These are our observations and musings only presented as food for thought, not necessarily fact other than they are factual in our immediate environment.
Over the past several years, many large retailers that have long been the mainstay of the retail industry seem to be fading. Most recently Sears appears to be heading in that direction. Malls, once a focal point of shopping and social life are closing as they lose their "anchor" stores such as JCPenney, and Sears. Anchor stores created foot traffic for smaller retailers that would compete to have locations next the bigger stores.
What is happening? From our observation most recent changes are founded on convenience for the consumer. Product delivery, technology, and the ability to shop wisely using the Internet to research purchases appear to be driving consumer behavior.
Consider, depending on where you live, you can buy groceries, make other product purchases, even visit your doctor for minor ailments, all without leaving your home. This is convenience in saving you time, and often money.
Over the next few years consumers will continue to turn to convenience in purchasing products they need or want. Most researchers still predict that brick and mortar stores are still here to stay, but retailers will need to turn to convenience to meet consumer demands. You may have seen a few of these early trends to make shopping more convenient whether it is making your purchases online and having them ready for pickup when you arrive at the store, to retailers offering free delivery in addition to allowing you to complete your purchase in the store.
Improvements in product delivery are shaping the consumer experience. At the beginning of a work week a consumer can make online purchases and have them delivered within a few days. Grocery stores are joining this trend as well allowing you to make online purchases and having them delivered to your home. For the busy worker this is a great way to save time by avoiding driving to the store and standing in long checkout lines.
Technology is one of the main drivers in consumer trends, impacting consumers from online shopping, researching products before they buy, and the providing the ability to use voice search, our own digital assistants to help us identify and make our purchases - e.g. Google Home, Amazons Alexis, etc. Consumers are now entering a phase where interacting with technology using their voice is adding additional conveniences. In time, as these services expand, consumers are likely to turn to technology more and more as a digital assistant.
Consider the last major purchase you made. Chances are you researched your purchasing options using the Internet whether researching product options, availability, and reading reviews of the products you chose to purchase. Search engines are making it easier for us to find products that are not only close to us in terms of geography, but offering online purchase options as well. Consumers are turning more and more to the Internet for information before they buy and what they find is influencing their purchasing decisions.
So what does this mean for small business owners? Many small businesses are already utilizing the Internet and other technologies to provide convenience for their customers whether making online purchases for delivery to their homes, or allowing them to book appointments online for services from hair appointments, to making purchases prior to arriving at the store.
Looking ahead, small business owners need to further incorporate technology, delivery, and pre-purchase for store pickup options to meet the needs of their customers. Consider how to make shopping more convenient for your customers utilizing the tools and resources they have available to them whether it is store delivery, product information available online for research, and purchasing products for delivery to their homes and offices.
"Ok, Ok, Ok, Ok!!!" You have formulated a small business idea and you are ready to get started but how, where, and when???? (These are our opinions, not the only answers)
Determining the legal structure of your business is the first step. Will it be a Limited Liability Corporation (LLC), Sole Proprietorship, Partnership, etc. The legal framework will protect you, your employees to some extent and it is a critical decision to be made. Learn as much about the advantages and disadvantages for each structure. Talk with legal counsel as well. Learn more at IRS Business Structures.
At the same time, begin identifying and collecting the capital you will need to start your business. If you are opening a physical location, having enough capital to pay your rent or real estate loan payments for several months is advisable. Starting any business takes time and you need time to grow your customer base.
Your branding and marketing campaigns should be started once you have set an opening date and established your legal status as a business. (Note: You may need to clearly identify what legal status your business is in your advertising.) This allows you to get your company in front of potential customers before your doors open. Get help if branding and marketing is not one of your strengths. Factor those costs into your budget.
Simultaneously, gather supplies, materials, and other items you will need to effectively run your business. Once you open it will be hard to find time to complete some of the simplest tasks like ordering office supplies.
All of these items can be addressed in a small business strategic plan. Carefully thinking through today what you will need to do tomorrow will ensure you are organized and prepared. (See our blog, "Strategic Planning for Small Business")
The best advice we can give is get going. Start with your business idea, identify a start-up date and get to work. Some of the best small business "ideas" remain just an idea unless you create a plan and put it into motion.
Best wishes with your small business!!!!
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950 Eagles Landing Pkwy, Suite 422
Stockbridge, GA 30281