Last week, the US Small Business Association (SBA) hosted the annual National Small Business Week (NSBW), an event that has taken place every year since 1963 in an effort to recognize the contributions of America’s entrepreneurs and small business owners. This year’s event looked different than in years past however, as the SBA pivoted to a virtual format with a focus on the resilience of America’s entrepreneurs and the renewal of the small business economy as they build the path to recover from the COVID-19-induced economic crisis.
While discussions around digital transformation, connecting the dots between brick & mortar and eCommerce, and the importance of 1:1 customer connections are far from new, there is no question that the past year accelerated the need for SMBs to quickly transform these ideas into action.
Here’s our TL;DR on three key themes that are here to stay:
- Omnichannel is crucial for SMBs to thrive
The pandemic spurred many B&M retailers to quickly pivot their resources and invest in eCommerce to future-proof their business. With customer expectations at an all time high - and tolerance for friction at an all time low - short-term innovations like QR codes and curb-side pick-up are proving their staying power.
- Customer experience needs to be consistent across all channels
The key to doing business in 2021 and beyond is to be everywhere your customers are, and empowering them to choose the channels they use to engage with your business. Having an engagement strategy that seamlessly integrates these channels on the backend is critical to not only secure new customers, but to retain loyal ones. Tactics like promotions and rewards as means of connecting with customers who otherwise aren’t in your physical stores is essential. Measure success of digital promotions & programming
- Integrated, scalable tools are essential to better understand - and support - your customers
Over the course of this past year, SMBs have doubled down on modern technology to accelerate transformation. They’ve learned how to leverage these tools to protect their brand, reach new customers and grow their business. Identifying the tools that can scale with your businesses, retain personalized customer connections and ensure customers feel heard is a make-or-break decision that SMBs will continue to face in the foreseeable future.