The past year has been a whirlwind for everyone, particularly businesses impacted by COVID-19. While it’s been a challenge to adapt and navigate through so many uncer­tainties and changes, the pandemic has also brought new and exciting opportunities for businesses willing to adapt. Here are some key business trends to be aware of as you work to optimize business results in this new environment.

E-commerce is booming 
While online shopping was on the rise before COVI D-19, it’s now a necessity for many people­and these purchasing patterns are here to stay. A report from I BM shows that, over the past five years, customers have shifted away from physical to online shopping in significant numbers that are only expected to rise as mobile apps for shopping become more popular and easier to use. If your business sells products online or you’re consid­ering doing so, make sure you offer a smooth and stress-free experience to keep your customers coming back for more.

Alternative payment options 
Like the no-contact shopping associated with e-commerce, in-store no-contact payments have also increased. Busy shoppers like sending a payment through their phone or by tapping a credit or bank card, and there are a variety of apps to facilitate this type of payment. Venmo lets you send a payment to a friend, business, or customer. Apple Pay, which lets you simply hold your iPhone or Apple Watch up to a payment screen, is also very popular. Other options include PayPal, Cash App … and more. A study done by the National Retail Federation found that more and more retailers will be implementing contactless pay­ments throughout their stores. Offering this type of payment option in your business will help you adapt to today’s consumer expectations.

Remote work 
Working from home was a necessity for many non-essential workers during the pandemic. Many businesses have made this an ongoing option for their workers and will continue to do so, as it can offer the added benefits of work-life balance and less overhead costs. Although you may have to invest in new technology and software for remote employees, the long-term benefits of doing so­cost savings, efficiency and employee retention­are worth your consideration.

Virtual services are in demand 
If you’re expanding your business, you may need help with day-to-day tasks. A virtual assistant can help free up your schedule and let you focus on growth opportunities. If you want to start a business, consider virtual services that others may find useful. Cybersecurity, at-home fitness, food delivery, gaming, home improvement, and telemedicine are all trending business growth categories that could help you create a profitable enterprise.

With a new year just over the horizon, now is the time to think about emerging business trends in the current environment, and how you can use them to your advantage. The trends covered above are worth considering if you want to strengthen your business and improve your chances of continued success.