Small to Mid-Size Businesses Tis the Season to Give Consumers A Reason.

Every Holiday season is an opportunity to make up for slower sales throughout the year. This Holiday will be no different with one exception.

Shipping and stock availability will be a game-changer for many businesses. How well a business has prepared for the season will be tested

There are several takeaways from this article. I will break them up into segments for each type of business.  There’s a difference between hearing about the delays and preparing for them. In a way that you still have something in hand to surprise that special someone.


Holidays Make or Break Brand Reputations

Let’s start with reputation management and its importance. This season will put it to the test. The better prepared the business. The larger the gain in the customer base they stand to make. If you’re an online business. You should have already begun setting the expectations on delivery.

As well-informed and educated consumers have become due to the pandemic. The expectations of the consumer are that you have a plan as a business. One that they can trust and is front and center so that they can plan around any delays. It’s your reputation and business on the line.


Online Stores Without a Storefront

Small to mid-size businesses that don’t have a storefront. Should be running promotional ads and sharing content that sets the expectations. If you don’t have a buy-by to receive by, plan in place. It is time to stop everything and get one in place that you can share with customers.

The pandemic has triggered an increase in entrepreneurs branching out on their own. The early stages of starting and running a business have a very steep learning curve. You can’t limit it to thinking you need to stock up on products. You also have to consider shipping and delivery.

First-time buyers never forget their experience. It isn’t just about getting the item to them on time. It is also about the presentation. This brings me to packaging. Ensuring that your products are packed securely. An overworked delivery person isn’t carefully placing items in hands.

Shipping isn’t the only concern but shipping supplies. Bubble wrap to boxes. How are you securing the items to make sure that bean bag toss of your box isn’t your undoing? The expectations for the delivery workers skyrocket. When it comes to getting it out of the warehouse & onto doorsteps

Small business owners have to consider shipping costs. The premium surcharges added to the shipping affect profits. Your free shipping offers not taking that into account could bankrupt you. If you’re not planning ahead. A balance needs to be in place for profitability.

One option to consider is renting a space for pick-ups. This provides you with an opportunity for in-person interaction. An interaction with what could be a new customer. Not only creating memories for the receiver of the gift but the buyer as well.


Brick & Mortar Stores Are You Ready to Win the Day

Brick & Mortar small business owner. Are you set up for the traffic of those that realize they missed the buy now to receive by date? Once again this is an opportunity to make a first impression. It is also an opportunity to show how well you deal with pressure and planning.

Lines and sour employees who are getting the worst of the experience at minimum wage. These things affect the experience. Doing the prep work to plan and train seasonal workers. Training sessions on how to handle escalating situations is going to matter a great deal.

Store layouts are also something to consider. How well equipped is your store for high levels of traffic. For those selling clothing what is your plan for the consumers that want to try on the clothing? This falls within the memorable shopping experience as well.

Let’s not overlook the theft and loss consideration. Those sticky fingers during the Holidays. High traffic and low visibility is an open invitation for those that don’t have the best of intentions. Thinking through the layout of the inventory is going to make a difference.


Curbside Pickup for The Win

One way to get out ahead of potential issues is to promote online purchases and curbside pickups. Consumers have become more comfortable with this option as a result of the pandemic. Breaking your team of employees up into groups and having a system could save the day.

Curbside pickup requires two major pieces. The forethought to set it up online and the ability to make it a smooth transaction. Pickup times that are set and scheduled can ease a lot of confusion and chaos. The smoother your process the more memorable you’ll be as an option in the future.


Email Marketing Strategies Save The Day

Okay, we’re checking some things off the list. Let’s talk inventory. One of the things that I tell my eCommerce clients is the importance of email marketing. It is not only a great way to stay in touch and build brand loyalty. It is also a great way to forecast the stock needed.

A simple email sequence that reaches out to existing customers. Letting them know that they are the priority. You want to ensure that they have what they want to buy. It is a way of getting out ahead and putting in orders early. It’s not about the product but the sizes & colors.

By using your email marketing sequence for your existing customers. You can also set the expectations of delivery. Also pricing adjustments due to the premium’s surcharges. What you don’t want is for someone to think that the item that was one price changed without reason.


Subscriber List the Hero You Need in Your Life

The ability to use your website and subscribe options. This is something that some businesses don’t put a lot of effort into. This is where those savvy business owners win the day and make moments that win them brand loyalty. Thinking beyond the moment to what is avoidable.

You can also use your website to set up pre-orders & waitlists. This is an attractive option that can also win over new customers. You may not be able to deliver the exact item they want. But you have an opportunity to sweeten the deal for them wait it out.

Added value and bonuses for those willing to wait. Wait out the shipping delays or supply shortages. A make good of a discount and or free item. There are so many consumers that are open to new stores. Due to bad experiences and wanting to switch things up. You can win in a variety of ways.

Pre-orders are the gift of forethought. The envy of those that went through the traditional methods. Have you promoted the option online? Created and ran a campaign to win the consumer over. Before they have to start thinking about options and delivery?


Forethought & Planning Creates Brand Loyalty

Think of those long lines in Starbucks when you’re looking at your watch. Wondering if you’ll make it one time. Now add in social distancing concerns. The win that you were planning for as a brick & mortar business goes right out the window with the line outside the door.

Shows me a line out of the door or to it and I’ll show the side of my head as I walk on by. Despite the loosened restrictions people are itching to get out of the house. So that’s going to have the little and not so little ones getting dragged along for the shopping experience.

How effective would it be to have a section set aside for keeping the little ones entertained? Be it a storytime section or a take a picture with the loved ones. You can use your imagination when it comes to options. But options should be considered.

That’s a memory you’re making. The adults that are in dire need of that minute to collect themselves and get done what they need to get done. The extra measures stand out when it’s Holiday time and it’s a great way to build up your subscriber list.

The Holidays are more than an opportunity to increase sales. They’re an opportunity to increase positive and memorable experiences. The businesses and brands that get it right. Earn the loyalty of those consumers and consideration. When they’re thinking about their next purchase.

They also help with word-of-mouth sales. Which is where stability and growth begin. It’s not paid advertising or marketing. It’s the reward for a job well done and that’s a gift that keeps on giving. Small to mid-sizes businesses tis the season to give them a reason…