Stay Ahead In 2023

The year has barely started and it’s already been quite the year. From huge tech layoffs to the biggest bank collapse since 2008, “uncertainty” seems to be the word of the year. So to get you and your small business through this chaotic time, here’s a list of tips and tricks.


  • The article provides 9 tips help small businesses to stay ahead in the coming year, including investing in customer retention, partnering with other businesses and focusing on sustainability. 
  • You’ll also learn why it’s important to stay up-to-date with the latest payment methods and why you need to sell across multiples sales channels to keep shoppers engaged. 
  • By the end of this post, you’ll have a better idea of what it takes to thrive in the coming year and beyond, and you’ll have action steps to implement in the coming months.

1. Invest in Retention

First and foremost, this year, you should be investing in customer retention. Your best customers are the ones you already have—they spend an average of 67% more than a new customer. And in a year where budgets are shrinking and consumers are becoming much more selective about where they spend the money they do have, brand trust is going to be a critical deciding factor.

So what does that mean for you? It means making your email and SMS program bulletproof so your communications are timely, valuable, and effective. It means looking into adding a loyalty program to your lineup to reward customers for their purchases. 

2. Stay Up to Date with Payment Methods

For decades, cash and swipe credit cards were the only real types of payments available in the US. Yet in the past decade, we have seen an explosion of different modes of payment—including peer to peer (P2P), eChecks and contactless payments—as well as a near universal drop in using physical cash. 

It is crucial to be able to provide consumers with the ability to pay via their preferred payment method. And that payment method is a bit of a moving target. For instance, mobile payments are growing in popularity. As of 2023, 43% of US smartphone owners use mobile payments at least some of the time.

It’s crucial, therefore, that you work with a payments provider like Stax, which has up-to-date technology that you can count on to be able to pivot as new payment methods become available.

Phone And Notebook With Plants On Desk To Help Small Businesses

3. Offer Flexible Working Arrangements

During the pandemic, employees got accustomed to flexible working arrangements that allowed them to work at times and locations that were convenient for them. As we’re getting back to a world where people work in shared locations again, it’s important to recognize that in general, workers are no longer as accepting of inconveniences that come with working 9-5 at an office anymore, like commutes. 68% of Americans, in fact, would prefer to be fully remote—not even hybrid.

As a result, if you want to attract the best talent to your business, you’ll need to be willing to offer flexible working arrangements wherever possible. And believe it or not, remote work might provide you with more benefits than simply opening you up to top talent. Studies show that those who work from home are 47% more productive than their office-working counterparts.

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4. Provide Faster Delivery

Amazon changed the game when they introduced same-day delivery. For consumers living in urban areas, it made same-day delivery a standard expectation, even if you have to pay a high price for it. Additionally, the pandemic accustomed consumers to being able to avoid running errands they find boring and they’re willing to pay for the convenience of avoiding the errand.

Now companies like Doordash are innovating same-day delivery concepts for businesses of all sizes, making it much easier for anyone to offer same-day delivery. If you’re ready to experiment with same-day delivery, consider offering it first in a single city (if you operate in multiple locales) or over a short time period where your consumer base would be likely to find same-day delivery more attractive. 

For example, a grocery store might decide to run their experiment over the 4th of July holiday to help get last-minute items into barbeque-ers hands.

5. Experiment with New Sales Channels

In 2020, the world learned a very important lesson about relying on a single sales channel as your primary source of revenue. Three years later, it’s important to not forget that lesson. Continuing to experiment with a variety of sales channels and venues, like pop-ups, social selling, or booths allows you to continue to meet your customer where they are, even as that location changes.

6. Invest in Sustainability

Gen Z accounts for about 40% of consumer markets and more than any other generation, they care about sustainability.  So if your business hasn’t already begun to make some moves towards sustainability, this year you can’t afford to wait any longer. Sustainability and ethical business practices can take a lot of forms. Some ideas to get you started:

  • Switch to sustainable packaging
  • Only work with manufacturers who pay living wages and provide safe working environments
  • Offset your carbon emissions
  • Reduce your overall energy consumption
  • Partner with a charity

7. Partner Up With and Help Small Businesses

It tends to be easier to complete a project as a team. By collaborating with another small business that has a similar audience as yours (but no competing product), you can provide each other with free marketing. Some ways to collaborate can be:

  • Offer customers a discount at your partner business when they make a purchase at yours.
  • Help small businesses by co-sponsoring a booth at a local event.
  • Open pop-ups in each other’s storefronts.

8. Partner with Authentic Social Media Influencers

The era of bombastic social media influencing seems to be over. Morphe, one of the makeup brands that pioneered using influencers as the primary marketing strategy, recently declared bankruptcy. Consumers are leaning more heavily towards trusting smaller influencers who are selective about their brand deals. In fact, micro-influencers generate up to 60% more engagement than macro ones.

So in the coming year, take the time to comb your niche online to find the smaller, but powerful voices that people genuinely trust. Seek out influencers who value honesty. When you partner with them, give them room to share their real opinion of the product. If they have anything they don’t like about the product, letting them share that makes your brand appear transparent – increasing consumer trust. Northwestern did research that suggests customers feel more comfortable buying a product with a 4.2-4.5 star rating rather than a perfect 5 star rating. Perfect ratings appear to be too good to be true. 

9. Embrace Personal Touches

These days, so much interaction is automated. Emails, store checkouts, even taxis can all be done without any real human interaction. 

And while you should definitely continue to embrace automation wherever possible—it increases efficiency and reduces your costs—it’s important to remember that people crave interaction. 

So even as you scale up your processes with automation, never forget to include places for spontaneous interactions. One great example for how to do this is Attentive, an SMS automation platform, offers a service where they will have a real person respond to a customer when they reply to your SMS blast. Other good ways to add personal touches in this automated world:

  • Give your social media person the freedom to answer comments in their own voice and have them sign the comment.
  • Send gift baskets or cards to your VIP customers when you learn something important has happened in their life.
  • Participate in local events so you can physically meet your audience and community.

We’re Here to Help Small Businesses

While not every tip on this list will apply to every type of business, the overarching themes of the upcoming year are noteworthy for every business. As budgets tighten, consumers (and businesses) are less willing to purchase a product or service to see if they’ll like it. They want to know up front that product or service is worth their time and money. As a result, businesses small and large must work harder this year to provide transparency and demonstrate their unique value props. 

At Stax, we’re all about giving small businesses the tools they need thrive. And as mentioned above, accepting multiple payment types can go a long way in helping you succeed in the year ahead. That’s why if you’re looking for a cost-effective merchant services provider that supports all leading payment types, Stax has your back. 

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