With another financial year come and gone, you’ve probably had a good opportunity to review your business’s performance over the last year, identifying what worked, what didn’t work, and how you can grow in the year ahead. Whether you’re a brick-and-mortar business looking to expand to further locations or you’re an eCommerce store with your sites set on more cross-border orders, there are some key trends that SMEs can capitalise on in the financial year ahead.
Of course, some current business trends aren’t as exciting as others. For example, having to be nimble and adaptive in the face of further uncertainty as a result of supply chain disruptions and labour shortages can feel like a drain at this point. However, being proactive and continually improving your strategy and operations will set you up for success. Keep reading for an overview of SME trends to capitalise on in the new financial year. With a few of these trends under your belt, you could make the next 12 months in business your best yet.
Over the last two years, businesses embraced digital channels for both promoting and selling their products and services. SMEs should take the time now to build on their online sales channels that were established or strengthened over the last two years to maintain an edge over their competitors. According to Australia Post, throughout 2021, an average of 5.4 million households shopped online each month, equating to 39 per cent growth from 2019’s averages. Further, the proportion of households now shopping online has remained steady since late 2021, indicating that the shift to online shopping is here to stay.
Seasoned online shoppers buy from up to 40 unique online retailers annually. With customers spoilt for choice online, it’s critical that SMEs not only provide an exceptional online experience from browsing and ordering through to delivery, but also in their core values as sustainability can be a deciding factor in choosing one brand over another. With an abundance of eCommerce options available, SMEs have the opportunity to set themselves apart by making sure customers feel valued at every touchpoint. This might include eye-catching images and graphics, detailed product demo videos, automated email marketing that secures sales, and extra care with how orders are packaged and delivered. Further, using software-as-a-service (SaaS) platforms to help manage the business efficiently, both online and in-store can be a major driver of efficiency and revenue growth.
Customers and businesses alike said goodbye to cash payments over the last couple of years. And while some people and businesses still make and accept cash payments, the growth in cashless and cardless payments has accelerated. Digital wallets that allow customers to store their card information on their phone means many people simply tap their phone to make payments. Similarly, Apple Pay and Google Pay mean customers aren’t reaching for their credit cards when shopping online at home. The ability to choose from a range of payment options, including cashless and cardless payments and buy now pay later services is expected from any modern business, regardless of size or industry. SMEs, especially retailers, should make payment as seamless as possible for their customers. This may mean the use of an integrated payments solution that syncs with your bank accounts and accounting software to make everything as efficient, reliable and secure as possible. For those businesses who don’t yet have newer cardless payment options available, keeping fees to a minimum is key. Look for providers who offer full functionality and industry-leading rates.
If SMEs have acted on the two trends above — selling online and using technology to make payments seamless — there is likely a treasure trove of data to be analysed and used to provide a better customer experience and drive revenue growth. With the rise of artificial intelligence (AI) and data analytics, there is now a range of platforms that will analyse your data and identify key trends to help you improve your business. The way an SME uses AI and big data will depend on the industry and products and services offered. However, one thing remains key across all businesses: getting started now. For manufacturers, this could mean installing sensors to more accurately track packaging and processing time across lines. And for eCommerce retailers, it could mean analysing campaign and sales data to see what’s performing best and why. To get started, look at where you already have significant amounts of data in your business or areas where real-time measurements could drive efficiencies.
As businesses moved online throughout 2020 and 2021, making an impact online became more valuable. Given that an online presence and sales channels remain key for businesses in the year ahead, getting your digital and content marketing right is critical. According to Cisco, 84 per cent of customers are convinced to buy a product after watching a video. To effectively engage current and potential customers, SMEs should include video as a core part of their content marketing strategy. Options such as product demos, webinars, and live events (where relevant) can be a great way to expand a business’s reach, communicate clearly with its audiences, and drive sales. Further, personalisation and nurturing customers with segmented content can improve engagement and drive stronger conversion rates. For example, a business’s website may include separate sites for each industry so customers can quickly access the information they need and know that their unique needs and challenges are understood.
In a rising rate environment coupled with uncertainty in the markets, business lending can tighten. For SMEs looking to invest in growth initiatives or other capital expenses such as new equipment, getting the right funding in place now can ensure businesses have the capital they need to sustain their operations and grow without taking on large amounts of debt. Similarly, options such as trade finance give business owners a cash flow boost without sacrificing the health of their balance sheet. These alternative finance solutions help businesses address unmet funding needs while boosting cash flow. It’s a nimble alternative that is just as adaptive as SMEs have had to be over the last two years and likely in future years tool.
Despite ongoing uncertainty in the economy, supply chains and markets, there are several opportunities that SMEs can capitalise on to grow in this new financial year. Making sure all things digital in a business, including payments, sales channels, and marketing are established and running efficiently is key. Further using the data gathered from the systems and processes set up through digital channels to drive business improvements and revenue growth is a smart way to keep strengthening the business. And with stronger sales and a proactive approach to capitalising on trends, SMEs can put themselves in a position to take advantage of alternative funding options as and when they’re needed.
As Australia’s only purpose-built and fully integrated business growth platform, Moneytech partners with businesses to support them with recovery and growth. Whether your business is seeking working capital to cover your day-to-day expenses or you’re looking for funds to invest in growth opportunities, we can help. Contact us today, and one of our experts will be in touch to discuss your options.