From Black Friday sales to the last-minute Christmas dash, this winter sees Britain’s high streets gearing up for the most wonderful time of the year. Yet with 2019 but a clink of glasses away, how should businesses really prepare for what could prove turbulent times ahead? From digital accounting to the new face of marketing, we look at the key watch-outs for 2019, and what they could mean for the small businesses of Britain.
Tax Goes Digital
More ‘effective, efficient and easy’, HMRC’s transformation of the UK’s tax system will come into play from April 1st 2019, with beta testing now in progress. Affecting SMEs with a turnover of £85K or more, Making Tax Digital will mean businesses are required to keep digital records relating to VAT – submitting these returns using the appropriate software. While not compulsory for those companies below the current threshold, it could provide a good opportunity for smaller businesses to make the switch; VAT-registered businesses with more complex needs are also exempt at this stage. With income tax and corporation tax changes on hold for now (set to follow suit in 2020), business owners and their bookmakers should prioritise this initial development by seeking the relevant cloud accounting software. A helpful overview along with HMRC’s approved list of vendors can be found here, or read about Xero online software here, which is the product we recommend at Adams Moore.
Getting to Know Blockchain
If you haven’t been acquainted already, Blockchain is here to stay and is set to transform the way companies operate in 2019 and beyond. Providing efficiency and security, this complex database of independently-verified information allows businesses to share data, such as a financial contract, using an intelligent decentralised system that is both seamless and safe. Thanks to a unique encrypted signature attached to each and every transaction of data, the chain of ‘nodes’ is near impossible to hack, so you can rest assured your records are sealed tight. SMEs thinking of adopting this technology might consider blockchain-based apps to assist with the smoother running of their business, such as the formation of smarter contracts, making international payments, tracking shipments, and cloud storage. With so many options out there, be sure to consult dependable tech reviews or a consultant before investing.
The Omni-channel Experience
Omni-channel marketing may be nothing new, but businesses can no longer rest on their laurels when it comes to the new generation of customer. Having grown up with ‘always-on’ access to the world around them, Generation Z (currently aged 6 to 23) are the new breed of connected consumer – some even more so than millennials. While doing the research to find the best product or service to suit their needs, this demographic demands a new kind of customer experience: one that flows seamlessly from channel to channel. By leveraging these platforms effectively, businesses can create a more cohesive user journey from wherever their customers choose to join – whether from a homepage, via social media, or within a physical store. With marketing and sales teams in full collaboration, a more dynamic and integrated brand experience can ultimately help drive that final purchase.
An Ethical Mission
Brands that take time to promote their ethical mission as a core component of their company ethos can tick a box with the Generation Z demographic, and a fast growing cluster of eco-conscious people of all ages. No matter how small, the endorsement of a business’s moral stance could mean the difference between gaining a new follower on Facebook or a simple scroll down. While numerous household brands are already doing their bit to operate in an ethical manner – think M&S donating to charity when Sparks loyalty card holders make a purchase – these decisions can form part of that all-important brand story. SMEs need only take small steps to make a big difference in 2019 – from independent stores wrapping goods in brown paper to local bars losing plastic straws for good. So whether it’s a physical adjustment or a charitable endeavour, all brands can play their part by making these changes, and shouting about them.
From brand ethics to operating transparently, honesty is of the highest value when it comes to customer retention (and finding new ones), particularly in light of recent events. With Cambridge Analytica exposed for harvesting data on Facebook and the rigid changes to GDPR in May this year, authenticity is key. Not only should small businesses think and act discreetly when handling customers’ personal information, but also how they conduct their customer service. A down-to-earth, personalised approach is now the expectation of many consumers, and brands that strive to go the extra mile will only score extra brownie points from a customer’s perspective – whether that means a faster response turnaround on Facebook Messenger or a fully personalised email marketing campaign. With such uncertain months (and even years) ahead, a brand that remains trustworthy is one that will go far in 2019.
If you’re looking for a business adviser to help you plan for a successful future, contact Adams Moore to arrange a free consultation, where we can discuss strategies for core efficiencies, market opportunities and customer experience.