Adapting Business To A New Reality

The global COVID-19 pandemic initially altered the holiday shopping landscape in 2020, a change that has been further cemented by inflation and escalating fuel costs.

The pandemic, while causing significant disruptions that forced many businesses to swiftly adapt to remote and digital operations, also unveiled numerous innovative and promising avenues for growth and success.

Online Digitization Surge

Google reports that a unique digitization wave began in 2020, with consumers and businesses transitioning online at a remarkable pace. This trend is projected to gain momentum each holiday shopping season, as studies reveal:

  • 69% of all Americans plan to shop online more than in previous years
  • Over 50% of surveyed shoppers experimented with new shopping services last year
  • 70% are open to purchasing from new retailers

This shift presents an opportunity for businesses across all sectors to generate unprecedented business and sales, provided they take the necessary steps:

Black November / Cyber Month

Traditionally, the Monday following Black Friday has been known as Cyber Monday. However, Google reports:

  • Last year, over 62% of US shoppers began their holiday shopping earlier to avoid crowds.
  • Searches including "best affordable" have increased globally by more than 60%, indicating consumers are seeking value.

Businesses can assist consumers and improve their bottom line by launching sales earlier and extending them longer than in previous years. Inform existing and potential customers about these earlier start dates by:

Many large retailers now commence their Black Friday sales as early as October and extend them through November and late December to avoid large crowds and cater to the need for social distancing and online shopping.

Supporting Local In-Person & Online Sales

Global searches for "near me" have grown over 100% year over year, with 77% of US shoppers planning to look for holiday gifts online, not in-store.

Therefore, it's crucial for a company's website to offer a personalized mobile experience:

  • Over 65% of shoppers plan to shop locally
  • 75% plan to place more online orders than usual
  • Prepare for a surge in online sales and ensure the e-commerce site is efficient and ready for a sales boost

Offer unique and personalized shopping experiences to ensure the safety of those choosing to shop, purchase, or pick up in-person:

  • Reservations aren't just for restaurants, offer in-store personal shopping appointments when capacity is limited
    • Go a step further and provide shopping appointments for:
      • exclusive customers,
      • those over 60,
      • or those with underlying medical conditions
  • Offer specialized bundles of food and supplies for small holiday gatherings at home
  • Cater to the nearly 50% of consumers who plan to use curbside pickup or delivery options
  • Set up outdoor shopping, drive-thru, or pop-up events for socially distanced sales opportunities

Leverage virtual shopping formats to capitalize on new and safe shopping trends:

  • Offer enhanced window shopping experiences with "shoppable window" displays
    • Equip displays with QR codes for easy online purchase
    • QR codes are easy to setup and can be done using generators such as:
  • Use social media profiles to post photos of offerings
  • Conduct virtual FaceTime shopping sessions

Help Shoppers Get To Know Your Business

With shopping moving online and remote, it's more crucial than ever to help potential customers understand a business and why they should choose it over competitors.

Therefore, incorporating videos into the holiday shopping plan to reach new customers is essential:

  • Create video ads for YouTube & Google video partner sites and apps
  • Create a free YouTube channel to introduce the business and showcase offers

Research shows that 46% of surveyed shoppers are increasingly using their purchasing power to shop at businesses that align with their values. Consequently, support for local businesses has surged globally over 20,000% year over year!

Given such growth, it's important to stand out in meaningful ways. Update websites, social platforms, and directories likeĀ Google My Business with attributes such as:

  • Outdoor seating
  • Reservations accepted
  • Credit cards accepted
  • Minority owned
  • Black owned
  • Women led

Ensure consumers know who and what the business stands for.

Be Online & Ready

Regardless of the strategies a business employs to capitalize on this holiday season's shopping changes, the most important factor is to ensure the company is online and utilizing all affordable strategies.

This involves:

  • Ensuring the website is fully operational and capable of handling increased traffic
  • Fully utilizing, optimizing, and operating all relevant social platforms
  • Updating all directory services (such as GMB) with relevant information

With these elements in place, most businesses will be able to adapt to the new norms for the online holiday shopping season.

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