Smiling woman using tap to pay with her phone at a farmer's market.
Tap to Pay on iPhone is one offering that Apple has recently launched, among others, geared toward helping small businesses boost their digital capabilities. — Getty Images/FG Trade

Why it matters:

  • More than 5 million new businesses were formed in 2022, up 42% from pre-pandemic levels.
  • Mobile devices and digital connections have become increasingly important for business owners.
  • Apple has introduced new ways for businesses to increase their reach online, accept payments, and manage their IT needs.

Apple in April launched a new section on its website that is focused on small business services and tools.

Those tools include Apple’s newest offering, Apple Business Connect, as well as two other recently added enhancements, Tap to Pay on iPhone and Business Essentials, that growing numbers of small businesses are using.

Apple Business Connect, which was introduced by Apple at the beginning of this year, is a free tool that lets businesses with a physical presence, such as a store or restaurant, use their location place cards — what customers see when they select a location on Apple Maps — to share personalized information with consumers, for example sales or promotions news, or links to make a reservation or place an order.

The customized information also can be shared across other Apple apps, such as Messages or Siri.

‘It is super important for a small business to have a customized digital presence’

While businesses of all sizes can use Apple Business Connect, Apple had small businesses in mind when it designed the tool, Susan Prescott, Vice President of Enterprise and Education Marketing at Apple, told CO—.

“It is super important for a small business to have a customized digital presence,” Prescott said.

A customized presence online is a way for small businesses to stand out in a crowded and competitive digital world, she said.

The feedback from small businesses thus far has been positive, Prescott said. “They are very grateful to find ways to stand out from the noise,” she said.

Another tool that has seen strong adoption by small businesses is Tap to Pay on iPhone, which allows SMBs to securely accept payments with an iPhone.

“It’s a way to easily, securely, and privately accept contactless payment, with no additional hardware needed,” Prescott said.

[Read: How Top Marketers Are Capitalizing on the $360 Billion U.S. Mobile Commerce Market]

It is super important for a small business to have a customized digital presence.

Susan Prescott, Vice President of Enterprise and Education Marketing, Apple

A solution when ‘there isn’t a dedicated IT person at these smaller businesses most of the time’

Another tool Apple offers small businesses is Apple Business Essentials, a plan that provides IT services for businesses with up to 500 employees. Businesses pay as little as $2.99 a month per covered employee to have Apple handle employee onboarding and device setup, security, cloud storage, repairs, and 24/7 service calls.

“Business Essentials is about solving a problem for small businesses,” Prescott said. “There isn’t a dedicated IT person at these smaller businesses most of the time. Without a dedicated IT person, it’s the owner of the business or someone else who’s got to take that mantle,” she said.

[Read: How Retailers Are Taking ‘Grab-and-Go’ Checkout to the Next Level to Boost Customer Convenience]

‘I was able to walk around the store and check people out. And people love getting a text receipt instead of a printed receipt’

Apple has shared stories on its website of small businesses that have used its tools to grow, ranging from a restaurant business that started with a single food truck in San Francisco to a busy bridal and tuxedo shop outside of Philadelphia.

San Francisco food business Señor Sisig, which has grown from a single food truck to four trucks and three brick-and-mortar restaurants, uses iPads and other Apple devices to keep track of inventory, monitor sales, and communicate between stores. The company also uses Business Essentials for its IT needs.

 Interior of Darianna Bridal, a bridal shop located in Warrington, PA.
Franco Salerno, an owner of Warrington, Pennsylvania-based Darianna Bridal & Tuxedo, has been an early adopter of new Apple business features, including Tap to Pay. — Darianna Bridal

Franco Salerno, an owner of Darianna Bridal & Tuxedo in the Philadelphia suburb of Warrington, Pennsylvania, told CO— that an iPad served as his first cash register when he and his wife opened their store in 2013.

Since then, he has been an early adopter of new Apple business features including Tap to Pay on iPhone, as well as tools that let customers communicate with him or his wife or daughter through texts and chat.

The store began beta testing Tap to Pay on iPhone last year, and has been using it since then to speed up the checkout process at the store, which draws crowds of customers during the peak wedding and prom months in spring and summer.

On a recent Tuesday night, Salerno said, there were 15 people waiting to be served or to pay. “I was able to walk around the store and check people out. And people love getting a text receipt instead of a printed receipt,” he said.

The Apple watches he and his wife and daughter wear alert them when one of the 5,000 customer text messages they receive each month arrives, so they can respond quickly, Salerno said.

The store has a business account with Apple, and his local Apple store recently suggested an app Salerno can use to digitize the store’s tuxedo rental forms, Salerno said. He is planning to buy some additional iPads to place in the tuxedo area for digital form signing.

All of Darianna Bridal & Tuxedo’s employees can access the store’s alarm system from their iPhones, and Salerno can control the heat and the air conditioning or check the security cameras from his phone.

Salerno said he was open to trying new technology because he felt it would give him an edge as a new business. “I figured to scale a business and to compete with better-funded companies, we should introduce technology and make things smoother and easier. And it’s worked,” he said.

Apple, Prescott said, sets out to make products that let people do the things they want to do, whether they are a business or an individual consumer.

“Those products – whether an iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple watch – all of which are being used by small businesses – can help businesses collaborate, scale, simplify how they run. That’s our goal,” Prescott said.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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CO—is committed to helping you start, run and grow your small business. Learn more about the benefits of small business membership in the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, here.

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