As we approach our third year of pandemic living, change is occurring rapidly all around us. For starters, much of our lives have migrated online. Zoom calls have replace in-person meetings and remote work taking off globally. Elsewhere, customers have embraced online shopping and businesses are transforming to meet this demand.
This rate of change can be dizzying for small businesses. Especially when we consider the difficult business landscape of the last few years. The new year signals the perfect opportunity to take stock, review expectations and set new goals. In that spirit, Small Business BC is looking to the future. We’ve consulted with our in-house experts to examine the key small business trends for 2022. With a little careful planning and preparation, your business can position itself to thrive in 2022 and beyond.
Let’s dive in.
Small Business Trends for 2022
Cashless Payments Continue to Grow
In recent years, you’ve probably noticed signs at retailers that state cash isn’t being accepted. What started as a means to limit touchpoints during a pandemic has developed into welcome reductions in admin and security risks for businesses. There will always be a place for cash in our society, but businesses should plan for a future where increasing numbers of customers are more comfortable using their debit or credit card to pay for goods. If your business has traditionally been a cash only enterprise, it’s worth reconsidering that stance.
Virtual Events are the New Normal
In-person events have been a key part of the business world for centuries. They facilitate networking, they offer a tried and trusted method to close deals, and they’re a chance to gather with clients and stakeholders to show our appreciation. With public health measures and an uncertain pandemic outlook forcing plans to constantly change, virtual events are the safest way to connect with clients and community in the next year. Many of us miss the impact of in-person events, but virtual event platforms like Accelevents are regularly innovating and finding ways to replicate the in-person experience virtually.
Communication Apps are Crucial
In a similar vein, virtual communication tools have become a must-have for savvy businesses. Apps like Slack, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Asana and Trello have allowed teams to remain in constant contact in a virtual setting. For small businesses in public facing industries, Facebook Messenger has become a dependable way to interact with customers. This trend will only grow in the year ahead.
eCommerce Businesses Dominate
In 2020, 82 per cent of Canadians shopped online versus 73 per cent in 2018. They accounted for $84.4 billion in spend, versus $57.4 billion in 2018. eCommerce businesses have thrived during pandemic life. Several reasons exist for this. Not only are their overheads reduced due to a lack of physical location, they also widen their sales funnel by reaching a global audience online. Whether you currently operate a physical location or not, creating an easy to navigate and robust online store should be a high priority for 2022.
Consumers are increasingly choosing to shop with businesses who think green. A recent study by Canada Post highlighted that 46 per cent of consumers will shop more often with sustainable retailers. Your sustainability efforts don’t need to break the bank. Small steps like cutting back on packaging, choosing sustainably-sourced materials, and eliminating single use plastics can make a big difference. If you are sharing your sustainability efforts with your community, be authentic about what you’re doing, and consider asking your community how you can further improve.
Prioritizing Employee Wellness
Retaining quality staff has never been more challenging for Canadian businesses. Workers are migrating towards organizations that prioritize mental health and respect their work/life balance. Workers increasingly feel empowered to move from role to role until they find the perfect fit. Savvy businesses have already implemented increased staff wellness programs, while also finding ways to make their workplace more enjoyable. If your business is seeking a competitive edge, consider prioritizing employee wellness programs, increasing vacation allowance, and engaging your team on ways to cut down on burnout.
The Buy Local Movement
In British Columbia, small businesses are an essential part of our lives. In fact, they represent 98 per cent of all businesses in our province. These businesses add colour and personality to our communities, meaningful employment, and the essential services we rely on. More and more of us are choosing to support these businesses. A recent RBC survey highlighted that 77 per cent of respondents plan to spend more at small businesses to support their recovery. This movement is here to stay. Your business can tap into a province-wide audience of potential customers by joining our BC Marketplace, and online hub for BC-based small businesses.
Here to Help
In 2022 and beyond, Small Business BC is here to help with every aspect of your small business. We’ve got a range of live business webinars, free resource downloads, and one-on-one business advice to help take your business to the next level.