Business chapter of our Ultimate Guide to Scaling Your Retail Business. And don't miss Nomad Goods co-founder, Brian Hanh, sharing how his rapidly growing consumer electronics business strategically evaluates and adopts technologies to scale and manage the demands of its growing business operations in this upcoming free webinar!