‘Tis the season to be jolly … Already? According to the National Retail Federation, one of the biggest trends for the 2017 holiday season is strategic shopping. In 2016, more than half of holiday shoppers began early browsing in October and even in earlier months although two-thirds opted to wait until November to begin buying gifts.
Is your small business ready to embrace consumers who are starting their holiday research? If the answer is no, then your competitors will ultimately beat you to the punch with your market.
Here’s what you need to do to think ahead and get out of the starting gate early.
Review Last Year’s Successes
Remember the promotions, sales, and offers you had last year on your offerings? What worked and what didn’t?
Before you begin creating messaging or in-store displays, take a moment to review your data from 2016 to better craft promotions and sales plans. What were your bestsellers? What did you struggle to sell or entice consumers to check out? How about your online stats like converting ads and social media campaigns—did you measure how effective they were?
Having all of this information handy will ultimately ensure that you don’t make the same mistakes as last year and have plenty of fresh incentives to draw your audience in to buy.
Prep Your Signage and Messaging ASAP
Foot traffic is still in!
This year, NRF reports that 47% of holiday shoppers will be heading to stores to shop and discover ideas for gifts. They’ll be accompanied by their smartphones and tablets, making the shopping experience one that merges in-store with digital.
Keep this in mind as you start to create seasonal signage and messaging for your small business. If you’re not sure where to begin, here’s a quick prep primer.
- For physical signage or store displays, make sure consumers know where to find you on social media so they can follow you for more information about giveaways or discounts.
- Play around with the print materials you send to shoppers. If a flyer doesn’t work for you, try out a postcard.
- NRF revealed that more than a quarter of shoppers use online registries for those with specific gift requests. If your business has an app, consider adding a wish list or registry option.
- Make the most of your emails. Encourage customers to sign up for emails for more discounts and offers. Craft graphics that will stand out and subject headers that entice shoppers to open them. Schedule out the bulk of your promo emails in advance and segment them out to specific groups, if possible.
- Get your social media accounts ready to roll. Questions? Comments? Concerns? Encourage shoppers to reach out to you via social media as well as through phone or email to address all issues from return policies to shipping rates. And make your profiles pop during the holidays! Add festive cover photos and create content that is seasonally appropriate for Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram accounts.
Now more than ever, a one-size-fits-all approach just won’t work with reaching shoppers. They want to establish trust with your brand before making their purchase. The conversation isn’t over once the shopping is done either. Shoppers also want to have someone follow up with them and see how their overall experience was this year.
Even small business can provide a human touch. Hold an open house event to encourage the local community to stop by and see what you’re all about. (And participate in Small Business Saturday too!) Prep your customer service team to guide shoppers through every step of their shopping experience and build a relationship together by following up with them.
And don’t forget about reviews! Encourage feedback, both positive and negative, from shoppers on your Yelp page and through newsletters. Make sure your customers know that you are listening and take their responses seriously. After all, it’s the most wonderful time of the year—and you want it to stay that way for shoppers.