These days, holiday shopping events are no longer limited to big department stores. Quite the opposite - small businesses all across the country are getting in on the act.
There’s even an event specifically for small businesses. Since its launch in 2010, shops have been signing up to participate in Small Business Saturday – the event which highlights the crucial importance of small businesses by encouraging consumers to shop local.
Are you making the most of this opportunity? We all know there can be lean times during the year, so it makes sense to take full advantage of any major shopping events as they come up. That includes Christmas, Easter, Valentine’s, Halloween – you name it, these occasions are there to bolster your sales and help you ride the quieter times. Here are some tips to help you win big.
Optimise Your Website
Crucial to successful holiday sales – invest time in optimizing your website. More consumers than ever before are shopping online, and they won’t linger for long on a site that’s slow or not easy to navigate. Slow loading times are one of the top reasons consumers abandon websites, and problems finding what they need come a close second.
Is your website mobile-friendly? This is a must - shoppers purchase goods on the go using their smartphones and tablets, and won’t buy from you if you don’t make this possible. You can also use mobile location services to offer customers discounts and deals depending on their area.
Reward Superstar Customers
It’s not uncommon for businesses to hand out vouchers and other special offers around holiday periods. However, all too often businesses make the mistake of giving their best rewards to one-time shoppers instead of to loyal customers. Use these occasions to thank those patrons who consistently visit your store or website – they are your best customers after all.
If you can’t afford to offer significant discounts or special offers, consider sending out printed “Thank You” cards or emails letting customers know you appreciate their business. A few words go a long way – spread goodwill and customers will not only return but recommend you to their friends.
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Create Sales Bundles
We all have friends or family who are impossible to shop for. If you want to boost your holiday figures, consider creating sales bundles that group together some of your best-selling items. You can assemble specially tailored collections of gifts for mums, dads, grandparents, kids or even pets.
For best results, wrap your bundles with attractive paper and ribbons, and showcase them in your store window. It’s also a good idea to create bundles that ring in at different price points, to suit all budgets.
Delivery is Everything
If you’re selling online, getting customers to make purchases is only half the battle – you’ll also need to ensure orders get shipped on time . As a small business owner, the pressure is on to compete with Amazon and other large retailers who offer free shipping amongst other perks.
Whilst you may not be able to get your goods out same day, try to be accurate with delivery dates and issue tracking numbers so customers know when orders will arrive. You’ll also want to avoid a backlog of orders as the holiday season progresses.
When it comes to returns, do your best to expedite the process so it’s easy and affordable for customers to send back goods that don’t meet their needs. In the long run, shoppers who have a good experience returning items are more likely to buy from you again.
Use your customers
Looking for a creative marketing strategy to employ this season? There’s nothing like a satisfied customer recommending your business – get them to take photos and write reviews, and post these on your website. Not only are consumers happy to see themselves showcased online with your products, but you’ll also benefit from their endorsement. Share them on social media as well - Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest.
Collaborate with other businesses
The holiday season is a time for coming together, and this applies to small business owners as well. To give your Christmas sales figures a boost, consider teaming up with other local businesses to cross-promote your services. For example, if you own a cheese shop, you could include coupons for the local wine supplier with every purchase. Join forces with your neighbouring businesses and share each other’s fliers and brochures. You can even host shared events.
In the run-up to Christmas, people often complain about stores putting up decorations too early. That’s not to say they aren’t already planning their shopping - research shows that people start this as early as October.
So launch your holiday marketing in plenty of time. And don’t miss out on any lucrative sales opportunities as they come your way.
Did you find this article about Small Business Saturday and holiday shopping useful? The QuickBooks Blog covers many more business-related topics – it’s all part of the support we offer to small businesses in the UK.