Top 5 Technology Trends That are Reshaping Small Businesses in the UK

Small businesses in the UK

Small Business Saturday is right around the corner- a day specially devoted to promoting small businesses and celebrating their contribution to the advancement of retail methodologies. The idea behind Small Business Saturday, which was initiated by American Express in the US, has been gaining momentum in the UK over the last five years. This year’s event, which took place on Saturday, 2 December, was the fifth year running for this campaign in Great Britain.

Observing Small Business Saturday is a morale booster for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the UK, that need all the help they can get in the face of challenges ranging from extortionate business rates to disruptive online competition. While big businesses rely on a pre-Christmas “lift” from Cyber Monday and Black Friday bonanzas, the SMEs often miss out. However, Small Business Saturday redresses the balance, the proof of which is the staggering growth observed in last year’s D-day sales.

Small Business Saturday promises a bigger market for SMEs

The influential ‘Small Business Saturday 2017’ research report stated that customers spent around £717m at small businesses on this day last year, up from £623m in 2015. Nearly half of the shoppers surveyed claimed that they shopped small mainly because of Small Business Saturday in the UK, which is a testament to its growing reach and influence.

While there are several factors involved in this staggering growth of small businesses, one of the most significant drivers is the constant evolution of technology and digital innovation. As our expert analyst put it, “small business success is tied to the smart use of the right technologies.” The analyst further emphasized that small businesses that view technology and digital innovation as critical to growth are eventually outpacing their peers.

In this light, herein are the top 5 trending technologies for small business owners that will revolutionize the way they do business in 2017 and beyond.

1) Improved CRM solutions

Although customer relationship management (CRM) software and specifically cloud-based systems have been at the forefront of retail technologies, many SMEs have found enterprise-focused solutions such as Salesforce, too expensive and complicated. However, the technology has evolved at an unprecedented rate over the past few years, resulting in a wide range of seamless CRM solutions available for SMEs.

Modern CRM technology goes beyond simple contact management to help small and medium-sized business (SMBs) gain access to analytics, improve the consumer experience, and compete more efficiently in a world of social media and multi-channel marketing. With the newer, more comprehensive and accessible CRM platforms, small businesses can integrate data from several forms of customer engagement.

2) Continued shift to mobile

With the ever lucrative holiday shopping on the horizon and busy shoppers glued to their mobile phones, it may be more critical than ever that the small-business powered mobile shopping experience be stellar. In an era of smartphones, tablets, and wearable technology, the world is progressively more connected to online commerce.

According to the Statista research, in 2017, the share of mobile sales was more than 54 percent out of the total sales in the UK. Consequently, a massive number of small business owners are continually turning toward mobile solutions to pursue additional opportunities. These include a wide range of applications, from file sharing and expense reporting, to financial management, email and other forms of communication.

3) Contactless payments

Mobile payment (also known as contactless payment) options such as Google Wallet, Square, Apple Pay, and Vendio have significant advantages for customers and SME vendors alike. Today, retailers from all over the world are embracing mobile payments regardless of their size, thanks to benefits like quick and seamless payments, contributing to improved customer experience.

Contactless payment makes transactions convenient and fast, allowing business enterprises to better target discounts and coupons to individual customers by integrating them with loyalty programs and CRM tools. These solutions can also sync with inventory management tools to help track stock. Moreover, they can significantly reduce the charges payable on credit card transactions.

4) Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning

In the last few years, the world has been flooded with predictions about the potential and promises of Artificial Intelligence (AI) for enterprises. However, for many businesses, particularly SMBs, the initial surge of curiosity gives way to the need to focus on the usual tasks: finding new prospects, working leads and closing deals. AI is no doubt the next big thing, but, until merchants are clear about how it can be used, this technology will be viewed with skepticism.

Nevertheless, AI as a technology continues to grow. Today, AI’s ability to solve day-to-day business problems renders it an indispensible resource, helping small businesses make smart, efficient and timely business decisions. For instance, business owners can take existing customer data and apply machine learning to discover trends and patterns that were once impossible to uncover.

5) Blockchain technology

While most of us are familiar with the term Blockchain as a form of digital currency, the underlying technology continues to make headlines, with business leaders talking about its huge potential beyond financial transactions and cryptocurrency. Blockchain tech is on its way to becoming an essential solution for large as well as small businesses, despite a very perceptible lack of awareness and understanding of how it actually works.

What makes small businesses an exciting use case for blockchain technology is their unique needs, targets, and challenges. Trust, immutability, and transparency have always been major issues for small companies. Blockchain tools help SMEs solve these problems. The secure blockchain technology circumvents the need for intermediaries, cutting expenses, saving time and facilitating a variety of processes.

Technavio specializes in helping small businesses find their niche and dominate. How can the massive innovation in digital technologies help your small business find its true calling? Understand it all, HERE.