Technology. Love it or hate it, the tech industry often impacts businesses, whether that’s a direct relation as a tech-focused company or as s sort of trickle-down as new tech enhances the customer experience in any industry. But with technology often comes hype — and big expenses without much reward. So what emerging tech trends are affordable enough for small businesses and offer big potential for growth through an enhanced customer experience? Here are three technology trends small businesses need to watch.
Virtual reality or 360 photos and videos are one of the fastest growing content forms. Unlike a typical photo or video, with this format, the viewer can move around and see in every direction. Virtual reality, where the user can not only look but move in any direction, is still an expensive technology to get into and not everyone has the gear to actually view the content anyways. But 360 photos and video are affordable to shoot and accessible to anyone with a smartphone or an internet browser. 360 video is great for getting customers through the doors by offering a preview of what they’ll find when they get there. Small businesses should consider a few things before jumping into 360:
- Buy or rent? 360 cameras are becoming more affordable — for businesses that shoot 360 all the time, buying a camera for around $500 is a good idea, like the Ricoh Theta or, for a bit more, the Garmin Virb 360. For just shooting a 360 of the inside of a retail store, renting or hiring a 360 photographer is probably the smartest, most affordable option.
- Get on Google Street View. Those Google cars with cameras mounted on top have covered a lot of ground — but you can also put the inside of your business location on Google Maps too, encouraging potential customers to check out the location for real.
- Go social. 360 photos and videos are easy to view and share on social media and often create more engagement.
Tech is becoming less screen-and-keyboard focused. With personal assistants like Siri and Cortana, many devices are being talked to, not typed to. So how can small businesses respond to this trend?
- Personal assistants can help small business owners save time, with the right selection of apps.
- Got an app for your business? Consult with your programmer to see if adding voice control is feasible for your company.
Video is quickly becoming on of the most engaging types of content on the web. While photos are easier to shoot, video can be more engaging and offers more information. Video can also be very affordable, even shot with a smartphone, particularly if you also stabilize the smartphone with a tripod.
- Consider live. Live video tends to get more engagements. This is a good avenue for announcements and special events.
- Get creative. Use video to offer a behind-the-scenes look at your business. Or chat in person in the video to make your company feel more approachable. For the biggest projects, consider hiring a professional videographer.
Technology can open up big opportunities for small businesses, from assisting in daily tasks to getting more customers through the doors.