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SaaS and traditional business models can be a match made in heaven, balancing the tried-and-true traditional approach with modern technology. SaaS tools can enhance traditional business model practices and ease pain points within your business operations.

Incorporating SaaS tools in your business plan doesn’t have to mean eliminating traditional business practices that work for your company. Shifting to SaaS solutions can look like streamlining practices that are more time-consuming and upgrading technology and processes that you already work with to a more secure cloud-based solution.

How have traditional business models been impacted by the digital transformation?

Traditional business models include brick-and-mortar stores, direct sales (think door-to-door salespeople), and franchising.

A traditional business typically exists in a specific geographical location. This is one area in which digital transformation has come into play—e-commerce innovations mean that companies can reach audiences all over the globe. On the flip side, it means that companies that don’t have e-commerce options have to work much harder to build an audience.

Because traditional businesses have that geographical connection, developing a good reputation in a community may mean stability and growth. When talking with them in person, connecting directly with your customer base may also be easier. However, building that trust takes lots of time, which business owners may not have.

The digital transformation makes reaching audience segments outside the immediate community easier, which may result in faster organic growth. However, through digital marketing initiatives, it can be more difficult to create personal connections the way you can in person. This is why SaaS is an ideal complement to traditional business models.

What is software as a service (SaaS)?

SaaS, or software as a service, differs from traditional software solutions in that you can access SaaS tools via a portal on the internet—it’s not just what can fit on a physical disk. SaaS typically has a monthly subscription format, as opposed to the one-time cost that traditional software has.

Even if the functions of SaaS and traditional software programs are similar, SaaS delivers new and often optimized ways to accomplish business tasks. For instance, SaaS utilizes cloud technology, which keeps your data and assets secure in one location. Plus, your IT team can help anyone from anywhere.

Not having memory limitations means you can sell products, stay on top of trends, and advertise in the same cloud. SaaS tools are always evolving, and these upgrades and updates are super simple because of cloud technology.

SaaS and B&M companies: Where can SaaS tools complement traditional business models?

SaaS can enhance collaboration, which makes it easier when you can all work on the same files together or collaborate with other businesses and creators. In addition, SaaS tools offer heightened and easier communication among teammates and between teams.

SaaS solutions can also streamline or completely manage e-commerce management processes, taking your brick-and-mortar store to a new level. With this software, you can ensure your stock inventory updates in real time, keep track of customer shipping information, and even track your books.

There are also SaaS solutions for the customer-facing facets of your business. These facets include digital marketing and customer relationship management (CRM) software.

Finally, incorporating SaaS into your traditional business means easier scalability. As your business grows, using SaaS for data and customer service means your software can grow with you.

6 Ways to incorporate SaaS tools to improve your B&M business

SaaS tools can enhance a traditional business in lots of different ways. Here are a few, but you may also find SaaS tools tailored to your business industry.

Automation

One of the most immediately obvious ways that SaaS streamlines traditional business processes is through task automation. SaaS enables business owners to delegate recurring tasks automatically, schedule meetings with team members, and onboard new employees.

Automation is a key part of many of the SaaS solutions listed below, but it’s worth noting because of how important extra time is to business owners. More automation means less time that business owners and teammates have to spend on tedium.

This saves money and frees up more time for tasks that need a human touch, which is especially important when managing a physical storefront in addition to e-commerce.

Digital security 

Businesses generate lots and lots of data, and some of that data—like customer addresses and credit cards—is extremely sensitive. As a business owner in the digital age, it’s your responsibility to do what you can to protect that data.

Digital security is much more effective when you have a system that updates frequently and covers all facets of your business’s hardware. SaaS tools can keep everything safe, from mobile apps to office desktops to the payment methods on your site.

SaaS tools may also be more intuitive to use than traditional software, plus it will likely be able to protect you and your customers against a wider variety of threats. In addition to protection from external threats, a good security system will limit employee access to certain kinds of sensitive data, so you can always rest assured.

Product shipping 

SaaS tools make product inventory and shipping a breeze. Order management systems can improve the flow of tasks in order fulfillment, like keeping track of orders and coordinating your shipping. Shipping management tools can automatically compare shipping rates, print labels, and assist in managing tracking numbers.

In addition to product shipping, SaaS can lend a hand in managing the return process. This software can track items returned to your business, process refunds, and streamline the online return authorization process.

Without SaaS solutions, you may have to keep track of all these moving parts by hand, which means that you’re more likely to make costly mistakes. For instance, having your store and e-commerce inventory in the same system means that you’ll be much less likely to promise product to customers that isn’t in the store anymore.

Content creation and management 

One area where SaaS shines is complementing the content creation process. In addition to keeping all your business’s content assets in one easy-to-access place, SaaS can offer tools to work with the assets to make professional, on-brand content.

SaaS can help gather and manage content for your site, including more complicated ventures like user-generated content for social media. SaaS setups can also automate email marketing initiatives and social media campaigns, and often, you can go right from content creation to scheduling, saving even more time.

SaaS tools can act as an archive for everything you post on your social media and website. Then, your team knows which subjects have been featured recently on your pages and what subjects could use further expansion. An archive like this also makes rebranding much easier when the time comes.

Outreach and customer relationships

You may have methods of growing your audience and managing your customer relationships. SaaS tools can assist in the nitty-gritty of customer relationship management and complement any measures you already take. SaaS apps can store customers’ contact information, purchase history, and other metrics so that you can worry less.

SaaS can also segment your customers, making it easier to target them according to demographic and where they are in the buyer’s journey. This means you have better tools to build and strengthen those relationships, securing repeat purchases and conversions.

Accounting

SaaS applications track your books more easily than by hand: track expenses, income, payroll, and other matters to make accounting management a hundred times easier.

SaaS solutions can incorporate automation for repeat expenses and simplify payroll no matter how big or small your team is. When tax time comes, SaaS tools can automatically deduct costs and accurately let you know how much you owe, saving you quite a few headaches.

Accounting-based SaaS tools will also keep your sensitive bank and tax-related information safe so you can rest easy, even if you’re not in the office.

SaaS tools for traditional businesses

Knowing which areas SaaS tools help boost your business is valuable, but if you need some suggestions for SaaS tools, here are some of our favorites:

  • Collaboration and communication software, like Google Suite, enable team members to collaborate on documents, spreadsheets, and other projects in real-time and keep in touch via video chat or email.
  • AI built for business, like SAP, can assist in data synthesis, sales management, and marketing. These things will free up time during the day to work on your physical storefront.
  • Chatbot software, like ProProf, ensures that new and repeat customers visiting your site can have their questions answered no matter the time of day. Plus, you can track visitors and get live analytic reports, which can help you develop a digital marketing and customer outreach strategy.
  • Content and Website Localizers like Smartling. When your business is primarily brick and mortar, growing your audience can feel daunting. Localizing your content to other languages ensures your products reach audiences beyond your local community.
  • Data management software like Shipyard is another massive time saver. Plus, it can keep the information you’ve stored in different places together in a more secure location.

Conclusion

SaaS and traditional business models can complement each other in various ways. In many areas of a brick-and-mortar business, pivoting to a SaaS solution can save time or enhance processes you already have in place.

Alberto Moreno

Alberto works as a content creator at DemandPlaybook, where he's deeply committed to developing 'reader-first' SEO content. He explores topics such as search engine optimization, content strategy, e-commerce trends, and insights into social media marketing.