Customers, prospects, vendors, partners and suppliers are increasingly relying on mobile friendly tools to do business. Are you? If you haven’t optimized your business for mobile, you could fall behind the pack quickly.

Consider just a few statistics:
• The use of mobile devices by shoppers has increased by 50 percent over the last two years according to a new Juniper Research report.
• By 2017, according to Carlisle & Gallagher Consulting Group, half of all smartphone users will be using a mobile payment tool.
• Currently, 57 percent of consumers say they will not recommend a business with a poorly designed mobile site, according to Compuware.

The efforts you make to shift the way you market and run your company to mobile will likely pay off with new business, cost savings and increased productivity.

Use this checklist to guide your efforts:

__Start accepting mobile payments. If you’ve shopped in an Apple store lately, you know what a difference a mobile point of sales system can make for retailers and shoppers. Apple store customers don’t line up at a register anymore. Customer service agents help them find what they need and ring up their sales on the spot, processing the payments on handheld devices.

The system doesn’t just eliminate checkout lines and reduce the chance of a customer walking away without making a purchase. It opens up floor space once occupied by checkout counters and lets sales reps close sales from off-site locations, such as the local farmers’ market, tradeshows or sidewalk sales. Another bonus: mobile POS software enables businesses to track inventory in real time as well as assess consumer behaviors and responses to marketing campaigns.

__Use mobile devices to manage your inventory. While inventory tracking is often a benefit of a mobile POS system, you don’t need to take mobile payments to benefit from mobile inventory management. Several apps will let you keep tabs on what’s in your warehouse, storeroom, showroom and supply channels. No need to be in the office—you can check your stock from anywhere you can access the cloud. Prices and service levels vary, but many apps offer free trial periods.

__Market yourself via mobile messaging. The key to using text messages is first getting your customers’ permission to send them. Nobody likes an unsolicited sales text; but when it’s from a favorite business and offers inside information, a text can actually build loyalty and customer engagement. Rely on mobile messaging to promote a limited-time offer or quick-selling coveted item. Parents seeking that must-have item on their toddler’s wish list would rush right in if a photo-text showed the maker’s delivery truck unloading at their local toy store right now.

__Optimize your website for mobile viewing. More and more consumers are searching for you or even hoping to shop with you from their mobile devices. If your website isn’t optimized for mobile, that means it’s difficult to navigate on a phone or tablet and you’ve just lost a customer.

Most web designers today are savvy enough to create new sites with this in mind. Even DIY site design services automatically optimize for mobile. But if your business website is more than a few years old and a total overhaul is not in the budget right now, find a designer who can make some tweaks such as enlarging buttons for key actions, such as search, buy and contact. Not sure what your site looks like on a mobile device? Google Developer offers a quick mobile-friendly test. Input your URL, and if you don’t see, “Awesome! This page is mobile-friendly,” then follow Google’s steps for making it so. (

__Mobilize your field workers. If your business relies on a fleet of vehicles to make service calls or deliveries, you’re probably already using GPS to get them there. With mobile, you can keep tabs on your vehicles’ locations and schedules, redirect resources to the closest customers, and alert customers of driver delays. Mobile-enabled fleet managers can also use the tools to stay on top of maintenance and other performance issues with their vehicles.

__Mobilize administrative processes. There’s almost no end to the administrative tasks a small business can handle from a smartphone these days. Bank apps let you check balances, pay bills, transfer cash and deposit checks via mobile. Business forms apps let you create and send bids and estimates, work orders, inspections, legal forms, and audits all via mobile devices. These apps can also enable your mobile device to replace a fax machine, a digital recorder, a transcription machine, timesheet software, a travel agent and the help desk.

Mobile tools can ease the process of running your company and make it easier for people to find your business. Choose one aspect of your company to “mobilize” first and then move when you and your business are ready.

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