The COVID-19 pandemic changed the holiday retail environment last year with many businesses shifting their operations to adjust to new safety protocols, contactless payments and deliveries and virtual service. While the future remains uncertain, many of these trends could continue during the 2021 holiday season.
Online purchases during the 2020 holiday season increased 32.2% from 2019 to a record $188.2 billion in the U.S., as people shopped from home amid the pandemic. E-commerce sales in November 2020, which includes Black Friday and Cyber Monday, reached $100 billion for the first time, while online spending exceeded $1 billion daily.
Lukas Partners client UScellular offers the following tips on how local businesses can boost sales – and safety – during the 2021 holiday shopping season:
· Automate Your Inventory. Inventory management solutions, such as DoForms, allow businesses to quickly and accurately track inventory conveniently from an app on their smartphone. An ideal solution provides real-time inventory numbers, which allows business owners to save money, reorder automatically, email customer receipts and interact with QuickBooks and other accounting programs.
· Offer Safe, Easy Curbside Pickup. Some people have gravitated toward stores that offer curbside pickup, especially as COVID-19 cases spike again. An iPad Pro can enhance checkout and provide a positive, socially distanced customer experience outside a store location.
· Stay Connected. Many stores use tech tools to track inventory, take payments and post to social media. Ensuring the business internet connection does not go down during the busiest selling season of the year is crucial. Products, such as Simplifi, offer internet connectivity along with a failover cellular built-in backup if Wi-Fi goes down.
· Go Social. At least 72% of adults in the U.S. regularly use social media. Use social media platforms to drive sales by including links to a website, highlighting delivery options and promoting upcoming sales. Apps, such as Buffer, allow you to schedule and plan social media campaigns in advance, so you can concentrate on in-store activities during the holiday season.
· Conduct an Effective Email Campaign. Nearly half (49%) of people said they look forward to receiving emails from their favorite stores. This is another smart way to reach customers and prospects to alert them about products, deals and exclusive offers. Businesses can use powerful, attention-grabbing subject lines to increase open rates. They also can increase urgency – a proven sales tactic – by using language like “one day sale,” “for a limited time only” and “extra discount for the first 100 shoppers.”