“The Customer Is Always RIGHT!” – as controversial as this adage might be for some; the phrase, which was coined back in 1909, speaks to the core of what keeps every successful business alive – which is, customer satisfaction.

Why is this important to any business? Customers bring in the MONEY – which in turn pays for vital operational costs such as staffing, utilities, supplies and of course ensuring that the business makes a profit.

Now, while this reality hasn’t changed since the 1900’s; what has evolved is the way in which customers are finding businesses today. The advent of mobile technology has and continues to drastically change the game in terms of retail. Over 75% of traders in some markets are shifting to the convenience of searching online for businesses via the Internet – particularly using their mobile smart phones.

People today aren’t leaving their home without their keys, wallet or mobile device and are utilizing mobile applications (apps) more and more everyday to not only communicate with each other, but also to conveniently find or shop for just about anything, from almost anywhere. This shift has been pushing traditional brick and mortar stores into quite a serious dilemma; as they are now fighting for sales with not only competitors at home, around them, but with anyone around the world who can setup an online storefront.

What has been fueling this growing trend you might ask? Several factors, to include:

1. ADVANCES IN INTERNET CONNECTIVITY AND LOWER PRICES for mobile smart phones have almost tripled the overall level of mobile penetration across the Caribbean region over the past several years. Providers have reported that most of their users either have accounts & smart devices with other companies and in some cases they even have multiple ones from the same company.

2. INFORMATION IS EASIER TO ACCESS AND ON DEMAND for consumers to be able to research and compare specific items even on the spot in a retail store to ensure that they are getting genuine deals or the most for their hard earned dollars. No longer do they have to rely on a sales person to give them advice on what might be the best options to buy or consider.

3. A GROWING ONLINE COMMUNITY OF FEEDBACK, REVIEWS AND OPINIONS from both satisfied and dissatisfied customers. Word of mouth still remains one of the most powerful and effective marketing tools today for any business. A happy customer will not only keep coming back for more but they will also sing praises to others, pulling new potential clients in as well.

Bearing all this in mind, what does this mean especially for small and medium sized enterprise (SME) businesses in Antigua & Barbuda, many of whom don’t have a website, mobile app or social media presence and are already feeling the pain of lost business as potential customers are searching or shopping online with competitors and not with them? That should be an easy no brainer, right? – They need to begin embracing solutions that will not only help increase their business presence but also their products and service offerings online.  •