Like everything in 2020, the holiday retail scene is going to look very different from normal. Now is the time to prepare for a big Q4.
For many businesses in all sorts of industries, this holiday shopping season is make-or-break. Even in a good year, spring, summer, and fall aren’t always enough to ensure a successful fiscal picture. In 2020, it’s a totally different store. All fifty states in the US faced at least some lockdown between March and May, while there are plenty of signs that a second surge of coronavirus cases this fall could trigger another round of strict guidelines. Q4 might not be the difference between a good year or a bad year; it could be the difference of a being around for 2021.
There is good news. Scientists have studied consumers for decades and there is ample evidence that people will find a few bucks to spend during the holidays. It’s hardwired into our brains and, in the US, it’s hardwired into our culture as well. That won’t change even during a pandemic, and while millions are still out of work, those who have adjusted or have jobs that allow remote options still have a high level of consumer confidence.
We’ve put together a few things to prepare for now, build a system, and be ready for Black Friday and beyond.
Get Online. Every business is a brand. From logo gear to gift cards, you can improve your online portfolio by using summer revenue to invest in eCommerce goods that will keep sales alive, even if things shut down. Think gift baskets, collaborations with other local vendors, and start marketing now so that these products are top of mind when the wallets come out later in the year.
We use retail platforms like Squarespace, Shopify, and Square to help clients market, sell, ship, and track everything from 5 SKUs to over 30,000 products.
Follow The Numbers. Make the most of analytics to track sales and optimize your online investment. Look at your conversion rate across social media platforms and invest your budget behind the right products on the right channels. Over the years, we’ve found that certain products or price points perform markedly better on Facebook versus Twitter, Instagram versus Facebook, and more. You’ve already spent the time and money with your eCommerce efforts; spend the time now to spend less time later.
Make A List. Check It More Than Twice. The easiest sale to make is one you’ve already made. Create new sales from repeat customers by encouraging and rewarding shoppers for making an account with your store. Using automated or segmented email lists, you’ll be able to give customers a look at the products they’ve already purchased, similar items, or make sure you’re showing them something totally new.
Get Ready For Returns. No matter what your product, online shopping inherently results in a higher rate of returns. And this is a big one to get right; 92% of shoppers say that a painless return experience encourages them to shop at that site again. 60% of shoppers read the return policy before buying, and a full 79% say they expect free returns.
You don’t have to have free return shipping (only 49% of retailers do), but having the process in place is paramount. If you’re new to online sales, having this system in place and making sure it’s efficient should be a top priority for the next three months to prepare.
Shape Up. Holiday shopping is going to look different in-store as well. What may be one of the most important trends to prepare for is in-store pick-up from all retailers. Customers will expect to see this more and more over the next few months, and creating a hybrid sales experience from digital to personal matters. Reshape your salesfloor to be more open to allow for plenty of personal space, and create a designated and well-marked place for online pick-ups. Keep those transactions quick and contactless whenever possible.
The anticipated trends for this holiday season aren’t new, but the expectations are higher. For retails, the stakes are higher still. Investing in the right products, platforms, and processes now is the very best way to be ready for a make-or-break holiday season.