The path forward through the COVID-19 pandemic has not been easy, but it has showcased the resolve, adaptability, and resourcefulness of entrepreneurs across the country. Small business owners can proudly count themselves among that company. The recovery is in full-swing and according to a study commissioned by NEXT Insurance, 84% of small business owners are somewhat, very, or extremely optimistic about the ongoing economic recovery — and for good reason.
With 2022 in sight, there is no better time than now to prepare for the trends that will likely define the next business year. Learn how to position your business for success below:
- Buy into the momentum of e-commerce. The shift to digital shopping has been a long time coming. From 2019 to 2020 alone, e-commerce saw a 35% year-over-year increase, and that figure is only expected to grow. To account for this trend, optimize your business’s e-commerce presence in 2022 and beyond. These days, that starts with making your website mobile-friendly. After all, Statista estimates over 19% growth in mobile commerce since 2017.
- Don’t underestimate the popularity of alternative pickup options. In the face of the pandemic, the vast majority of companies had to get creative at the point of sale. Contactless pickup options dominated 2020 and 2021, and it is safe to say that many customers will continue to expect the same or similar services moving forward. In a recent survey conducted by Medallia Zingle, 87% of respondents said brands should keep offering alternatives like curbside pickup — a good reason to make sure you are investing in tools such as touchless payment options.
- Get ready for increased foot traffic. While more consumers than ever before do their shopping outside of the store, you do not want to neglect those who still prefer brick and mortar. As of September, Zenreach reports that foot traffic to small business retail shops is up over 30% from the beginning of the year. Be prepared for additional foot traffic by diversifying your payment and pickup options, as well as boosting your digital profile.
- Take time to get serious about your business’s tech capabilities. Are you set up to meet the demands of an economic landscape that is evolving all the time? It is no secret that the pandemic has changed the way we look at working remotely. According to a recent survey from The Conference Board, 43% of U.S. workers question the call to return to the workplace. As a result, businesses will need technology platforms that enable effective communication and collaboration in 2022 — regardless of location.
- Be deliberate about where you invest. Work from home isn’t the only emerging trend that will require entrepreneurs to shore up their tech operations. The majority of small businesses — 63%, to be exact — say that automation has helped them endure the COVID-19 pandemic. And with 77% of companies expecting to face a talent shortage as the economy fully reopens, it may be time to consider investing in automation options. Rethinking how you invest in your recruiting strategy can be another highly effective solution.
Understanding current industry trends and best practices will help you better position your business for success in 2022, and the SBA is committed to helping you on this journey.