Small Business: Looking to the Future
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.
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Stockbridge, GA 30281