You’ll probably see the icons for Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest on the smart phones of most independent retailers. It really helps to  see what your customers are seeing when they visit your pages on social media platforms – and hopefully you are following other businesses like yours, as well as the shops and restaurants near you. Not only is it good to be in the loop, but it’s important to support your colleagues by liking and commenting on their posts.

There are other smart phone and tablet apps that you may find useful as a small business owner. I use the Pages Manager for Facebook, easily toggling back and forth among the various pages (including Specialty Shop Retailing) that I post to regularly.

Hootsuite is an app that allows you to manage all your social media in one place. It is particularly useful for scheduling your posts in advance, and provides detailed analytics.

Square is the app that we use to take credit cards at out of store events. The setup is simple, even if you don’t use Square in your shop, and the reader is inexpensive. But you will need to use the offline mode for processing purchases when an Internet connection is not available. Check the cellular data settings on your phone.

Many of the email marketing companies, including MailChimp and Constant Contact, offer a mobile version so that you can do an email blast without being at your desk. You could even do an email story from a trade show you’re attending, alerting your customers to your exciting new finds.

My favorite program for creating graphics for the store – and for this blog – is Canva. There is a robust version of this platform available for smartphones, allowing you to do designing anywhere.

What’sApp is a popular free messaging service for smartphones. It is similar to texting, but uses the Internet to send messages. It has 1 billion users worldwide, and can be used for group chats. This could be a good way to keep your staff in the loop regarding scheduling and other store issues.

Google provides a number of tools accessed through apps, including Google Hangouts, which allows you to do remote staff interviews and meetings, and rep appointments. Google Docs and Google photo sharing are of course universal ways of sharing photos and documents.

There are many other ways in which apps can help you schedule your workload, manipulate photos, create quick videos, etc. I’d love to have you post a comment on our Facebook page sharing your favorites with your fellow shopkeepers!

Happy Retailing,

Carol “Orange” Schroeder