The holiday season is right around the corner and this year may look a little different! The global pandemic has dramatically changed the way we communicate, work and shop. Social distancing, self-quarantining and elbow bumps are now frequently used expressions and it’s possible that “zoombombing” makes the list of new words added to the dictionary this year.
As everyone continues to maneuver through the wake of COVID-19, it's probably safe to assume that there will be an impact on how small businesses perform this holiday season. Business owners will need a good strategy to make the most of the final quarter of 2020. If you haven’t already done so, now is the time to prepare your business for the end of year sales crunch.
Here are a few tips to help small businesses thrive both online and off this holiday:
Make a List and Check it Twice
Before the craziness begins, make an organized holiday season to-do list. Consider the following:
- Identify staffing gaps that may need to be addressed with permanent or seasonal employees.
- Schedule time to train your team on the products or services you offer and set guidelines for how you expect them to handle the holiday crowd.
- Create holiday schedules to ensure you have enough coverage--you'll need extra hands if you're offering services like curbside pickup, delivery or expect to be packing and shipping more products!
- Organize supplies such as packing material, paper products, and decorations in advance to help keep things moving smoothly when it gets busy.
- Order enough inventory – you don’t want to sell out too early!
- Develop a marketing/promotional plan to maximize holiday sales.
- Build an email marketing list – get started by using these six tips.
Deck Out Your Website
Every year, more people shop online for the gifts, decorations, food, and beverages they need for the holiday season, but this year that trend is expected to significantly increase. Salesforce predicts up to 30% of global retail sales will be made through digital channels this year and stores offering pick up service will see a 90% increase in digital sales over the previous holiday season.1
In response, many small businesses are optimizing their website presence to remain competitive. If you expect to experience increased website traffic, it is vital that your website is prepared to support the customer online shopping journey. Here are a few things to consider:
- Confirm your website is easy to navigate
- Present products and services in a visually appealing manner
- Take steps to ensure your site can handle extra traffic
- Prominently display contact information, stores hours and locations
- Include details about the delivery options you offer such as curbside, inside or drive-through
Spruce up Your Social Media
Some businesses have reported that a higher percentage of their sales have been via social channels, giving more reason to focus on the content you promote on social media. It is likely that some customers find you via a social platform before they ever visit your website. But if they do enter through the website first, they will probably also look to see what social media channels you use. Due to the flexibility and instant engagement that social media channels offer, it’s a great platform for business owners to utilize to get as close to their customers as possible.
Tip: Did you know that you can sell retail products via platforms like Facebook and Instagram? Customers can shop for your products and complete their purchases all through these social media channels. Take the time to build out a storefront and strategize with your team to develop a marketing campaign that showcases the items or services you have to offer. Get creative with social media advertising — offer holiday deals or extend free shipping offers to accommodate the holiday shopping craze.
Don’t forget to partake in Small Business Saturday on November 28. It’s a great way to kick off the season, and for your customers to support you and the community. Additionally, this may be the year that your small business increases its online efforts to participate in Cyber Week.
Prepare to Pivot Your Money Makers
Given the current social constraints as well as the financial impact some people are facing, Americans may be celebrating and shopping differently this holiday season--so what might have been your best-selling product or service in the past may change this year.
Holiday gatherings are likely to downsize dramatically, so if you own a restaurant, bakery, or catering company where large holiday parties are typically a big boost to your year-end sales, it might be time to review how you plan to approach the next few months. Similarly, retail shops should look at their money makers from last year to determine if any changes are needed especially since surveys indicate 39% of holiday shoppers plan to spend less on gifts this year.2
Take time to identify how your business can pivot accordingly to avoid a negative impact on end-of-year sales and look for new financial opportunities. Depending on your business model, you may need to offer new products and services or just boost your advertising and promotion plans.
Enjoy the Holiday Season
Naturally, the holiday season can be a stressful and chaotic time of year. To make it enjoyable too, remember to slow down for a minute and recognize the positives. Set aside some personal time to get out or hop online to support local businesses and events that matter to you. Remember, ‘tis the season of peace and joy so help spread it throughout your community!
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