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3 Ways Small businesses Can use Alternative Payment Solutions to Compete Post-Pandemic

Photo: Courtesy of Tim Mossholder

It’s no secret the pandemic has had a devastating impact on small businesses. As store closures and decreased foot traffic caused by lockdown restrictions accelerated the shift to e-commerce, small businesses have faced epic challenges within the past year.

As more Americans receive vaccines and restrictions are eased across the country, Americans are more optimistic about the future than they’ve been in some time. But the key to sparking a true economic recovery lies in supporting small businesses, which are the backbone of local communities.

Whether they’re selling kettles or kids wear, small business owners are grappling with many of the same problems as they attempt to recover and rebuild. The following are three ways small businesses can use alternative payment and marketing technologies to compete in the post-pandemic world. 

1. Give your customers greater payment flexibility

It is well documented that consumer – particularly Gen 2 and millennials – are moving away from traditional credit and embracing more mindful and transparent spending options. In fact, according to the Federal Reserve, credit card balances declined by $49 billion in the first Quarter of 2021. So, which alternative payment solutions are shoppers favoring?

During the first two months of 2021, consumers’ usage of buy now, pay later services grew by 215% compared to last year as shoppers adjusted to the financial impact of COVID-19, Therefore it’s critical for small businesses the address shifts in consumer needs and preferences. Integrating flexible payment options allow shoppers to pay in interest-free installments, giving them an increase in purchasing power and greater financial control.

At the same time, retailers benefit from an increase in sales and a boost in average order values.

When consumers make most of their large purchases, such as their homes or their cars, they’re presented with a range of payment options. Expecting this level of flexibility is going to become standard across businesses both large and small.

2. Reach new audiences through creative marketing collaborations

Attracting new customers is an ongoing pain paint for many small businesses, and one that has grown more challenging as the pandemic closed physical locations and drive consumers to browse and discover products in new ways.

COVID lockdowns forced the shopping journey online or to social media. In fact, globally, consumers spent close to $4.29 trillion online in 2020, up more than 24% from 2019 as the pandemic fueled web sales, according to Digital Commerce 360.

As competition grows ever fiercer throughout the digital marketplace, small business owners need greater product visibility and exposure across a range of channels. This can be daunting for entrepreneurs who are not as tech-savvy as their competitors. By partnering with platforms to leverage their unique marketing channels, platforms, and technologies, businesses can stretch their reach to attract consumers across demographics and meet customers where they are. This can be in the form of unique marketing partnerships: with other brands of influencers, co-marketing campaigns involving virtual events and livestream shopping, and social media campaigns to stand out.

3. Enhance the store-front experience

Shoppers were already doing plenty of their browsing and buying online prior to COVID-19.  But as storefronts shuttered, the move to digital-first shopping quickly advanced. As we re-emerge from lockdown, shoppers are eager to return to brick-and-mortar locations and show their support for neighborhood businesses. But regardless of whether they’re window shopping on Main Street or strolling through the local mall, consumers are expecting the same conveniences they’ve grown accustomed to finding online — and if those aren’t available, chances are they’ll take their business elsewhere.

Shoppers want the ability to buy what they need today and pay for it in a way that best suits their budget. By integrating payment solutions, consumers have the same flexibility at in-store checkout as they do online, making checkout easier and more convenient by keeping lines short also improves the in-store experience and reduces the potential for customers abandoning their carts or baskets and leaving. Implementing point-of-sale technology that allows associates to process sales on the floor rather than at the register is another way to reduce the checkout friction that often sends customers right back online.

Hosting in-store events provides a customizable opportunity to connect with consumers by bringing buyers in and closing the divide between the physical and virtual. By creating memorable experiences, shoppers are more likely to return — and bring their friends.

Ta compete and thrive in the post-pandemic world, small businesses need to adapt and evolve to meet consumers’ needs, preferences, and expectations. Leveraging alternative payment and marketing solutions offers a path to recovery. 

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