Canadian consumers demanding more mobile options

In an always-on world, we increasingly want more choices, including the flexibility to use our favourite products and services on whatever device we're on — from our smartphones to tablets.

New research makes it clear that the shift that is transforming the buying habits of Canadians. Their preferences for interacting with businesses mean that it's critically important for small businesses to be online in a meaningful way.

A recent survey asked consumers about how they prefer to interact with businesses. The results revealed that whether you're a small boutique, a dry cleaner or an auto mechanic shop, a digital presence that meets the needs of your customers is essential for continued success and growth.

Here are some interesting findings:

• While a majority of us still prefer to buy a product or service in person, a growing number of millennials prefer shopping online, by an almost two-to-one margin to their baby boomer parents.

• A whopping 84 per cent of millennials want to do business through websites they can navigate on their mobile device, and 60 per cent say they interact with businesses via their smartphone or tablet almost exclusively.

• A third of all respondents prefer to provide feedback to businesses via email, with a quarter opting to do it on the company's website.

• More than two-thirds want to get news and updates from merchants and service providers via email. A majority say it's important that a business remembers them, with almost as many indicating that they want to do business with those who anticipate their needs.

For small business owners, this shift toward your customers wanting businesses to be always-on and accessible from anywhere points to the importance of having a digital strategy in place.

The good news is that the proliferation of cloud services makes technology more accessible than ever before. Tools like customer relationship management solutions, such as Dynamics 365, give businesses the ability to track customer preferences and purchase habits to build a customized profile, which can help predict what that customer is going to need next and when.