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5 ways to prepare for holiday shopping – small business ideas.
It’s that time of year when your customers will celebrate events like Thanksgiving, Diwali and Christmas, or simply anticipate some time off. With social distancing no longer the norm, retailers and service businesses need to organize for the crowds and capitalize on that annual spike in demand.
According to Coveo’s Holiday Shopping Report, 80% of consumers plan to shop the same amount or more compared to the previous year. However, it’s now crucial that you merge your online and offline brand experience. Although we can travel and meet more, many shoppers are still opting to use a virtual cart instead of browsing in person.
Here are our top 5 ways to prepare for the season, from pre-booking holiday shopping appointments to hosting in-store events and promoting sales.
1. Enable customers to book from your website.
A survey by SAP showed that 54% of consumers will change where they shop this year, with inflation pushing 39% of respondents to shop more online. This presents an opportunity for small and burgeoning businesses that may or may not have a brick-and-mortar location.
Ensure your online presence is optimized to capture these motivated searchers and turn them into leads. An ideal place to start is refreshing your Google My Business listing with service details, seasonal hours, Q&As and reviews, and incorporating relevant keywords into your website copy. Both of these help shoppers in your local area to find your services when they’re searching online.
In addition to updating your website with what’s new for the holidays, like seasonal offers and discounts, make it easy for visitors to convert. This could mean setting up an online store to ship directly to customers, or adding a booking option so people can schedule a consultation or service at their convenience.
Way back when, if a lead was to discover a discounted service on your website, they’d have to contact you to set up an appointment. This in-between step before booking could have lost you a potential customer, as it required more effort on their part.
With a booking button for your site, visitors are able to reserve your time immediately, eliminating missed opportunities. Think about enhancing your highest-traffic pages with a booking option and cut down the back and forth.
2. Offer in-person and virtual personal shopping.
Many service businesses invested in their online brand experience during the pandemic. This included implementing web chat and virtual consultations to stay operational.
Although foot traffic has since resumed, the value of virtual holds strong. Many consumers prefer a hybrid service menu, with 80% more likely to purchase from a business that offers personalized shopping options (Edelman).
Consider providing in-store and virtual shopping appointments to reach the widest audience with seasonal deals. This engages those who shop-from-home as well as ensuring an orderly flow of customers to your location.
Each customer is given their own appointment slot, reducing the need to queue and granting them individual service without distractions. You can allow customers to book one-to-one consultations or a spot at your next brand event.
Don’t have a storefront or location? Lean on virtual personal shopping appointments using video calls. This is invaluable to businesses of any size – to discuss their customers’ unique requirements and make a sale. You could go the extra mile by providing home delivery or pick-up slots, but be realistic about dispatch times over the holidays.
Bonus: Booking virtual sessions helps to increase your email database. Keep tabs on contact details so you can retarget customers in future.
3. Promote your holiday offering faster.
Whether people are scouring the stores for the perfect gift or scooping up Black Friday bargains online, holiday shopping can get a bit hectic. This year, a reported 86% of consumers are planning to shop online (Coveo) and many started earlier than ever.
Bankrate shares that 50% of shoppers plan to begin their holiday spend by Halloween – only 40% will start in the last two months of 2022.
This creates a window for small businesses to compete with retail giants that offer massive markdowns. Promote what you’re offering faster and don’t miss out on the surge of shoppers who aren’t waiting for big discount days. A consistent stream of content can bring in customers over the last four months of the year.
Push news about exclusive discounts, holiday shopping events and charitable efforts to build hype. You could also partner with other small businesses to cross-promote and boost awareness to each other’s audiences. When consumers are sitting back and shopping online, they have more time to browse and compare.
4. Plan rewards, emails and social media campaigns.
From Facebook and Instagram, to TikTok and YouTube – every social media platform has the power to drive sales without any budget. According to Curalate, 76% of US consumers have purchased something that they saw in a brand’s social media posts.
Heading into the holidays, curate and schedule your social media content to spread word about your offering. This could include previewing products on sale or promoting seasonal competitions with exclusive rewards.
Rewards can engage your existing customer base and help to amplify your social media presence. Gift followers special perks over the holidays to remind them that their custom matters. Not only does this boost loyalty but it highlights to new leads that your brand values patronage.
Forbes reports that niche businesses and tribal marketing will drive holiday spend. Ensure your content reflects a sense of community and your brand’s mission.
To get the most relevant messaging to the right audience, segment your customer base and design targeted email marketing. You could segment by past purchases or interests and use a platform like Mailchimp to automatically reach out.
During peak shopping season, it pays to connect with the people you know as well as new customers. In addition to promoting your services or products, make it straightforward for shoppers to buy directly from your Facebook and Instagram profiles.
5. Make your services giftable.
Services like bridal styling, yoga classes and tattooing can all be pre-purchased online, so what’s stopping you from making them giftable? Enable customers to schedule and pay in advance on behalf of someone else. If you have an online booking system in place, all you need to do is add a payment gateway to process card and mobile transactions.
With Setmore, a customer’s email confirmation can include a link to reschedule if their giftee requires, and your intake form can be updated to collect more information. This helps to tailor experiences and prep for sessions ahead of time.
To personalize things further, create a branded email for gift recipients. You can feature all the appointment details and send a surprise on the day of your customer’s choosing.
To explore what online scheduling can do for your small business, visit our retail hub. You’ll discover ideas and insights to grow your customer base, during the holidays and beyond.
Further reading on holiday shopping trends in 2022.
Deloitte: E-commerce sales will grow by 12.8% to 14.3% during the 2022-2023 holiday season.
Sprout Social: 98% of consumers plan to make a purchase on social media in 2022.
Optimove: 74% of survey respondents said it’s important that a brand is committed to the environment.
Think with Google: 63% of shopping journeys begin online.
McKinsey: 87% of Gen Z use Instagram during holiday shopping.
Statista: Close to 70% of online shoppers read between 1 and 6 reviews before purchasing.
Pinterest: Businesses that advertised during multiple holiday moments saw a 4 times higher increase in conversion rates than those who only advertised during Christmas.
Intuit: 70% of consumers are holiday shopping at small businesses – purchasing online only or online and in-store. 57% shop local to keep money in their nearby communities and 38% want to help out local creators. More than 1 in 4 respondents to Intuit’s survey said better customer service was also a reason for purchasing locally.
by Team Setmore