As is the case in the U.S., there are times when businesses must change direction in order to compete effectively in a global marketplace. One of the U.S.’ political allies is also a significant business ally — and the issues and trends that affect many of our business operations are the same as those affecting domestic businesses, including knowledge of the marketplace and how best to manage operations. Focusing on issues such as ownership and the workforce are a good place to examine similarities in trends. In 2012, 62.7 percent of businesses in the UK were sole proprietorships, according to the UK Federation of Small Business. This has an impact on the players with whom a business will work. Businesses must be aware of the impact of the technology and cultural changes, how to prepare for them and which ones to tap into to increase their company’s chances for success.
Your Supply Chain and the Middleman
Due largely to the e-commerce growth and proliferation of individual business owners, the middleman is becoming less important. Your ability to purchase directly from the source with your B2B connections means less overhead and fewer people to deal with. You can cut out the distribution company and order materials directly from the supplier to be shipped by logistics companies. This gives you real-time access to inventory and supplies without paying for warehouse storage.
Your Mobile Customer
If you’re not paying attention to the mobile trend in the UK, you’re leaving money on the table. Your business and website need to be upgraded to meet the demands of the new mobile consumer. More consumers own mobile devices and they’re spending more time with them. Smartphones and tablets are being used more for business and shopping. Websites with responsive design maximize customer experience on your site regardless of the device they use.
Geo-location marketing (collecting and using data about a consumer’s location) is becoming more advanced. With the right data at the right time, you’re able to target customers in their geographic areas to make recommendations as to shops they should visit and items they should consider. Advertise your sale on sunglasses to a customer browsing your site from a beach town and fleece jackets to consumers in the mountains.
Your Mobile Staff
The ‘Bring Your Own Device’ (BYOD) concept, where employees use their own mobile devices in their jobs, is becoming popular. Mobile device management (MDM) allows you to monitor and control various types of devices accessing your business resources. Data protection is handled through applications such as mobile security on Blackberry devices. This reduces the overhead required to supply staff with smartphones or tablets, and enhances morale in the workplace.
Your Business Gets More Social
Businesses can no longer ignore the impact of social media on their marketing efforts. Small business is still trying to find their niche on social media sites and they’re learning how to manage their social site streams. Sites such as Facebook and Twitter have been around for awhile, but new resources such as Pinterest and Tumblr, are becoming popular places to post images of products or company activities.
Your Business in the Cloud
Cloud computing and Software as a Service (SaaS) are making capabilities available to small business that were once only used by large corporations. Even small business startups have access to customer management, sales and marketing management, and inventory management software through the cloud without investing millions of dollars into hardware and software. Not only does this allow the small business to operate more efficiently, but it helps them compete with the larger businesses.
About the author: Sophia Peters is a technology writer for a number of blogs. She works at a big-box electronics store during the day.