Startup Advice

What does 2016 hold for small businesses?

Charlotte Harwood

Get in the know with our rundown of the key trends and predictions for small businesses in 2016.

Around thirty years ago, people predicted that by now we’d be traversing the streets on hoverboards. But while we might have them by name, the so-called hoverboards that last year brought us are still very much in contact with the floor.

While soothsayers of the 80s got it disappointingly wrong (not to mention bad hair, big phones and even bigger shoulder pads), forecasts don’t always miss the mark. In fact, those in the know can accurately predict more important things, like what the new year has in store for small businesses.

So to help you get ahead of the curve, here’s our rundown of 2016’s key predictions for small businesses in Britain.

Same-day delivery is set to expand

With the likes of Amazon Prime giving the ecommerce giant the ability to ship and deliver goods to customers on the same day that they order them, many more companies are following in its wake. That means customer expectations are growing ever-more demanding. Great news for those whose patience levels are low; not so great news for traders that are limited to standard delivery.

But don’t resign yourself to the thought that same day or on-demand delivery is reserved for big companies with limitless budgets. Small businesses just like yours can join the fold – it’s just a case of finding a method that works for you. With services like UberRUSH likely to make their way to our shores in the not-too-distant future, now’s the time to start planning how you’ll keep up with evolving deliveries.

Face-to-face customer connections will still be key

The world may be progressing into the digital realm more and more each day, but human connection remains the most important element of small business success. After all, as a small business you’re able to offer a more personal experience than many large companies, so use that to your advantage. Establishing and then maintaining that connection with your customers is a sure-fire way of building repeat business – and gaining loyal customers who’ll be advocates of your product or service.

Mobile will continue to go from strength to strength

The rise of mobile looks set to continue as more and more consumers opt for an on-the-go method of interacting with businesses. As a small business, an online presence is essential, even if it’s just a basic website. But to keep up with evolving methods, look to making your platform mobile-friendly to give your customers a seamless experience however they connect with you.

If you want to go even further with mobile marketing, though, you should be thinking about mobile beacons. Location marketing is set to really take off in 2016, and it’s an easy and useful way for small businesses in fixed premises to reach out to customers. Mobile or Bluetooth beacons are alerts sent out to a customer’s mobile device when they’re within range of your business location, allowing for real-time marketing.

SEO and mobile optimisation will still be a priority

If you haven’t already, you’ll need to think carefully about making sure your site has proper SEO and mobile optimisation. This is even more vital with Google’s new mobile optimisation guidelines, which means that having an unresponsive website that isn’t optimised for mobile can damage your SEO ranking – something you want to avoid at all costs.

But as technology becomes more intelligent, you don’t just want a site that’s mobile friendly; you want to accelerate it. Think faster page loading times, better responsiveness, and slick transition between pages.

New technology will change how transactions are performed

We’ve already got the latest in payment technology in the form of Apple Pay, but it’s still relatively early doors for this with only a handful of large retailers taking smartphone payments. Such changes to point of sale transactions are due to continue expansion in 2016, so it’s not too late to start thinking about how your small business can provide your customers with this convenient and growing method of payment.

For more tips and advice, visit the Growing your business section of the Biz Hub.