Small Business News: 17 November 2023

Anna Thompson
Anna Thompson
Discover Content Team
3 min read
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This week’s SBN explores all things holiday commerce – including how inflation is impacting consumers’ budgets, whether online is more sustainable than in-store shopping, and why “Grandpa Chic” is a trend to watch.

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Holiday shoppers expecting better digital experiences

Prioritize the customer experience this peak season or lose sales – that’s the message from a recent global consumer survey by tech company Cisco AppDynamics1.

Over half (58%) of respondents said that online retail brands have “one shot” to impress them over the holiday period, and “if their digital service or application does not perform well, they won’t use it again.” Meanwhile, 64% said subpar experiences will leave them feeling “anxious and angry.”

As for consumers’ main motivations for shopping online over in-store, the top answer cited was “to make their budgets stretch further” (48%). E-commerce businesses should highlight their top deals on their homepage and consider offering discounts to entice these bargain hunters.  

man and woman smiling at mobile phone screen

Start-up promises to turn social engagement into revenue

Converting the scrollers, likers and commenters into paying customers is the focus for any social commerce strategy. Now, a tech start-up is hoping to help e-commerce businesses do just that, with an AI-led solution.

Nectar AI2 was founded by sisters Misbah and Farah Uraizee who both worked at Meta. Whilst there, they saw how much of users’ time was spent within direct messaging features. “There’s a super-strong trend that we were seeing, especially from Gen Z, of a gravitational pull toward private messaging”, Misbah told TechCrunch3.

Thus, Nectar AI is building a messaging tool for brands to deploy to connect with customers at scale; leveraging Large Language Model – a deep learning algorithm that can perform natural language processing tasks – to instantly engage with every lead and retarget them back on social.

“As social platform insiders, we’ve seen firsthand the power and growth of business messaging,” the company said4. “Consumers of today are more diverse, empowered, and expressive than ever before and crave personal connection. Our vision is for Nectar to be at the forefront of this shift, helping brands foster deep relationships.”

Nectar AI is currently in beta mode, with plans for a launch to the public some time next year. Watch this space…

eco-friendly cosmetics in box

Shoppers prioritizing “extra meaningful” gifts this year

Online marketplace Etsy has unveiled its annual Holiday Trends report, and there’s good news for small businesses selling handmade products. The platform revealed that in the three months to September, searches for “handmade gifts” grew over 16X the same period the previous year.   

Other trends it told its 3.6 million sellers to be prepared for include “mantelscaping” – shoppers looking for festive-themed items to decorate their fireplaces elaborately; ”Grandpa Chic” home décor, AKA rich tones, dark woods and plaid textiles; and “Gingerbread Girl” baking accessories – think gingham bedding, personalized recipe boxes and holiday cookie cutters.

man and woman looking at envelope

‘Tis the season of cautious spending

As inflation continues to bite, recent consumer research by McKinsey5 has unveiled how it is impacting consumers’ holiday shopping plans. The survey of US adults found that 54% of Gen Z and 20% of Millennials intend to use a Buy Now Pay Later service to help with costs this year. Meanwhile, most respondents (66%) cited “better prices and promotions” as their top consideration – way ahead of “product availability” (36%) and “convenience” (33%). In response, the report urged retailers to “focus on targeted pricing and personalized offers to deepen customer loyalty, based on a comprehensive view of individual customers.” 

woman holding shopping bags

And finally…

Did you know that traditional in-store shopping has twice the impact on the environment as online shopping? That is the finding from researchers at the MIT Center for Transportation and Logistics at Cambridge University in the US6. The study attributed this to the emissions generated by individual customers using their cars to get to stores – in contrast to delivery companies which consolidate shipments.

However, e-commerce does not come without its own negative impacts on the environment. So, what can your business do to mitigate this? With the busy peak season upon us, we’ve rounded up 9 sustainable logistics practices you can implement to keep the planet – and your eco-conscious customers – happy. Dive in.

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