With every challenge, there is an opportunity. These words have special meaning in the digital age because the small business world is experiencing rapid and radical change. And the effects are influencing how retail and intermediate wholesale bakeries interact with consumers. The old rules are out. The way your customers find you (and like you), how they prefer to order and pay for bakery products, how quickly they want food delivered, and a myriad of other factors are reshaping the landscape of what consumers expect from you.

The answer starts with listening closely to your customers. Follow their lead: don’t overpromise and don’t underdeliver. Understand how they shop, which products they crave, and much more. If you are successful, you can achieve more customer loyalty than you ever imagined. For instance, bakery owner Janice Jucker of Three Brothers Bakery suggests the benefits to investing wisely in modern POS systems that include mobile payment capability. A new Visa study reveals that 78% of consumers surveyed rank a digital payment method as the No. 1 preferred payment option. “You have to let the consumer shop the way they want to shop,” she says.

Understanding how consumers discover businesses can help retail bakeries and others attract new and exciting customers, according to the Visa report. Research shows that consumers prefer using digital channels such as a website or social media when determining where to shop, the report states. Promoting your business online will help consumers find you.

Mike Clements, owner of BakeSmart, says that businesses must compete online for their customers. “Consumers go to the internet to gather product information, read customer reviews, finalize buying decisions, and — most importantly — make a purchase. If a bakery is unable or unwilling to meet and interact with its potential customers in the digital spaces where they spend an increasing amount of their time, it is becoming ever more likely that those potential customers will become someone else’s customer.”