Reading Time: 3 minutes – Posted: November 2020
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses have had to make changes to how they operate, pivoting to keep up with local restrictions as they intensify or ease.
As we head toward the end of 2020 and into 2021, the holiday season has taken shape as more of a marathon than a sprint, providing local businesses an opportunity to cash in despite a potential COVID-19 resurgence.
A recent WSFS Bank survey found that 88 percent of businesses made operational changes and 89 percent expect to keep those changes in place for the foreseeable future. More than half (54%) reported experiencing growth during the pandemic, with four in 10 (42%) saying that paying attention to customers’ needs as a key driver for increased revenues.
Local shoppers have noticed and are planning to shop local this holiday season, according to the VISA Back to Business Study Holiday Edition. VISA found that 60 percent of consumers plan to do half or more of their holiday shopping with local retailers. However, only one in five (20%) plan to shop exclusively in-person.
Here’s how local businesses can maximize sales opportunities with shoppers this holiday season.
Almost every town has Facebook groups now, presenting a great opportunity to showcase your business. Be active on these pages and other social media groups or sites that are hyper local to your area.
Tap into Local Resources
Partner with local organizations that promote the shop local movement and offer special deals and loyalty rewards programs for local consumers. This is a great opportunity for local businesses to partner as well, such as offering discounts when pairing your restaurant’s take-out meal with a bakery’s savory treats for dessert or sidewalk sales!
Make Local, Online Buying Easy
Major online retailers and shipping vendors are already talking about delivery delays this year. Make sure your website is updated to offer curbside pickup of purchased items. Be flexible to ship local or provide personal delivery for those who want to shop local, but don’t want to be out and about.
Offer Gift Giving Flexibility
Many holiday shoppers prefer to buy gift cards, allowing friends and family to choose their own gifts. Make sure your business offers gift cards or certificates for in-store or online shopping for your products or services. Gift cards not only create revenue now, but into 2021 as well with cross-sell opportunities when recipients are spending their funds.
Offer Safe and Secure Ways to Pay
Sign up for peer-to-peer and other payment apps like Zelle®, Apple Pay or Venmo to accept payment for goods and services the way consumers want to pay. Mobile and contactless payment adoption has soared during the pandemic, so make sure your business is flexible.
Keep it Personal
Make sure you are keeping in touch with your customers by sending them personal e-greetings or notes with coupons or deals to drive them to your store, restaurant or website. Running a holiday special? Leverage email addresses or cell phone numbers you’ve collected from customers to send personal messages electronically, too. Just make sure they’ve opted in.
Earn Their Trust
Use the communication channels mentioned above to tell your customers and community about the steps you are taking to get products or services to them safely, efficiently and on time. When they are shopping or dining outdoors create an enjoyable, safe experience that they will tell friends and family about. Word of mouth is as important as ever!
However you decide to approach the 2020 holiday season, one thing is for certain: the shopping environment is unlike any we’ve seen before.
About the Author – Candice Caruso
Candice Caruso is Senior Vice President, Director of Government Guaranteed Lending at WSFS Bank. She brings more than 20 years of experience in the financial services industry, including 12 years as a business funding expert, and has been featured on Bloomberg Radio, CNBC’s Closing Bell, The Wall Street Journal and Franchising World.