What will 2020 bring in technology advancements for your small business? There are a wide variety of tools that will elevate all aspects of your company, from an enhanced customer experience to renewed trust to productivity tools that make you more competitive.
Here are seven technology trends for small businesses to watch.
Mobile Is No Longer a Maybe
It should go without saying in 2020 that a mobile-friendly, accessible website is a must-have, and no longer a nice-to-have. But mobile doesn’t exist in a vacuum; customers now expect an omnichannel shopping experience that includes mobile, web, and in-store, with the ability to easily pay in any venue. Some examples of this omnichannel experience include:
- Online mobile payments. Your customers now expect a one-click checkout experience from their mobile wallet, whether it’s with Apple Pay, Google Pay, PayPal’s One Touch, or MasterCard’s Masterpass.
- Brick-and-mortar mobile payments. No one wants to fumble for cash or a card when they can simply tap or wave their phone and walk out of the store.
- In-store mobile marketing. You’ve seen it many times: A customer walks into your store and then whips out their phone to do further research before buying. Thirty-two percent of them change their minds about making a purchase. In-store mobile marketing keeps them on the purchase path.
There Is More Automation, and It's Easier to Implement
Small businesses are finding more ways that automation can boost their bottom line. This idea has been around for a while, but we’re entering an era in which it’s easier than ever for companies to put it in place without a full IT team on staff, with tools such as Buffer for social, Google Ads for search, Calendly for scheduling, Trello for project management, and Xero for accounting.
Data Fuels Growth ...
Data is the lifeblood of any successful business. It tells you who your customers are and what they want, helps you evaluate your staff and internal processes, and lets you compare your performance to larger industry trends.
But the mammoth amounts of data now available to every business owner can be overwhelming. In fact, it’s estimated that every consumer will generate 1.7 megabytes of data per second in 2020. Enter cloud-based cognitive services, which allow companies to manage data with AI without the expertise or expense required in years past. Businesses can harness this power and market to increasingly targeted audiences.
... and User Reviews Provide Data
Now more than ever, the opinions of your customers will drive sales. Positive reviews are nuggets of user data that also function as social proof, because people model the behavior or opinions of others that they see as correct. Reviews also give a quick snapshot of how you stack up against your competitors and provide insight on what keywords show up in the average person’s review.
This data is a crucial tool when developing your next product line or slate of content. It’s also a great way to learn about customer pain points and take steps to proactively address them.
Social Media Is Shifting
Social proof has become a necessary part of a successful social media strategy. Companies that openly let customers build online communities and use feedback as part of their promotional campaigns build trust and loyalty.
Another way to build trust is to make social a key part of customer service. Forty-five percent of your customers will start there when they have a question or complaint. Be ready with a quick response, and the rest of your community will take notice.
2020 is the time to venture outside of your social comfort zone. Facebook and Instagram remain solid, but also consider dipping your toe into Pinterest, Snapchat, or growing networks like TikTok. If your audience is there, it’s worth setting up shop.
Chatbots Are the Talk of the Town
From the smart speaker in your kitchen to the friendly “employee” that pops up on a website ready to assist you at 3 a.m., the age of the chatbot has arrived. Once awkward and off-putting, they are now a fluid, efficient tool to enhance customer service.
Rather than waiting for a company’s corporate office to open the next morning, customers can ask AI-powered digital “assistants” for the answers to commonly asked questions whenever they pop into a customer’s head. Most of these chatbots speak in a conversational tone and respond to keywords that come from natural speech.
Payments Will Be Everywhere
Payments now show up in almost every aspect of our lives, and 2020 is expected to bring with it some exciting trends:
- Payments will be invisible. Now that payment information can easily be stored and applied to both brick-and-mortar and online purchases, the shopping experience will become more seamless than ever.
- Payments will pop up in new places. From cars to watches to smart speakers, your customers will become accustomed to buying on the go.
If your company uses an outdated payment system, it will struggle to keep pace with technology trends for small businesses. Luckily, there are partners out there that can help ease this transition.
Poynt’s comprehensive payment solution can put your business in a great position to take 2020 by storm.