2021 has been marked by economic recovery, tech adoption and rapidly changing consumer demands. But as we look towards next year, some of these trends will continue to set the tone for many businesses across the UK, whilst others will bring new challenges and opportunities across industries.
From the movement towards eco-friendly and sustainable materials and products, to social responsibility and more widespread tech adoption, Kaushalya Somasundaram, Head of UK Payments Partnerships & Industry Relations at Square shares her top predictions for next year and how these will influence businesses in the UK…
2022 will be the year of socially conscious businesses
The past year has seen an outpouring of support for local charities, community initiatives and small businesses, and people have come together to help one another. As we move into 2022, we’ll see businesses not only continue to support local community initiatives, but increase their efforts. For instance, one of our recent studies showed that almost all (91%) of restaurant businesses plan to continue local community initiatives; whilst 43% of consumers would like to see businesses donate food or supplies to community organisations or charities. This shift towards providing more support to local organisations and communities, not only helps others, but is also set to have a significant beneficial impact on the businesses involved by attracting more loyal customers: consumers, especially millennials and Gen Z, who want to see more companies do good and showing a trend towards socially conscious businesses.
At last, businesses of all sizes are benefiting from tech adoption
When the world went online during the pandemic, technology helped businesses survive. In 2022, businesses will further push their use of tech, taking their investment to the next level. From restaurants to retailers, we’ll see businesses across industries digitally transform so that they can automate processes, save time and improve the customer experience. In fact, 71% of retailers said they are looking to inventory management technology to improve their supply chain efficiency, whilst 41% plan to invest in technology to show real-time inventory of their store. This appetite for adoption extends beyond the “traditional” areas of tech tools, with, for instance, 41% of businesses planning to invest in kitchen automation tech. This move shows that digital transformation will no longer be the purview of large enterprises, and instead it seeps through all aspects of business regardless of industry.
Pushed by consumer demand, 2022 will be the year of the eco-business
Sustainability has been a big focus of 2021, as shown by the wide interest in COP26 this year. However, as we move into 2022, we will see an even bigger demand for businesses to become more eco- and environment-friendly. With more consumers shopping online – our research showed that 57% of the UK public are buying more online than before the pandemic – using environmentally friendly materials and packaging is moving from a nice-to-have to a must. Our survey also showed that 37% of consumers want to see businesses using environmentally friendly materials. As many continue to take customer demands and expectations seriously, we expect to see an even bigger push towards eco-friendly and sustainable materials. Great strides have already been made over the past 12 months, for example this year 47% of businesses started using environmentally friendly packaging whilst 32% of retailers started engaging with sustainability/recycling and waste management efforts, but more is coming.