Thanks to technological advancements like smartphones, tablets and cloud computing, it has never been easier for entrepreneurs to have at their fingertips practically everything they need to conduct business. Soon, Intuit envisions small business owners will be able to get work done with little more than a glance, literally.
During Intuit's recent Innovation Gallery Walk press event in New York City, the company showed off some of the products that it is working on, well ahead of their arrival.
Google Glass and Small Business
Cindy Osmon, an Intuit software engineer, was on hand to show off Google Glass' potential to shake up retailing. Among the concepts was a mobile enabled point-of-sale system, wherein the merchant rings up a sale on a tablet, generates a QR code and the shopper pays by confirming the purchase on her Google Glass.
On the personal finance front, the company is exploring Mint integration. The same shopper in the previous example can check to see if she has enough funds to make her purchase on the go. It's all very basic at this stage, but when Google Glass ecosystem grows and the device falls into the affordable range at (it costs a hefty $1,500 presently), Intuit intends to help small businesses leverage wearable technology.
Intuit is also dabbling with helping entrepreneurs exploit enterprise-grade, Big Data-powered business intelligence and visualizations to grow their businesses. Fed by metrics gathered from 45 million consumers and small businesses, the platform may one day help shops gather insights on customer demographics, spending patterns and other factors that help bring in sales.
Intuit also displayed its current offerings, including QuickBooks Online, which continues to evolve in an effort to make it faster, easier and more intuitive to balance the virtual books.
Examples include QuickBooks Invoicing, which seamlessly integrates with the cloud-enabled QuickBooks Online ecosystem. Boasting that it helps reduce the average time it takes for shop owners to get paid from 42 days to a mere 10 days—in essence, a month sooner—QuickBooks Invoicing brings collaboration, mobile and online payments to accounts receivables.
You can send customers email invoices, with a secure link to accept credit card payments. If something doesn't quite add up, customers can instantly message the billing company, which shows up on QuickBooks Online activity feed. Now businesses can engage on conversations around invoices, resolve issues and answer questions with social networking-like speed, increasing the chances of a quick turnaround on collecting funds.
Automate Your Small Business Marketing
Intuit also showcased Demandforce, a social media-enabled automated marketing platform. Powered, in part, by Intuit Local, 28,000 small businesses already use the service. They attract customers over the Web and on Facebook via online ratings and reviews that are syndicated to the Web and picked up by Google, Bing, Yelp and CitySearch.
Intuit Local has helped small businesses engage with 47 million consumers. It manages roughly 150,000 online bookings and appointments per month. To spur repeat business, you can quickly send targeted email invites and special offers to customers using a variety of parameters.
In a demo, a company rep showed how a salon owner can target customers who haven't set foot through the door in months and who last spent a certain amount. As you select each parameter, Demandforce displays how many customers will receive the promotion in real-time.
Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at Small Business Computing. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.
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