Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Oh, the weather outside is frightful.....

Christmas is a season of joy. For small businesses, however, it is also a period of staff holidays, increased workload, snow days and sick pay. And these aren’t the only problems British businesses face this year. What are the seasonal issues impacting small businesses and how can SMEs dodge these festive curveballs?

Recent retail figures tell us that sales volumes dropped 0.8% month-on-month in October, suggesting that Britons are gearing up for a bumper couple of months of Christmas shopping. While this is great news for the British high street, this type of inconsistent spending pattern wreaks havoc on business plans and cash flow, especially for smaller businesses.

What’s more, this year the pressures are even greater, as consumers look to technology to help them handle their Christmas shopping. Research out last week from IMRG and Capgemini tells us that £4.6 billion is forecast to be spent online in the first two weeks of December alone, representing a huge potential missed opportunity for small businesses which aren’t operating online. Not only that, but 20% of this figure, approximately £920 million, is expected to be spent on mobile devices, including smartphones and tablets.

While these sorts of numbers bring about positive cheer for retailers and their revenues, we cannot ignore the challenges.

No one wants to feel they are missing out, and with an increasing number of consumers looking to take care of their shopping on the move, offline retailers need to keep up with the pace. IMRG and Capgemini also revealed that in the first quarter of 2012 8.2% of total e-retail sales were made through a mobile device; by the end of the fourth quarter this figure is anticipated to reach around 20%.

Merchants must have an online presence and mobile application for payments – two integral weapons in retailers’ arsenal this Christmas.  Traditional and alternative payment players are entering the scene to assist in this vocation, in a bid to help businesses grow.

Take this Christmas as an inflection point – the way consumers spend will change, and the impact of this is going to be felt far after Christmas and into 2013. Do not leave yourselves out in the cold.

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