By Michael Jabbara
Director, Global Product & Market Enablement, Visa
Last week, I had the opportunity to present at the Annual America’s SBDC Conference in Nashville about the digital trends that are changing the commerce landscape and their potential impact on small businesses. Although digital commerce is not a new trend, the ways it is continually evolving consumer behavior can present both challenges and opportunities for small business owners. From virtual reality to voice activated assistants, I presented about how digital technology isn’t just altering the way people shop but what commerce can mean. Mobile and desktop channels made the shopping journey less linear. Now, emerging platforms are poised to transform entirely the way consumers interact and transact with their merchants.
According to an IBM study on digital platforms and commerce, 80 percent of companies are implementing Internet of Things (IoT) initiatives, 70 percent are developing voice command services and 50 percent are exploring augmented or virtual reality.i These initiatives are especially appealing to millennials and affluent consumers in the U.S., two segments that quickly adopt innovative solutions that make their lives more convenient and seamless.
The SBDC members were interested in how small business owners can leverage these digital trends to better engage with their customers. Some of the examples we discussed include a neighborhood restaurant that can use messaging services and chatbots embedded in social platforms to enable customers to order via interactive texting and track their delivery in real time. In addition, local businesses are looking to offer unique and targeted loyalty programs directly to customers’ smartphones. (more…)