Still here and standing tall after a tricky couple of years? That’s no small achievement but determination and resilience have long been the sine qua non of Australia’s small-business sector.
The country is home to more than two million of them and their resourcefulness and adaptability have been on full display over the past two years. Many perfected the “pivot”; re-engineering their business models and attacking new markets, when their traditional revenue streams dried up, and others were forced to embrace new ways of connecting with and servicing their customers, for example digitalising and going online.
With the unemployment rate sitting at just four per cent in February 2022, Australia’s army of small-business owners are feeling more optimistic. While retaining existing customers and attracting new ones isn’t something that happens by accident, however favourable the economic conditions may be. It requires businesses to market themselves cleverly and deliver standout customer experiences.
Here are four strategies we expect smart operators will employ in 2022.
Acting with agility
We saw plenty of pivoting taking place during the lockdowns of 2020 and 2021: restaurants switching to serving heat at home meals; yoga studios offering Zoom classes; and the likes of custom stages and events structures firm Stagekings manufacturing flat packed office furniture to capitalise on the work-from-home trend.
Acting with agility, as these businesses have done – experimenting with new technology, platform providers, products, services and modes of delivery, rather than sticking with traditional ways and means – will continue to make sound sense for those that want to remain competitive and relevant over the next few years.
Offering in-person and online options (a hybrid approach)
Our collective online retail spend hit a whopping $52.04 billion between September 2020 and September 2021, according to the NAB Online Retail Sales Index: September 2021. But that doesn’t mean we want to let our fingers do the walking all of the time. Many consumers still enjoy hitting the shops in real life, to browse, touch and try on for size.
On-point retailers recognise this and, as our economy and society continue to reopen in 2022, they’ll look to offer customers a seamless blend of online and in-store one to one experiences, by integrating their sales data, communication channels and service options.
Harnessing the power of one to one
The pandemic reminded all Australians of the importance of connections. They’re what kept our spirits up through the tough times of the past few years. Savvy small business owners will keep that lesson top of mind; striving to create and strengthen their bonds with customers, old and new.
A customer experience automation platform makes it easy to do so. It’s foundation technology that can enable your organisation to connect with customers one-to-one and provide them with relevant, personalised messages and offers that keep them returning again, and again.
Making multi-channel communication a priority
COVID hasn’t just driven Australians to do more of their shopping digitally. In today’s times, we’re doing it via an array of different devices and channels – think desktops, laptops, mobile devices, online marketplaces, social media and companies’ own websites. In the absence of an omnichannel communication strategy, it’s all too easy for that to result in a clunky, disjointed purchasing experience.
Small businesses that want to surprise and delight will ensure it isn’t, by using the customer data at their disposal to deliver seamless, consistent experiences across all their channels, each and every time customers and prospects interact with them.
Small businesses that have survived the COVID crisis have lots to look forward to, in 2022 and beyond. Smart use of digital technology can help your enterprise serve its customers better and build the brand loyalty that will ensure its success in the new year and beyond.