What Can You Do to Prep Your Business for the Holiday Shopping Season?

Are you ready for the holiday shopping season? Find out about some trends in consumer purchasing habits that can help you boost your sales this year.
November 07, 2017

It helps to be aware of consumer shopping habits in today's digitally-driven shopping world. The rapid change in technology and evolving consumer attitudes and expectations have created trends that may have an impact on the holiday shopping season.

Consider some of these pointers to help you boost your sales during the holiday shopping season and beyond.

1. Start your outreach early.

It may be advantageous to start your holiday promotions in October, and even earlier, whether it's advertising on social media, sending email promotions or hosting holiday-inspired in-store events such as contests.

2017 study conducted by the National Retail Federation focused on determining what mattered to consumers during the 2016 holiday shopping season and what they expect from retailers for the 2017 holiday season. (NRF polled 2,040 consumers for the study.) The study found that more than half of holiday shoppers begin their research for holiday shopping in October or earlier.

While the study found that actual purchasing is highest in November, many respondents had already done all of their research by that time and were clear on what they wanted and at what price.

2. Find ways to keep showroomers from buying online.

Showrooming, which describes consumers who try out a product in a physical store and then decide to buy it online, is still a factor for brick-and-mortar retailers.

One way to capture this brand of holiday shoppers is to consider, if you can afford to, price matching. (You could even have in-store signage that shows shoppers that you will price match an online price.)

Consider reaching consumers this holiday shopping season with a video or two to capture their attention...

Also, some shoppers may get comfort from the idea that they can return a product in the store. Reminding showroomers of this convenience can help capture them. Consider making your return policy easily visible or accessible during the busy holiday shopping season.

Another trend that's not going away anytime soon? The human touch in excellent customer service. Consider training your people to understand the crucial importance of engaging customers from the minute they walk in the store. Encourage employees to go out of their way to make customers feel welcome and to show a readiness to serve them. In today's world of impersonal online shopping, a knowledgeable, smiling and helpful face can go a long way in keeping customers from slipping away to a faceless online retailer.

3. Capitalize on “webrooming.”

Webrooming is the opposite of showrooming. This trend refers to consumers who check out a product online before purchasing it in a physical store. As a business owner competing with big online retailers, you can spruce up your website to provide useful information about your in-store products.

Even if you don't offer online shopping, you can offer an option that allows customers to place an order on your website and pick the item up at your store. This option may capture online shoppers in your local area because it can speed up delivery time and save consumers on delivery costs.

If you want to go the extra mile, you can also offer to deliver the product from your store to the consumer's location.

4. Use video marketing during the holiday shopping season.

Video is becoming increasingly more popular in digital marketing.

More than three-quarters of professional marketers and small-and-medium-sized business owners that have used video in their marketing note that it has had a direct impact on their business. This is the finding from a 2016 Animoto survey of 1,000 professional marketers and 1,000 small- and medium-sized business owners. And a 2015 study by The Aberdeen Group involving 168 organizations shows that companies who use video marketing grow their revenue 49 percent faster than those without video.

If you haven't yet ventured into video marketing, you may be missing out on a powerful trend. Consider reaching consumers this holiday shopping season with a video or two to capture their attention, whether it's in the landing page of your website or your company postings on social media.

5. Engage holiday shoppers on Pinterest.

If you haven't dived into Pinterest yet, you may want to consider making it a part of your social media outreach throughout the year, and especially during the holiday shopping season.

According to a 2015 survey issued by Millward Brown Digital in partnership with Pinterest, the platform is integral to some shoppers' purchasing decisions. Pinterest is growing at the rate of over 200 million people globally using it every month. Ninety-six percent of Pinterest users use the site to research and gather information, 87 percent have made a purchase because of Pinterest and 72 percent of pinners decide what to buy in a store after browsing Pinterest content.

(The survey polled 2,001 respondents from Millward Brown Digital's Ignite panel, previously identified as Pinterest users, who were recruited via email.)

6. Get holiday shoppers' attentions with coupons.

Of course, not everything is about new trends. You may want to consider using some old-school traditions, such as coupons.

The 2016 Annual Accenture Holiday Shopping Web Survey of over 1,500 U.S. consumers shows that 72 percent of shoppers would be enticed by promotions or coupons to shop at a store they have not used in the last year. You may want to show generosity with coupons to entice customers online or to your store.

Read more articles on marketing & sales.

Photo: Getty Images