The changing face of customers
The days of marketing all things to all people are gone – technology provides statistics to business owners to understand the buying patterns of their customers to be able to customize and personalize products or services to suit every customer. Whilst this provides the perfect e-commerce solution that streamlines the route from production, marketing, data capturing through to payments, it can never replace the personal service that will make the difference at the end of the day.
Whilst consumers have embraced APP technology they still want to feel they are being treated as individuals and given special and personal attention – especially if they encounter problems when things go wrong on the AI automation side.
According to a 2016-2017 report by Fan&Fuel, 92% of people hesitate to make a purchase if there are no customer reviews. Small businesses battle to market their business especially doing effective local store marketing due to budget constraints so focusing on customer reviews will become more and more important to the business owner.
Increased online use of product or brand stories to grow and promote brands
According to Freshcaller Snapchat first introduced stories that are growing 15 times faster than news feeds. Small business owners will be forced to find ways to connect with their customers through the use of brand or product stories, for example, publishing product tutorials on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram provided these stories are short and hold the reader’s attention
According to Gartner, nearly 1/3 of web browsing would be voice-activated by 2020. This developing trend would have to be taken into consideration by web developers to ensure online content accommodates voice and not just keywords as customers speak in complete sentences.
In-home or in-office product delivery
From getting that evening meal delivered to ordering groceries online and having them delivered, the growth of delivery of goods will continue its growth trajectory. Convenience is set to become the most important deciding factor for customers so unless your brand has an affordable online in-office or in-home delivery option sales growth would become increasingly more difficult to achieve. In this arena, brands have to make sure that they compete in areas like delivery speed, product quality maintenance, product security, ease of online ordering and maintaining the customer experience. Whether they take on these tasks themselves or through a third party – the standard is increasing every day so brands need to pay more and more attention to research and development in this sphere of business and be in step with the latest consumer offerings.
The traditional office environment is changing
Out-of-office work is the new norm in business circles. Just consider the number of businesses and even banks closing their branches or opting for smaller offices or even virtual offices. It makes business sense to cut back on rental overheads and other expenses that go with having a large staff contingent. Given traffic congestion, meetings can easily be done via Skype or Zoom saving on both fuel and time. Already, many franchisors have internet-based communication platforms where training and product or service procedure updates can be instantly communicated throughout the entire network by simply publishing a video link which could be viewed at any time and as many times as needed.
The use of freelance specialists or consultants is becoming more and more popular as it provides flexibility to small or developing business and could reduce the wage bill which is an attractive offer for business in South Africa due to its stringent labour laws. The proposed launch of 5G is poised to increase download speeds substantially and would allow instant action and virtual reality based on a super-fast connected world – this again would impact more and more on employment decisions and the use of the instant communication platforms.