Understanding history is critical when you are trying to plan for a successful future.
Take for instance what we learned from consumer behavior in 2018. More consumers want their needs filled by a nearby business, online retail is increasing, and more people are paying with mobile wallets than ever before.
It all comes down to convenience. How can I get what I want as quickly as possible?
This is the question that underlies the 4 major consumer trends that emerged in 2018.
Why do these consumer insights matter?
These trends are indicative of a major shift in how people are spending their money and transacting.
Instead of reacting to trends before it’s too late, let’s look at the top consumer insights from 2018 and find ways to be proactive in 2019.
Consumers are still shopping locally: “Near me” mobile searches are up 500% in two years
When people want something – whether it’s a cup of coffee or a new dog collar – they want to get it quickly and nearby.
Research shows that “near me” mobile searches, which people use to find a specific item in a designated area in a certain time period, are up 500% over the past two years.
More consumers are looking for local businesses, and when they find them in a mobile search, 88% will either call or visit the business within 24 hours, according to Nectafy.
Almost half of all Google searches are users seeking local information. Use this as an opportunity to drive customers to your business. Make sure you completely fill out your Google My Business page to reach and engage with local customers.
You can also optimize your presence on Google Maps to increase your chances of being discovered on local searches. To get the full benefits of Google Maps, make sure your listing is complete and accurate and that you include a local phone number and photos. If you have more than one location, be sure to list them all.
More than three-quarters (86%) of people look up the location of a business on Google Maps and 72% of consumers end up visiting stores within five miles.
An increasing amount of consumers are buying from small businesses online
While shoppers still make most of their purchases in person (86% of U.S. retail sales still take place in brick-and-mortar shops, according to Forrester), the digital experience is becoming increasingly important. Forrester estimates that more than half (53%) of all purchase decisions are digitally influenced, meaning that a consumer uses a digital device before or during a shopping trip.
Small businesses this year are recognizing that with the prevalence of smartphones, consumers are always shopping. Think With Google reports that 84% of Americans are shopping for something at any given time and in up to six different categories. In nearly one in four of these shopping occasions, consumers reach for their smartphone first.
This is great news for small businesses willing to make their products available for purchase on their own website, or through marketplaces like Amazon or Ebay. With the potential to reach more consumers outside of your geographic region, you can reduce sales droughts and diversify your income stream.
The number of consumers using voice search continues to grow
A greater focus on voice remains one of the biggest small business marketing trends to watch in 2019.
By 2022, 52% of households are expected to own a smart speaker, which is a 42% jump from current household ownership numbers. Consumers use voice search for a variety of tasks, including finding local businesses.
Nearly three-quarters (72%) of people with a voice-activated speaker say they often use the device as part of their daily routine. A look at consumer habits reveals that people also want to receive helpful information from brands.
Here’s what consumers who own voice-activated speakers want to receive from businesses:
- Information about deals, sales and promotions – 52%
- Personalized tips and information – 48%
- Information about upcoming events or activities – 42%
- Options to find business information – 39%
- Access to customer service or support – 38%
More consumers are paying with their phones
This year, nearly 2.1 billion people around the world will use mobile wallets to make payments or send money, which is up 30% from 2017, according to Juniper Research.
Customers don’t want to wait in line to make a purchase. To make checkout times faster, companies as diverse as 7-Eleven, Macy’s and Apple allow shoppers to skip the traditional line and use a mobile app to instantly check out.
You don’t have to be a big brand to offer mobile payment options. Some Girl Scout troops saw a boost in cookie sales simply by offering mobile payment options. RetailDive reports that troops using mobile payments experienced a 13% boost in sales, with the average scout selling 177 boxes of cookies with mobile payment compared to 155 boxes with cash or credit.
If your business doesn’t already accept mobile payments, now’s a great time to expand your payment solutions. Nearly 30% of people prefer to leave their wallets and bring their phones when shopping, according to Pew Research, and 66% believe smartphones will replace traditional payment options by 2020.
Download the QuickBooks GoPayment app on your mobile device and you can accept payments anywhere. Bluetooth-enabled card readers allow you to accept magstripe and chip debit and credit cards in addition to Google Pay, Apple Pay and Samsung Pay. You can track each sale, whether card, cash or check, via the mobile app. Payments get deposited into your account the very next day.
How can these consumer insights apply to your small business?
It’s easy to lose track of consumer trends when you’re caught up in the day-to-day of running your business, so here’s a short checklist on what you need to do to keep up:
- Optimize your Google My Business listing.
- Sign up with an ecommerce platform like Shopify, Magento, or BigCommerce to bring your business online.
- Create pages for events, promotions, customer service, and your business contact information to increase visibility in voice searches.
- Collect mobile payments using a service like GoPayments, making it easier for customers to pay wherever they are.
Don’t dismiss these trends as something that “only the kids are doing.”
Just like Google overtook the phone book and debit cards overtook check transactions, these consumer trends are a sign of an ever-evolving marketplace where people can get what they want when they want it.
No-one but you can determine your success. But making it easier for consumers to buy from you wherever and however they want can only increase your chances for building a business that thrives today and in the future.