Small businesses can often be slow to catch on to retail trends, particularly if they tend to demand a high budget. But these 7 trends are going to be big in 2017 for all kinds of small businesses – so if you want to get involved, start now to beat the curve.
1. Web presence
Small businesses are likely to be the last commercial enterprises out there who don’t have a web presence. But now is the time to make that change. According to an IWS study, 97% of internet users will search online for local products and services before they commit to making a purchase. What does this mean for you? That you need to be online, or you are behind the game. Your site needs to be mobile-friendly – simple is best, so use a template service to create a great website without much effort.
2. Online ordering
Not only are people doing more research online, but they are also doing more shopping there. If you can sell items from your website, do it. You will find that customers are likely to spend more online if you have a free shipping threshold, and it will save them having to come down to your store. Some will still find it convenient to visit you, and that’s great. But those who are too busy, too far away, or unable to get out of the house will be happy to order online.
3. Business intelligence
A lot of big businesses have been using business intelligence software to parse big data for a long time. They use all of the information that they have available on their customers to improve the customer experience, stock more of the products that they want, adjust prices, and target individuals with marketing campaigns. The growth of the software and the increased accessibility to it now means that small businesses can get in on this too.
Think your small business can only cater to locals? Think again. Globalisation is a massive force, and it means that even small businesses can now get involved in international trade. Even solopreneurs can get in on the act with powerful solutions such as Amazon for international sales. You can also sell internationally from your own website with a simple currency converter and shipping calculator.
Talking of solopreneurs: if your business grows, you will need to start hiring employees – right? Well, not any more. The growing trend is to outsource work to internet services, and automation rather than hiring staff. This cuts down on the responsibilities of the entrepreneur and allows them to focus on running the business, making a greater profit into the bargain. What would you rather do – pay an employee their salary as well as tax and benefits and have to manage their work, or pay a one-time subscription fee to a program that can do everything for you with the minimum of oversight?
6. Independent work
There’s good news for those who provide a service in their small business, too, especially if they work alone. The use of freelancers is growing hugely. Look at this for a business model: your small business operates as a sole trader, providing services to larger corporations or individuals who need it. Anything you need is also done by freelancers who you subcontract. Could it be any easier?
7. Business coaching
With so much experience in the business world already, coaches are becoming a rising phenomenon. Having someone help you grow your small business is a no-brainer that could skyrocket your profits.
There’s a lot to think about for 2017, but the quicker you adapt, the quicker you will see results.
Cindy Parker is a professional writer and Content Specialist. She loves to write about small businesses, education, and languages. Currently, she works for Learn to trade – a currency trading education company based in Australia.