We know that the past several years have brought many unforeseen challenges for businesses of all sizes. For small businesses in particular, inflation is the number one concern, driving up costs for raw materials and shipping. Paired with labor shortages and supply chain delays, today’s macroeconomic factors make it more challenging for businesses to grow and prosper.
Luckily, business currently they have an opportunity to consider emerging trends and experiment with new business strategies to help them adapt and thrive, maximizing sales and customer engagement. Here are four commerce trends that will continue to expand, and present an opportunity for businesses to take advantage of them to power their success.
Omnichannel sales strategies will be key to reaching new consumers
Having an omnichannel sales strategy is no longer an option; it’s a requirement. With expected economic turbulence in 2023, businesses must meet consumers where they are (both in-person and online) when driving exposure to their products. In fact, a recent QuickBooks survey found that 97% of consumers prefer to shop both in-person and online, and 80% of small businesses say online revenue was more important during the 2022 holiday shopping season compared to the prior year.
To develop a strong omnichannel strategy, retailers should look beyond their own websites for new selling opportunities. This can include leveraging online marketplaces such as Amazon, eBay, and Etsy, as well as social media channels such as Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok. Digital-only businesses should also consider identifying key moments or holidays to host or join in-person sales events in their community, like festivals, community pop-ups, and farmer’s markets, to name a few.
Diversified online revenue will continue to grow, but seamless payment experiences will be critical to success
In today’s digitally connected world, consumers use more online channels to shop than ever before. At the same time, they also leverage a broad range of digital payment methods when shopping for products online, such as credit cards, PayPal, Venmo, and ACH. As a part of this now ubiquitous online shopping experience, consumers expect online checkouts to be both easy and seamless while accommodating a range of payment methods – and this expectation will only continue to grow. In fact, more than eight out of 10 small businesses agree that they need to offer seamless online and in-person shopping experiences for their customers.
To streamline the checkout experience, businesses need integrated payment systems, allowing customers to pay across multiple channels (i.e. mobile, online, etc.) and accept multiple forms of payments. Not only does this benefit customers on the frontend and make a business more competitive on the backend, it provides greater insights and visibility into cash flow.
Businesses will experiment with new sales models
I believe more and more businesses will explore not just new sales channels, but also new sales models, to increase their profits. For example, we expect many small businesses to leverage wholesale opportunities to sell directly to other businesses. We’re already seeing businesses on both sides of this model benefiting – from helping retailers differentiate their options to helping product-based businesses reach a broader customer base.
Additionally, in some verticals like beauty, we’re seeing an uptick in direct-to-consumer selling. The D2C model gives businesses the ability to sell products to consumers without a middleman, giving businesses more direct insights and knowledge based on customer trends.
Direct customer communications will become increasingly critical to success
According to a recent QuickBooks report, up to eight out of 10 small businesses say marketing has been a challenge this year, and nearly one in four say they don’t have expertise in this area. While small businesses and retailers may not have a large marketing budget or dedicated team like large corporations, they do have one distinct advantage: their authenticity. Businesses that communicate with customers in their own unique voice across a variety of channels – like email or social media – are likely to appeal to their audience. In fact, consumers reported a preference for supporting locally-owned and operated businesses.
Businesses can share details about special discounts or promotions, provide updates on what’s in stock, share a sneak peek at what goes on behind-the-scenes, and more. Leveraging marketing tools and automations to help businesses scale this communication while creating and maintaining their unique brand voice will help small retailers maximize customer engagement.
Retailers and businesses of all sizes know that challenges may loom as we grapple with an uncertain economy. However, by embracing trends like omnichannel sales, integrated payments, alternative sales models, and direct customer communication, businesses are setting themselves up to succeed even amidst marco challenges.