Over the last few years the small business landscape has gone through serious changes, perhaps none more than the merchant sector. Just about every advantage once reserved for big business has been somehow scaled, repackaged, or economized for the small business owner to leverage in order to accelerate their own growth. Innovations in industries like banking, advertising, and technology have empowered small business owners to focus on their driving vision instead of the multitude of administrative tasks that often slow things down. Now the question is, what are the trends and insights small businesses should be focusing on to take their businesses even further.
Philip McHugh, Senior EVP and President TSYS Merchant Solutions, talked about his top three trends for merchants in 2019. Let’s break down each one and consider their implications.
Trend 1: The strong economy will continue, but businesses must continue to get smarter.
“People talk about a retail Armageddon and there’s a lot of negativity out in the news, but actually, overall the economy has been incredibly strong. Companies and small businesses will have to be smarter and use technology in a smarter way to survive.” – Philip McHugh
The labor market is strong, new businesses have been opening, and profits are up, and as we have seen, technology is the great equalizer for small businesses. It can create efficiencies and amplify limited resources to help people get more done with less. It’s extremely important to remember that simply riding out a good economy is not a strategy for success. During the good times, it’s extremely important for small businesses to re-invest and upgrade in the technology that can provide efficiencies and help strengthen their business in order to weather the cyclical downturns that are sure to come.
Trend 2: The explosion of choice will continue to give small businesses buying power.
“The second trend I see with SMBs is the explosion of choice, the explosion of the overall offer. For our industry, that basic, simple device with simple merchant acquiring contract is going to fade out over time. Now we have to be much more solution led.” – Philip McHugh
When it comes to purchasing for a small business there seems to be a seemingly endless range of choice. Ecommerce, social media, and easily available reviews and content have created complete transparency to make this the ultimate buyers’ market. Small businesses expect more from their vendors and suppliers, and we must do everything we can to deliver on those expectations.
Trend 3: Software, software, software.
“There are so many companies out there using software to simplify the life of the merchant, but I see this only growing and growing and growing in every single industry.” – Philip McHugh
The trend of integrated software vendors or SaaS companies is almost mind blowing, but it’s really amazing how these solutions have helped small business owners manage just about every aspect of their day to day. For small business merchants, the point-of-sale solutions have become really exciting. The back-office capabilities have become so powerful and easy-to-use and are now moving to become highly specialized for a range of major verticals like bar and restaurant, retail, medical and field service.
Ultimately, it’s about serving the customer.