2015 is a year of opportunities for small businesses in the UK and beyond. Here are ten predicted trends and opportunities which are likely to impact your business in the coming year:
1- Online purchasing will continue to grow significantly
We’ve previously discussed the impressive year-on-year growth in online purchasing during the holiday season; however, this trend remains consistent across all seasons and will continue through 2015. In order to take advantage of this growth, small business websites need to be incredibly high quality in order to successfully compete with larger online retailers like Amazon. If you provide a service but also want to take advantage of this growth oppottunity, it is crucial to capture leads on landing pages to enable future marketing as well as facilitating customer inquiries.
2- Social media will continue to drive consumer spending
Last year, Twitter and Facebook tested ‘buy’ buttons alongside companies’ status updates and tweets to enable spending directly from these social networks. This is incredibly important to small businesses as it validates their social media efforts and will enable businesses to track sales driven directly through social media posts. For consumers, it offers a new level of convenience enabling purchases without navigating to an external site. This development further pushes businesses to adopt social media as part of their marketing strategy, meaning that those businesses that have not yet signed up, are likely to do so before the end of the year.
3- Focus on Millenials
Those born between 1981 and 2000 have adopted ecommerce and social media like no other consumer group. According to a 2014 Harris Interactive poll, at least 68% of this group was at least ‘somewhat likely’ to purchase after seeing a friend’s post about a product or purchase. This further underlines the benefit of enabling website visitors to easily share your products and content to social networks, essentially promoting your brand at no cost to you.
4- Images are everything
Although images have become increasingly important through the rise of social media and ecommerce, this will only become more pertinent in 2015. Professional-looking beautiful images will go a very long way in promoting businesses and their products and services whether they are on a website or social media platform.
Furthermore, there is a considerable amount of anticipation for advertising on Instagram, which is due to become publically available to UK businesses this year. Furthermore, their video advertising capabilities are also an exciting opportunity, enabling businesses to create 15-second videos and targeting them to consumer groups based on age, location, and similar characteristics.
5- Social media as a customer service tool
Small and large brands alike have to deal with unhappy customers publicly through social networks and this will only become more commonplace as 2015 progresses. Therefore it is important to respond to customers quickly and effectively as this can influence the likelihood of other customers’ willingness to purchase from you.
6- Online reviews will become more important
Similarly, online reviews will become increasingly influential in the purchasing decision. Surveys consistently show that a majority of consumers read online customer reviews and let these help shape their purchasing decision. Therefore, SMEs should be aware of what is being said about them on the internet, encourage all customers to leave reviews, and respond respectfully to both positive and negative feedback.
7- Next day delivery
Whilst big online retailers already offer next day delivery for the most part, this will become more commonplace. The convenience this service offers of purchasing something one day and having it delivered the next day, will impact consumers’ purchasing and shape their expectations for the future. Some UK businesses, such as fashion retailer Missguided, have already started trialling same-day delivery, which is also expected to see an influx in 2015.
8- The importance of technology
Whilst technology has played a crucial role in business for a considerable amount of time, this will become more important in the coming year. Small businesses will continue to use new technologies in hopes of increasing efficiency and reducing overall costs. However, it is also predicted for businesses to become more selective in which technologies they integrate. As more technologies become available, it is important to compare and evaluate different options before investing your valuable time and money.
10- Small businesses will grow!
According to a survey conducted by Opus Energy, 54% of the small businesses polled had seen growth in 2014, and 50% predicted growth in 2015. These statistics reveal record levels of confidence among SME business owners. There are immense amounts of opportunities available to small businesses in the coming year, and this will hopefully be reflected in the overall performance within this sector.
There are several other factors that will impact SMEs in the coming year such as the popularity of cloud computing and changes in government. It is important that you are aware of the factors which impact your business specifically and that you anticipate your business’s strategy in relation to them. Happy 2015!