We are all asking for a vaccine as a stocking stuffer, but that isn’t likely so we will need to continue to be diligent and safe for this holiday season.
The silver lining of this pandemic is the focus to support local businesses. As consumers we have a responsibility to do our due diligence to see where we can purchase our gifts from local vendors as many will not make it through the holidays and into 2021 without our support. As many as 25% of businesses will permanently close their doors before the end of 2020.

Holiday shopping accounts for 33% of yearly sales for retailers and with many lockdowns looking or already in place, we have to show up for our businesses. A common phrase many are hearing: it’s BUY local or it’s BYE local.

As business owners and operators we have a responsibility to do our due diligence to capitalize on this shop local momentum. Big box stores and Amazon can’t provide everything to everyone.

 

Here are 5 tips for businesses to support their customers who want to support them:

1. Black Friday Weekend

Many businesses are seeing a large backlog on inventory due to the lockdowns and lower foot traffic throughout the year. Now is the time to offload as much as possible.

 

    • Offer curbside pickup
    • Communicate the terms of your promotions
    • Research for this year is suggesting Black Friday will last longer this year. Offering promotions for an extended time would be a good opportunity to move through some of the inventory that could be a depreciating asset
2. Personalization

This is the biggest opportunity to add value in ways the big box store cannot.

  • Book an appointment and they will get options ready – make it easy on consumer and personalize the experience 
  • Virtual personal shopping appointments so you can select the perfect gift while supporting a local business
  • Pick up gift orders already wrapped & ready to go under the tree 
    • play on the fact that this is easy for the consumer and it incentives purchases
3. Instagram E/Commerce site

This is a spot to share inspiration and how your products or services can add value to your customers lives. You can use your social media as a point of contact for email or phone sales if you don’t have an ecommerce site.

  • Post about gift ideas for personas
  • Post often different products and showcase inventory 
  • Ensure you are posting contact information so people can connect with you to make your purchase
4. Safe in-store/virtual events

Curating a safe opportunity for social interaction is extremely valuable. Adding a bit a fun into the holiday shopping is a great way to capture new and existing customers

  • Host virtual shopping appointments. Use a video call to allow your customers to shop with you.
  • Allow customers to book in store appointments before or after hours. 
  • Share holiday tips and tricks on your social media platforms – for wrapping, personalizing, decorating the house 
  • Host virtual parties to teach your customers how to use the products in your store.
5. Make it easy!

So much of the appeal of shopping on amazon or with the big box stores is the appeal of everything being convenient. Local businesses can offer even additional conveniences to their customers. Things like:

    • Offer Delivery- There is more pressure than ever on couriers to deliver holiday goods this year than ever before. This is a great way to capitalize on their limitations. There are potentially 700 million gifts at risk of not arriving at homes before Christmas.
      1. Two day delivery for local customers (bonus if it is already gift wrapped with a personal not in a card). 
    • Create a New Return Policy
      1. Offer an extended return window for customers to exchange or return their items
      2. Offer curbside returns 42% want their shopping to be contactless whether online or instore The same can be applied to returns
    • Giftcards
      1. 31% of Canadians plan to give more gift cards than in previous years. Make sure you have a process in place for offering gift cards

There is a large focus like never before to support your local business. And fortunately, the big box retailers and amazon leave something to be desired for a personalized touch that can really enhance your holiday experience.

If a business can offer some, many or all of the above tips then not only are we helping our community, we are making our holidays a little more magical. And let’s face it, this year we need as much magic as possible.