2016 has a bad name, let’s face it. We all know why. However, I propose that we put aside our differences with 2016, even if just for a few minutes, to think about the key developments which will take us, as Gloucestershire business owners, into a hopefully much happier and more prosperous 2017.
Here are five key developments you might need to do something about, if you haven’t already, and one to watch for the future:
Emojis… they have been around for a long time but they have gained additional momentum this year. With apple regularly releasing emoji updates and the next generation able to communicate almost entirely using them. Is it appropriate for you to start communicating using emojis with your customers? Will your customers use emojis when communicating with you. The latter is increasingly likely where communication is online so it’s important to have a basic understanding so that you understand the context of any used in communication. Some are self-explanatory (smiley face / angry face) but others maybe a little more cryptic.
Contactless & Apple Pay
In case you haven’t noticed contactless payments have really come into their own this year. With the contactless payment cap rising to £30 I’m not sure what I did before contactless. Together with Apple Pay and a plethora of apps and websites which allow you to set up one-touch payments, it’s now incredibly easy and fast for us to pay for goods as consumers.
As a small business owner in Gloucester, we need to consider the impact this change in behaviour has for us. Do we offer the ability for our customers to pay for their goods this quickly? If not will they expect it and be disappointed? The answer, in case you were wondering, is yes.
Live streaming and video continues to grow in popularity. Facebook live is now trying to contend with Periscope. Pretty much every major social network has the ability to integrate video and in the next 5 years, 70% of online content will be video.
As a small business owner, you should definitely consider whether video would be a good way to communicate with current and potential customers.
Of all the things which have happened this year. We cannot deny that the customer’s delivery speed expectation has significantly shortened.
The growing availability of next day and even same-day delivery from hundreds of retailers has raised the stakes in this area. Uber & Amazon prime are just a few of the innovators in this field. Next thing we know our online shopping will be delivered by drones within the hour…
Whilst that’s not the case quite yet customers will expect fast delivery options to be available and may choose to go to a competitor if we are not able to a fast delivery service.
We explored this subject in a little more detail in our blog last month (link).
The final one on my list for this year is artificial intelligence. The virtual assistant facility available on different devices is hugely competitively updated. With each provider claiming superior capability and continually striving to improve the service.
The customer service chatbot is also now so common on websites that I barely notice them and definitely cannot tell whether I’m talking to a person or a robot.
Should you invest in a chatbot for your website to help your customers find what they are looking for?
And one to watch…
An area which is innovating at a pace is virtual reality. We can see this already having an impact on the gaming industry but in future years could this spread to retail or even further? Will customers want to virtually experience something before they buy it? Whilst we are not there yet it’s definitely an interesting one to keep an eye on.
So… for better or worse, 2016 has changed our world.
Here’s to a relaxing festive season and happy, prosperous 2017. ??