• BBB Business Tip: Ten small business trends for 2022

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    January 11, 2022
    Photo Courtesy of Getty Images
    In 2020, the number of small businesses in the United States reached 31.7 million, making up approximately 99.9% of all U.S. businesses. That is a remarkable number, and it means small businesses are facing more competition than ever. So, how can you stand out and attract new customers? By staying on top of the latest small business trends for 2022, you will be well-positioned to thrive in the marketplace in the new year.
    Every year, small businesses are poised to create more jobs, generate more economic activity, and add more value to the economy. Small businesses are a growing force, and to ensure that your company keeps pace, you need to stay up to date with the latest trends.

    Here are 10 small business trends to watch out for in 2022:

    1. E-commerce will continue to thrive

    E-commerce sales growth is continuously increasing, and this trend is expected to have a substantial impact on small businesses in the coming years. E-commerce sales in the U.S. are expected to have grown by 17.9% in 2021, surpassing $1 trillion in 2022.
    What does that mean for small businesses? If you aren't online yet, you’re missing out on the opportunity to reach the 2.14 billion people worldwide who prefer to shop online than in-store. Now is the time to get your online shop up and running.

    2. Cashless/contactless payment options are a necessity 

    Studies indicate that the rise in cashless payment methods will continue into the new year, with approximately 79% of businesses stating that they've switched to cashless payments post-pandemic for safety reasons.
    Globally, 59% of consumers state that they prefer contactless payment methods over cash, pin- or chip-enabled cards, and magnetic strip cards.

    3. AI is becoming more common for businesses and consumers

    Artificial Intelligence (AI) is rapidly becoming a critical tool for businesses and consumers alike. AI-powered chatbots, automated image recognition, and voice recognition simplify data collection and analysis.
    These advances in technology are changing how businesses and consumers interact with each other. For example, chatbots are replacing customer service representatives, providing customers with quick answers to their questions.

    4. Prioritizing engagement is a must

    While customer engagement has always been an important component of a successful company, the pandemic made it even more of a priority. Now more than ever, you need to have a comprehensive engagement strategy in place to connect with your customers, partners, and employees.
    Transparency is also becoming more of a priority for companies, with approximately 86% of Americans stating that transparency from businesses is more critical than ever before.

    5. Small businesses need to embrace a digital-first world

    With consumers spending an increasing amount of time accessing the internet, searching for goods and services, and sharing information online, small businesses need to adapt to this new digital world to maintain a competitive edge. To do this, it’s important to invest in the right technologies, including:
    •  Customer service software
    •  Sales software/strategies
    •  Marketing software/strategies
    •  IT operations

    6. Customer service continues to take priority

    Many marketing professionals claim that the post-pandemic era is the “experience age,” meaning this is the age of prioritizing the customer experience above all else. 
    In 2022, this will involve focusing specifically on the mobile customer service experience, as up until recently, 90% of consumers stated they had had a poor experience when seeking support on their mobile devices.
    Now, approximately 84% of companies say they will be focusing on the mobile customer experience moving forward, according to SuperOffice.

    7. Empathy and emotional intelligence take precedence

    Empathy and emotional intelligence are critical requirements for any organization to succeed in the post-pandemic world. In order for an organization to have empathy for its customers, it needs to listen to them and prioritize the customer experience. Emotional intelligence is the ability to understand emotions and how they influence our behaviors and interactions, and in this new era of customer service, you must develop ways to improve your emotional intelligence to serve your customers effectively.

    8. Increased emphasis on digital and cloud technologies

    If your small business is looking to reduce costs and improve efficiency and service, you should consider leveraging digital technologies and cloud computing. Digital technologies such as smartphones, tablets, and laptops are becoming increasingly prevalent in consumers’ daily lives. These technologies are key to the ongoing evolution of the customer experience.

    9. Hybrid workplaces will remain

    With the increasing demand for flexibility and remote work environments, we are seeing more and more small businesses embrace a hybrid model that allows employees to work from home when possible.

    10. More staff coaching/mentoring of employees

    Finally, small businesses will most likely be looking to invest more in staff coaching and mentoring in 2022. It is evident that many small businesses are struggling to retain employees, and by investing more in their staff members, small businesses will be more likely to establish a strong workforce. An effective employee coaching strategy allows organizations to improve morale and increase productivity.

    Build a robust business plan for 2022 with help from the BBB

    To build a thriving business, you must be constantly looking for new ways to improve. With the right tools and a solid plan in place, you can ensure success for your business for years to come.
    Ready to ramp up your business in 2022? Get more tips and tricks for marketing, growth, and more by visiting the BBB business news feed today! Visit our BizHQ page for more tips.
    BBB of Northwest Florida
    912 E. Gadsden Street
    Pensacola, FL 32501
    Tammy Ward, Communications Director
    tammy@nwfl.bbb.org, (850) 429-0002