A New Year can bring new opportunities as well as new trends. As a small business owner, making the most of the small business trends in 2020 can help you to avoid potential pitfalls. From technology to customer demands, the marketplace is changing and it’s important to change with it.
Here are seven 2020 small business trends to prepare for to have your best year yet.
1. Increased Personalization
We all want to feel valued. And for your customers, that means personalized service. In fact, 80 percent of consumers are more likely to make a purchase when personalization is part of a service.
Technology can help you personalize customer experience on your website. More e-commerce sites tailor web-page displays to match a customer’s browsing or purchasing history. For example, when you visit Amazon you’ll find the home page populated with products similar to those you’ve purchased or viewed. Businesses that personalize messaging to customers can see a 16 percent increase in outcomes.
In addition to using personalizing tools for your web presence, you can personalize your customers’ experiences by implementing loyalty programs that reward them for their purchases. Make sure to train your employees to use the information they collect to enhance interactions. You can also personalize your email campaigns by using the subscriber’s name to send special gifts or discounts on their birthday or anniversary.
2. Customer Reviews
Social media allows customers to voice their opinion. As a result, customer reviews are becoming more important to other shoppers. In addition to product features, consumers want to know about other shoppers’ experiences. Offering a way for customers to leave feedback is increasingly important. Ninety percent of consumers read reviews before visiting a business. And 92 percent of people may not complete their purchase if there aren’t any reviews available.
The great news is: Adding reviews to your website is often as easy as selecting the option with your website provider. You should also encourage reviews by creating Yelp and Google business accounts. Regularly ask customers to leave a review. And if you do get a negative or even neutral review, respond professionally and try to remedy the situation. A study by Harvard Business Review found that when small businesses respond to reviews–both good and bad–their ratings increased.
3. Voice Searches
Whether it’s through a smart phone or smart speaker, smart assistants like Alexa and Siri are becoming increasingly popular. They’re changing how consumers search for products. Gartner predicts that almost a third of web browsing will be voice activated by 2020.
To show up in searches, small business owners must reconsider the phrases and product descriptions they use on websites. Instead of focusing on keyword optimization, you’ll now have to consider voice optimization. This is because your customers won’t search in keywords, they’ll use complete sentences.
When creating product descriptions and tags, imagine the questions a customer would ask to find you. Unlike text searches that are often short and sweet, voice queries are longer and action oriented. For example, a customer may enter keywords into a computer such as “Tailor in New York.” But, they may ask a voice assistant, “Where can I get pants hemmed in New York?” Make sure to optimize your keywords to reflect how people talk.
4. Social Media Stories
Stories—short temporary video content—were first introduced by Snapchat. However, now you can find them on Facebook and Instagram, too. It’s a new way for businesses to connect with customers in a casual–but authentic–way. If you haven’t gotten on this trend now, make plans to try it in 2020. Social media stories are growing 15 times faster than the news feed.
Live streaming is another way to connect with customers in real time. The key is to get creative and get the attention of the social media users, especially as more businesses start using them. Because they’re nimble, small businesses have an advantage.
5. Demand for Sustainability
More people are concerned with reducing their ecological footprint. They’re demanding that the companies they patronize help them in their efforts. More companies are looking for ways to reduce waste, choose sustainable materials and limit energy consumption.
Going green must be done with authenticity. A recent study found that consumers are paying attention to how companies position themselves. They’re looking for transparency. If a customer feels their values align with your brand’s, they’re more apt to engage with the company. But if the values don’t align, 42 percent will walk away. 21 percent won’t give the company a second chance.
If sustainability is one of your underlying missions, share it with customers. Also, educate your staff so they can answer questions about your standards in their communication with customers.
6. Flexible Work Arrangements
In addition to customer experience small business trends in 2020, employees are asking for flexible work arrangements. More than half of employees want more control over their personal and professional lives. If you and your business can afford to have your team work remotely, consider offering more opportunities. Technology helps employees check in via project management and instant messaging platforms–video conferencing, too.
Gig work is also growing, with 36 percent of workers in the United States going freelance, according to Gallup. It offers workers ultimate flexibility. Also, it gives small businesses a way to reduce their talent budget. Consider using gig workers for your small business with seasonal opportunities or occasional jobs.
7. Focus on Purpose
Finally, while a paycheck is important, employees also want to find meaning. This comes from understanding how their job makes a difference in the lives of customers as well as the world. Employees can also find meaning when they are able to volunteer on company time as part of a team.
By creating an engaging, educational and exciting company culture, you’ll positively impact the success of your small business. Employees who find meaning at work express higher levels of job satisfaction. This is linked to greater productivity and higher retention rates.
Looking Ahead to Small Business Trends in 2020
The marketplace is always changing. The New Year is the perfect time for small businesses to pause and take steps to take to improve their companies. By understanding potential and current trends, you can make the best decisions moving ahead. If you can make the most of upcoming opportunities, you can set yourself up for success in the coming years.