With the pandemic reshaping the overall shopping experience, the 2020 holiday season will look very different from any we’ve seen before.
The good news is people are still planning on shopping and spending — just a little differently. Consumer behavior has changed due to COVID-19, with more people shopping online than ever before. And it looks like that trend will continue for the holidays.
eMarketer noted that 71 percent of people surveyed said they planned to do more than 50 percent of their holiday shopping digitally this year, with nearly half of U.S. adults saying they were more interested in shopping online for the holidays compared with last year. And according to Google, 66 percent of those who plan to shop this season said they will shop more at local small businesses.
What does this all mean for small businesses? It means that there is hope for success this holiday season. Whether you are just getting started, or you’re already implementing new ideas, we’ve highlighted a few tips and resources to help you plan, prepare and boost your 2020 holiday business.
Tip #1: Humanize your business
From social media and email campaigns, to virtual events and curbside pickup, it comes down to creativity and making sure your marketing efforts will keep customers coming back to your business throughout the season. They know that small businesses have been impacted by the pandemic and many of them want to support you. Consider donations to charities or “locals only” discounts to keep your business top-of-mind with customers you’d normally see browsing in-store or at in-person events.
Resource: Square, in its Holiday 2020 Guide and Humanizing the Holidays e-Book, has a host of recommendations and ideas for small businesses, including how to stay top-of-mind with smart communication and how to creatively connect with customers in new ways.
Tip #2: Get social
This year, driving foot traffic will be less of an objective than driving visibility, engagement and online interaction with customers. According to Pew Research, approximately 72 percent of people in the U.S. use some type of social media. While you may already have a social media presence, now is the time to step it up, using live streaming, and everything else social media has to offer to reach holiday shoppers. Social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram offer no- and low-cost ways to widen your customer base and get the word out about your business.
Resource: Instagram Business launched The Season for Shops, a digital resource with downloadable guides and tips for setting up an Instagram shop, and how to reach customers through advertising and tagging. Facebook also launched its Season of Support for small businesses, providing a variety of free tools to help small businesses use the platform to connect with customers.
Tip #3: Know and prepare for Small Business Saturday
While Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday all take place just after Thanksgiving, there’s no time like the present to get prepared and start getting the word out. Now is a great time to communicate with customers, reminding them of the different ways they can shop with you on Small Business Saturday. To get a jump-start on the larger retailers, you may want to think about starting your Small Business Saturday sales and promotions early, keeping them running through Cyber Monday.
Resource: From social media posts and signage to marketing tools and tips, small business can take advantage of all the available Shop Small resources from American Express.
Tip #4: Meet your customers wherever they are
Due to the pandemic, this year has witnessed a new hybrid shopping experience. From fully online to curbside pick-up to in-store shopping to contactless payments, customers expect the same level of service, no matter how they interact with your business. While not all small businesses will offer a full omnichannel experience, it’s important you keep in touch and keep customers informed so they know what to expect.
Resource: The Google Small Business Holiday Hub provides a variety of small business tools to reach shoppers wherever they are.
While the 2020 holiday season may be a lot different than previous years, the spirit of giving remains. With a high percentage of customers looking to shop small and local, many small businesses are seizing the moment, preparing early, taking advantage of tools and resources and heading into the holiday season with high hopes.