We’ve finally turned the page on 2020. As we close the book on such a year of adaptation for small and large businesses alike, we look ahead towards 2021 with a mindset of energetic optimism. As we examine new shifts in the business landscape, some new factors are suddenly coming into the foreground now, while others have been building for months due to societal characteristics of the new normal brought about by Covid.
Overall, we must remember that the most successful business owner is one with resiliency and focus. A thriving financial advisor or RSD lawyer is not afraid to navigate into new areas of opportunity. Digital connectivity and modern innovations in business models are essential concepts that will play a part in any company for years to come.
Here are four of the most critical trends that any entrepreneur will need to consider to make 2021 a prosperous business year.
The Era of Automation
The concept of automation has long been used in the marketing and sales fields to boost services such as lead generation and campaign monitoring. Now, service automation is being expanded to additional areas to aid in sectors where there are fewer available employees. With fewer on-site workers to monitor supply chain workflow, for example, automation services have been utilized to systemize day-to-day operations better. Specific areas where automation aids with supply chain mechanics include:
- Updates on inventory and shipping
- Customer service and interaction
- Order management across multiple channels
- Picking and packing individual orders
- Payments and invoices
- Creating and meeting revenue goals
Automation is also used in areas such as social media marketing. Chatbots are often implemented in companies’ official social media pages to arrange for easier communication with customers. These chatbots utilize artificial intelligence to communicate with consumers, guiding them through the purchase process by asking questions about their ideal order before leading them to a potential product. This is done through the internal social messaging app, providing a comfortable communicative experience with minimal hassle.
Remote Work is a Reality
Do you currently work from home? If so, you’re in the majority–and this trend will continue for a while. A study done by Pew Research Center in December of 2020 found that 71% of Americans were working from home most or all of the time in their current jobs. More interestingly, 54% said that they would want to continue working from home after Covid ends. It’s clear that the remote work environment is one that employees in the U.S. have adapted to. Having a personal office and a safe workspace are more comfortable factors when worrying about health risks and social distancing.
Companies will need to address their office layout when it’s finally time to let their employees back onto their on-site location. Safe distancing between individual desks and having sanitizing products available onhand, for example, will both be among the essential components needed for physical office locations moving forward. Creating hybrid work from home/on-site schedules for employees on a weekly basis may be another concept that individual businesses may have to address. No matter how they adapt, each company will need to implement the effects that work-from-home culture has brought about.
The customer experience has been looked at, examined, and researched by an untold amount of marketing firms and agencies to improve it due to the pandemic’s effects. The simple reality is this: digital purchase through smartphone apps and access to brands’ websites is being utilized at a rising rate. More power is in the hands of the consumer than ever before in terms of deciding where and when to buy. This is especially true for companies who have had fewer employees available on-site and disruptions in their supply chain, which means more consumer reliance on contactless purchase.
Americans are certainly still spending. This past Thanksgiving in particular saw a 21.5% rise in total retail sales compared to 2019. What’s more surprising is that 46.5% of those sales purchases came through smartphones–a record amount. The digital transformation of individual brands will continue as more companies invest in technology such as web development and improved customer support.
The climate crisis is an issue that affects millions of citizens worldwide. Notably, the Millennial and Generation Z (born between 1996 and 2016) demographics have sustainability in the back of their mind when deciding whether or not to purchase from a brand. And a recent Nielsen global survey saw that 81% of respondents felt brands should support the environment.
Consequently, companies have started to take on this issue. Well-known brands such as Walmart ran a recent campaign where they partnered with a resale site to sell 750,000 pre-owned items, without leaving a carbon manufacturing footprint. The Ocean Cleanup brand created their first sunglasses made exclusively from upcycled plastic from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Adidas signed a deal with the environmentally sustainable firm Allbirds, launching a campaign to create a shoe with the lowest carbon footprint. Brands that take the initiative and commit to the environment are taking a step in the right direction and attracting consumers with their message.
The ground has undoubtedly shifted in multiple industries due to the effects of the new normal. None of us can predict how long this new set of societal conditions will last. However, these essential business trends mentioned above have significantly altered the playing field for brands and business sectors alike. If you adapt to these developing changes and put time and resources into understanding the vital infrastructural movements in commerce, you’ll be ready to succeed this year.