These 4 Small Business Trends Are Defining 2017
Now that we’re three-quarters of the way through 2017, small business owners looking for ways to take their businesses to new heights in Q4 should take note of these 4 trends and consider incorporating them into their business.
- Customer relationship management innovation (CRM)– Small businesses are quickly gaining access to tools that put artificial intelligence and machine learning to work for them. CRM is one place these tools have started to make a huge difference. Rather than staffing a support line, businesses are turning to a format more familiar to many of their millennial customers. The chat window. Customers can get answers to their questions in real time. By typing messages to an artificially intelligent “chat bot” that supplies the information they need.
- Small businesses can compete with ‘Big Box’ players– Small businesses in the retail space have struggled in the past from big box retailers, but new research suggests that this trend may be changing. Big box stores like Walmart and K Mart continue to take their licks from online retailers like Amazon, which have them beat on price and convenience. As big retailers struggle against e-commerce giants, smaller retailers with local expertise, curated selections, and great customer service suddenly have more breathing room .
- Enterprise technology for small business– Powerful business programs have empowered small business owners to grow at a rate much faster and smarter than ever before. Once limited to only the largest firms, enterprise technology services are lowering the barriers to entry. Companies like Salesforce, Marketo , and Quickbooks now provide business infrastructures quickly and at scalable cost. Small businesses no longer have to rely on expensive technology investments in fact, many of 2017’s small business triumphs have come as leaders put these tools to work.
- Mobile payment platforms– As smartphones continue to dominate consumers’ lives, smart small businesses are following the money to the small screen. One of 2017’s defining trends is the proliferation of mobile payment options . TechCrunch estimates that by 2020, 90 percent of mobile device users will have made a mobile payment . It makes perfect sense. If a company’s advertising strategies are all geared toward mobile compatibility, why shouldn’t checkout and payment be just as seamless? Mobile payment applications such as Square and Apple Pay have been critical in increasing conversions. If your business hasn’t yet figured out how to get prospective customers to open up their wallets on the move, you’ve got options.
The Bottom Line: With more than half of 2017 behind us, 2018 predictions have already begun to speculate. Make sure to take full advantage of these cutting-edge and realistic opportunities so that you are poised for growth next year!
The Holidays Are Coming…
Make Sure You Have A Good Marketing Plan!
Every year, small businesses scramble to prepare for the holidays at the very last minute and unfortunately, they end up missing out on valuable revenue opportunities! Make 2017 different and get a jump on your marketing plan today!
Here are the most important things you should be preparing before the holiday season.
- Ensure you have the bandwidth for traffic spikes:Check the past performance of your website against seasonal spikes in traffic. Be sure that you have the bandwidth to handle this extra traffic and that your site performs well under the extra pressure. If your website is slow or crashes, you will lose customers (many of whom may have turned out to be returning customers). Keep your average page loading time under three seconds –– under two, if possible.
- Make certain your inventory is ready:The holidays are the most important time to be paying attention to inventory forecasting. Develop a robust forecast of which products will sell at which time, and allow sufficient lead times to get your products in. Late-arriving products can cause other problems for your operations and create problems down the whole chain.
- Bring on additional staff to handle increased orders:Ensure your team is large enough handle the extra business. This goes for handling orders (a very time-consuming process) as well as answering customer queries. Shipping orders quickly will keep those customers coming back. Aim to keep your average shipping time consistent during the holiday season. After all, it’s easy for customers to switch to a competitor during the frenzy of the holiday rush!
- Direct mail advertising:Putting a printed message in the hands of eager shoppers is on of the most effective ways to attract hungry buyers into your online or brick & mortar stores—especially if you launch your campaigns early! Feature your best offers and hottest products and beat the “Black Friday” rush!