September 28, 2020

How to Plan for Successful Online Holiday Sales During COVID-19

Remember Black Friday door-buster deals that had people jamming their way through the front doors of retail stores in frenzies throughout the nation? Consider that a thing of the past.

Even Wal-Mart, which draws massive crowds each year for its holiday specials, is closing on Thanksgiving in 2020 — a decision that underscores both the changes in customer behavior as a result of COVID-19 as well as the increasing focus on online sales.

For holiday sales, 2020 will be a year of online purchasing. For small- and medium-sized businesses to compete with the online giants, it’s necessary for owners to plan their strategies for success. You’ll have to be prepared to accept the new realities in shopping experiences that your customers have come to expect.

Shift to E-Commerce

If you have a brick-and-mortar store, you may be waiting for customers to return to the shopping habits you saw in the first quarter of 2020. But if you keep waiting, you may find yourself out of business. Studies show that the pandemic resulted in the adoption of digital that could have otherwise taken decades.

Before the holiday season gets into full swing, ensure your business has a strong E-commerce presence. Many retail stores rely on the WordPress E-commerce platform, which allows for an easy-to-navigate, well-designed user experience. If you don’t have your inventory online and available, you will certainly miss out on holiday sales.

Prepare for New Delivery Demands

It’s one thing to have your products online, but it’s another thing to have the infrastructure and logistics ready for delivery. Amazon and other online stores have created customer expectations of rapid and contact-free delivery, and even small- and medium-sized business owners must strive to meet these new demands.

Consider new artificial intelligence technology and automated email campaigns that are able to personalize messages to your customers as they browse your online store. Offering coupons and sending emails nudging them to revisit abandoned shopping carts can encourage them to make the purchase.

Then, be ready to offer different delivery methods. Curbside pickup, scheduling shopping appointments, or next-day delivery can make for an enjoyable customer experience that will have them returning throughout the holiday season.

Double-Down on Customer Service

Customer service starts with an in-depth understanding of your target audience and buyer persona. To accomplish this, you can dive into the data you should collect about who’s buying what. For example, you can use Google Analytics to see how your customers react to your website’s different pages and offers. Analyze interactions on your social media pages to determine values and interests.

Once you better understand your customers, you can provide the services they expect and the messaging they relate to. Personalized service, which can take place both in-store and online, will set you apart from the corporate chains that originally benefited from the spending during the shelter-at-home mandates.

Begin Marketing Now

As you prepare for the 2020 holiday season with improved E-commerce, delivery, and customer service, don’t wait to start marketing. Savvy retailers are extending the holiday season so that it’s starting with the very first signs of autumn.