The small businesses that have survived the initial shock of Covid-19 and its effects on trade, services, manufacture, etc., and that have successfully adapted, will come into 2022 with their ‘guns blazing’.
That’s because after nearly two years of “uncertainty” there is some normalcy in the ‘abnormalcy’. Now, at least, business owners know more or less what to expect, and can be better prepared.
Here’s what we know: Consumers spend more time at home browsing the internet and shopping via mobile devices and they want to feel important. Based on this, and everything else the past two years has taught us, these are the 10 things we think will stand out in the year ahead.
1. Flexible working conditions – family forward
A couple of years back, the hybrid workplace, which offered a flexible work schedule, a family-first and a wellness-second approach would either have been something from a “futuristic” movie scene, or an employee’s pipe dream.
Yet, here we are, companies looking to keep their best will need to transition to be able to offer their employees this. Fewer people at work means smaller offices or co-working office spaces will grow in popularity in the year ahead too.
2. “Bringing in” talent from anywhere
On the plus side, a company that’s aligned for remote work doesn’t need to be restricted when it comes to talent hiring. A company in Cape Town can hire a specialist living as far afield as Johannesburg, London or even Japan.
For this exact reason, we anticipate that we will see many overseas companies poaching our South African talent.
3. Looking bigger by using technology and outsourcing
Thanks to the internet, many small businesses have been able to masquerade as larger corporations by simply using great graphic design and online content marketing. Small businesses can now take this one step further by implementing automation and artificially intelligent software, outsourcing, and making use of freelancers, thereby achieving more with less.
4. Influencer marketing
While consumers are spending less time actually, physically attending conferences, expos and other events, they can now spend that extra time attending online conferences, listening to talks and following industry experts.
Influencers and micro-influencers have now become the “voice” of the consumer. Every industry has several, and we will see more companies using them to drive their unique selling points home.
5. Experimentation with digital marketing
There simply isn’t a ‘cookie-cutter’ digital marketing approach that will work for every single small business. Spending large amounts of money on paid advertising only is most definitely not the way forward anymore.
Consumers are looking to engage with companies too. That’s why we’ll see more small businesses experiment and test various approaches and ad spend in relation to; paid ads, social media, on-page and off-site SEO, and now placing a lot more focus toward what their current customers have to say.
6. eCommerce and mobile shopping
The continued rise of eCommerce, particularly via mobile, comes as no surprise. Online shopping saves customers time and is incredibly convenient, not to mention the costs it saves businesses that can function without a ‘brick and mortar store.
For businesses with physical stores, an eCommerce website is an additional, yet cost-effective way to help boost sales and reach a wider audience.
7. Collaborating and networking with other small businesses
Covid-19 instilled, in most small business owners, a desire to work together with other local small businesses to the benefit of both. Networking and collaboration projects allow small businesses to grow together.
We will see more small businesses supporting, inspiring and referring to one another.
8. Digital Communication Tools
Hybrid working conditions can affect productivity negatively. However, with the right digital communication tools to ensure face-to-face communication, it can help employees be just as productive as the previous ‘normal’, if not more so.
Video conferencing, Live Chat, and uncapped voice solutions allow small businesses to function optimally. We’ll see more companies looking for comprehensive digital communication solutions.
9. Service excellence to the max
It is all about products and service delivery in 2022! Consumers who want to spend the money, also want to have excellent, quality products and superior services.
Customer service should, without question, be faultless and become more “personal”. Much like the 2021-customer, the 2022-customer will be happy to sing your praises online if you get it right, but they are just as eager to complain if you don’t.
10. Savvy stocking
In 2021 many industries experienced challenges with their suppliers’ delivery due to the Covid-19-related backlogs and delays. With fewer hands on deck, national and international factories could take months (some, even years) to get production back to where it was in 2019.
When it comes to inventory management it is only sensible to think outside the box this year. Small businesses will rethink supply chains to make it work.
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