Data and technology provide seasonal cheer for Australian small businesses

Australian small businesses are now using data and technology to prepare for the Christmas rush, in ways they never could before.

New data revealed by Xero gives an insight into small-business behaviours during big spikes. Transactional data from small businesses preparing for the Melbourne Cup reveals the extent to which these surges can affect all aspects of a small business, as well as the follow-on effects to the wider economy.

Small businesses using Xero processed an incredible $2.4 billion the morning of the race (revenue until 12 noon), up an average $400 million from the same period two weeks before and after the Melbourne Cup — with productivity dropping a full $1 billion down to $1.4 billion in transactional revenue in the afternoon.

This data from last year’s Melbourne Cup showed that small businesses were going into overload during the morning of the race that stopped the nation, in order to get in on the fun in the afternoon.

As Christmas and New Year come around, small businesses will likely fall into one of two categories: a slowdown as clients shut down until the new year, or a huge spike in business.

The retail and hospitality industry, often benefit most from surges during the holiday season. In 2015, Vend, a retail POS software integrated with Xero, said their data showed retailers increased the number of new staff users by 10 per cent over the holiday period.

Staffing is just one of the many challenges to address around the seasonal period — whether it quietens or surges — and small businesses are now using data and technology to help them thrive during these ebbs and flows.

“Having this sort of data and insight about how your business performs was something that was previously only available to big businesses with complex systems and technologies. Now, every small business around Australia can tap into this type of knowledge,” said Trent Innes, Managing Director, Xero Australia.

“The reason this can have such a big impact is its predictive abilities. Being able to forecast accurately based on data and facts rather than gut feel is incredibly powerful. Whether you have to gear up or wind down marketing, casual staffing, purchasing or any other aspect of your business, better access to data helps prepare for the holidays.”

Here are Xero’s top tips on how to survive and thrive during the holiday season:

  • Gather more data. Make sure you are capturing as much data as possible about how you run your business. Ensure you have the right tools and technology set up to create a rich set of data.
  • Listen to the data. Interrogate your P&L, and work with your accountant to create and analyse reports from the same period in previous years. This will help predict what is around the corner.
  • Automate.  Integrate your technology platforms and use tools to automate repetitive processes and tasks wherever possible, freeing up your own time to focus on the business.
  • Get hiring right. It’s easy to make mistakes with hiring, and the costs of either over-hiring or under-hiring can be extreme. Give this part of your holiday planning the right attention.
  • Rest! Whether it’s a busy or quiet period, take a moment over the holidays to take a deep breath, reflect on the successes of the year and clear your head to gear up for a big 2017.

Inside Small Business

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