How Small Businesses Should Prep for a Busy 2018 Holiday Season

Don’t look now, but the holiday shoppers are coming. In fact, many of them are already here.

There was a time, not so long ago, when Black Friday actually took place on a Friday. Then, retailers that wanted to get the jump on the crowds began encroaching on Thanksgiving – some of them opening their doors before the turkey was even on the table. Now, Black Friday seems more like a month-long event than a single day, with giants like Amazon and Best Buy already offering their online deals to the masses.

The holidays are big business for big retailers. But they might be even bigger for small businesses, who rely on Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and end-of-year traffic to fill their coffers and carry them through the post-holiday slump.

The crowds are coming. It’s time to get your small business ready to meet them!

Get Your Website Up to Snuff

In case you haven’t heard, online shopping is kind of a big deal, with Cyber Monday spending outpacing Black Friday by a cool $1.6 billion in 2017. It turns out people just want to sit in their warm houses and shop rather than risk life and limb scrabbling with a hundred other people for the last Nintendo Switch on the shelves.

Who would have thought?

Your website needs to be faster than your competitors. Slow load times will cost you. According to SCORE, your conversion rates drop by 20% for every second a would-be customer has to wait for the page to load.

We shouldn’t even have to say this in 2018, but just in case: Make sure your site is optimized for mobile. No one has time to pinch, zoom and drag their way around the page. There are presents to buy!

Offer Free Shipping

People love to shop online, but they hate paying for shipping. In fact, in a survey on why people abandon their shopping carts, 36% of respondents cited the cost of delivery as the main factor.

Do yourself (and everyone else) a solid this season and give your customers a break. This doesn’t mean that every single item needs to ship free; in fact, promotions like “Free shipping on orders over $50” incentivize people to spend more just to save on the shipping costs.

Start Soliciting Reviews Right Now

You already know how important reviews are for your small business, but during the holidays, they’re an absolute must. People shopping online want to know that the product is worth is before they buy. If the reviews are just “meh” – or worse, totally non-existent – they’ll move on to the next business.

Start asking your customers for reviews immediately so they’ll be there for people to peruse during the holiday shopping season. Incentivize your customers for their feedback if you must. And make sure you’re spending time reading and replying to the reviews that people offer. Good reviews are great, but seeing an owner who is active and cares what people have to say is even better!

Don’t Forget the Gift Cards

From Secret Santa exchanges to office parties to “that weird cousin you only see one day a year and have no idea what to buy him”, gift cards are the one-size-fits-all solution to the holidays – and if you don’t offer them, you’re missing out on a big chunk of change.

Not quite sure how to get in on the gift card game? You can learn everything you need to know (and more) here.

In 2017, Americans spent more than $717 billion during the holidays, and that number is expected to increase this year. And if you want your slice of the fruitcake, the time to act is now. The shoppers are coming. Be ready for them!

Whether you’re looking to create a specific holiday marketing campaign or just an overall strategy you can use year-round, Mischa Communications can help! Call, click or email today.