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Small Business Trends and Predictions for 2016 | Pawn Edition
With the new year underway, many business experts have put forth their two cents into what they predict will be impactful for small business this year. After doing some research, I’ve found many similarities between their predictions and concluded that there are some important implications for pawnbrokers in 2016.
As Bravo’s CEO and Founder Steve Mack mentioned in an earlier blog post, 2016 will be the year of the customer. It is becoming increasingly important for pawnbrokers to leverage and develop customer relationships in order to create repeat business and keep them from going to competitors or finding other solutions. Besides being keen to customer analytics and developing reward programs to cultivate customer loyalty, there are also some other marketing tactics to be aware of and implement in order to appeal to the newer generation of customers.
In particular, mobile optimization has become a necessity for even small businesses because our society is becoming ever more reliant on their mobile devices as modes of researching stores and products. According to Global Web Index, over 80% of Internet searches are now conducted on smartphones, so it is imperative that your website and email marketing are optimized for viewing from a cellular device. And it’s not just for your audience’s viewing pleasure, with Google’s new Mobile Optimization guidelines, it will significantly hurt your SEO ranking if you don’t make efforts to optimize your website for mobile.
Along the same lines, experts suggest offering mobile payments (which may be tricky with the highly regulated pawn industry) and being active with social selling. The latter is definitely a great opportunity for pawnbrokers because you can get your products and brand in front of your local community (and potentially even a broader reach) through social media channels like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. Consider utilizing targeted advertising by promoting your page or boosting posts to increase awareness of your store with your audience. Also, find some local buy/sell groups which can be another channel to sell your inventory in the local market as long as you remain in good standing with the moderators and don’t abuse their posting guidelines.
If you haven’t started leveraging email marketing for your business, start doing so now. You might be thinking, wow this is too much for a small business owner like me to do on my own – well, you are in luck. There are many email marketing automation software providers out there, like Mailchimp or ConstantContact, that make it very simple to execute an email marketing strategy. Check them out, grow your email subscriber list, and deliver great content in order to enhance your store’s brand in your customer’s eyes.
However, it’s not just online marketing efforts that you should focus on this year. On the flip side, you must find a way to break through all the marketing clutter constantly flooding consumers. A great way to do this is to still rely on building face-to-face relationships and cultivating word-of-mouth marketing. The customer referral is still one of the most powerful tools any pawnbroker could have, so make sure you customer service is excellent and you are providing incentives for customers to refer their friends and family to shop your store. Yet, it’s important to keep in mind that some of that “word-of-mouth” marketing comes from reviews amassed on social media, so be sure to monitor them and resolve any negative reviews while also trying to accumulate more positive ones referring your business.
We highlighted briefly in the marketing section of how certain technology and tools can help automate different processes, which will help save time but also potentially create more revenue for the pawnbroker. Well, marketing isn’t the only thing that can benefit from new technology.
Consider operations – specifically, the daily tasks of a pawnbroker. As you know, the pawn business can be very complex with keeping track of loans, layaways, items that fell out of pawn, pricing inventory, and then, the huge task of posting inventory on eCommerce. All of this can be automated through a Point of Sale platform – specifically, Bravo is the best at automating the daily tasks of a pawnbroker with notifications on the dashboard and our eBay and Buya APIs that make posting on eCommerce seamless and efficient.
But let’s get back to what experts are saying is the breakthrough trend of 2016 – the migration of small business owners to cloud computing. Many pawnbrokers have avoided the cloud for so long because of the negative stigma of data security and the commonality of owning in-store servers/hardware to store all their data locally. This is inefficient and will get you to be left behind in your competitor’s dust this year.
“Main Street America will increasingly be moving their business functions to SaaS and cloud tools that are becoming more sophisticated and intuitive than ever before. Some people view Main Street as behind the times when it comes to tech-enabled business, but soon this will change and entrepreneurs who don’t understand how cloud and SaaS technology can improve business will be at a sharp competitive disadvantage, no matter what your industry.” – Sabrina Parsons, CEO, Palo Alto Software
Cloud computing is no longer just a big business technology solution. SaaS providers enable small businesses to reduce the huge investment of data centers, nix the need for on-site hardware/servers, and you no longer have to hire an IT administrators to maintain your hardware/network.
For pawnbrokers, you are surrounded by Point of Sale solutions that require you to invest heavily in hardware which also leaves you with outdated technology. Avoid that huge investment and gain efficiency in your business by choosing the only cloud-based Point of Sale Platform for pawn shops – Bravo.
Plan of Action
Now that you know two key areas to focus on in 2016, marketing and technology, it’s time to take action and set your year up for success. With the holiday rush behind us and now entering into a slower selling season, take this time to plan out your goals for this year and begin implementing them. Even if some of these areas are new to you, consider taking an online course (check out Udemy or Coursera) to learn the new skills and give you the knowledge needed to succeed.
Also, now is the prime time to review your finances from 2015, look at your new goals for 2016 and estimate what those will cost you, then use this knowledge to create your 2016 budget. Any time you decide to initiate new strategies, it is important to create goals and establish a target ROI so that you can track and measure your results. Not every tactic may work for your business or for your target market, so don’t shoot blindly into the dark and have no way of knowing if your efforts are producing any return.
Take the ideas outlined by the experts and make them your own for 2016. Discover what works best for you and will help your business go to the next level. If you’d like to speak to a Bravo expert to learn more about how Bravo’s Pawn Platform can help you transform your business this year, please call us at 888-407-6287 or request a personalized online demo here.