The COVID-19 pandemic has forced the world into a global shutdown, with a whole host of retail businesses taking a massive financial hit as most shoppers choose to stay home. 2020 has proved to be nothing short of a roller coaster — but that doesn’t mean your year-end sales numbers have to be.
With the vast majority of retail customers staying close to home this holiday season, retailers can take advantage of modern, web-based tools and solutions to stay relevant and hit their sales targets out of the park — yes, even in the age of COVID-19.
Retailers should focus their holiday merchandising and marketing efforts on maximizing their online offerings, building internet-first marketing funnels, and bolstering customer interaction via social media, text, online events, and special online-only offers.
Here are some tips and strategies to help you build your retail roadmap and win big this holiday season.
Up your eCommerce game
In mid-April 2020, online retailers saw a 146% increase in orders, while online conversion rates went up 8.8% in February, just before global shutdowns began going into effect.
This demonstrates that even at the beginning of the pandemic, customers made efforts to maximize their safety and take their shopping online.
A research study by McKinsey in August 2020 found that online consumer shopping has seen a significant uptick in several categories. The increase in online shopping for essential items is expected to exceed 35%. Essentials include groceries, over-the-counter medicine, household supplies, and personal care items.
Surprisingly, non-essential categories like skincare and makeup, jewelry, and apparel are also expected to grow more than 15%.
It’s clear that high online shopping rates are here to stay — for now. Retailers, take note and ensure that your ecommerce offerings and online stores are robust, reliable, and easy for customers to browse and buy from.
Use shoppable landing pages
If you run a small business and don’t want to go through the expense and hassle of launching a full-blown online store, you can launch a shoppable landing page instead.
Shoppable landing pages offer a simple, yet effective way to start making online sales right away. They can be easily set up and customized in a matter of minutes, saving you the logistics headache of setting up a traditional webstore. You can use a shoppable landing page to highlight and sell a product or even a small range of products depending on your needs.
The best landing page tools will even give you the analytics you need to understand how your page is performing with regard to visitors, conversion rates, revenue, and more.
Encourage contactless and curbside pick-ups
A hybrid of online and in-person sales, curbside pickups have become increasingly common in the last few months. Successful retailers are encouraging customers to make their purchases online and collect them at a designated storefront location to help them feel safe and support social distancing efforts. This tactic calls for a greater effort on the part of store workers, as they’re expected to shop for the items and package them all up for easy pickup.
It’s important to note that millennials and Gen Z are the widest adopters of contactless activities. Run social ads and campaigns that target a younger crowd, as they will be more likely to take advantage of this particular mode of shopping.
Of course, keep yourself and all employees safe: encourage them to wear masks, stay contactless, and maintain a healthy distance from customers at all times.
Host online events and webinars
The pandemic is an excellent opportunity to engage customers through online events. Utilize your business channels to showcase new products, film and stream product demos, and host Q&A sessions with those interested.
There are plenty of tools and platforms that let you easily create online events. Useful features enable you to integrate payments, offer tickets and sign-up forms, and employ advanced options to maximize reach, like keywords, Twitter hashtags, and Google Analytics.
Schedule appointments and consultations
In the spirit of social distancing, schedule appointments and consultation online and over the phone — this will limit traffic to your store and keep numbers low enough to serve while ensuring adequate distance among workers and customers.
Take advantage of Setmore and Calendly integrations to streamline the process and keep track of all appointments. Focus on solutions that allow you to accomplish multiple tasks: a well-integrated tool will allow you to export contacts, accept payments, sync calendars across platforms, and more.
Explore new markets
Experiment with new markets and discover the potential for new customers by taking advantage of multichannel retail — selling your products on more than one sales channel. Try out Amazon, eBay, Constant Contact, or Walmart.
Why would selling across multiple channels help boost sales? It’s simple: a new channel means new customers. Expanding your sales channels will help you expand your reach and target new customers that might not be getting their needs met at their marketplace of choice.
Multichannel retail might seem like it’s in the domain of large retail. But with the right tools and technologies, small businesses lacking the resources of larger counterparts can take advantage of this sales strategy. Invest in inventory management software to help you stay on top of the numbers as you expand your reach and explore new markets.
Send text messages
Stay on top of your customers’ minds by sending out an occasional text — but to avoid annoying them and getting yourself sent straight to the spam box, make sure you’re popping up with something useful and interesting. A flash sale, a promo code, a limited time offer on a store favorite, perhaps? The possibilities are endless.
If you use a marketing platform with SMS integration, you’re all primed and ready to stay in touch with your customers and sell some great products this holiday season. A great texting solution can help you automate your mobile marketing with drip, recurring, and scheduled campaigns.
Plan special offers
Press pause on business-as-usual and plan a series of special offers for the holiday season. Whether it’s a limited-time sale or promo code, free consultations, product samples, or early access to new releases or services, catch your customers’ eyes by launching something new.
This is an especially great way to stay in touch with your high-value customers and show that you value their continued business.
Sell e-gift cards
Continued enforced social distancing means that a lot of families and friends are going to be spending the holidays apart. The uptick in ecommerce orders suggests that these long-distance celebrations will involve buying e-gifts for one another in lieu of exchanging handmade presents or baked goods.
Take advantage of this! You can set up some e-gift cards and make them available for purchase on your store, and check with your ecommerce platform provider to explore other ways you can implement e-gift cards in your store.
The pandemic has been tough and unexpected, especially for small businesses. The problem of 2020 holiday sales is one that’s plaguing every small and mid-sized retailer, but it’s also one that has several solutions. This holiday season presents a unique opportunity to sell products and services via ecommerce platforms, as customers stay home and increasingly turn to online shopping.
A massive consumer shift is currently underway, and small businesses are primed to take on the challenge. Arming yourself with the right online marketing and ecommerce tools and platforms is critical to riding this wave to success during the holiday season — as well as for the remainder of the pandemic and beyond.