Management · January 28, 2021

How to Adapt to Emerging Business Trends in 2021

The challenges of 2020 likely brought unwanted or unexpected changes to your life and work. That said, 2021 can be an opportunity that could invigorate your business and encourage new strategies. Understanding the emerging business trends in 2021 and the current economic landscape will help you position yourself for success in this new environment.


Business in a post-COVID-19 world

As the global community becomes accustomed to living with the reality of coronavirus, new consumer behavior trends have emerged. Many business operations, such as online shopping, curbside pickup and curbside delivery, are accelerating based on stay-at-home trends. Businesses that adapt quickly to address consumer needs are ready to enjoy growth in the current and future post-COVID-19 world.

For example, Walmart has quickly capitalized on increased online shopping, curbside delivery and curbside pickup. The retail giant has focused on growing its digital capabilities to serve customers better. At the same time, Target has invested in growing its curbside pickup operations and home delivery service.

In a post-COVID-19 world, successful businesses of all sizes are quickly adopting strategies to address new realities, such as staying home, social distancing and the rise of online shopping.

Meeting the new reality

It's true that the post-COVID-19 business world has myriad challenges—but even small businesses can succeed by studying the emerging business trends for 2021. Look at what's working for others and apply those principles to your own company.

Think about how your ideal customer's life and behavior have changed in light of the restrictions brought on by the pandemic. How could you adapt your goods to fit their new reality? How should your services evolve to help your customers? Some options include:

  • Introducing online or telephone orders
  • Scheduling video or virtual appointments
  • Offering free delivery of products to local customers
  • Accommodating curbside pickup
  • Offering DIY options for customers to try at home—a bakery might create cookie decorating kits for online ordering and local delivery, for instance

Customer support

Another emerging business trend is the customer's willingness to support small businesses. According to the 2020 Cox Business Consumer Pulse on COVID-19 and Small Businesses, 76% of respondents ordered takeout or delivery from local restaurants since the pandemic began and 40% of these increased their tips. Another 30% made a point of shopping from local businesses online.

Keep this in mind, and give your customers a chance to add a tip through your online checkout. Now is also a good time to freshen up your website and establish or grow a local business social media presence.

Weathering uncertainty

Today's successful businesses find creative ways to deal with the economic downturn. In addition to finding new avenues to replace lost income, business owners are taking a closer look at their finances.

The economic downturn resulting from COVID-19 restrictions means that many consumers and businesses alike must rethink financial plans and find ways to trim their expenses. Here are some tips to get started:

  • Keep a positive mindset as you review your current expenses. Get inspiration from what other businesses are doing.
  • Consider moving current expense-heavy projects to the back burner for now, unless the new trends suggest they could meet a current or anticipated demand.
  • Reallocate savings to goods and services more in line with anticipated demand based on 2021 business trends.
  • Look for ways to raise fast cash now, so your business has a bigger financial cushion. Sell off unnecessary equipment or supplies.
  • Consider reducing prices if possible to ensure some current cash flow.
  • Connect with suppliers to renegotiate credit and payment arrangements to lengthen your accounts payable time frame.

As a small business owner, remember that you're intelligent, creative, resourceful and resilient. Take steps right now to prepare yourself, your business and your staff to weather the continued uncertainty through the coming year.

Now is the time to innovate. Create new goods and services that are more in line with emerging business trends in 2021. The small businesses that do this will not only survive but thrive through the post-COVID-19 business environment.

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