2020 has been a tough year for most businesses to say the least. Consumer habits have transformed and businesses have had to completely reshape how they function. So, many businesses are trying to look forward to the possibilities that 2021 will hold. In order to have a successful year, it is important to know what is coming and how you will need to prepare as a business for these impending changes.
A Proliferation of the Internet and E-Commerce
A significant shift that came as a result of the pandemic was a reliance on e-commerce. Whilst e-commerce has been an important element of consumer culture for the last few years especially, as shops closed, people were forced to adapt and shop online to access their ‘non-essential’ goods.
Older generations have generally been wary of e-commerce, yet once people started to use it and realised the benefits of shopping from your home, avoiding crowds and not having to travel, people will be far more likely to venture back to the internet for their shopping needs in the future.
Additionally, although the vaccine is now rolling out, people are still going to be concerned about heading into packed spaces like shopping centres, so e-commerce offers a safe and convenient alternative. Other industries are also adapting in order to accommodate for these needs, for example the real estate industry offering commercial property for sale solely through the internet or virtual personal training sessions which have become extremely popular. Therefore, many retailers and businesses are going to need to adapt in order to accommodate this shift and provide an efficient and successful e-commerce business.
Necessity for High-Functioning Websites
Speaking of businesses turning to e-commerce, it will be difficult for them to thrive without having a high-functioning website as a result of Google’s algorithm update that is due to launch in May 2021.
The update will be focused on measuring user experience on websites and using this information as a major indicator of the order they appear on the search results page. Of course you want your business to rank as well as possible, so this is vital for success online.
Businesses will need to focus on load speed, interactivity and visual stability in order to keep up to date with the algorithms. There will be a particular focus on mobile usage, as mobile ecommerce makes up for around 65% of all e-commerce traffic. Businesses will need to work with developers to get their website right in order to improve their ranking as a result of the update, as opposed to other businesses who will be negatively impacted.
Although it is important to meet the requirements of search engines, as always you must prioritise user experience. Making the website work well for your customers will automatically make it appear to be a good website in the eyes of the algorithms.
Prioritising a Work-Life Balance
As people all over the world had to withdraw from their workplaces and adjust to working life from home, discussions about the importance of a work-life balance became rife. People began to reap the benefits of having more time to themselves as commutes were taken out of the picture.
So, people are asking, although we can go back to the office, why should we when the business has functioned perfectly well for the last 6 months with everyone working from home? Of course, this lifestyle didn’t suit everyone, and plenty of people are excited to head back to the office. Yet, the mass popularity that came with working from home has led to a demand for businesses to do more to offer a better work-life balance.
Whilst some businesses will happily accommodate this, others are likely to struggle to adjust. Working from home was considered as a temporary solution this year, yet the permanence associated with this trend is what some businesses will struggle with.
A Compliance to Reduce Emissions
The need for businesses to be environmentally conscious and comply to strict rules is another theme that is likely to dominate in the coming year. Businesses have always been faced with environmental responsibilities, yet the significant increase in temperatures and natural disasters has resulted in a focus on ensuring businesses take their responsibilities seriously.
When daily global emission rates reduced by 17% by April 2020, people saw hope that climate change is an issue that we can work hard to partially reverse. This put more pressure than ever on businesses to take responsibility. Major airlines are vowing to become carbon neutral, whilst other large businesses like Microsoft and Ikea have promised to not only become neutral, but actively reduce the amount of carbon dioxide that is in the atmosphere.
The growing pressure to actively make change has pushed for these promises, so it will be interesting to see the extent to which they are implemented in 2021, and how smaller businesses follow this set precedent to make real changes.
2021 is likely to be focused on adjusting to a new way of life following the insanity that was 2020. It is important that businesses rethink how their operations run as a result of the demand for a work life balance. They will also need to follow the likes of personal trainers and commercial estate agents by considering the needs of the online shopper far more thoroughly. There is a need for an efficient and environmentally friendly supply chain to meet increased customer demand as well as pressure to take their environmental responsibilities seriously. Finally, keeping up with Google’s constant algorithm changes will be key, with a particular focus on improving user experience ready for the next big update in May 2021. Let’s hope that after a year of isolation and stress, 2021 will bring some positivity back into the world of business.