Author: Jackie Holbrook
Even though the holidays look different this year for most families, people continue to celebrate the season.
But are they buying as many gifts, and will they buy from you? The holiday shopping season brings in big bucks for small businesses nationwide. And right now, months into the COVID-19 pandemic, most small businesses could use a cash influx. Many of them still face mandates affecting their operations and customers.
Despite COVID-19’s many challenges, people are still spending. In fact, 88% of consumers still plan to do some holiday shopping, according to a study by Visa. But their habits might change. Let’s discuss some ways to encourage people to buy from your business during this most unusual holiday season.
Gift cards generate revenue now but give the recipient the freedom to use it at a later date. Photo Credit: Lancaster Archery
Encourage Gift Cards
Gift cards and certificates are always popular, and they’re the perfect present during a pandemic. They’re quick and easy to buy, and take the guesswork out of shopping. They also limit potential contact between people, and reduce time in a shop. Consumers can also hang onto the gift card until they feel comfortable visiting your store and buying products.
Put professional plastic gift cards on your countertop so they’re easy to find and entice buyers at checkout. It’s also important to offer electronic gift cards on your website so people can comfortably buy them and send a gift without leaving the house.
Run a special and tack on an extra item or service if they buy a gift card. People love free extras. Gift cards will be a hot ticket this year, and generate sales for your business.
Offer Curbside Pickup
This shopping season is all about customer safety, comfort and convenience. Customers want to shop locally, but they also want the safety they find when shopping online. Curbside delivery is a great way to show customers you care while encouraging local sales. Curbside service also reduces crowding in your shop, which limits exposure to viruses and bacteria.
Make sure customers know you offer curbside pickup. Hang a large sign on your door with your shop’s phone number. Encourage customers to call in and provide the color and make of their vehicle. You can take payment over the phone to further limit contact. To add holiday cheer, deliver the item inside festive packaging. And because customers won’t be inside shopping your shelves, ask if they need anything else, and mention gift-card options.
Update Your Information
Make it easy for customers to contact you by keeping your hours, location and contact information up to date on your website and social media. Post information about curbside pickup, and your store’s safety and cleaning protocols. Make it easy for customers to learn they’ll have a safe, pleasant experience at your store.
Go Straight to their Inbox
In its holiday 2020 marketing guide, the Small Business Administration is encouraging businesses to take advantage of email marketing campaigns. The SBA encourages business owners to spend the next few weeks creating a targeted email marketing campaign. Write engaging headlines and include information about safe, convenient ways to shop. Also share holiday specials, gift guides, and new product alerts. For more information on how and why email works, check out ATA’s guide to email marketing.
Create gift guides so that customers can browse by category or price. Photo Credit: 3Rivers Archery
Make a Gift Guide
The best way to do a gift guide is to make a few categories like “Gifts for Beginning Archers,” “Gifts for Bowhunters,” and “Youth-Approved Archery Products.” Do some market research before selecting products for each list. Check last year’s sales reports, seek input from trusted sources, and get insights from manufacturers. Select a range of prices and mix popular items with lesser-known items. Bundle products to show what goes together while subtly increasing sale opportunities. Share these gift guides in your shop, and online through email and social media.
Engage through Social Media
Customer engagement triggers sales but it’s tricky with fewer customers in the shop. Social media help you reach them with your message. The SBA recommends using videos like Facebook Live to showcase your shop’s latest merchandise. The ATA has compiled several resources for members to enhance their digital presence. Read “Go Digital or Go Home: How to Improve Your Online Presence.”
Michele Salerno of Celerant Technology, a MyATA service provider, worked with the ATA to create “5 Myths of Digital Retail: Selling Through COVID-19 & Beyond.” The video explains how brick-and-mortar retailers stay competitive in this rapidly evolving digital marketplace.
2020 has been challenging. Most families have been hurt by economic uncertainty. The holidays are traditionally a time to gather together, but many are only seeing loved ones on video screens. Because of the world’s collective struggles, people look for ways to support each other and spread holiday hope.
Share the message about shopping locally, and the difference it makes to your family. Don’t limit that message to your business. Partner with local businesses to spread the word. Use social media to tell customers about your favorite local shops, and remind your community that shopping locally strengthens small businesses everywhere.
People might not be gathering around the tree at Christmas, but with your help, they’ll spread holiday cheer widely through gift-giving.