The previous year brought many changes to how business is conducted online. Small businesses seemed to be caught in between the influx of e-commerce dropshippers and large companies trying to grab their share of the market. Now that the market appears to be recovering, let’s take a look at which small business trends to expect in 2022.
1. Set up a hybrid work model for your employees
During the pandemic lockdowns, almost all businesses were forced to either close down or find a way to incorporate remote work options. Even if you, as a small business owner, aren’t personally thrilled by the concept of hybrid work models, you will be hard-pressed to find employees who will be satisfied with only working from the office.
Remote and hybrid work is becoming the norm, and if we had to wager which of the small business trends to expect in 2022 will be a surefire hit, it would definitely be this one. You should realize that there are many benefits for your business if you organize a hybrid work model:
- You’ll probably be able to save up a lot of money on renting office space since even smaller areas will be sufficient. Hong Kong also has numerous co-working spaces, which is an excellent option to reduce the rent.
- Employee productivity has shown sufficient improvements in a flexible work environment.
- Due to remote work, businesses are adopting more digital solutions, which only further increase the overall productivity.
2. Flexible delivery models
Nowadays, most customers choose to stay at home and do their shopping online. This trend grew in popularity during the pandemic and is now the preferred method for shopping for people worldwide. Although online shopping isn’t exactly new, many small businesses were forced to find new models of functioning almost overnight.
To keep up with the competition that prominent industry leaders represent, small businesses will need to find ways to remain competitive regarding delivery times. Sadly, certain companies that depend more on walk-in customers will need to get more creative when trying to solve the problem of transitioning their services to a flexible delivery model. As an answer to this problem, we have seen the rise of curbside pickups as well as third-party delivery services. Solutions definitely exist, but we are excited to see how this small business trend evolves further in 2022.
3. Voice searches
It’s no surprise that most online sales during the last several years were made through mobile devices. That’s a trend we can surely expect to continue. However, we also saw the beginning of a new trend in the form of increased reliance on personal assistants and the use of voice recognition software to perform voice searches. Even without specialized devices like Google’s Echo and Amazon’s Alexa, smartphones now come equipped with apps that help facilitate voice searches.
Most large companies across various industries have already started optimizing their content and website pages to better function for voice searches and verbal on-page navigation. As a small business, if you accommodate for these types of searches, you’ll be able to get a serious boost to your SEO. Besides improving your standing with search engines, optimizing for voice searches will also enhance the customer experience.
4. Always online, always available
Say goodbye to traditional office hours and hello to the ever-present internet. Of course, this doesn’t mean that you need to be at your computer non-stop. However, it does mean that you need to have a way for your customers to contact you even outside of working hours. Contact professionals who can create a website for your company that makes communication with clients easy and intuitive.
Fortunately, there are a few digital tools you can implement on your site to speed up and facilitate communication:
- You can implement click-to-call services on your site, directly connecting a customer to one of your employees. Outside of working hours, those customers can be given a message and then contacted later.
- Install AI chatbots to engage users while they are browsing your site. The chatbots can also help customers complete their purchases and answer product-related questions.
- Have an option for phone orders. Some users appreciate small businesses because they don’t need to fill out complex forms. Give users the chance to talk to you personally and let them complete their orders without having to type out all of their information.
5. Social media
Both small and large businesses commonly have a presence on social media. This trend isn’t going anywhere; in fact – it’s only gaining momentum. However, you should pay very close attention to the different approaches companies take when handling their marketing on social platforms. As a small business owner, you shouldn’t simply copy what the big players are doing. The main reason for this is that you probably don’t have the infrastructure to replicate their plays on a one-to-one basis.
Large companies can have several community managers and whole teams of people churning out content. This is something you simply can’t match. On the other hand, you can treat social media as a different tool. Your audience will probably be smaller, which will let you engage your followers on a personal level. Use social media to develop strong relationships with customers. The algorithm will then pick up on the increased engagement, and you can use that to grow your following.
6. Influencer marketing
It used to be that only large companies sought out influencers to represent them. Over time, social media has grown at an insane rate, and now we have influencers who cater to even the smallest niche markets. Having influencers represent a diverse range of brands is one of the most important small business trends to expect in 2022. Partnerships with influencers don’t need to be exclusive, and you can have one e-celebrity promote multiple brands in the same niche. Use this to your advantage and look for small influencers who already have experience promoting your type of business.
It seems like small businesses are constantly facing an uphill struggle, trying to keep up the pace with the trends set by prominent industry leaders. However, the best way to stand out and seize your share of the market is to look at what the future brings. You can become an early adopter of the small business trends to expect in 2022 in order to get a head start on your competition.