Miss McKeown’s (my tea business) is a really small company and we’re very focussed on our product (which is all carefully hand-made) so we use a lot of different technology to make business smoother and faster and allow us to concentrate on the important stuff. There are four main solutions which streamline our whole business;

Shopify + Addons

Shopify is a great ecommerce solution for us because it has built in stock level management and a range of secure payment solutions. So far, so mundane, but the add-ons are what make the difference here.
The Order Printer app allows us to completely customise print outs of any order details and save them as templates. This makes it really easy to handle order picking and address labelling in the most efficient way possible and everything is completely customised to our brand aesthetic.

There is also built in integration with Facebook, so that all of our products are showcased and available to buy from our Facebook page, including automatic updates when new lines are introduced!

The app that links with MailChimp also means we can harness the huge potential of email marketing without having to work too hard to build up our contact list. We just don’t have enough staff to pursue all these things individually, but each of them have improved our sales.

Shopify POS has also allowed us to use an iPad as a till system when we are at events and markets, eliminating the need for laborious stock checks and working out how much money we took. It’s also easy to look back and tell which times were busiest, and which items were most popular in that location or with that staff member. In fact, we can use it remotely to check from the office how well an event is going, and to make sure we take the right stock to replenish at shift change before it even runs out!

Xero

We do all our book-keeping in the cloud with Xero. This means our accountant can log in from home and deal with our books or offer advice. It also means I can log in from anywhere even when I’m on holiday, if there is a problem. That not only provides a lot of peace of mind, it enables me to easily go somewhere quiet and free from distractions when I need to concentrate on book-keeping.

CarryTheOne

The best thing in this cluster of awesome is definitely CarryTheOne, though. This savvy little app bridges the gap between our Shopify site and our accounts in Xero, automatically logging all our orders into our accounts and assigning the VAT and postage correctly. As we use Shopify POS at events this also means all our event sales are correctly transferred to our accounts. This all means substantially less book-keeping at the end of every month, and has made scaling easy as our business grows!

Receipt Bank

Recently, we also added Receipt Bank to our arsenal. This nifty service lets us email them all our receipts, whether they’re PDFs, emails or just photos of till receipts. They format them for us, and then at the end of every month we just log in, check they’re okay, and send them directly into Xero. This essentially does what a book-keeper would, and saves us an awful lot of manual entry. We even get an email every now and again estimating how much time we have saved ourselves .

Other technology – NFC tags

At events we have cards which show some information about each tea blend, but the lack of space means a lot of the backstory gets left out. Our new blend cards each have a built in NFC tag. When you hover your Android or Windows phone over the card it loads the website page about that blend, allowing customers who want more information to access it directly. People just love the novelty, and it allows us to show them beautiful photos and evocative descriptions that they would otherwise miss.

Technology vastly improves both our customer experience and our ability to cope with complex business processes. We’re looking forward to discovering new and interesting ways to use more of it.

This article was first published as part of a blog post at digitaldna.org.uk, later edited to add Receipt Bank and improve clarity.