Best Business Ideas for 2023: Connecting With Customers

What are the big new ideas that are shaping customer expectations in 2023? We explain the best opportunities for businesses looking to launch.

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We are a team of writers, experimenters and researchers providing you with the best advice with zero bias or partiality.
Written and reviewed by:
Helena Young

In a recession, customer behaviour can change dramatically as consumers search for better deals that can save them money. But while firms selling cheaper goods might expect a rise in sales, they aren’t immune from a drop.

Frozen foods retailer, Iceland – typically known for its bargains – slipped to a £4.1m annual loss in 2022. Meanwhile, its costlier rival, J. Sainsbury’s, reported good profits.

That’s because the real marker of a successful business in 2023 is not how low it can price goods, but how well it can appeal to its target audience with bespoke, sensitive marketing.

Keeping customers engaged is even more imperative now that face-to-face customer experiences are vanishing. Today’s consumers are used to contacting brands via instant messaging apps, utilising virtual checkouts over real ones, and scanning QR codes instead of speaking directly to wait staff.

Below, we’ll outline the business opportunities that are emerging as more firms react to the trend of customer connection by seeking out ways to capture and retain audience attentions in 2023.

Streamlining delivery

As a consequence of the past two years, many UK businesses have packed up their belongings and made the big move online. Digitally-based services and products, such as ecommerce, have now become the go-to over high streets and localised shopping.

This activity had been steadily growing over the past decade, but it was the impact of COVID-19 that saw it really pick up speed. Data from Adobe Projects estimates that 2022 will be the first trillion-dollar year of spending for the global ecommerce market.

Such impressive growth has naturally generated some big competition. Consumers are coming to expect faster, cheaper checkouts, and tech-based solutions are cropping up everywhere in an effort to help businesses keep up with the new demand.

One tool that’s already showing promising growth this year is chatbots. ChatGPT’s clever AI software made headlines across the globe in January, as proof that automated assistants can hold sophisticated conversations with customers to smooth out service delivery.

PolyAI is another AI tool that will be making waves in 2023. The voice assistant uses sophisticated machine learning so that it can be more genuinely reactive within a conversation.

Having been trained on over one billion real conversations, business users can trust that any issues or queries are being properly addressed, while their customers don’t have to scream into the speakerphone because of underdeveloped software.

D2C companies, like The Modern Milkman, are also changing the way companies bring their products to the masses.

The startup has made quick-commerce even more convenient with its super flexible delivery model that allows customers to request next-day, essential groceries to their doorstep. Orders can be edited up to 8pm the night before. Consequently, the calcium conqueror has ensured a waste-free business model that also helps consumers to shop more sustainably.

“Our milkrounds deliver 3 times a week and are easily managed online through our tech so customers can adopt a little and often approach to shopping and reduce their food waste at home,” says Modern Milkman cofounder, Simon Mellin.

“Our research alone has discovered that a massive 89% of people feel that shopping ethically has become increasingly expensive during the last 12 months, so it’s never been more important to make sustainable choices more accessible.”

This is a huge sector with tonnes of opportunities. If you have coding or software development experience, you could develop a new B2C app. If you have industry experience, it might enable you to find a gap to fix in the current delivery model.

What are some business ideas for streamlining delivery?

Same-day courier company

Customers want to get their products quicker than ever, which makes offering speedy same-day delivery for urgent items a winning business idea. To make this business goal easier, you could offer your services specifically to local businesses – think Deliveroo but for retail.

Prescription subscriptions

Subscriptions are a popular idea at the moment as they mean customers don’t have to waste time purchasing the same products monthly.

You could become a D2C (doctor-to-consumer) subscription service for prescriptions. You’ll get the double win of tapping into the UK’s growing health trend and enabling more accessible services for those who might struggle to leave the house.


The great shift to online working has dramatically increased competition when it comes to internet real estate. An overly saturated market of content, paired with reduced footfall in high streets, means businesses nowadays need to contend with a long list of social media platforms, websites and advertisements in order to be seen.

As a consequence, new technology, data, and analytics services are cropping up as marketers attempt to create much more personal and “human” experiences across moments, channels, and buying stages.

Consumers now expect every one of their tastes and interests to be catered for, which means this idea can take many shapes and enter some surprising industries.

One example is SURREAL, which we featured as one of our Startups 100 for 2023. Revolutionising the cereal industry, SURREAL reimagines childhood cereals for adults with zero sugar, low carbs, and 14g of protein in every serving.

Consultancy services operating in the marketing and customer optimisation spheres will also do well with personalisation.

For example, there’s RevLifter. The brand was nominated for our Ecommerce Award in this year’s Startups 100 Index, due to the incredible value it can bring to users. RevLifter measures behavioural data to understand online shoppers and help brands target them with hyper-personalised offers.

Overall, it’s a smart idea that’s creating a win-win situation. Users can find out about the products and services they are genuinely interested in, and businesses don’t waste marketing resources by casting about blindly.

Personalisation is all about creating something new for consumers that’s unlike anything they might have previously experienced. But big ideas don’t need big bucks – because it’s a fairly general business idea, personalisation has tonnes of applications, and champions creativity and innovation over large-scale initial investment.

What are some business ideas for personalising consumer experiences?

Showroom consultancy

The rise of digital businesses has meant in-person retail and leisure businesses need to adopt new tactics to get their customers out of the door and into stores instead.

In 2022, you could offer interior design services to help businesses design more attractive spaces that engage attention throughout the entire user journey.

Match-making service

As multi-channel integration becomes more common, it’s now simpler than ever to access customer information across multiple platforms.

You could offer a personalised match-making service that links customers to events happening nearby through Spotify, deals they might be interested in using cookie data, or even restaurant recommendations based on their TripAdvisor profile.

Data protection and privacy

In the wake of repeated scandals around privacy and intellectual property (IP) rights, customers are becoming more concerned about how their data is used. JD Sports’ recent, massive security leak has compromised the data of 10 million customers, sparking early conversations about data protection in 2023.

General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) already exists to ensure customer, company and client data is secure. Failure to comply can result in massive fines.

But now, Big Tech companies are creating more obstacles for customer services by further regulating data collection. By late 2023, Google will copy rival search engines Safari and Firefox to phase out third-party cookies running on Chrome, having a huge impact on how brands track, target, and engage with customers.

Brands will need to explore new smart ways to help consumers without collecting personally identifiable information. As such, businesses that are proactively managing customer privacy will be especially important this year.

Our top 100 startup Element is catering for the new demand. Using complex Matrix open-standard network technology, this data-encrypted messaging app is essentially a high-security WhatsApp. Its existing customers include the UK, US and German governments.

In an industry that’s overstuffed with platforms and tools promising to protect business data, it’s important to own a USP. YEO Messaging has found its niche by using its own patented continuous facial recognition software to create a communication app that can authenticate the user. That way, only the intended recipient can view the content.

Cofounder Sarah Norford-Jones started the company after becoming disturbed by the lack of trust in existing messaging platforms.

“Other messaging applications were focusing on encryption and securing the message and content between sender and recipient; we realised that the real issue was trust,” Norford-Jones reveals. “Once the message and content was delivered, who owned it, who could control it, and how did you know who was viewing your private message.”

Other messaging applications were focusing on encryption; we realised that the real issue was trust.

Through this patented continuous facial recognition technology, labelled ‘YEO Mode’, the business can be assured they are adhering to GDPR compliance, have an audit trail, and also legally prove that the recipient actually viewed the content.

Essentially, the trend is all about meeting a business’ cyber security needs via the most simple and effortless method. Most entrepreneurs are not experts in data privacy. Startups that can bring value to customers without requiring complex system migrations will find the most success in this area.

“YEO has redesigned its application so it can be easily integrated into other management systems and office products like Slack, Salesforce, Microsoft Office and multiple vertical market management solutions,” Norford-Jones recounts.

“By adopting an open approach to the market we are able to work with any software and integrate seamlessly into a business environment without major behaviour change.”

What are some business ideas for data protection and security?

SaaS security apps

Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) is a software distribution model that customers can typically purchase using cloud software. If you have coding or development experience then you can design a security app or plugin to be purchased by brands for use on websites across the internet.

Cybersecurity training provider

The majority of companies are working remotely or digitally in 2022, which means educating the workforce on how to stay safe online is no longer just a useful enterprise for businesses, but a necessity. As a cybersecurity training provider, you could offer bespoke training by visiting offices directly, or create a digital product like an online video course.

Final thoughts

Amidst a growing online business market, SMEs will need to work smart to leave a lasting audience impression in 2023 – particularly as the recession sees competition for a slice of consumer spending power increase.

There are plenty of low-cost opportunities associated with this new trend. Whether you offer tools, information, or support, you can help businesses to connect with customers in a testing economic period – a worthy cause that will bring plenty of reward during both the recession and future recovery.

Written by:
Helena Young
Helena is Lead Writer at Startups. As resident people and premises expert, she's an authority on topics such as business energy, office and coworking spaces, and project management software. With a background in PR and marketing, Helena also manages the Startups 100 Index and is passionate about giving early-stage startups a platform to boost their brands. From interviewing Wetherspoon's boss Tim Martin to spotting data-led working from home trends, her insight has been featured by major trade publications including the ICAEW, and news outlets like the BBC, ITV News, Daily Express, and HuffPost UK.
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