As the 2021 holiday season approaches, consumers across the country are excited to see more friends and family this year and are planning to spend more and spend early on gifting. 

The National Retail Federation projects November and December retail sales will hit $843.4 billion to $859 billion*, up 8.5% to 10.5% from 2020. And, small businesses are set to enjoy a bigger slice of the pie — a recent Google survey reveals that 60% of U.S. holiday shoppers say they purchase more from local small businesses.

If you’re a local retailer, take time now to make sure you’re ready for all those consumers planning to spend their holiday dollars with you. Here are some smart tips to set yourself up for a successful season:

1. Leverage social media to advertise your holiday deals

Many people are spending more time on social media than ever before, making it a great tool for reaching current customers and attracting new ones. The average American spends two hours and three minutes on social media* every day, and those hours scrolling are adding up to major revenue. Experts forecast that social commerce sales will reach $36.6 billion* in 2021.  

To participate in this growing market, it’s important to have fun with your social media content. Avoid selling to your followers who don’t go on Facebook or Instagram to see ads. Instead, showcase cool new products, highlight what’s popular, create gift guides that make shopping easier and share short videos showing how to style or use your goods. Special social-only promo codes can entice people to keep following you.     

While it may take time out of your busy day, the investment it takes to be active on social is worth it. After following a brand, 91% of consumers will visit their website or app, 89% will purchase something and 85% will recommend it* to a friend or family member. If you don’t have time to be on multiple platforms, focus on Facebook, which is the main social network* used to make purchases.

2. Get your website up to date for increased traffic

With more shoppers planning to make purchases online this season, ensuring your website exceeds expectations is essential. Start with the basics, like creating a seamless user experience that makes it easy for consumers to search your site, find product recommendations and check out quickly and securely. Consider offering free shipping—something once considered a perk that’s now a deal-breaker for most shoppers. According to the National Retail Federation, 75% of consumers expect no delivery fee, even on orders under $50.

One of your top priorities should also be making sure that your site is responsive for mobile, as this is where much of eCommerce is happening. Today, 31% of eCommerce retail sales* in the United States are on mobile, amounting to $338 billion — so you can’t afford to miss out. Fortunately, most website content management systems can be set to automatically adapt for different browser sizes, including mobile.

3. Connect with other small businesses to leverage their customers

Now more than ever we’re starting to understand the importance and power of small businesses. As a small business owner, you can connect with fellow retailers in your area to share insights, market to each other’s customer base and create incentives for people to shop local in your community.

Try promoting a “local for the holidays” shopping event that offers discounts or freebies like hot chocolate to get everyone in the neighbourhood into nearby small businesses on a certain weekend. Or you can partner with another retailer to create seasonal gift boxes filled with goodies that make for perfect hostess or teacher gifts. For example, if you sell home goods like candles and décor, you can work with a local baker or grocer to build a festive gift box with holiday housewares and tasty treats.

Not sure where to find like-minded small business owners in your area? Social media groups, local associations, holiday markets and community groups are great places to start.

4. Promote buy now, pickup later and curbside pickup options

During the 2020 holiday season, half of U.S. shoppers used curbside pickup more* than they had in the previous year. Whether it was for convenience or safety, 47% of U.S. consumers opted for BOPIS* (buy online, pickup in store) to avoid entering shops. This behaviour made up a big chunk of total retail sales, with click-and-collect bringing in $72.46 billion last year*, a 106.9% increase over 2019.

But what was considered a value-added service last year has become table stakes in 2021. With over 60% of US retailers* having successfully implemented BOPIS already, it’s an expectation most of today’s consumers have — and stores that don’t offer it will miss out on sales.

Fortunately, getting started with click-and-collect is easy with the right payment processor. Elavon POS solutions like talech make it quick and convenient for small retailers to let their customers shop however they want, whether it’s online, in store via mobile app or a combination.  

5. Offer customers flexibility with gift cards

Consumers continue to love options that provide them with convenience and flexibility. In addition to BOPIS, offering gift cards is another way you can make it easy for your customers to shop this season.

With the gift card industry expected to rake in $170,784.8 million* in 2021, this is another great way to boost revenue. Be sure to offer physical and digital gift cards, and consider partnering with other local retailers to offer multi-store cards that are growing in popularity.   

Need help with gift cards, BOPIS or making sure payments will be a breeze this holiday season? Reach out to Elavon today.


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