Consumers feeling more confident: How can small businesses prepare?
January 03, 2014

Small and midsize enterprises that utilize flexible electronic payment systems are in a better position to take advantage of recent improvements in consumer spending habits this year.

According to the latest measurements from the Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index, which tracks shopper preferences based on current economic conditions, Americans were more confident in their spending abilities in 2013 than they had been in the nearly six years since the Great Recession radically altered individual financial situations. The index's 2013 average concluded at minus 31.4 points, which was the highest level since 2007. Similarly, the weekly index dropped to minus 28.7 points during the week ending on Dec. 29, 2013 compared to minus 27.4 during the previous week.

Bloomberg mostly attributed the positive outlook to an improved job market, more stable stock prices and stronger home prices.

"Consumers were somewhat uneasy in the latest week, however, record stock market evaluations and increased job creation has bolstered confidence levels from relatively low levels," Richard Yamarone, a senior economist for Bloomberg LP, told the news organization.

These trends paint a positive outlook for small and medium-sized businesses in the near future. Firms can further improve their chances at boosting revenue in 2014 by considering the following long-term strategies:

Create more reliable revenue channels
Despite recent growth in consumer confidence, spending in the retail sector is often unpredictable at best. According to USA Today, enterprises can eliminate the guessing game from their operations by focusing on implementing dynamic payment methods that make it easier to accept credit card payments in multiple situations. For example, streamlining the online transaction process may ultimately encourage customers to keep coming back in the future. As a result, small firms will experience a much more reliable source of income that fuels long-term expansion efforts.

Organize financial data with payment integration technology
The multichannel business model poses a variety of unique opportunities for companies. However, managers must first invest in integrated payment systems to avoid losing track of valuable transaction information or making back office operations overly complicated. Without these tools, mobile payments, as well as online and brick-and-mortar transactions, will simply create more work for managers and employees who are likely busy enough on a day-to-day basis. An advanced management interface will help store owners make the the most of their newfound focus on flexibility.

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