Many small-business owners who have embraced pandemic-era trends for the long haul — not just to adapt to public health guidelines, but to diversify and grow revenue. As the pandemic passes the two-year mark, here are three trends that are here to stay.
For small businesses offering professional services, social-distancing requirements made daily operations difficult or impossible. To keep cash flow moving, some companies transitioned to virtual services. According to TD Bank, a quarter of small-business owners who modified operations during 2020 transitioned to virtual options like video conferencing appointments.
Many small-business owners who have found that similar changes in their business models have helped their companies grow are likely to continue with virtual services.
Leveraging Social Platforms
A mid-2020 survey by GWI, a global marketing research company, showed that 47% of internet users typically used social media to discover new brands.
“Pre-pandemic, people sort of thought that social media was a nice-to-have,” says Elyse Flynn Meyer, owner of Prism Global Marketing Solutions, a digital marketing company specializing in inbound marketing. “It’s really a need-to-have.”
Embracing Online Sales
As public health guidelines encouraged more people to stay at home, many small businesses that used to rely on in-person sales quickly moved online. Seeking these alternative sales channels was a quick lesson for brick-and-mortar shops. Among businesses that started accepting online payments in 2020, 52% started doing so between February and April, according to the payment platform Square.
And the growth continued. In the U.S., e-commerce grew 3.3 times faster in 2020 than it had on average during the previous five years, according to a 2021 McKinsey Global Institute Analysis.
Online shopping rose about 47% in the earliest months of the pandemic, according to a 2021 study by Amplitude. It peaked last summer and has plateaued at a level that he anticipates will be a new e-commerce baseline.
“Consumers are increasingly telling us that they are not going to be changing their behaviors,” says Jeni Mundy, the global head of merchant sales and acquiring at Visa. “What we’ve heard from small businesses is that these changes are here to stay.”
Online sales have also become a major revenue stream for some businesses. A Visa study revealed that small businesses that had e-commerce channels brought in more than half of their earnings from online sales in the last quarter of 2021. It expects these trends to hold given consumer expectations.