Times change, and consumer buying trends change with it. But consumers don’t just want new products—they want unique business experiences, convenient ways to get products, and brands that stick out. What can your small business do to keep up with the latest sales trends?
How you can keep up with new sales trends
Most business owners are aware of the wave of automation, online shopping, customer care trends, and brand emphasis. However, some small business owners don’t think they have the time or resources to keep up with the ever-changing sales trends.
You don’t have to own a big corporation with a high budget and thousands of employees to appeal to new consumer buying trends. Here are some relatively inexpensive and easy-to-implement ways to revamp your small business and keep up with new sales trends.
Add automation, but keep personalization
We live in a fast-paced world. Customers expect quick service when shopping or reaching out to a business. At the same time, consumers value personalization.
If your small business can’t appease consumer demands, you may fall off the grid. To streamline processes and still emphasize customer experience, try automation.
According to one survey, 42% of consumers prefer online chats to avoid hold times. Adding an online chat feature to your website can make customers happy, expedite customer service, and save your business time.
Consider using an automated phone service to find out what customers are calling about (e.g., support, sales questions, business hours, etc.). The machine can direct customers to the appropriate employee or department. Mixing this type of automation with live service can save you time by weeding out easy-to-answer questions and categorizing customer inquiries. And, customers won’t have to wait on hold or spend time getting transferred.
Another trend is personalized marketing. Customers want to receive advertisements that are tailored to their buying preferences. Consider using email marketing to send customers emails based on their purchasing history at your small business.
Some businesses fail at balancing automation and personalization. Instead of automating every aspect of your business, use it sparingly. And when you automate aspects of your business, be sure to respond quickly, use customer names, tailor the conversation toward them, and maintain your personality throughout communications.
Join the online sales sector
Over half (51%) of consumers prefer online shopping. In the age of online shopping, you don’t have to be a major player to join the online sales sector. According to Amazon, more than one million small businesses sell their products through Amazon’s online marketplace. And, this statistic doesn’t include the millions of other businesses that sell through other outlets.
There are a few ways you can break into the online sales sector. You can sell your products through online marketplaces (e.g., Etsy), social media, eCommerce websites, or your own website. Before selling products online, consider things like your sales tax liability and how you will handle shipping.
If joining the online sales sector isn’t possible at this time, give yourself the edge by setting up a small business website or learning how to make your website stand out. Display images and descriptions of your products and services, even if customers cannot shop online.
Encourage positive and negative customer remarks
Consumers don’t just receive personal recommendations anymore—they have access to a whole network of buyers through the internet.
Online reviews are critical when customers investigate a new business. According to one source, 88% of consumers trust online reviews and personal recommendations equally. If you want to keep up with this trend, encourage both positive and negative customer remarks.
Ask customers to leave comments on review channels, your website, social media, and Google. When customers visit your storefront, distribute feedback surveys or send follow-up emails about their shopping experience.
If you don’t respond to customer remarks, you could be missing out on keeping up with the online review trend. Thirty percent of consumers judge local businesses on whether they respond to online reviews or not.
When customers leave you a positive review, personalize a thank you message to them. And, you need to be responsive to negative comments and reviews online.
Responding to good reviews and ignoring bad reviews can be harmful to your business’s reputation. Consumers don’t necessarily care if your small business made a mistake—they care about how you will fix it.
Use negative reviews to show that your business cares about its customers. Let the disgruntled customer know they can contact you directly to discuss the issue, offer a discount or refund, and apologize. If there was a misunderstanding, clarify it with humility.
Even if your response can’t change the customer’s mind, it may change the minds of the hundreds of people reading it.
Capitalize on your niche
Do you think expanding your small business is the only way to keep up with big corporations?
According to one Groupon survey, 67% of Americans prefer to shop at small businesses over large, national chains. Instead of turning your small business into something it’s not, capitalize on your niche.
Buying unique products, supporting local businesses, and having personalized shopping experiences are trending.
You can capitalize on your small business’s niche by telling customers about your startup story, where your products come from, and what sets your enterprise apart. Originality is trending; own it.
Track trends and monitor small business progress
This last tip, track trends, is a little obvious. If you don’t know about the latest sales trends, there’s no way you can revamp your business.
Pay attention to sales trends by reading the news, monitoring your competitors, and asking customers about their preferences.
Once you know about the trends and update your business to keep up with them, measure the outcome. Use measurement methods such as comparing your revenue between accounting periods, calculating your business’s new customer acquisition, and monitoring response rates to email marketing and online reviews.