There’s no denying that the pandemic has shifted the way we shop and interact with retailers on the high street and online. It has been a difficult time for retailers, especially those smaller ones who rely on facilities being open during a year in which the world shut down.
That’s why we launched our SME Support Package to give small business owners the tools and support they need to not only compete in this competitive market, but to thrive. These SMEs are trailblazers and are setting the agenda for 2022, using innovation to recover from the pandemic or creating new sustainable businesses tackling climate change.
The year ahead holds a lot of excitement and opportunity for retail as technology advances, after what was a very tough few years. We caught up with three of our SME support package winners to see their predictions for the year ahead.
Sustainability is one of the key priorities for businesses big and small, and in 2021, everyone made pledges to make a difference. Yet, how many businesses lived up to their pledges and made a meaningful difference? This year, businesses will be held accountable and be put to the challenge of making a positive environmental impact.
Katie and Amanda McCourt are co-founders of Pantee, a business that uses deadstock t-shirts and fabrics to create the softest and most comfortable underwear. They want to see businesses action their sustainability commitments in a consumer environment that is becoming increasingly environmentally aware.
“This year, we believe the consumer shift towards sustainable products will only amplify but with a sharper eye for greenwashing and how to spot it” the founders predict.
“Now the CMA’s Green Claims Code has come into effect, businesses will be held accountable to ensure their claims are accurate. We hope this will lead to a rise in transparency from brands, and uptake in educational content to further support consumers to buy better.”
After nearly two years of restrictions impacting different facets of life, consumers are increasingly craving a memorable shopping experience, something that goes beyond what we’ve become used to.
David Sherman, Chief Marketing Officer at Turtle Pack, the swimming aid that facilitates an enjoyable, educational and efficient experience when learning how to swim, believes that retail is going to have to up its game to keep shopping exciting.
“Retail is having to become far more experiential and in response, the high street can’t just offer convenience anymore. Instead, shoppers need to be excited and given great customer service when shopping and that’s something you can’t experience online”, he argues. “Children and parents alike need to enjoy it. In 2022, retail will become more than just buying something, it’ll create a wholly immersive experience.”
The year of the small business.
Small businesses have taken the brunt of the brutality that the pandemic inflicted. Our research found that 38% of SME leaders were worried their business wouldn’t survive the pandemic.
However, Hazel Russel, founder of The Wood Life Project, is optimistic for the year ahead. The Wood Life Project is a range of sustainable bowls and plates for children made from British ash and sycamore wood.
Hazel predicts “There’s a growing trend in supporting small and independent businesses. Younger generations care more about sustainability and supporting businesses that make a difference.” With many people finding new ways to shop small, whether that’s through social media, existing platforms or word of mouth, it’s an exciting time to be a small business owner.
Roll on 2022 – the best is yet to come.
We are really looking forward to seeing what retail has in store for 2022. Our SME Support Package entrepreneurs are paving the way for a new exciting, immersive and truly sustainable offering and we’re very excited to be helping them on their journey.
Are you interested in finding out more about our 100 SME Support Fund winners? You can check them out here.