While some trends come and go, others provide valuable insight into the ways that modern-day consumers are thinking and approaching purchasing, as well as how other companies are dealing with the changing market.
As a small business, it is crucial that you stay on top of trends in order to run a competitive firm that is both manageable and productive.
Whether you are looking for ways to engage with your customers, to be more sustainable, or to start selling internationally, read on for three small business trends for 2019.
1. More focused communication with customers
Since the beginning of time, effective communication has been the key to building relationships with customers. However, now more than ever before, customers expect personalized communication from companies they purchase from.
Last year, small businesses all over the world learnt the importance (and efficiency) of marketing automation through chatbots and other tools to assist in answering customer questions and engaging with clients. And this year is only going to see that reliance increase.
Social media is, of course, at the heart of this focused communication as consumers have come to see instant interaction as the norm. This year, companies and brands are going to work harder at streamlining communication processes while also maintaining a human-like touch.
To ensure you are keeping the human edge, make sure that you aren’t using scripted language as that comes off as very impersonal. Also, you should be honing in on quality rather than quantity, which requires training the necessary people to think like the customer’s ally in order to effectively solve issues.
Respond to all messages on social media — the good, the bad and the ugly — and utilize the communication from customers to learn more about their habits, their wants, and their needs. When used appropriately, these interactions can be invaluable in growing your business the right way.
2. A commitment to sustainability
More and more consumers are becoming gravely concerned with the state of the environment which, in turn, is majorly influencing their purchasing decisions. Gone are the days when everyone turns a blind eye as consumers are becoming more educated about and aware of unsustainable practices.
For this reason, environmental and ethical concerns are at the forefront of buyers’ minds and are going to impact how all-sized businesses conduct themselves.
For example, when it comes to plastic pollution, firms need to acknowledge their role and work to reduce their impact on the planet. While it isn’t an easy nor a cheap task, it is essential that all sized companies take it seriously.
In addition, this year, seek to reduce your paper consumption by utilizing cloud storage subscriptions and external hard-drives and provide recycling bins for unavoidable paper usage.
As CEO, it is your job to make sustainability a core practice of your business as employees learn from top-down messages.
3. Streamlined international shipping strategies.
As the globalized world continues to get smaller, it is becoming more typical for businesses to be involved in some form of international shipping. Whether you are sending products to all corners of the globe, or are receiving goods from suppliers, there is a high likelihood that you are engaged in this type of freight movement.
There is plenty of technology that is continuously being developed to deal with this increase in international shipping. This year, expect to see far more businesses (of all shapes and sizes) tapping into the power of international freight forwarders that specialize in online platforms.
By working with an online shipment platform, a firm is able to streamline their shipping process and minimize the risk of mistakes and slip-ups as every part of the process is tracked digitally. You can even obtain instant online freight quotes to ensure that you are staying on budget.
What are some other small business trends you foresee this year? How are you looking to improve your firm? Let us know your thoughts and any challenges you may be facing in the comments below!
Toby Edwards is the CEO of Shipa Freight and is based in Dubai. Shipa Freight is a new online platform powered by Agility that makes it easy to get air and ocean freight quotes, book, pay and track shipments online. Shipa Freight empowers small and medium-size businesses, taking the complexity out of International Freight Forwarding, making it easy to manage legal, regulatory and compliance issues, and offering convenient ways to pay to move their goods.