Pandemic-proofing your business may not have been part of your 2020 plan, but prepping to serve consumers during a busy season unlike ever before, certainly must be. 

The thing on every customers’ wish list this year? A safe, easy, and efficient user experience – from gift buying to service hiring and everything in between. 

As a small business owner in 2020, your wish list doesn’t end there: observing COVID protocols, adhering to CDC guidelines, supporting internal teams, shifting further towards eCommerce emphasis, and even discovering unique ways to deliver the holiday experience this year has kept your hands full. Tis the season of pivoting, and as such, we aim to serve as business wonders nationwide look to prepare their teams and customers for a whole new holiday experience. 

We outlined 6 key pathways to pivoting and prioritizing for fruitful festivity, enhanced consumer experience and a merry bottom line. Are you taking the necessary steps to meet the demands of everyone on your list this year? Let’s take a closer look.

Put a Bow on Your Online and ECommerce Experience 

Is your business ready to connect and convert your consumers online this holiday season? Are your online offerings and e-commerce experience user friendly and festivity-ready? If not, it may be time to take a closer look in preparation. 

  1. Update Your Website: check listed hours, landing pages, layout and even load time. While you won’t want to launch a massive re-work just before the busiest time of year, you’ll certainly want to ensure consumers can find you easily, and navigate your site efficiently. With stay-at-home orders fluctuating and most every retailer and service provider responding with shifted offerings, online activity is at an all time high! Check to ensure your website is running smoothly this season.
  2. Ramp Up Social Media Efforts: one of the easiest and most effective ways to reach your consumers this holiday season is social media marketing. While you check your website, make sure that your social media business profiles are not only linked but offering significant support! Consider shaping a strong editorial calendar with quality graphics – made easily from free sites like Canva – to showcase seasonal offerings, connect with consumers where they spend time online, and drive greater action!
  3. Be Thorough with Inventory Tracking and Offerings: Before you can kick off any exciting holiday sales or promotions, you’ll want to make sure you can accurately predict your products’ levels, if applicable. With high demand in 2020, it’s crucial to confirm your business is equipped to meet the orders.
  4. Be Sure All Offerings and Hours Are Up to Date: Change of hours or operation time? Taking specific COVID precautions? Take this opportunity to tell your consumers how you plan to keep them safe and satisfied this holiday season, by updating all crucial information – clearly. Think websites, social media , even Google.
  5. Local? Consider ramping up local efforts, like joining location-based Facebook Groups or even NextDoor to start networking, sharing news about your business, and even meeting potential customers online. 

Shift to Holiday-Focused Marketing

Does your marketing team have the holiday spirit? Do your customers know what to expect from you this season? If not, it’s time to take a look at your holiday-focused marketing efforts.  

  1. Clearly Showcase Black Friday and Cyber Monday Sales 
  2. Create seasonal content for Social Media to support
  3. Consider running paid ads highlighting seasonal offerings
  4. Send out a holiday newsletter to your email list 
  5. Highlight the ways your business is ringing in the holiday season

Put Safety First

Safety is top of mind and list for business owners and consumers alike this holiday season. If your business is maintaining a brick-and-mortar operation, you’ll want to pay close attention to guidelines and recommendations available to ensure you can prioritize the health and wellness of all involved. 

  • Encourage workers to stay home if they’re sick and clearly highlight available paid leave internally
  • Ensure COVID-19 precautionary products such as hand sanitizer is openly available at all times throughout your brick-and-mortar
  • Maintain regular and regimented cleaning protocols 
  • Practice, enforce, and encourage social distancing among holiday shoppings
  • Thin crowds or rush by spacing out shoppers or minimizing the number of shoppers in-store at one time
  • Train workers in proper hygiene 
  • Encourage workers and customers to weigh masks in-store 
  • Set aside specific hours and times for high-risk shoppers

Following health and safety protocols provide both your employees and consumers with a safer seasonal experience, and can help reassure concerned customers as they step back out into the world. Highlight your efforts in regards to keeping them safe this holiday season with clear signage, social media updates, emails, and beyond. If your store is taking a specific and elevated level of caution this season, show it off! 

Get Creative (and Make it Convenient)

  • Expanded Curbside: If your business can consider making curbside delivery a part of your holiday season service, take advantage! Many businesses are seeking ways to expand outdoors in order to meet consumers’ demand for more social distanced shopping this season. 
  • Look Towards Layout: you may want to alter the layout of your brick-and-mortar to better serve social distancing protocols! Consider spacing out products and displays to allow for optimal space, easy browsing, and a comfortable experience.
  • Consider Appointment Only: Can you provide appointment-only reservations? If so, this could give more hesitant shoppers the opportunity to shop in a quieter, more-isolated space – with a very limited number of people. 
  • Consider Virtual Window Shopping or QR Codes: Virtual experiences are all the rage, and will continue to rise in popularity in the not-so-distant, socially-distant future. You can create your own, by offering engaging virtual experiences – through your favorite video platform, or social network like Instagram, to show recent merchandise, introduce new holiday products, and even drive traffic to an online experience. 
  • Offer Unique Online Only Deals: in an effort to prioritize the online experience (and connect with concerned consumers who plan to shop from home) offer convenient online shopping and unique promos for online shoppers. Consider free shipping, specific discounts, and more.

Seek Out Seasonal Employees

If you haven’t considered seasonal employees before, this might be the year to do it. An extra set of reliable hands this season could help your small business keep up with higher demand, shifted schedules, offerings, and even services this year. 

Prioritize hiring and training quality seasonal employees – aimed at bettering your internal workflow, external operations, customer experience, and beyond. 

Take HEART

What can your business do to strengthen relationships with consumers this holiday season? Prepare with clear HEART, as laid out by a recent Harvard Business Review piece, “Ensure That Your Customer Relationships Outlast Coronavirus”. HEART is a powerful acronym that stands for five key strategies your business can leverage to preserve, prioritize, and strengthen consumer bonds through the COVID-19 holiday season.

Humanize your company.

Educate about change.

Assure stability.

Revolutionize offerings. 

Tackle the future.

Much like most of 2020, this holiday season is set to be unlike anything we’ve seen but take heart: with proper planning, continued pivoting, a dash of creativity, and a healthy dose of digital, you can project a healthy season for your employees, consumers, and bottom line.

Looking for greater guidance or personalized strategies for your seasonal shifts? Don’t wait. Let a member of our BrandRep team help you create a powerful plan for your small business. 

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