Business is changing like never before, and staying abreast of the trends is key to keeping your business afloat. We’ve picked out these topics that are sure to make waves in 2018, for better or for worse, for good or temporarily. In fact, some of these trends can potentially cancel each other out, as innovations and demands rise and fall.
Check out these 6 business trends that are already giving other companies a leg up in the game:
Blockchain currencies, like Bitcoin and Ethereum, have already made the banking industry second-guess itself and invest in millions of dollars to take advantage of its rise, only to be disappointed by sudden dips in value. However, blockchain is not just about cryptocurrencies: it’s a secure way to host anything online, from personal information to cloud systems.
The tighter security that blockchain promises can be the change that the hacking debacles of the past few years have been demanding to see. If your customers are looking for a more secure way to make transactions and transmit information, then this could be the solution.
AI AND AUTOMATION
Google and Amazon’s mad dash to collect information—from drawing maps to your shopping preferences—isn’t a vain undertaking. It’s feeding directly into the brain that is slowly but steadily creating artificial intelligence. The baby steps of AI are automation, and it’s already a mainstay in various companies.
The key is not to fear the machine. Remember that these inventions aren’t made to be robots to replace us in the workplace, but to be tools that help humans perform better in the workplace by eliminating mundane tasks. It’s structured to help us perform higher level tasks. For example, instead of us having to count Facebook likes per post, automation compiles daily, weekly, and monthly engagement rates, and is able to make recommendations on the time of posting, target audience, and so on.
If your staff is wasting time encoding and counting, free them up for higher-level tasks by employing basic automation tools. Aside from speed and volume, the accuracy will always be at a 100%.
If you don’t have a chatbot on your website, or at least, an auto-responder for your company’s Facebook page, set it up now. Chatbots not only allow you to respond to inquiries in a more timely and orderly manner, and direct to FAQ pages or issue queue numbers.
It can free up your staff from manual customer support and drive up your SEO rankings by increasing time spent by visitors on your site. It’s a simple, affordable (often free!), and effective addition to your arsenal of tools.
THE HUMAN TOUCH
Technology has driven a desire for more human, more genuine interactions. Even as customers expect everything to be done faster and better with computers, they are also demanding the assistance that only human interaction can give.
Chatbots and automated phone systems have modernized customer support for 24/7 service, but the quality of the human touch for any interaction is still number one. Make sure to invest in providing a genuine, human-centric customer experience along with speed and efficiency.
Now this should go without saying, but it is absolutely imperative that you make sure your business is optimized for a life on the go. Unfortunately, not all retail has embraced this yet, and if you’re not on the mobile bandwagon, then here’s what you’re missing out: in 2012, online purchases comprised only 11% of retail sales. In 2016, this statistic grew sharply to 48%.
eCommerce has not only made shopping available anywhere, but has also developed sound mechanisms for increasing foot traffic, maximizing discounts and promos, and following up abandoned shopping carts, among others.
The growth of mobile is unstoppable, and it’s only going to grow until it becomes second nature to all purchases. Making your business accessible online has been made simple by many platforms, and without utilizing it, lesser businesses could beat out yours swiftly.
Anne Hathaway’s character as a startup CEO in The Intern posited that they have to find a way for friends to shop together online, and 2017 answered them with aplomb. With social shopping on the rise, the same engagement that drives the success of social media can and will successfully drive the gaps in your online sales through reviews, rankings, shares, and make product recommendations more accurate. Embracing these seemingly passive additions to your digital store can help echo each product on your shelf.