HOW LOCAL BUSINESSES CAN PREPARE FOR 2020 HOLIDAY SHOPPING SEASON IN LIGHT OF COVID-19
The coronavirus pandemic has changed the way Americans shop and will have a continued impact on the 2020 holiday shopping season for businesses in Blount County.
Last year, a record 189.6 million U.S. consumers shopped online and in-store from Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday, according to the National Retail Federation. Planning for Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday will require retailers to come up with new, creative ideas to capture their share of holiday sales.
“There’s no denying that the current coronavirus pandemic has changed the way we do business across all industries and sectors, and that’s certainly true for retailers. We are here to offer technology tools to make this holiday season easier for local businesses, so they can maximize safety and retail sales during this challenging time,” said Nathan Waddell, director of sales for U.S. Cellular in East Tennessee.
UScellular offers the following tips on how local businesses can boost their retail sales this upcoming holiday shopping season:
- Offer earlier deals. To avoid overcrowding on specific shopping days such as Black Friday, retailers can consider offering deals and discounts starting much earlier in the shopping season. Schedule these sales on social media sites with the help of apps such as Facebook Pages Manager.
- Enhance curbside pickup. Some consumers still aren’t comfortable shopping in stores due to continued COVID-19 concerns. This is especially true in states that are still seeing virus spikes. Utilize social media channels to showcase gift ideas that can be purchased either online or by calling the store and picked up curbside. And keep inventory counts current by scanning items with the help of numerous inventory tracking apps as they are sold using a wireless device like the new Samsung Galaxy Note20 5G or iPhone 11.
- Hold outdoor shopping events. As people avoid crowded, indoor spaces, bring products outside. Set up a “sidewalk sale,” display products under a tent in the parking lot and create an outdoor boutique experience for customers to browse and buy. No matter where the products are set up, it is simple to accept customer credit card payments on wireless devices with the help of a Square Reader
- Optimize social media to sell. Turn on your Instagram page’s shopping feature to make purchasing easy and convenient for your followers. This feature enables you to insert clickable Shopping Tags on the photos and videos you share. Another easy way to encourage your followers to shop is to include promotional codes just for them in your content. Use ee to easily send your followers to your business’ website, blog posts, newsletter and much more.
- Offer digital gift cards. Sell your gift cards to anyone, anywhere, anytime with digital gift card solutions such as giftfly. GiftFly allows your customers to email or text a gift card to friends and family as a safe and efficient way to gift this holiday season.
- Offer online shopping options. Even on Black Friday, a traditional in-store shopping day, more shoppers shopped online in 2019 than visited stores for the first time ever, according the National Retail Federation. As online shopping is expected to increase this year, make sure your e-commerce site is up and running. Offer all products online to maximize sales and incentivize customers to shop online by offering extra discounts or free shipping.
- Keep it safe. Consider posting photos of staff doing frequent store cleaning tasks daily on social media channels to give customers peace of mind. Display signage and floor decals as reminders of safety protocols. For restaurants, utilize QR codes on-site so customers can pull up menus on their mobile devices.
“Customers will likely be much more cautious about their shopping experience this holiday season, as they try to protect their health,” said Waddell. “Retailers that limit crowds, practice proper safety protocols, provide flexible options, utilize technology and think creatively about how to serve consumers during this pandemic have an opportunity to increase their earnings.”