Move Over FinTech: GrowthTech has Arrived
Small and medium-sized business owners are energetically passionate. These entrepreneurs are often driven by a love for what they do, not a love for the day-to-day admin that comes with running their business operations. Theirs are the businesses we engage with regularly, sometimes even daily, for the services we need the most: from yoga classes to childcare, home repairs or even dining at our favorite Italian restaurant. Through these recurring interactions, SMBs have a much closer connection to their customers and local communities, compared to traditional enterprise companies. Their growth and success positively impact the communities they serve and vice versa.
So how can SMBs compete in an increasingly convenience-driven and digital world? The answer is more than just the software needed to run their business. It’s GrowthTech: innovative technologies designed to help grow their business by finding and retaining more customers.
Over the last decade, the rise of Software as a Service (SaaS) has disrupted the payments industry and forced businesses to rethink how they invest in technology to deliver an exceptional customer experience while continuing to attract new customers and grow. Payment processing used to be a separate buying decision for businesses, where a business owner selected a bank or merchant acquirer for processing payments, and then an entirely separate system – or in many cases, multiple systems – for running their day-to-day operations. But this approach is changing. Increasingly, businesses are looking for software which enables both business automation and payments. The market has adapted to meet this demand, via software companies who also act as payment facilitators (Payfacs), and payments providers using Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) to sell their services.
With this, the lines between traditional Software as a Service (SaaS) providers and FinTech providers have begun to blur. This shift has been most clearly seen across the U.S., yet in markets outside of the U.S., this trend is only just starting to emerge – while slightly smaller, Europe’s ISV market is less mature, and has yet to cater to vertical needs in the same way North America does. What a small to medium sized business needs to compete in today’s world is more than just the combination of SaaS and FinTech solutions – this legacy model is being replaced by a new software offering, GrowthTech.
The right GrowthTech allows entrepreneurs to thrive, not just by optimizing workflows, automating admin, and facilitating easy bookings and payments processing from anywhere, but most importantly, by helping to stimulate more demand and track business performance. A smooth, easy, rewarding customer experience will drive sales, but it’s CRM, marketplace and marketing automation tools that generate more enquiries; data analytics and reporting dashboards for making better business decisions; and apps that deliver real-time consumer engagement which will ultimately help businesses create customer stickiness and build lasting communities.
This new era of all-in-one business management software – with embedded payments; CRM, demand generation and marketing tools; consumer apps and marketplaces; as well as data, analytics, and reporting – is laying the groundwork for SMBs to compete with enterprises in a way that’s not been possible before.
And GrowthTech means much more than just affordable, holistic operating software and embedded payments. These are tools curated to serve the nuanced needs of varied sectors, designed to reduce overhead, drive customer engagement and retention, and provide SMBs with the actionable data insights they need to keep growing. The businesses that power our everyday lives, such as fitness studios, childcare centers, drycleaners, and home maintenance services like lawn care, cleaning, and pest control, all provide unique services, which demand bespoke technology. A one-stop-shop solution for a HVAC business looks very different to the same for a parks and recreation center – both businesses need to automate and engage customers yet will do so in entirely distinct ways.
For example, childcare service providers need a SaaS solution which supports Government regulations, subsidy systems linked to parent billing, health and safety policies, and more specific functionality unique to the vertical. It is new technology features which help childcare centers to fill empty places, auto-manage waitlists, and maintain parent engagement, which will truly power their success. And while fitness studios need a business management platform to help them manage their facilities, access controls and capacity in real-time, in a new-Covid world it’s those added extras like intuitive loyalty rewards, offering spot-bookings, or the ability to pick a favorite yoga mat, which will help studios to stand out from the crowd.
Of increasing importance in the GrowthTech suite is app development. Most of the apps we use on our phones come from large enterprise companies, in large part because these organizations have the means to make higher quality, more convenient and useful apps. By equipping SMBs with the same apps to better engage consumers, GrowthTech is enabling them to play in the same space as big businesses, ultimately helping them to better serve us all, and to grow. Whether it’s booking a workout or a plumber, checking a dry-cleaning order, or staying in touch with a child’s day-care, apps are creating more touch points across local communities every day. Helping these smaller businesses build more impactful relationships using consumer-facing apps will not only drive more brand engagement opportunities, but also net new purchases.
GrowthTech is making enterprise-grade software available and affordable for the SMBs that facilitate our everyday lives. As businesses around the world begin to adopt GrowthTech to better attract and retain their customers, and give themselves an edge over their competitors, a vertical driven approach will be what determines their success. Businesses using the right GrowthTech tools, which are tailored intuitively for their industry, will be the ones that thrive. Why? Because they’ll have more time to spend focusing on their passion, which is why they became an entrepreneur to begin with.
Floris de Kort is an international fintech leader with over 20 years of experience in SaaS and payments. As CEO of Xplor Technologies, Floris is passionate about investing in people and culture, and has a strong track record of making companies amazing places to work by building great teams. Xplor offers enterprise-grade SaaS solutions and a global, cloud-based payment processing platform for SMBs in fast-growing ‘everyday life’ verticals: Childcare & Education, Fitness & Wellbeing, Field Services and Personal Services.
The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.