Digital and Creative
By any measure, it’s been a challenging year-and-a-half. But the good news is that better times are on the horizon.
And not just relative to the lows of the pandemic, and not just in the opinion of eternal optimists. Economists have analysed more than a century of financial data and discovered that markets are predictably cyclical, regardless of external factors, and we are all but guaranteed to be heading into nearly two decades of prosperity.
The chief executive of Barclays has also calculated that there is around £200bn sitting in personal and business bank accounts ready to be spent as soon as restrictions allow for it.
Taken together, the consensus is that we can expect a once-in-a-generation boom not seen since 1948.
That’s great news, but if you want to ensure you fully reap the rewards, you’ll need to ensure that your business is prepared for growth. Here’s our guide to getting ready for the good times.
Build a scalable business
Growing pains can hamper the success of even the most inspired business idea.
It’s time to assess how much your current operation can grow, and how easily you can add capacity. And whenever you make decisions for the future – including recruitment, investment in new processes and systems and so on – do so with the idea that bigger things are coming.
This doesn’t mean over-extending yourself, purchasing bigger premises than you can afford for example, but it does mean factoring future growth into the decision. For how long will what you have, or what you’re planning to purchase, be enough for what you do, and once you outgrow it, how costly will it be to replace or upgrade?
Think about communicating with customers, taking orders, processing purchases, the logistics of getting goods from your supply chain into your warehouse, and from your warehouse to your customers, as well as how to handle returns. How would you cope if order volumes rapidly increased?
Building a website or installing a back-end system to process orders is a significant investment. Make sure it scales as far as your ambitions, or you may soon be restricted by its limitations, or suffering the cost and disruption of investing in a replacement.
Fully embrace ecommerce
Lockdown restrictions changed the nature of shopping forever. Sure, the high streets are on the cusp of a resurgence, but ecommerce is now far more popular with a far broader range of the population than it was at the start of 2020.
There are still some businesses with their heads in the sand, who want to do things the old-fashioned way. Maybe they don’t think ecommerce suits their products or services, maybe they think technology is too complicated. In both cases, all evidence gathered this year and last shows that they’re wrong.
Primark lost out on around £2bn in sales by refusing to sell online. Their pockets are deep enough to see that through, but they’re a rare case. And it remains to see how much market share they can recover now that many among their audience have discovered online alternatives such as Asos, Boohoo and the many smaller independent retailers.
Customers now demand easy-to-use, round-the-clock shopping options and if that’s not something that you offer, it’s something your competition does.
Relearn what customers want
A year of shopping online has revolutionised what many consumers are seeking from their purchases – and from retailers. If you want your business to grow through the boom times, you can’t just stock up on more of the same and assume it will sell.
Brand loyalty is proving to be less important now that price comparison is so easily done online. And savvy shoppers have new demands. They want cheap, or better still free, delivery. Easy returns. Flexible payment options including spreading the costs and the ability to pay via a variety of different methods.
Most pre-purchase research is carried out online, even when the final transaction takes place offline. High quality photos and video are fairly standard ways of showcasing products online these days, and online reviews from genuine customers have never been more important.
It’s vital to keep an eye on trends, to analyse not just what customers want to buy, but how they want to be able to buy it, and to ensure that you serve their needs. Because in today’s world, the next shop is only a couple of clicks or taps away.
Build marketing capital
It may seem as though everything which happens online is instant, but there’s still plenty that takes time and investment. Marketing is a prime example.
A tweet can go viral in minutes, but undertaking a sustainable, effective campaign is a long-term project and the sooner you start, the better prepared you will be.
Building a solid search engine presence, establishing a database of customers and potential customers, accruing positive user reviews and creating a social media following are all projects you can begin now.
Then, when the economy really begins to take off, you’ll have a wealth of tools already at your disposal ready to get your message out there.
The next step
If your website isn’t delivering the sales or inquiries that you think it should be, or you want to know more about preparing for an economic boom, talk to the eBusiness UK team. We’d be happy to have a friendly, no-obligation chat about your goals and how we can help you achieve them.