This year, the holidays will look very different for most of us. The pandemic has affected us all in different ways and its effects are far reaching across economies and consumer habits. Here at Whitespark, we love local businesses and strive to create useful free resources for small businesses owners and marketers on this blog. We know this has been a challenging year for you, your families, and your business. We wish you and yours a happy holiday season!
Adapting Your Holiday Sales Strategy for COVID-19
According to Google’s latest consumer trend report, half of U.S. shoppers say the pandemic will affect how they’ll shop for the holidays this year. Shopping locally is more important than ever – but everyone’s looking for a deal. What’s a small business to do? We’ve created a new Holiday Guide with this in mind.
1. Have your sales early
This year, 70% of shoppers said they intend to plan their shopping earlier to avoid crowds, and 80% plan to make fewer trips than they have in previous years. More than a third of U.S. shoppers who normally shop in stores for Black Friday say they won’t this year. It’s also important to keep in mind that postal and delivery services are usually operating above capacity for the holidays and delays are expected due to additional precautions for COVID-19.
As shoppers look to avoid crowds, plan your sales earlier this year to assure your customers that they’re really getting the best deal today from your business. If you anticipate maxed out in-store capacities, line ups or shipping delays, communicate these with shoppers to avoid negative Google reviews this holiday season.
Share your early holiday sales events with searchers with a Google My Business Event or Offer Post.
2. Keep shoppers informed of special hours, services and health & safety measures
Your business is likely operating with additional precautions due to COVID-19 and maybe even new services such as curbside pickup or service-specific hours.
This season, 53% of shoppers said they’ll choose to shop at stores that offer contactless shopping and 47% said they’ll use options like curbside pickup, in-store pickup or buy online.
To ensure a happy customer experience, let searchers know how you’re offering a safe shopping experience and any new services or services during specific hours.
In your Google My Business dashboard, open the Info section and add any relevant attributes, including amenities, health & safety and service options.
In the Info section, also add any special hours (Special hours) or service-specific hours (More hours).
3. Engage with your customers online
Already get a lot of questions about inventory during the holidays? Expect even more inquiries this year; 67% of shoppers said they plan to confirm online that an item is in stock before going shopping.
No one wants to make an unnecessary trip. If your store’s inventory is visible on your website, make sure it’s up to date and also posted in the Products feature of GMB. If you don’t have inventory to add online, here are 3 things you can do instead:
- Add your services in the Products feature,
- Turn on Messaging to allow customers to send their inquiries (just remember to respond quickly so you don’t miss a sale),
- Use the Questions & Answers feature, as the business ask “Looking for a specific product?” and answer with your preferred contact information (h/t Liz Linder at KickPoint)
Post your inventory or services on Google My Business with the Products feature. You can include a photo, description and price for every item you add.
Don’t forget to keep your Q&A refreshed seasonally.
Make Your Business Discoverable Online
You can expect more shoppers to go online this season than in years past. To get ready for the holiday shopping season, make sure your online presence including your Google My Business listing, website, social media profiles, and ads are updated with the latest information.
Almost 75% of U.S. shoppers who plan to shop this season said they will shop online more for the holidays than they did in previous seasons, and a similar number said they would browse for gift ideas online and not in store, according to Google/Ipsos Study (2020).
For more tips on updating your Google My Business listing for the holidays, check out our recommendations from last year (including how to swap your top Q&A, promote events, and update your cover photo) too.
Happy Holidays from Whitespark!