Speed of virtualisation – 52% Aussie organisations conduct most or all of their business online

Fast virtualisation of Australian smes

Since the global COVID-19 outbreak began in 2020, much discussion regarding the importance of technology has focused on the enablement of remote working. In a contactless or socially distanced world, the majority of interactions with colleagues, partners, and customers take place virtually by way of collaboration and communication tools. However, it is important to note this digital acceleration and virtualisation isn’t new, it has just been brought into sharp focus by the pandemic.

Fast virtualisation of Australian smes

Speed of virtualisation

Dramatic increases in the use of online meeting software may provide the more obvious example of this virtualisation trend at the moment—Zoom reported surpassing 300 million daily virtual meeting participants by April 2020. Additionally, businesses are also showing interest in emerging technologies and more sophisticated tools.

Today, digitalisation touches almost every part of a business’ operations, from marketing and sales to logistics and customer service. GetApp recently surveyed 493 Australian business leaders about their digital acceleration journey since the start of the COVID-19 crisis.

The results show businesses have been transitioning to digital models in increasing numbers, taking advantage of new hybrid ways of working and even enjoying a wider customer reach. However, the survey shows that organisations need to take a more strategic approach when implementing their digitalisation initiatives to achieve long-term business benefits post-pandemic (the full methodology is available at the bottom of the article).

The drastic surge in the number of businesses going virtual in some capacity. Over the course of the last year, there has been a drastic surge in the number of businesses going virtual in some capacity. 52% of Aussie organisations surveyed are now conducting all or most of their business online, compared to just 3% that were fully virtual pre-COVID.

Businesses are increasingly relying on digital platforms for customer engagement

As a result of this transition to virtual platforms, 21% of organisations have seen a major increase in customer engagement and online traffic to their websites, with a further 38% reporting a minor increase.  

Surge in virtualisation

Prospective customers from new and different regions are now able to engage with companies digitally where previously they were unable to connect via traditional channels. 64% of Aussie businesses are receiving half or more of their new online traffic from regions or countries where they hadn’t previously operated. This opens up new doors of opportunities for organisations to widen their net for clientele while improving their brand recognition and reach.

website traffic from new regions during pandemic

Increasing cash flow and retaining customers are the main priorities for the coming year

With digitalisation delivering clear business benefits beyond just facilitating remote working, technology will become increasingly critical to broader competitiveness. As Australia climbs towards economic recovery, the government has started providing support in the form of technical assistance.

However, in addition to ensuring that digital investments deliver beyond COVID-19, businesses also need to be resilient and agile in the current times of rapid change, which depends on more than just addressing technical issues. It starts with understanding and aligning initiatives with wider business goals.

Our research shows most businesses are fairly consistent when it comes to their short and long-term goals for 2021. Across the year, customer retention, employee retention, cost-cutting, increasing cash flow, and finding new customers, comprise Australian companies’ top five business goals.

Top 5 business goals for 2021 australia

Most businesses say that they have successfully engaged with customers in digital environments, interacting with them via social media or their websites. Of those surveyed, 32% say that they have been “very successful” while 51% say they have been “somewhat successful” in establishing such customer engagements. Though this transition from in-person to online hasn’t been without challenges.

The majority (73%) faced some obstacles when attempting to convert face-to-face services into online equivalents. Similarly, 68% of organisations faced difficulties in shifting in-person meetings online and keeping customers informed about changes relating to digitalisation.

challenges in conducting business virtually

Over half of respondents say digital investments won’t deliver in the medium- to long-term

As COVID-driven digitalisation continues to be the norm, there is increasing pressure on Aussie businesses to keep investing in technology to remain relevant and competitive.

The GetApp survey reveals 52% of organisations say their business would have failed without a pandemic-driven investment in digital technology, and 70% say they need to continually invest in digital infrastructure to keep up with competitors.

While most businesses accept, they need to keep pace with digital developments, 52% of organisations are worried that the technology they’ve invested in won’t deliver a return in the medium to long-term.

One of the primary reasons for this is the lack of digital skillsets organisations anticipate needing in the next six months. Of particular concern for most businesses is insufficient cybersecurity skills.

lack in skills

The offline and online battle won’t have a binary outcome. The companies should aim to use the best of both worlds to deliver a seamless, convenient, and meaningful experience.

Looking to optimise your digital transformation strategy? Check out our catalogue.

Survey methodology

Data for this study were collected in December 2020 from an online survey of 493 respondents that live in Australia.

To participate in the survey, respondents had to be:

  • Employed full-time in one of the following roles:
    • Owner, founder or other head of an organisation
    • C-Suite executive e.g. CEO, CIO
    • President of Vice-president
    • Director
    • Manager
  • Working for a company of up to 250 people
  • Working at the organisation during the COVID-19 pandemic

52% of Aussie employees consider moving away from offices to embrace greater productivity through remote work

remote work productivity in Australia

The ongoing COVID-19 crisis is forcing organisations to commit to remote working to combat the spread of the virus and future-proof their business.

For most organisations, keeping employees safe and productivity levels elevated means fast-tracking the use of new digital communication and collaboration tools to support global and local teams. But as society turns its focus from initial response to recovery from the pandemic’s impact, businesses now need to consider how new hybrid working models will fit into ongoing operations.

Different remote work models

Whether it be a shift to a permanent remote work or a more flexible working model, the traditional workplace is set to drastically change for most Australians—and in ways that many feel is for the better. Currently, companies are managing this change in varied ways. Some have given employees permission to continue working remotely until the vaccines are distributed. Others have recalled staff to the workplace on different schedules and in staggered groups, while others are leaving it entirely up to individual workers to decide where to base themselves.

remote work productivity in Australia

Most businesses around the world are also now starting to think about the longer term, including alternative ways to structure work communication and hours, as well as physical presence of employees. As a result, many organisations are converging to a popular solution of implementing a hybrid working model- combining remote work with office work.

The remote work experience of Australians so far

Research conducted in July 2020 by Indeed, shows that 56% of employees are more productive when working from home and 48% feel more engaged.

Greater adoption of new cloud-based technologies is the major driver of this trend. These solutions are critical to providing the required levels of flexibility, transparency, and collaboration necessary for effective remote working. New research from GetApp shows that 30% of employees say that collaboration software is the most important digital tool they use for ensuring personal productivity.

To help businesses understand how they can better support an increasingly hybrid workforce, GetApp surveyed 416 Australian employees about their remote working experiences since the start of the pandemic. The full research methodology can be found at the bottom of the article.

Collaboration and online meeting software are most critical for businesses

While using technology to increase productivity has been high on Australian corporate agendas for some time, COVID-19 has accelerated this trend as organisations navigate lockdowns and address safety concerns. As a result, Aussie businesses are now increasingly reliant on digital tools to maximise employee output.

Key to them are solutions designed to connect staff and help them collaborate more effectively. Employees report that collaboration tools were the most valuable for ensuring productivity, followed by online meeting software and document sharing software .

top 3 digital tools remote work

Asked how often they use specific digital tools; responses reveal that nearly half of all employees use online meeting tools and document sharing tools daily and nearly 60% of respondents claimed to use email apps multiple times throughout the day.

use of collaboration tools working from home

Lack of company-provided tech tools poses major challenge for remote workforce

Given the rapid shift to remote working, it is not surprising that many workers found they lacked the equipment and tools they need to work from home. This includes physical items, like extra monitors and work phones, as well as software solutions like productivity software. To overcome this challenge, many have been sourcing their own solutions to the daily work challenges they encounter.

36% of employees confirm that they regularly use one or more personally-provided tools to be productive and collaborative at work.

Shadow IT use Australian remote workers

While this might not seem like a significant issue, businesses put themselves and their employees at risk if it’s not addressed. Using a personal mobile or laptop that is not connected to a VPN can lead to a security breach, while using unauthorised cloud apps to share information may breach data protection obligations. It’s important that employers provide staff with the tools necessary to do their job as well as guidelines on how to use them safely.

Beyond this issue, employees contend with a variety of other challenges when away from the office too. From dodgy Wi-Fi to VPN issues, there are a broad range of IT issues employers will need to address if they are to optimise their remote workforce.

technological challenges working from home

Over half would move further from the office as remote working goes mainstream

As Australians continue to adapt to this new reality, we are unlikely to see a return to the old way of working. Over half of employees (52%) say they would consider moving further away from the office now that a hybrid working model is more accepted.

Ultimately, organisations are responsible for ensuring not just that employees have the hardware and software they need to do their job, but that they are using it safely and in compliance. As a result, those organisations that invest in the tools and training needed to support hybrid working will be best positioned to retain and attract talent.

Are you looking for productivity software? Check out our catalogue.

Productivity and remote workplace study: GetApp Australia Survey methodology 

Data for this study was collected in November 2020 from an online survey of 416 respondents that live in Australia. 

To participate in the survey, respondents had to be: 

  • Employed full-time or part-time, or self-employed
  • Working for a company with at least two people
  • Working remotely sometimes or all the time since COVID-19.

New ways of working: only 20% of Aussie workers believe they perform better in the office

The coronavirus crisis may have changed the way Australians work permanently. After working remotely for over nine months, new research suggests many now prefer a ‘hybrid’ format (mixing remote and in-office working), and believe it increases their productivity. As organisations across every industry rapidly adapted to this new normal, online collaboration tools like video conference software have been critical to facilitating this trend.

new working models in Australia

In a year when Work From Home (WFH) days almost tripled, a University of Sydney Business School study found three in four workers believe their employer is more likely to support WFH now than before the pandemic began.

To better understand the implications of this changing work environment, we asked over 400 Australian employees about their working practices since the start of the pandemic. Covering their experiences working remotely and in-office, the survey revealed some useful insights for employers that could help them smooth the transition to more hybrid ways of working (full methodology is available at the bottom of the article).

35% of staff prefer to work remotely two to three times a week

Work from home if you can’ has been the message from state and federal governments attempting to curb the spread of the coronavirus. While companies worldwide were initially forced to adopt home working, most Aussie employees have since concluded the ability to work outside of the office, at least some of the time, helps them to perform better and are now making it part of their regular routine.

Our survey shows that 49% have been working remotely in a full-time capacity since the pandemic began. But as society has emerged from the height of the COVID-19 restrictions, organisations are now welcoming employees back into physical office spaces. Today, 35% of staff prefer to work remotely two to three times a week, with the rest of the time spent with colleagues in the office.

Allowing employees to choose their preferred way of working promises to have a positive impact on operational performance in the longer term, as our sample had a diverse range of opinions when it came to where they do their best work.

priductivity by aussie workers

83% of Aussies are satisfied with their work-life balance when working remotely

The rapid nature of the COVID-19 crisis and shift to remote working meant new practices and technologies had to be introduced at both speed and scale. Despite the accelerated nature of the transition, Aussie businesses and their employers appear to have taken to this new way of working.

Our survey results show a correlation between remote working and high levels of employee satisfaction. 83% of employees reported being satisfied with their work-life balance when working remotely.

new ways of working Australia

Similarly, the majority of remote working employees are satisfied (‘Moderately satisfied’ or ‘Completely satisfied’) with their own productivity (86%), quality of work (88%), team productivity (83%) and team morale (77%)

Another important factor for maintaining high levels of productivity and organisational profits is to ensure high levels of employee engagement.

A 2019 research report from Harvard Business Review “Peak Performance: How Combining Employee Engagement and Performance Management Fuels Organizational Success” suggests that improving employee engagement doesn’t just improve their personal performance, it can impact wider organisational performance too. Indeed, 90% of business leaders believe it is critical to their company’s success.

Worker engagement is also critical to how effectively businesses can respond to a crisis, while increasing productivity and delivering the innovation needed to thrive in the current business scenario.

The results of the survey show that engagement is high among Aussie firms, as employees are quite satisfied with communication among their teams. Almost a third (32%) were completely satisfied with the level of team communication in their organisation, while just under half (48%) were moderately satisfied.

Over a third of Aussie employees struggle to establish work-life boundaries

While most employees see the positives in remote working, they do encounter challenges too. The majority may have indicated satisfaction with their work-life balance, but a significant minority report encountering difficulties in this area.

Over a third (34%) state that they have struggled to establish healthy work-life boundaries with their family members or housemates. Further, when working remotely, almost eight in 10 people (79%) feel pressure to put in more hours than they would if working from the office.

There are a range of factors that could responsible for this trend. Some of these revealed themselves when our respondents were asked what other challenges they regularly face when remote working:

new ways of working and challenges faced by workers

Difficulty establishing regular work hours or a dedicated workspace appear to be particularly challenging for around a third of remote workers.

Aside the issue of maintaining healthy work-life balance, many employees feel they lack the support and infrastructure needed to run an effective home office. In fact, over half (52%) of those surveyed struggles with poor internet connectivity when working from home.

Despite these issues, it seems most workers are not interested in going back to office-based life. Indeed, over half (52%) are now considering moving further away from the office, even if this means they have a longer commute when they do have to go in.

Future of work in the new normal

While COVID-19 may not eliminate the physical office culture completely, employees and employers alike are seeing the value hybrid ways of work can create when it comes to productivity and job satisfaction. However, success implementing a hybrid model will depend on businesses finding new ways to bring together the desirable features of both office and remote working models.

This new way of working is forcing workers to learn and adapt to the reality of virtual communication and collaboration and placing increased demands on their employers’ physical and digital infrastructure. Businesses should look to invest early in the training, software and hardware they need to optimise hybrid processes to ensure they are setup to succeed in this new world of work.

Looking for online collaboration software? Check our catalogue.

Survey methodology

Data for this study was collected in November 2020 from an online survey of 416 respondents that live in Australia.

To participate in the survey, respondents had to be:

  • Employed full-time or part-time, or self-employed
  • Working for a company with at least two people
  • Working remotely sometimes or all the time since COVID-19.

How to Create an Electronic Signature Using Free Software

How to create an electronic signature

Having the ability to sign electronic documents digitally is helpful when you cannot be physically present or need to speed up the sign-off of paperwork by email. Indeed, in today’s more socially distanced world, an electronic signature can be even more beneficial because it means that people can remain safe. 

For businesses, knowing how to create an electronic signature is essential in an increasingly digitised world—and obtaining an electronic signature for free is entirely possible through digital signature software.

How to create an electronic signature

Read on to find out everything you need to know about how to create an electronic signature for yourself.

What is an electronic signature?

An electronic signature is a digital form of your actual signature. You can use it to sign documents and prove who you are in just the same way as you might using a pen on a particular piece of paperwork. 

The difference with an electronic version is that you can use it on documents which may only come to you in a digital format. Rather than printing them out, signing them and then scanning them back into a digitised format again to send, an electronic signature allows you to put your name to a digital document directly. It is quicker and more environmentally sustainable. 

In most jurisdictions around the world today, including Australia, most legal documents will stand up whether they have been signed in-person or digitally. The problem most people have is knowing how to create an electronic signature in the first place.

What is the best way to create a digital signature?

The best way to create a digital signature is to use software that is dedicated to this purpose. An electronic signature free from scanning errors will always be preferable if the document you sign needs to be looked at again in the future. 

Of course, you could use some straightforward art software to replicate your signature using a mouse or a stylus, but these tend to be pale imitations of how you would normally sign with a pen. Therefore, specialist software is always preferable, especially when it is freely available

Not only will it mean that your digital signature looks better than what you might produce in standard software, but you will also often be able to take advantage of other features. For example, applying digital audit trails and multiple signatories to the same document.

How to create an electronic signature

To create an electronic signature is easy with the right software at your disposal. Most will work in a similar fashion to the extent that you will need to use a touchscreen to produce a close representation of your usual signature. You can also use a mouse to form a digital version of your signature if you don’t have access to a touchscreen, of course.

With a stylus or by simply writing with your finger, draw your signature onto the screen as you normally would using pen and paper. If you go wrong at any point, then the software will usually allow you to delete what you have produced and start again. It is worth persevering to get your signature looking right. 

Once you are satisfied that your digital signature looks like a fair representation of your real one, you can then save it—usually, as an image file within the software platform that you are using. It will then be available to insert into any digital documents that require an electronic signature. This way, you can use it again and again without having to generate a new signature every time you need one.

How can I create a digital signature online for free?

You can create a digital signature online for free by using any of the free digital software versions available. Simply pick one of the software solutions and give it a go, or look at the reviews to see how useful other users have found each of them before making your choice. 

Alternatively, if you are looking for specific features in the software, then you can refine your search by clicking on the functions that are most important to you. For example, you may require a platform that offers mobile electronic signature services or multi-party signing. It really is that easy to find the digital signature for free in a way that will suit your requirements down to the ground.

Looking for digital signature software? Check out our catalogue.

Top 3 Best Property Management Software That Offer A Free Trial

Property management software free trial

Managing properties is no easy task, and it’s important to stay on top of all facets of property ownership. Whether you’re dealing with property maintenance, finding tenants or collecting payments, rental property management software can be an invaluable tool.

Property management software free trial

A property management software free trial is the best way to decide which features suit you best. To find out how you can keep track of all your property management needs in one convenient location, read on.

What does property management software do?

Property management software is used to help make managing property simpler. Whether you have one property or several, staying on top of rental payments, keeping up with property maintenance, advertising property availability and managing lease agreements are all important for the smooth running of a property portfolio. 

Property management software in Australia can make life easier for landlords, property managers and tenants alike. Functions include the ability to pay and collect rent online, keep track of maintenance requests and ensure any issues are dealt with in a timely fashion.

Free online rental property management software

Rental property management software needs to be capable and scalable. Property management software free trials are a good way to compare the various tool suites on offer.

Below is some of the best free online rental property management software available. We’ve filtered this selection based on a range of criteria, including having a high overall user rating (with a minimum of 100 user reviews), a high search volume, a free trial version and is available for the Australian market.

1. Avail

Avail rent management

 

Overall rating: 4.5/5

Ease of use: 4.3/5

Customer service: 4.5/5

Avail was founded in 2013 and is suitable for first-time landlords, or those with less than ten total properties. Avail allows users to set up online recurring billing to collect rent from their tenants. It includes an autopay feature so that both the landlord and your tenants can set and forget rent payments. Avail also includes features that help landlords find tenants, including advertising rental properties and running credit reports.

Price to upgrade: Avail offers a free version and a free trial. It also offers a premium version, starting at $5 USD per unit per month.

Read more

2. Zoho Creator

Zoho creator property manager

Overall rating: 4.3/5

Ease of use: 4/5

Customer service: 4/5

Zoho Creator is a platform that enables property managers to build and run their own custom business apps. The app development process is intended to be simple, so writing code is not necessary. Instead, a drag-and-drop interface helps make tasks, such as building forms, intuitive. Business workflows can be consolidated into a single centralised location and integration with other apps and services (such as Paypal, Twilio, Quickbooks and CRM platforms) is available.

Price to upgrade: Zoho Creator offers a free version and a free trial. A paid version starts at $10 USD per month.

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3. SimplifyEm

Simplifyem overview of tenants

Overall rating: 4.2/5

Ease of use: 4.2/5

Customer service: 4.4/5

SimplifyEm was founded in 2007 and features a web-based property management tool suite, aimed at making life less complicated for property managers. Online rental applications, tenant and lease information, rent collection, late notifications and plenty of other useful features are all included. Reporting functionality also makes it easy to track and visualise important figures and values, helping landlords to stay on top of their portfolio activities.

Price to upgrade: SimplifyEm offers a free version and a free trial. A paid version starts at $20 USD per month.

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Landlords vs property managers: Which software is best?

Property owners and property managers have significant overlap in the kind of features that they want, which is why a property management software free trial is useful. Landlords may be more interested in the maintenance aspects of free online rental property management software, while property managers may need a feature suite geared towards finding tenants and collecting rent payments.

Some of the most important features to consider are how many properties you wish to manage and the type of properties you own. Software geared towards residential properties will include useful tenant management tools that are less suitable for property managers and landlords with commercial rental properties, for example. Using a property management software free trial is a great way to help choose the right software before making a financial commitment.

How to choose property management software

When choosing property management software in Australia, it’s a good idea to highlight the key features of the software you are looking at. For example, making sure it’s cloud-based so that you and your tenants all have access to the same tools, no matter where you are in the world. This is particularly useful during the coronavirus pandemic when many people are staying home and working remotely.

Take the time to read real-user reviews of software. Seeing what people think and where its key strengths lie can help you determine whether it’s suitable for your needs. Always be sure to read a mixture of reviews where possible, and try to average out the user scores to arrive at a fair estimation.

Be sure to make use of property management software free trials before buying any tool. Free trials are very useful as they allow you to get a feel for a piece of software and to get an idea of how you would integrate it into your workflow. Many free rental property management software versions will contain most of the features you will need, giving you a good indication of the benefits of that software, as well as what you would gain from upgrading to a paid model.

Streamline property management through software

Property management can be time-consuming and complicated, but using the right property management software can smooth things considerably. Cloud-based property management software not only makes your life easier but also that of your tenants and maintenance personnel. 

Rather than trying to keep track of everything in your head or in files that only you have access to, having everything available in a virtual location can make massive savings in time as well as cost.

Looking for free rental property management software? Check out our catalogue.

 


Tool selection methodology:

Capterra chose tools for scheduling software based on the following criteria:

  • At least 100 real-user reviews on the Capterra website
  • A high search volume (using SEO tools) in Australia
  • At least an overview rating of 4 / 5 stars
  • Offers a free trial
  • Cloud-based
  • An Australian market.

Best Free Scheduling Software Tools For Small Businesses In 2021

free scheduling software

Scheduling software helps businesses keep control of client meetings, shared company resources and employee schedules. Organisation is the key to staying on top of everything, so we’ve picked out the best free scheduling software to use in 2021. Read on to learn why scheduling software is so useful, and for five examples of great free scheduling software available for the Australian market.

free scheduling software

What is scheduling software?

Scheduling software is used to manage events, meeting rooms, employees and other resources. Clients can use scheduling software to book and pay for appointments, while businesses can use it to keep track of client bookings and employee schedules. Scheduling software also provides calendars and other graphs that help visualise bookings and events on a daily, weekly, monthly and yearly basis.

Why use scheduling software?

Scheduling software is particularly useful for small businesses that rely on client bookings and meetings. Typical examples of scheduling software users include hairdressers, pet groomers, salon owners and private tutors, but there are plenty more. Very often, businesses like these are not big enough to develop their own scheduling software. Free scheduling software, therefore, allows small businesses to stay on top of their client bookings and employee schedules while keeping their costs down.

How to choose scheduling appointment software

It can be difficult to choose the right scheduling software for your business. Questions to ask include:

  1. Do you need scheduling appointment software?
  2. Want to take payments online?
  3. Want to include this function on your website?

There are plenty of free scheduling appointment software available, and some offer paid upgrades for additional features. 

We’ve looked at a number of options and have chosen the best free scheduling software based on a range of criteria. To understand this more, skip to the bottom of this article to read the full tool selection methodology.

5 Best Free Scheduling Software Tools For 2021

Choosing the right scheduling software is an important decision because it will become an integral part of managing your business. Rather than searching and using trial-and-error, save some time and take a look at our list of the best free scheduling software tools.

1. Acuity Scheduling

Actuity scheduling software

Overall rating: 4.8/5

Ease of use: 4.6/5

Customer service: 4.7/5

About Acuity Scheduling:

Acuity Scheduling was founded in 2007 and enables small businesses and individual traders to create forms that clients can use to book and pay for their appointments. These forms are customisable, so they can be modified to fit business branding. The forms can be embedded on external websites, so clients never have to leave your company’s website while making a booking. The forms offer a range of additional features, such as being able to create add-on options for additional services per appointment.

Price to upgrade: Acuity Scheduling offers a free version and a free trial. A paid version starts at $15 USD per month.

Read more

2. Calendly

Calendly booking page

Overall rating: 4.6/5

Ease of use: 4.7/5

Customer service: 4.5/5

About Calendly:

Calendly was founded in 2013 with the goal of automating the scheduling process. Calendly simplifies the procedure by allowing businesses to create a link to give to clients. These links lead to scheduling forms with predefined time slots available, giving clients a choice of times from a set you create. Once clients book a time, this is automatically added to both their calendar and yours (with support for most common calendar apps). It can also be linked to CRM and videoconferencing software for further scheduling automation.

Price to upgrade: Calendly has a free version and a free trial. Paid versions are split into two tiers, with the premium version starting at $10 USD per month.

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3. Upkeep

Upkeep booking system

Overall rating: 4.7/5

Ease of use: 4.6/5

Customer service: 4.8/5

About Upkeep:

Upkeep was founded in 2014 with the aim of helping keep track of maintenance tasks and maintenance teams. Its feature suite is built around supporting project maintenance tasks. Technicians can be assigned tasks, receive notifications when tasks are added and stay informed with real-time updates. Work orders can be augmented with photographs, and messaging features allow for a back-and-forth discussion of tasks.

Price to upgrade: Upkeep offers a free version and a free trial. Paid versions start at $35 USD per month.

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4. Setmore

Setmore booking page
Setmore booking page [Source: Setmore]
Overall rating: 4.7/5

Ease of use: 4.6/5

Customer service: 4.8/5

About Setmore:

Setmore was founded in 2012 in order to provide both small and large businesses with professional, customisable scheduling software. It is available on Windows, Mac, Android and iOS apps, in addition to web-based scheduling and payment. Clients can leave reviews that can be showcased on your website, and Setmore supports taking bookings directly through Facebook and Instagram pages.

Price to upgrade: Setmore does not offer a free trial, but does offer a free version. A paid version starts at $5 USD per month.

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5. When I work

When I work

Overall rating: 4.5/5

Ease of use: 4.5/5

Customer service: 4.5/5

About When I work:

When I work was founded in 2010 and offers free scheduling software for companies of up to 75 employees. Its calendar-centric display makes it possible to see dates and schedules for employees at a glance. Entire weekly or monthly shifts can be planned out using a timeline or calendar view, and once completed, all employees can be easily notified and sent a copy of the schedule at the same time. 

Employees can also optionally trade shifts with other qualified employees, pending manager approval. 

Price to upgrade: When I Work offers a free version and a free trial, with an upgraded version starting from $1.50 USD per month.

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Automating the scheduling process

The options above represent a wide selection of free scheduling appointment software for different use cases – from shift managers to maintenance trackers – and online appointment booking software. Each of these represents one of the best examples of its kind, so you’re sure to find something that will fit your business scheduling needs.

Looking for free scheduling software? Check out our catalogue.

Capterra chose tools for scheduling software based on the following criteria:

  • At least 830 real-user reviews on the Capterra website
  • A high search volume (using SEO tools) in Australia
  • At least an overall rating of 4 / 5 stars
  • A free version (either a free-forever account option or a free trial)
  • Appointment scheduling functionality
  • An Australian market.

47% of Aussie Shoppers Pick Sustainably Sourced Products Over Shopping Convenience 

retail in singapore

Earlier this year, Ipsos Australia reported that environmental issues now rank as the number one concern for Australians—particularly those in millennial and generation Z age groups. Today, it seems this concern is increasingly influencing Aussie purchasing decisions.

New research from GetApp reveals 47% of online shoppers are happy to wait longer for their eCommerce deliveries so long as their orders are sourced and delivered sustainably. 

ecommerce trends australia

To help brands understand the other key trends influencing online shopper behaviour, GetApp surveyed 1,000 Australian consumers. The survey explores the key issues driving brand preference and sales since the onset of COVID-19. The full survey methodology is available at the bottom of this article. 

Fashion apparels and accessories are the biggest drivers of online sales

To optimise their eCommerce platforms, it is critical brands understand which products and services are most attractive to online shoppers. 

top products bought online australia

The least popular choice for online shopping were rentals and consignments.

While it is important to know what shoppers choose to buy online, it is also key to have a sense of how they prefer to place orders and make payments. It can enable retailers to proactively reach out to their potential and existing customers at their preferred shopping destinations in a way that resonates personally.

most used devices online shopping

Shoppers prefer eCommerce to avoid in-store crowds

COVID-19 is having an impact on how Australians approach their Christmas shopping this year. 41% of shoppers surveyed estimate they will use online stores more and in-store less to do their seasonal shopping.  

A new period of normalised social distancing appears to have influenced this decision, with nearly half (48%) citing a desire to avoid large in-store crowds. Convenience was another key motive, with Aussie consumers wanting to reduce time spent driving, as well as the time and stress associated with in-store shopping. 

reasons using online delivery covid-19

COVID-19 may have been a major factor in moving shoppers to online channels, however, the data suggests most will continue to shop online even after the pandemic is over (49%.)

When it comes to preferred shopping destinations, Aussies showed greater affinity toward established online marketplaces, like eBay or Etsy. Their favoured online shopping platforms are as follows:

  1. Established online marketplaces (31%) 
  2. Retailer/brand websites (23%) 
  3. Amazon (18%) 
  4. Independent online stores (17%) 
  5. Social media platforms (10%) 
  6. Niche commerce apps (2%) 

Interestingly, Aussie shoppers’ commitment to their favourite shopping sites through subscription services is not all that strong—even though they might represent a better deal. When asked if respondents were likely to take up a subscription service in the next six months, 42% were unlikely to do so. Only 22% thought it was likely they would purchase a subscription in this timeframe. 

A side effect of increased shopping online is a rise in purchases from new stores. The research shows that 62% of Aussie shoppers have bought from new online outlets since the start of the COVID crisis. The majority discovered these via search engines (44%), followed by social media platforms (28%), and web advertising (23%.)

High delivery costs in Australia is a particular pain point

While shopping online is increasingly popular with Australian consumers since COVID-19, it is not without its challenges, with the high cost of delivery a particular pain point. 

top challenges online shopping

Studies show Australia has some of the highest delivery fees in the world due to expensive logistics services across the country. And GetApp’s survey suggests these high delivery costs have an impact on customer preferences relating to order fulfilment:

  • 43% of respondents said they have relied moderately on in-store pick-ups during the pandemic
  • 18% said they relied exclusively on in-store pick-ups
  • 49% believe they will continue to use in-store or pick-up point delivery post-COVID-19 

There are several routes retailers can take to arrive at a shipping solution that will satisfy the expectations of Australian shoppers. Online marketplaces and individual retailers can balance the post-purchase component of a sale by keeping customers engaged—whether it be through social channels or access to exclusive discount codes. These incentives should keep customers focused on the brand, instead of the courier. 

Of course, some issues are outside of the merchant’s control, such as the 66% of shoppers who report the inability to touch, feel or test products being a major issue for them. Other factors can be addressed proactively. The implementation of more effective returns and refunds process, for example, can be highly effective in addressing a number of other customer concerns.

Consumers prioritise a seamless shopping experience over innovative new features

The research revealed a key insight for Australian retailers: a robust technology infrastructure capable of delivering a seamless shopping experience is central to customer satisfaction. 64% of respondents stated that greater focus on factors like faster webpage load speeds, real-time stock checking and a smoother checkout experience would have a positive effect on their online shopping experience (32% were neutral on this issue).

Keeping these insights in mind, in the short term it would seem merchant business performance would benefit from improving the core features and functionality that shoppers expect. With online retail sales on the up, now is the ideal time. In year-on-year terms, the growth in the NAB Online Retail Sales Index (62.7% y/y), is amongst the strongest growth recorded in the series history. 

In the longer term, brands will need to move beyond core services toward more innovative offerings—especially as the eCommerce space becomes increasingly crowded and competitive. That is when investment in next-generation technologies may prove to be an effective differentiating strategy for gaining a much needed competitive edge.

Virtual Reality (VR) has the potential to bring the customers much closer to the shopping experience they’re used to in-store. Today, 12% of Aussie shoppers are already using VR technology. And the industry could see this number rise in the near future, as 44% say they’re more willing to use it now as a result of the pandemic. 

This could even provide the perfect answer for many Aussie shoppers (34%) who are feel they are missing the festive spirit due to COVID-19 forcing them to do much of their Christmas shopping online this year. 

Looking for eCommerce software? Check out our catalogue

Christmas Shopping Trends: GetApp Australia eCommerce Survey methodology* 

This survey ran in October 2020 from an online survey of 1,000 respondents from Australia. The criteria for participants were consumers who have made an online purchase in the last six to 12 months.

5 Best Free VPN Software 2021 That Are Ideal For Small Businesses

Best Free VPN Australia

The Internet is a great tool for small businesses to connect with customers from all over the world. However, that also increases your level of exposure. From snoopers to hackers, there are plenty of bad actors online that are looking to rip off small businesses. VPN software can help provide security and privacy. To find the best free VPN in Australia, read on.

Best Free VPN Australia

What is VPN software?

VPN software is a popular way to maintain privacy and security whenever you connect to the internet. It masks the connection between a client device and server by routing it through a VPN (Virtual Private Network), which hides information from both the connecting server and any snoopers. It allows businesses to have more control over their network when external devices try to connect and it can help maintain data privacy, which is important for both your business and your clients.

Why use VPN software?

When accessing a website or external server without using a VPN, your device makes a direct connection to the server. That connection exposes certain information about your device, which may include your location and IP address. This can be used as part of other malicious behaviours to gain access to private data. In the wake of COVID, cybercrime has soared and small businesses are a popular target because they often have fewer resources to reduce exposure and respond to malicious attacks.

The best free VPN in Australia

A free VPN is an easy way to help mitigate your small business’ digital exposure and vulnerability. Below, we have put together a selection of the best free VPN in Australia for small businesses. All of the listed VPNs have been selected based on a range of factors, including having a high overview rating, showing at least 30 real-user reviews, and specifically targeting the Australian market.

1. TunnelBear

TunnelBear VPN
TunnelBear’s VPN offers over 32 locations [Source: Capterra]
Overall rating: 4.5/5

Ease of use: 4.7/5

Customer service: 4.4/5

About TunnelBear

TunnelBear for Teams is a VPN service built specifically for small to medium-sized businesses. It works across desktops, tablets, and mobile phones, including Windows, Mac and Android devices and uses AES 256-bit encryption as standard. TunnelBear has some unique features, such as proactive warnings when attempting to connect to unsafe networks.

Price to upgrade: TunnelBear offers both a free version and a free trial, with the ability to upgrade to a paid version with a starting price of $5.75 USD a month.

Read more

2. OpenVPN Access Server

OpenVPN
OpenVPN screenshot for user permissions [Source: OpenVPN]
Overall rating: 4.5/5

Ease of use: 4.1/5

Customer service: 4.1/5

About OpenVPN Access Server

OpenVPN Access Server is a private network solution built for small and medium-sized businesses by OpenVPN. It provides the same VPN services with features added specifically for businesses, such as enterprise network management capabilities and private cloud storage and self-hosted software options. OpenVPN supports the following operating systems:

  • Windows
  • Mac
  • Linux
  • iOS
  • Android

Price to upgrade: OpenVPN is free to use for business users, but with restrictions, such as a maximum of 2 simultaneous connections. A minimum plan of 10 simultaneous connections starts at $75 AUD per month.

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3. Windscribe

Windscribe
The Windscribe extension [Source: Windscribe]
Overall rating: 4.6/5

Ease of use: 4.8/5

Customer service: 4.4/5

About Windscribe

Windscribe was founded in 2015 as a desktop application and browser extension that is built to make VPN as easy to use as a single click. It is built for individual users and professional teams and comes with a unique feature they’ve called R.O.B.E.R.T. This is a customisation feature that automatically blocks ads and trackers, as well as prevents access to websites identified as infected with malware. Categories of websites, such as pornography, gambling and social media can be filtered at a button press. 

Additionally, completely custom blocklists and whitelists can be configured. Windscribe supports major desktop operating systems (Mac, Windows, Linux) and iPhone, but does not offer an Android version.

Price to upgrade: Windscribe offers a free version and a free trial. Small businesses may upgrade to access all locations, unlimited data and advanced configuration options. It offers Team Accounts for $3 USD per user per month.

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4. HideMyAss

HMA VPN
HideMyAss setup [Source: PCMag]
Overall rating: 4.3/5

Ease of use: 4.5/5

Customer service: 4.2/5

About HideMyAss

HideMyAss is a VPN provider that was founded in 2005. It supports both private and business users and comes with a range of other privacy-based tools built up over its relatively long time in the market. Features, such as a kill switch for your entire system and a smart kill switch, automatically turn on VPN for apps that present a privacy risk. HideMyAss works across devices and operating systems, including Mac, Windows, Linux, iOS and Android.

Price to upgrade: HideMyAss does not offer a free version, but it does offer a free trial. Business pricing plans start from $14.99 AUD for up to 10 simultaneous connections.

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5. VyprVPN

VyprVPN
VyprVPN connection [Source: PC Mag]
Overall rating: 4.3/5

Ease of use: 4.6/5

Customer service: 4.5/5

About VyprVPN

VyprVPN is run by Golden Frog, a software development company founded in 2009 to help businesses increase internet performance and protect the privacy of their connection. VyprVPN for Business provides an easy-to-use cloud VPN for employees to connect to. Its unique selling point is the diversity and variety of platforms that it supports, which includes:

  • Windows
  • Mac
  • iOS
  • Android
  • TV
  • Routers
  • Blackphone
  • QNAP
  • Anonabox

Price to upgrade: VyprVPN offers a free version and a free trial. It also offers plans tailored for business customers, starting from $299 USD per year.

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VPN software is crucial for defending against cybercrime

No matter whether you use a free VPN or a paid service, having one is crucial for defending your small business from cybercriminals. Having a VPN provides an extra layer of privacy and security to you and your employees when you use the internet. In addition to that, many VPN providers offer additional VPN storage and networking facilities, so that your employees can safely and securely access company resources from anywhere in the world, without compromising the security of your company’s data.

Looking for free VPN software? Check out our catalogue

 


Best free VPN in Australia: Tool list selection methodology:

Capterra chose tools for scheduling software based on the following criteria:

  • At least 30 real-user reviews on the Capterra website
  • A high search volume (using SEO tools) in Australia
  • At least an overview rating of 3 / 5 stars
  • Offers a free trial or free version.
  • An Australian market.

5 Remote Working Statistics To Consider For 2021 Remote Work Policies

Remote working statistics from 2020 in australia

Despite COVID-19 bringing a year of immense disruption, technology like digital workplace software has meant many office-based businesses were able to survive. But as 2020 begins to wrap up, and a vaccine could be on the horizon, business leaders may be reconsidering their remote working policies.

To make this decision, it’s important to look at 2020 as a case study and ask: Is remote working effective? Are employees more productive under the watchful eye of managers?

Remote working statistics from 2020 in australia

To explore this topic, Capterra surveyed 1,400 Australian employees (from junior staff through to leadership teams and business owners) to ask how they would rate their productivity throughout the year.

Respondents were from a mixture of remote and non-remote-settings to allow us to explore differences in answersa full methodology is available at the bottom of this article. Read on to discover the five most important statistics for businesses to consider when building their flexible remote working policies for 2021.

5 remote working statistics from 2020

  1. Around two-thirds of Australian employees are working remotely

As of November (2021), 64% of employees working for a small or medium-sized business in Australia are working remotely full-time or part-time. This statistic is up from 57% since March 2020 (when the country originally went into a lockdown and Capterra first surveyed Australian employees about remote working circumstances).

remote employees 2020 in australia
Infographic 1: Remote working statistics in Australia for 2020.

While 21% of respondents said they have always been a remote worker, 43% were new to the concept this year.

How to apply this into a flexible work policy?

This year has proven that working with a distributed workforce is possible. As a result, it makes sense that many companies will be looking to relax their viewpoints toward remote working.

From a talent attraction and retainment perspective, a flexible work policy provides companies with a competitive edge. Capterra’s remote working survey found that 87% of employees would like to continue working remotely after the lockdown ends.

2. 78% of staff say they’re just as (or more) productive at home

At the beginning of the lockdown, employers were understandably nervous about transitioning to a remote working environment. Their biggest concerns and immediate priorities at the time included retaining staff and ensuring they could remain productive while working from home.

Fortunately, the majority of staff said they’ve been able to work well in a home-office environment. Just 4% of employees surveyed said they’re less productive since working from home, and only 1% said they’re struggling.

productivity levels Australia remote working
Infographic 2: Productivity levels of Australian employees since COVID-19

Taking aside the disruptions and distractions of the pandemic, Capterra was keen to understand which environment sets employees up for greater productivity. 38% of employees surveyed said they’re just as productive at home while 44% said they’re more productive at home. Combined, these figures indicate that working outside of the office has its benefits.

productivity levels remote vs home office
Infographic 3: Staff productivity levels at home vs the office

How to apply this to a flexible work policy

With the correct resources in place, staff can be productive in a digital environmentas proven this year. However, it’s important to note that around one in five staff members (18%) said they are less productive at home. The office may not be as critical to a business’s productivity levels as it was viewed at the start of this year, but it still has a place.

Instead of a one-size-fits-all approach to remote working, consider a more flexible arrangement that allows staff to flourish in all environments, at any given time. For example, by offering flexible working hours or allowing employees to work from home for a certain amount of days per week.

3. 31% of remote staff say they feel they could be less managed

Capterra asked remote and non-remote staff to put themselves on a scale with regards to how well they feel they’re managed. There was only a small minority of respondents feeling extremely unsupported or extremely micromanaged. The rest (88%) sat somewhere in the middle.

However, there were some key differences between the answers of remote vs non-remote respondents.

Management styles Australia
Infographic 4: Management styles in Australia

More than half (56%) of employees who are working in the office say they’re managed just right. This is slightly less for remote employees at 43%.

Remote employees are also more likely to feel their manager could loosen the reins. Around a third (31%) of them said they believe they could be ‘left more to their own devices,’ compared to just 20% of non-remote employees.

How to apply this to your remote work policy

As a manager, it’s your duty to ensure your team can work at peak productivity, but in a remote setting, it can be tricky to provide the right amount of support without interfering.

Unfortunately, there isn’t a one, set formula for getting this rightprimarily because every employee is different. However, if managers are worried about staff slipping into bad habits when out of the office, set some ground rules. Here are five examples:

  1. Get dressed before starting work
  2. Work from a desk or table (where possible)
  3. Remove distractions (where possible)
  4. Respond to messages within an hour
  5. Let your team know when you’re going on breaks.

Remote working policies provide an ideal opportunity for companies to establish how they expect staff to operate while working from home. By including these ground-rules, it instantly puts everyone on the same page.

4. 27% of remote staff feel very comfortable taking entitled breaks

Just over a quarter (27%) of remote staff said they’re very comfortable to take their entitled breaks; compared to more than a third (35%) of non-remote staff.

work life balance for staff in australia
Infographic 5: Work-life balance for remote vs non-remote staff in Australia

Additionally, there is a 10% decrease in remote staff feeling very comfortable to finish work at the end of their workday. This suggests that remote workers haven’t settled into a healthy work-life balance yet.

How to apply this to your remote work policy

Employers must keep an eye on how many hours their staff members are working to prevent issues, such as burnout. One way to monitor this is through time-tracking software. However, businesses should use their remote working policy to explain the reasons why they’ve chosen to use monitoring tools. Not doing so can negatively impact trust and lead to employees feeling policed rather than supported.

5. Use of employee monitoring tools increased by 15% during COVID-19

Since COVID-19 restrictions came in, 15% more business leaders within small and mid-sized businesses are using employee monitoring software. However, 44% said they were already using it.

Capterra asked business leaders and employees to give their stance on whether they believed employee monitoring software is generally positive or negative for businesses: 73% said it was positive. However, this number changes depending on whether the respondent is operating in the office or at home.

78% of remote leaders think employee monitoring tools are positive, compared to 51% of non-remote leaders.

employee monitoring tools impact on business
Infographic 6: Employee monitoring tools impact on business (business leaders)

Those in the office are also more likely to say the software has no impact on the business. This indicates that business leaders see less of a need for the software when operating in an office structure.

The employee perspective

In general, employees are significantly less enthusiastic about tracking tools in comparison to their leaders. However, similar to above, remote employees tended to see more value in employee monitoring tools than those who are office-based.

staff opinion employee monitoring tools impact on business
Infographic 7: Employee monitoring tools impact on business (employee perspective)

How to apply this to your remote work policy

The majority of employees said they feel employee monitoring could negatively impact the businesswhile the remaining few didn’t believe it would have any impact at all. With this in mind, business leaders should work to win the buy-in of employees to justify the use of tracking software. Otherwise, they risk amplifying anxiety and concerns.

Find the right balance when creating remote work policies

A large amount of successful remote working arrangements is founded on trust. However, establishing a remote working policy puts everyone on the same pagewhich should save you some headaches later on from discovering people have a different perception of what ‘flexible’ means.

If this your first flexible remote working policy, you may want to consider involving your staff in the conversation. Start by defining the type of arrangement that will enable your employees to thrive. For example, what tools do they need to be successful? With their perspective, you’re more likely to create a policy that keeps employees happy.

Looking for remote work software? Check out our catalogue.

Remote Working Statistics: Survey methodology:

Capterra ran a survey to highlight the most important remote work statistics from 2020, to allow companies to make better-informed decisions around remote working policies.

The survey ran during October 2020 and had 1,400 respondents take part. To qualify for this survey, respondents had to be employees of an Australian small or medium-sized business.

A Guide To Launching A Click And Collect Model: Tips, Tricks & Tools

Click and collect model australia

The modern consumer expects to receive instantaneous customer service and prompt deliveries. Retail chains must function according to those demands or watch their competitors capture their market share. The pandemic has transformed that trend into a titanic version of its former self, and one logistics system is helping to drive the change: The click and collect model.

Click and collect model australia

Today, many software and automation tools are suitable for the needs of small to medium-sized businesses, including, inventory management software—a tool that allows retailers or wholesalers to monitor inventory levels for optimal production and distribution of their goods. Retail management software (RMS) broadens that functionality by incorporating your larger point of sale and customer relationship management tools.

In this article, GetApp runs through the basics of how to successfully launch a click and collect model. But first, what exactly is a click and collect model?

What is the click & collect model?

The click & collect business model is a system in which buyers shop online but fetch their products in-store. Look past the skin of it, however, and you uncover a profound strategic process that touches the roots of your value proposition. 

The click & collect model not only allows consumers to save on delivery costs, but it also creates another layer of convenience for those who would prefer to pick up their products in person. For some, it can remove the headache of delivery drivers not being able to find a tricky address, or purchases getting lost in the post. 

How to drive a successful ‘buy online, pick up in-store’ strategy

To drive a successful ‘buy online, pick up in-store’ strategy, you’ll need to begin with an online shop. If you haven’t already set this up, you’ll want to make use of eCommerce software. Once you have your website, you can focus on the first steps to click and collect success.

Below, we’ve listed a few key aspects to consider when launching a ‘buy online, pickup in-store strategy:

1. Communication

Without communication, your click and collect system will disintegrate. A transparent process tells your customers when to collect their orders and what paperwork to produce when they do. 

Purchase order confirmations need automated triggering and comprehensive data on pickup requirements. Update tracking adds transparency, and that translates into happy buyers.  

2. Cross-selling

The click and collect model integrates your brick-and-mortar and eCommerce operations, and your customers will thank you by letting you upsell when they arrive to collect their products. 

According to Supply Chain Game Changer, 49% of buyers are likely to buy a new product when they pick up their online order. That’s not a number to sniff at, and you can drive it even higher by merchandising for impulse sales right at your collection counter.

3. Convenience

In the same report by Supply Chain Game Changer, 60% of shoppers who have a poor click and collect experience move to a new store. If your store is especially busy, and in-store pickup customers are forced to wait in long queues with other paying customers, you may lose their patience. Collections need to be convenient, so create a dedicated pickup point with pre-sorted orders and knowledgeable service staff.

4. Commercial holiday opportunities

Click and collect allows retailers to collect customer information and contact details. When the holiday season arrives, turn that data into a marketing opportunity by distributing targeted email campaigns and loyalty programmes.

Best software for implementing a click and collect strategy

Standard on-premises inventory management solutions organise your barcoding, costs, orders and count sheets. However, if you’re looking to have one system to also process sales, schedule staff, and even create actionable real-time data, retail management software is a suitable solution. 

Whichever platform you opt for, choose a comprehensive system that keeps a beady eye on your stock so that you can avoid stock-outs where desired. Your software also needs to interface with your daily website management.

It’s worth sourcing a platform that provides data insights. When you understand the supply and demand of your company and have access to your metrics, your understanding of your business grows. The more you learn, the more capable your business is at being profitable. 

Looking for retail management software? Check out our catalogue