Navigating Potential Speed Bumps This Holiday SeasonEditorial Team
While small businesses deal with the uncertainty that comes with a worldwide pandemic and continued shipping delays combined with labor shortages, the 2021 holiday season promises to be like no other. As a small business owner, this means there are more challenges to growing holiday season sales than ever before. And it can feel daunting if you aren’t ready for variables that can impact your business.
But there is some good news. Spending is expected to increase this year. And with the current pro-small business climate in the United States, small businesses can experience a lucrative holiday season. What they have to do is to incorporate a few simple practices that will make their customers rest easy. What’s more, these practices will uncover smart methods of doing business that will reap rewards well beyond 2021.
Preparing for Holiday Season Sales
Here are some pointers that can help your business get ready for the holiday season:
Labor Shortages Offer Opportunity to Invest in Automation
According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Small Business Index, most small businesses are being cautious about hiring. Considering labor shortage, it’s fair to assume that staffing scenarios are set for the season.
So, it’s a perfect time to invest in automation. Doing so will help streamline your business and make it easier to operate during the next few busy months. Common automation includes:
- Marketing automation of the set-it-and-forget-it type
- Shipping automation
- Payment processing tools your customers can access to pay for products.
Get Ahead of Shipping Delays
There will inevitably be shipping delays this holiday season due to the ongoing supply chain disruptions and challenges. And people everywhere are understandably fretting that gifts won’t make it in time as a result. While small businesses may experience some delays, it doesn’t mean they have disrupted the customer experience.
Be ready and use this time to clearly communicate with customers. This will let them know what will arrive on time and when other items can be expected. Small businesses can enhance their customer experience by communicating in between order and shipping confirmations.
If a best seller or highly coveted item isn’t in stock, highlight similar and relevant alternatives instead. This personal touch will help customers develop a greater affinity for your brand and show you care about their needs and the sense of urgency in their orders.
By communicating early and often, small businesses can keep customers in the know and create more touchpoints with them.
Be Flexible and Encourage Repeat Purchases
No matter how well small businesses plan ahead, the ongoing pandemic can still cause unforeseen interruptions to even the best-laid plans. Being flexible is going to be one of the best assets over the next few weeks to navigate the tumultuous business landscape.
It’s a good idea to make sure your store hours and terms of business are up to date. Through Verizon Small Business Essentials Localworks, small businesses can not only ensure their information is accurate and current on more than 70 online local listings but also make it easier for customers to find them while searching the internet.
Staying connected with previous customers, such as those who purchased from you last holiday season, to encourage repeat purchases is a great way to drive sales and create more meaningful, long-lasting connections. By leveraging this data, you’ll be able to better understand their buying preferences and know which items to stock, as well as potential replacements if inventory runs low.
Offering referral incentives to your customers to share with friends and family is another way to stay in touch throughout the year. Being top of mind will help small businesses maintain these key relationships and keep customers coming back for more beyond holiday season sales.
As a senior business advisor at Verizon Small Business Essentials, Maria Melo has been working with new and established e-commerce merchants for over 20 years to help them grow their businesses. Maria has also spent over 14 years working with her family in their brick-and-mortar retail store. And She is a part-owner of her own retail wine shop with her brother and sister.
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