This Holiday Season, Small Retailers Can Improve Customer and Associate Experiences.
Small businesses are now confronting supply chain issues and inflation rates that are enough to put a Grinch in anyone’s holiday season, just as they survived the storm that was COVID.
However, as we approach the holiday season, there is a bright light on the horizon. You’ve almost certainly heard of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. However, there is one shopping holiday that we at Cisco prefer: #SmallBusinessSaturday.
When it’s time to compile your holiday list and double-check it on Saturday, November 27, visit your local small businesses to help make your desires come true. In 2010, American Express launched the #SmallBusinessSaturday movement in the United States. Consumers have reported spending approximately $140 billion in support of small companies on Small Business Saturday over the last 11 years.
This year has been unlike any other.
The last 18 months have been exceptional for small businesses, notably retailers, with record business closings and record small business growth (the number of new enterprises in 2020 was up 24.3 per cent, according to the US Census Bureau).
We understand how difficult it is to run a small business. However, operating a small retail business in the midst of a worldwide pandemic, with economic and supply chain instability looming, adds extra layers of complication to an already difficult situation.
So, how have your community’s owners responded to the challenge? By developing and utilizing technology to assist them in meeting these and other needs. We’ve seen and assisted several small businesses and organizations adapt and expedite their move to our contemporary business climate, whether it’s transitioning to online sales or upgrading infrastructure to handle expansion.
Small enterprises in the retail sector have special requirements. Finding the perfect technology can feel like a Sisyphean chore at times. Cisco, on the other hand, is familiar with the demands of small businesses and can assist them in quickly identifying their most pressing needs in order to expedite digital transformation and improve consumer experiences this Christmas season.
What solutions would be on small businesses’ holiday wish lists if they were out shopping on #SmallBusinessSaturday? Here’s a look at some of the technology that can help them keep their business models evolving long after the holidays are over.
With e-commerce, you can capture every sale
Online shopping is as popular as it has ever been, especially with contactless purchases and curbside pickup still in great demand. Stores that adapted their business strategies to include e-commerce options were able to weather the worst of the pandemic and extend their operations. Even in the midst of the epidemic, 49 per cent of small company owners with online storefronts observed an increase in revenue in 2020.
Retailers can better capture every opportunity and sale possible by combining networking technologies, collaborative cloud-based tools, and comprehensive security offerings. Find a technology partner, such as Cisco, to assist with e-commerce platforms and secure networks that can combine payment capabilities, as well as application development for incorporating click and collect services and managing online operations.
Secure your network with cybersecurity solutions
Small retailers may be more vulnerable to data breaches and cyber assaults as a result of all of this online activity, particularly online sales. According to the Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report for 2021, small and medium-sized organizations were involved in 43 per cent of all data breaches. Those odds aren’t good, especially considering that 83 per cent of small businesses aren’t financially prepared to recover from a cyber attack.
While it’s easy to become overwhelmed by those statistics, safeguarding your business-critical systems is a straightforward undertaking. First, figure out which solutions you’ll need to protect. A point-of-sale (POS) system, email and VPN connections for managing communications, and solutions for on-site store security are some of the options available to retailers. Finally, remember to keep the entire network safe from cyber-attacks.
When you identify your key infrastructure, you can create a clear hierarchy for where to begin your cybersecurity endeavour. Working with a technology partner like Cisco and having a thorough grasp of your retail business’s needs will help you build the finest security architecture.
Enhance the consumer and employee experience
Customer and associate engagements have also had to alter as a result of the shift to more online encounters. Virtual consultations, social media, loyalty programs, and targeted marketing are just a few examples of how retailers have adapted to new ways of engaging with customers, both old and new. These new techniques also have the advantage of allowing for more frequent communication than in-store visits, emphasizing the importance of finding the correct digital solutions for your company.
Maintaining inventory accuracy has been a primary responsibility for associates. During the epidemic, retailers have had to navigate disrupted supply chains on top of store service issues, which has added to the complexity. Retailers can streamline operations by connecting retail systems so that suppliers, distributors, and employees throughout the value chain can see product availability and location. Associates and other stakeholders will be able to make more timely and well-informed decisions as a result of this new information. Employees can also take on new tasks as a result of improved inventory visibility, such as distribution, click-and-collect services, and remote operations.
This #SmallBusinessSaturday, support small businesses
Small businesses are on the verge of experiencing their busiest season of the year, with the holiday season well underway. For small retailers, it’s been a period of adjustment, innovation, and agility, and more digital change is sure to come as the epidemic and supply chain difficulties continue to wreak havoc. Meanwhile, new technologies can help small stores accelerate digital transformation and improve consumer experiences far into the new year.
I also hope that as customers, you would make it a point to support local businesses this Saturday. If you’re on social media, join the conversation by tagging and sharing why you adore your favourite small business. Make sure to include the hashtag #SmallBusinessSaturday in your post.
Check out our retail portfolio explorer for more information on Cisco’s retail solutions. Visit our Cisco Small Business site to see the whole Cisco Small Business portfolio.
Read the latest issue of our quarterly journal Dynamo to learn more about how Cisco and our partner community serve the needs of small and mid-size retailers.