From displaying a sleek, well-designed e-commerce website to leveraging A/R technology, some of the best startup trends are no longer just available to high-tech startups. Now, business owners of all budgets have access to cool online tech that can make even small and new enterprises look cutting edge. More important, such trends and features can help streamline your business and help improve customer service. 

Artificial Intelligence (AI) – when you’re running an online business, there is no limit to how many visitors browse your site at any given time. This means you or your lean team of four or five people couldn’t possibly cater to every visitor to ensure a personalized shopping experience. This is where AI comes in. The technology continuously collects data on how a customer shops, such as what time they prefer to shop and their favorite products or services. Collecting such data allows you to better communicate with customers and send the right sales and promotions.  

AI has become more common, as companies like ChatPath, and Nara Logics are making such tools available to small businesses. 

Augmented Reality (AR) – From AI to AR, it’s crucial for business owners to not let tech jargon intimidate them. Adobe defines AR as technology that “superimposes an image onto a user’s view of the real world and enhances it with sound, touch, and even smell.”

In other words, shoppers can more accurately see the item they’re shopping for, which empowers them to make a buying decision. This is a gamechanger for specific industries, such as fashion and home. For example, if you’re an interior decorator or furniture maker, AR can help a buyer upload a photo of their living room and impose a new coffee table to see if it fits their layout.

Chatbots – In addition to AI, chatbots can help online customers have a personalized shopping experience. The bots can communicate with online shoppers as if they were in-store sales associates. Think of them as more interactive and helpful hubs for FAQs (frequently asked questions), equipped to provide live customer service. Snatchbot and Watson Assistant are just some of the programs that create chatbots for small businesses

Voice Assistant – From Alexa to Siri, voice search has come a long way, especially as more people bring smart speakers into their homes. These speakers offer much more than having your favorite music playlist ready to blast. Consumers can now use voice search to shop online, order food, operate their homes and organize their lives. Just as the right keywords can help a small business with search engine results, the rise of voice search can give small businesses to connect with target customers via voice search. 

Mobile-friendly – According to OuterBox Design, 77% of American’s own a smartphone and 79% of smartphone users have made a purchase online using their mobile device in the last six months. This means your website should be designed and optimized for mobile shoppers and payers. 

Multiple ways to pay – Part of a seamless user experience for both desktop and mobile includes an easy checkout process. The power of launching a small business website empowers many entrepreneurs to go from local to national or even global, so think of offering payment options for global customers as well. Some countries prefer to use credit cards for online payments, while some others prefer digital payment systems like PayPal.

Sustainability matters – Some of the most powerful business trends have nothing to do with tech. Gen Z and Millennials have upended the economy with their penchant for sustainable, and eco-friendly options. According to a Deloitte survey, climate change/protecting the environment was the number one concern for young shoppers. Entrepreneurs must respond accordingly, no matter their industry. Consider obtaining the right certifications, such as B Corp or Leaping Bunny. Think about your ingredients and manufacturing processes, down to the type of packaging you use. These days, running a business that is both eco-friendly and tech-savvy is a win-win.