7 Top Business Trends for 2023 That All SMEs Should Know About

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To navigate a course for success in 2023, businesses need to take a look at their operations in light of the broader economic landscape. Keeping an eye out for emerging trends can help business leaders alter their strategies to make operations more efficient and increase revenue.

In this article, we take a look at 7 business trends in 2023 that could help you meet your business goals for the year.

1- Expanding online offerings

The pandemic may be in our rear-view mirrors, but its impact on consumer behaviour continues to be felt in 2023. While brick-and-mortar has been open for business for quite some time, data from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) demonstrate that UK consumers are spending markedly more online than they were pre-pandemic. As a result, retailers of all shapes and sizes are opening their own eCommerce stores and using other digital channels, including Amazon, eBay and social media as platforms to sell.

A multi-channel approach allows businesses to open up new revenue streams, grow their brands and meet the consumer on their favourite online platforms.

2- Increasing digital integrations

Digital transformation isn’t exactly a new business trend. But as 5G and IoT-enabled devices become more affordable and ubiquitous, it’s a trend that has become much more accessible and practical for SMEs.

Digital transformation simply means integrating digital technologies into existing operations to make them more frictionless, less wasteful and more trackable – with powerful analytics tools guiding operational decision-making.

New integrated POS systems, for instance, can do more than simply facilitate payments. They can offer fully-integrated customer solutions that ease the pressure on customer-facing staff. An increasingly common example is restaurants, bars and cafes empowering customers to order digitally by scanning a QR code on their table and getting their order delivered directly without having to flag down a busy member of staff. These digital POS systems also have sophisticated analytics tools that can help to make supply chains and inventory management more efficient and reduce business waste.

Likewise, business intelligence solutions can leverage AI to make sense of vast repositories of data that have previously been siloed, enabling business leaders to make better-informed decisions.

3- Leveraging the founder as a brand

Consumers want to feel a sense of connection with the brands they do business with. Likewise, businesses want to connect with their consumers in meaningful ways that go beyond closing deals and making sales.

But earning the trust of consumers in this way is challenging. It’s harder to identify with a corporate logo than it is to identify with another human being. This is why the notion of founder-led branding is a top business trend for 2023 and beyond.

Making the founder the face of a brand adds a human touch. It makes the company’s values personal ones. It also positions the founder as a leader whose experience, knowledge and expertise are appealing to other businesses. This lends itself well to collaborations and co-branding opportunities.

4- Flexible payment solutions

The perilous economic landscape has been rough terrain for businesses and consumers alike. Just as business leaders have had to make tough decisions regarding spending cuts, households have also had to think twice about which purchases fit their budgets.

As a result, more and more businesses have begun offering flexible payment solutions that allow customers to Buy Now Pay Later. This makes the purchase more manageable for the consumer while also affording businesses a sale that they might otherwise have lost. As households continue to grapple with rising costs, this is likely to be one of the significant small business trends of 2023.

Bring in more business with buy now, pay later.

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5- Making supply chains more sustainable

Even in these economically challenging times, consumers are interested in more than just saving money. They want to know that the products they buy and the services they receive come at a minimal cost to the environment.

There’s evidence to suggest that while consumers are wary of “greenwashing” a strong focus on ethics and sustainability can ensure their loyalty. Brands like Patagonia have made headlines for demonstrating their commitment to fighting climate change, and consumers have begun to expect this from businesses they buy from.

As such, more companies are buying locally, reusing and repurposing, disposing of waste more consciously and ensuring that others within their supply chains do the same.

6- Customer experience goes digital

Businesses are expanding their digital offerings beyond online sales. They are also providing digital solutions that make for a hybrid customer experience. From VR vehicle showrooms to AR apps that show what a piece of furniture would look like in the user’s living room, digital customer experiences are one of the year’s biggest business trends.

A fairly common example is how more businesses are offering customer loyalty programmes via their websites and digital apps. Something that can promote loyalty while enriching the customer experience through digital technology.

7- Getting paid faster to offset economic challenges

Maintaining healthy cash flow has become more important than ever for businesses of all shapes and sizes. Rising inflation has put a squeeze on profit margins, requiring most businesses to rethink their pricing strategies, tighten up on operational spending and reduce the time spent waiting to get paid. Finding more efficient ways to get paid quickly is not just one of the year’s biggest business trends, it’s the key to ensuring solvency in a financially challenging future.

As such, businesses are investing in software that can facilitate better cash flow management through more efficient invoicing, automated payment reminders and support for a wider range of payment methods.