2020 taught business owners one thing, adapting is the most important rule for survival in business. Not marketing, not capital, but adapting. It’s not some old knowledge though, but the events of the past 12 months seem to have cemented the ‘rule’.
Team Locally has spent the past few weeks knocking on experts, researching and deliberating to bring you what we’ve agreed to be the top predictions for growth for African based businesses. Ghana, Nigeria, Mozambique, South Africa, Kenya, The Gambia, Rwanda etc.
Of course these predictions can apply to other parts of the world but every region is a bit peculiar. This list suits our African Market more.
We’d love to see you grow. That’s why we’d love for you to take time, read and enjoy this list. Apply what you can, and be poised for growth!
1. These businesses will boom in 2021
i. Logistics & delivery businesses
ii. eCommerce & Instagram/Facebook shop based businesses
iii. Data related businesses
iv. Health & hygiene businesses
v. Influencer, socialpreneur and social media marketing agencies
vi. Digital marketing paid ads experts
vii. Online education
viii. I.T & cyber security consulting
We are not yet in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic yet but, in the wake of this outbreak, most businesses that require much physical contact sunk, giving rise to businesses that do not require much physical contact. Business must go on regardless and we predict that the businesses above have higher chances of booming this 2021. The reasons are two. One, they don’t demand much physical contact. Two, most of these businesses either complement or replaces industries most affected by the pandemic.
2. The virtual and remote workforce become business-as-usual.
Covid-19 forced many companies to learn how to work virtually, which is another way of saying “work from home.” There are many companies that would have never thought it possible before but now embrace it to the point of saying, “We’re shutting down offices.” Not every company thinking like this is going to go 100% remote, but the option is there if they want—or need—to take it to that level.
3. Customers will continue to get smarter.
Customers keep getting smarter about customer service and experience. They tolerate fewer customer service failures and demand better because they know it’s possible. They learn from other “rock star” businesses that set the bar higher for everyone. It could be a major brand or a small business down the street. When a customer receives great service from any type of business, an expectation is either created or confirmed.
4. Customers become more impatient.
They want what they want NOW. Let’s put some numbers behind this. Earlier this year we released our 2020 Achieving Customer Amazement Survey results. A whopping 96.2% of customers are willing to leave because of bad customer service. That number will stay high and is more important than ever during a pandemic. Customers appeared to be more patient with the companies they did business with during the first few months of the pandemic. That patience diminished as customers saw some (and now all) companies returning to pre-pandemic levels of service. Customers also continue to be influenced by the companies that get it right (remember prediction number one). The result is an impatient customer. The customer wants it now!
5. Chatbots will do more than just communicate with customers.
Most people use chatbots as a way to manage customer support. So far, the success with chatbots has been mostly about managing basic issues such as checking a bank balance, tracking a delivery, etc. Chatbots will continue to do that (and get better at it), but they will also be a catalyst to the next steps. They will be the starting point for automating processes and automatic escalation to a human. In short, chatbots will be as much a communication tool as an automation tool.
6. Convenience is no longer optional.
Speaking of convenience … just two years I wrote about the concept of convenience and a low-friction customer experience. This was a differentiation that could help distance a company from its competition. The Covid-19 pandemic forced many convenience strategies to go from added value to the expected way of doing business. Before, delivery was a nice option that some businesses offered. Now, it’s an expectation that businesses have scrambled to incorporate into their day-to-day experience. The good news is that a Customer Amazement Survey shows that 67% of customers are willing to pay more for convenience, and when that convenience includes delivery, that number increases to 90%.
7. Companies and brands find more ways to automate and digitize the experience.
This is a nice follow-up to the previous prediction. Automated and digitized experiences can be good—until they’re not. The more a company automates its processes, the more it distances itself from the human-to-human connection that helps drive an emotionally connected sense of loyalty. If you want to see a prediction come to life, just look at what happened in the first few months of the pandemic. Companies were forced to adapt and adopt technologies that they would have eventually used, but not for three to five years. Covid-19 pushed us into the future.
8. The word for 2021 will be empathy.
While customers have embraced self-service solutions and digital selling experiences through intuitive and easy-to-use websites, Covid-19 saw customers who normally would be happy with the digital experience reaching out to companies, just to talk to someone who cared. More than ever, empathy is at the root of a successful human-to-human interaction, and when you combine that with someone who is knowledgeable and solves the problem or answers the question, you have a winning combination. As many employees are moving to a virtual, work-from-home experience, empathy plays a role as they may feel isolated and anxious about the future.
9. Good storytelling will win the game.
Everybody loves a good story. It is what the most important things to people are built on. Religions are built on stories, nations are built on stories, companies, families etc. If you want to win this 2021, try incorporating storytelling in your business. Want to communicate with your audience with good stories and win their hearts to yourself only? Consider contacting us to know a package we have for you.
In this video, Neil Patel shares few secrets on how to craft good stories that can sell and build your business.
10. Personalization at a digital level is getting more personal.
As sophisticated CRMs (Customer Relationship Management systems) and AI integrate, the data that is generated will help companies create a truly personalized experience. Customers enjoy feeling connected—when companies know who they are—even if it’s at a digital level. AI will fuel this trend. When a computer can compare customers’ wants, needs and similarities, it can better predict what customers will want and need. This is a powerful tool that is becoming more commonplace as the cost is no longer out of budget for smaller and medium-sized businesses.
11. Companies will over-automate and over-digitize.
This is as much a warning as it is a prediction. It is the result of what will happen based on the predictions related to automation and digitization, including chatbots and any other form of automated conversations with customers. Overdoing any of these technologies puts companies at risk of being a commodity with little or no differentiation from their competitors.
There is a gap that is getting wider and wider. That gap is the distance between the customer’s automated experience and the customer’s human-to-human experience. No doubt customers want and expect ease, convenience, self-service solutions and other concepts that don’t need human-to-human interaction. However, the less contact a customer has with the company, the less opportunity for the emotional connection that drives customer loyalty. Smart companies will recognize the balance needed between the digital world and the human-to-human world. Those companies win.
12. Problems can be predicted.
African companies will have more capability to fix a problem before customers ever know they have it—or at least to inform customers about the problem before they call. Different sensors, alerts and alarms will trigger companies to proactively manage a customer’s experience like never before. This goes from noticing a car needs maintenance, to a customer’s cable TV or internet being down, to large machinery needing unscheduled repairs—and everything in between. Imagine never having to call a company for a problem because the problem was fixed before you even knew about it. The concept of “never” may not be reality, but more and more, predictive service is making customers’ lives better.
13. Remote work will persist through 2021 and beyond.
One of the most significant shifts for many workers in 2020 was the swift adoption of remote work. While some companies expected newly remote workers to return to the office, this is no longer a reality. Many businesses will not expect workers to come to the office five days a week, if at all, and companies will shrink or reconfigure office spaces accordingly.
“The reality is, employees will not be returning to the same office they left behind,” a 2020 remote-work study by PwC indicates. “There will be fewer people, restricted collaboration spaces and rotating shifts — all of which will require teams to find new ways to connect and collaborate. More than anything else, this need for connections is likely to shape what the office is going to represent.”
14. Business travel will be significantly reduced.
As the pandemic continues into 2021, don’t expect much overseas travel for African businesses to make a massive comeback in 2021. It is predicted that there will be a significant drop in business travel, and for this, there to be a “very high threshold” for companies that can conduct meetings from home. “My prediction would be that over 50% of business travel and over 30% of days in the office will go away,”
15. Economic growth may return to pre-pandemic levels only by the end of 2021.
For businesses that have made it through 2020, many are wondering if the economy will come back in the next year. A December 2020 survey of the National Association for Business Economics (NABE) suggests the economy very well could roar back in the second half of 2021. “73% percent of panelists believe that the economy will have returned to pre-pandemic GDP levels by the second half of 2021,” reports the NABE. “The 73% is a dramatic improvement from the October survey in which 38% of panelists believed that a full recovery would occur before 2022.”
16. Retraining and reskilling workers will be a 2021 priority.
As the pandemic has put pressure on companies to lay off lower-skilled workers that can be replaced by automation or technology, some companies will also work to retrain and reskill employees. Cost-effective options such as retraining, reskilling, and redeployment will continue to grow in popularity next year.
Employers will be more committed to building a workforce of the future by helping employees acquire new skills so the companies can absorb downturns and market shifts without having to resort to the costly fire-and-hire cycle. However, please note that before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.
17. Greater use of online classes and video conferencing
The new Google My Business attributes seem to be leaning towards video conferencing including a Connect in real-time, with video. THese options are likely to encourage online consultation and tutorials as chargeable services going forward.
Video tools include: Google meet, Webex, Skype and of course Zoom
These tools have just recently been given the go-ahead to integrate with your Google business listing. So it’s best to get ahead of your competition and get connected. It’s expected Google will apply this to its recent updates for bookings too. eg. Online classes, Onsite services, Online estimates and Online appointments
18. Voice search
Have you noticed the importance of reliable opening hours, holidays, delivery facilities and takeaway delivery has recently had? No surprise its building up to the voice search popularity that’s slowly growing. Voice search makes sense for 2021. To discover how voice search requires reliable opening hours, holidays, delivery facilities/takeaway delivery information to work well, take a look at this video
19. Proximity marketing will enjoy its reign
Proximity marketing means using your customers’ location to market your products and services. This usually happens by using the mobile location technologies available on modern smartphones, including GPS technology, and cell phone triangulation.
WiFi and Bluetooth technology are also used to help companies serve up proximity advertising.
Proximity-based marketing is also known as hyper local marketing. That’s because it’s a highly targeted form of marketing that lets businesses show promotions to consumers within a small, local area. For example, marketers can target a neighborhood, a city block, a store, or specific areas within a store.
20. Venture Capital inflow will continue to take an upward clip
There’s a reason why global payments giant Stripe pumped $200 million into acquiring Nigerian fintech company Paystack. As you read this article, venture capital funding in Africa this year accrues to $1.6Billion. That’s a 25% increase from 2019, despite the pandemic.
With a predominantly progressive business climate and a teeming youth population (the youngest worldwide), African economies will continue to flourish. Look beyond fluctuating currencies, logistics challenges, social tensions resulting from poverty and corrupt governments, and other such indexes. The numbers show that with the ongoing regional harmonization efforts, less-restrictive policy frameworks, growing talent pipeline, and digital connectivity, this market will continue to be the region of interest for many years to come.