Ever since the arrival of the coronavirus pandemic, small business owners — among them, a good many security dealers and integrators — have contended with ever-changing rules and procedures, cash flow shortages and an economy mired in uncertainty. This past year was replete with its own challenges: punishing inflation, rising interest rates and staffing shortages, to name only a few. 

Despite a laundry list of challenges that includes a looming recession in 2023, entrepreneurs remain resilient and optimistic about the year ahead. Consider: 66% of small-business owners expect their revenue to increase in 2023 and more than 1 in 2 (52%) plan to expand their operations, according to an annual report by Bank of America in late 2022.

Having well-informed expectations can help entrepreneurs stay ahead of the curve. Here are five trends and predictions the Small Business Administration (SBA) released to help entrepreneurs strategize for success in 2023:

#1 E-commerce and social commerce will continue to boom. There’s no denying e-commerce’s place in the market. More than half of global internet users buy something online every week. It doesn’t look like those numbers will be going down anytime soon. Experts forecast that the global e-commerce industry will grow to $8.1 trillion by 2026. Social media has also emerged as a serious player. With customers now buying directly on platforms such as Facebook and Pinterest, it could be time to adjust your sales model accordingly.

#2 But that doesn’t mean you should forget about brick and mortar. Our way of life may be increasingly digital, but the statistics don’t lie: 61% of customers still want to try products in person before buying. It’s all the more reason to think about your strategy from an omnichannel perspective. If you have a website, consider installing chatbot technology or optimizing for voice search. In-store, you can cater to customer expectations with services like self-checkout. After all, more than half of surveyed retail shoppers in North America have used it.

#3 Safety is important to your customers. Data collection is a real customer concern. Shoppers want to know that their information is secure, especially as online transactions become commonplace. You can protect your customers and build brand trust by doing the right things: using reputable payment providers, investing in fraud prevention tools, and installing a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate on your website — to name a few.

#4 So is sustainability. Environmental responsibility matters to today’s customer. In fact, consumers from every generation are willing to pay more for sustainable products. Furthermore, 76% say they’ve made a conscious effort to shop more sustainable products in the past year. Brainstorm ways to make your processes more sustainable, such as using low-waste packaging for your products.

#5 Customer experience is still king. Research shows that customers value experience over both price and product quality. Whether online or in-person, the customer experience has to be the focus of your strategy. Think of fun ways to personalize your in-store profile, such as hosting pop-up events. Online, it’s about creating an immersive experience. For example, if you sell clothes, you might invest in technology that allows customers to try on clothes virtually.

Security dealers and integrators with questions about any of the above trends can pursue further information through the SBA Resource Partners Network. This collection of independent organizations are funded by the SBA to provide high-quality training and counseling designed to meet the specific needs of small business owners