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9 tools to help SMBs manage business better in 2021

It's no surprise that small to mid-sized businesses were hardest hit by the pandemic in 2020, impacting all operations aspects. In 2021, technologies will help light the way for recovery and growth.

In 2020, most SMBs were negatively impacted by the pandemic. According to a recent Salesforce report about the impact of COVID-19 on small to mid-sized businesses, 57% are struggling just to keep their businesses afloat. The findings showed these four trends going forward. 

  • SMBs will prioritize customer safety and shift interactions 
  • SMB optimism persists despite the existing challenges
  • Digital-forward SMBs plan to be ready to handle market volatility
  • Growing SMBs will prepare for future crisis

Digital forward SMBs are expected to be better equipped to handle the pandemic. More than half of growing SMBs believe that technology determines customer interactions or growth. To this end, SMBs should be leveraging tools to better manage their staffing, client, marketing, accounting, and supply chain needs, among others, to improve performance in 2021.

Managing staff and clients

Deputy

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Image: Deputy

Deputy is a human resource management (HRM) tool that helps SMBs remotely manage staff. Business owners can schedule staff, adjust shifts, handle time and attendance, and send out automated messages to other employees to fill in gaps in shifts. Deputy works in many niches, including call centers, healthcare, retail, security, hospitality, and more.

Key features:

  • Low-cost auto-scheduling that meets the demand and social distancing
  • Simple one-button shift swapping for employees
  • Leave management 
  • Work compliance to safeguard and protect businesses 
  • Accessible through a mobile app

There are three pricing plans, including a free plan, a Premium plan at $4.50/user/month, and an Enterprise plan for more than 250 employees; contact Deputy for more.  

$5 at Deputy

vcita

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Image: vcita

vcita helps SMBs better manage client relationships and engagements to drive more business. With vcita, business owners and staff can allow customers to book appointments via dynamic calendar widgets that can be embedded on any website, a vcita-powered customer portal, or integrated with social media. Native modules handle invoices and payments, and simple but powerful Customer Relationship Management (CRM) supports segmented and triggered messaging to contacts via SMS or email. 

Key features:

  • Embeddable, self-service appointment booking and calendar management
  • Customer relationship management with an integrated client login portal for shared documents and history of transactions and interactions
  • Online billing and credit card payments
  • New pay-by-mobile feature for contactless payments
  • Lead generation, email, and SMS marketing

vcita offers three monthly plans with pricing based on annual billing, starting with an Essential plan at $19/month, a Business plan at $45/month, and a Platinum plan at $75/month. Month-to-month pricing is also available, as well as a 14-day trial and demo option.

$19 at vcita

Managing supply chain and logistics

StockIQ

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Image: StockIQ

StockIQ is a supply chain planning suite that improves forecast accuracy and reduces inventory levels for customers and shippers. It helps SMBs in manufacturing, healthcare, logistics, and other sectors manage inventory, suppliers, and more. It also uses predictive analytics to forecast upcoming needs and ensure stock availability.

Key features:

  • Supply forecasting, capacity planning, and order fulfillment
  • Planned vs. actual inventory tracking
  • New product introduction planning
  • Replenishment management
  • Historical reporting and statistical analysis

Contact StockIQ Technologies for pricing and a demo.

StockIQ

3PL Central

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Image: 3PL Central

3PL Central helps SMBs transform and automate warehousing and logistics through its 3PL Warehouse Manager. It manages inventory, automates routine tasks, and provides full visibility to customers. It also offers real-time access to information and integrates with warehouse management technologies, including EDI, barcode scanning, and e-commerce shopping carts.

Key features:

  • Order automation and tracking
  • Billing workflows to capture all billable events and calculate recurring charges for storage, shipping, and handling
  • On-demand reporting without the need for coding
  • Direct integrations with leading shopping carts and marketplaces

Contact 3PL Central for pricing.

3PL Central

Managing daily accounting

Freshbooks

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Image: Freshbooks

Freshbooks helps SMBs with a solution for double-entry accounting that provides estimating, invoicing, expensing, and employee time tracking. It's suitable for solopreneurs and smaller businesses.

Key features:

  • Billing and invoicing
  • Accounting management
  • Employee time and expense tracking
  • Financial reports and projects
  • Automatic deposits

Freshbooks offers four pricing plans starting with Lite at $4.50/month, Plus at $7.50/month, Premium at $15/month, and a custom pricing option called Select. Plans can be billed monthly or annually.

$5 at Freshbooks

Quickbooks

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Image: Quickbooks

Quickbooks offers SMBs various tools for day-to-day bookkeeping, advanced accounting, payroll, time tracking, inventory management, and reporting. Quickbooks helps SMBs gain insight into their business through a centralized dashboard. 

Key features:

  • Billing and invoicing
  • Employee expense tracking 
  • Bank reconciliations
  • Payroll management
  • Project accounting
  • Financial reports

Quickbooks accounting solution has four pricing plans, Simple Start at $25/month, Essentials at $40/month, Plus at $70/month, and Advanced at $150/month. There are often ongoing promotional discounts.

$25 at Quickbooks

Xero is another good option for accounting available for SMBs.

Managing customer relationships, marketing, and sales 

Calendar

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Image: Calendar

Calendar helps SMBs go beyond the endless email threads or chat required to identify times to meet and schedule events using a Find a Time feature to find and schedule meeting times that work for everyone. See when multiple people are available and then create an event based on their availability.

Key features:

  • Find a Time feature helps easily schedule with other people in seconds
  • Calendar analytics maximizes your valuable time
  • Artificial intelligence learning calendar develops a unique tailored experience 

There are two pricing plans for individuals, a free basic plan, and a Pro plan at $8/month. Calendar also offers two team plans, a free Basic Teams plan and a Pro plan at $6/month. 

$8 at Calendar

EmailAnalytics

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Image: EmailAnalytics

EmailAnalytics allows SMBs to visualize team email productivity using an analytics dashboard. It works by measuring and displaying various real-time metrics within Gmail and G Suite accounts. Metrics such as response time, word counts, peak email times, email counts, and more can be measured to identify productivity trends and issues.

Key features:

  • Uses Gmail's API to ensure 100% privacy and security
  • An email analytics dashboard offers real-time reporting
  • Segmentation of team members into groups to compare metrics and identify performance gaps and trends

Pricing starts at $15/user/month with a free 14-day trial.

$15 at EmailAnalytics

VBOUT

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Image: VBOUT

VBOUT simplifies marketing for SMBs by automating marketing tasks such as lead generation, email marketing, social media, website builders, and analytics. Companies can build, adjust, and customize solutions.

Key features:

  • Visual flow builders to run automation
  • Lead management to identify and nurture leads
  • Landing page creation without the need to code
  • Social media management all in one place
  • Marketing analytics that can be customized 

Visit VBOUT for pricing that can be customized based on each business need.

VBOUT