Since the economic shutdown in March 2020, software developers/independent software vendors (ISVs) have focused on providing solutions to industries under intense pressure to adapt to new ways of doing business. Two common examples are providing restaurants with online ordering capabilities and equipping grocery stores with systems to manage curbside pickup. But, according to Mauricio Chacon, group product manager, business systems group, Epson America, there is another market section that also needs technology solutions now – businesses that are experiencing unexpected growth.
These businesses need solutions to streamline their workflows now that demand or traffic is greater and to operate more efficiently. And, like any business, they must comply with health safety guidelines and provide safe environments for their customers and employees.
Where Businesses Find Opportunities
Software developers may find opportunities in these markets and niches that have experienced business growth during the pandemic
Third-party delivery services: The volume of online orders has grown significantly this year. PYMNTS research revealed that the number of U.S. consumers purchasing goods online rose from 29.2 percent in April 2020 to 35.7 percent in May. With retailers and restaurants selling online, third-party delivery services are growing at an accelerated rate since the pandemic. NPD Group research found that delivery orders increased by 67 percent in March 2020.
Although large enterprises like Grubhub and DoorDash may have technology in place, Chacon says smaller last-mile delivery services – including new businesses now starting up to meet the demand of the 2020 holiday shopping season – may need solutions to help them run their businesses. Also, consider that more businesses may be hiring new third-party delivery services and will require a way to organize orders and do what they can to ensure good customer experiences. One way to do that is through labeling. Integrating your solution with thermal label printers, such as the Epson TM-L90 Plus, will give your customers the ability to fulfill and package orders accurately and ensure they’re delivered to the right customers.
Remote work solutions: Chacon says with new shutdowns over winter 2020-2021 a possibility, any solution that will help people work from home will be in demand. Beyond Desktop as a Service (DaaS), network solutions, endpoint security and mobile device management, consider other needs that workers may have to make work easier. You may find a market for products that create more comfortable ways to participate in video calls or stay organized and keep employees engaged and motivated throughout the day.
Handmade goods: Aspiring artists with more time during the pandemic are building their businesses. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce reports that sites such as Etsy that enables crafters to build online storefronts had twice as many new shops in April 2020 than they did a year before. Depending on their craft, these entrepreneurs may benefit from software that helps them with design, inventory, or other elements of managing their businesses. Artisans who are serious about making their craft a full-time job will be looking for ways to develop their brand identity, including how they package, label and ship their goods.
Home fitness: Whether their fitness center is closed or they’re uncomfortable with going to the gym, people are investing in equipment to workout at home. ResearchAndMarkets.com reports that fitness equipment sales grew by 170 percent in the first half of 2020. In addition to targeting the businesses that produce and sell home fitness equipment, consider whether the solutions you offer can support personal trainers, yoga instructors or other fitness professionals as they find ways to conduct classes virtually.
Gaming and streaming: Although entertainment spending overall decreased by about 22 percent this year, spending on gaming and streaming services grew. If you’ve been thinking about dipping your toe in this area, now may be a good time to move.
Will Business Growth Continue?
The million-dollar question is whether businesses booming now will continue after the threat of coronavirus declines. It’s important to watch for indicators that these businesses are changing the way people will look at products and services or if they’ll go back to old habits.
Software developers strategizing for 2021 should take the uncertainty into account but also capitalize on current opportunities. It may benefit your business to consider how to adapt or market your existing products to support new demands. For example, if you sold ticketing kiosks for theaters or entertainment venues, consider if your products could be adapted to perform temperature screenings at the door of a business or school. Your business may also benefit from adding a mobile version that untethers people from a counter or desk and gives them more flexibility in their workflows.
Chacon stresses that key takeaways for software developers are that the pandemic drove some changes in consumer buying habits that will probably be permanent, and it also accelerated the demand for technology among businesses that have experienced growth due to COVID-19. Your solutions are still in demand — your customer profile may just be different than it was before.