How Small Businesses Can Prepare for this Year’s Unprecedented Holiday Shopping Season
The 2020 holiday shopping season will continue to bring new challenges for retailers nationwide as customers shift to online ordering and early holiday shopping. Since the start of COVID-19, retailers have had to adapt in order to sell products and services while maintaining optimal safety for both their employees and customers, and this upcoming holiday season will be no different.
Government and public health officials are discouraging people from taking part in the traditional pre-holiday and Black Friday shopping in an effort to minimize COVID-19 spread. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention listed “shopping at crowded stores just before, on or after Thanksgiving” as a high-risk activity during this year’s holiday celebrations. As officials urge people to avoid long lines and crowded shopping areas, shoppers are starting early and turning to a variety of digital shopping methods for their holiday needs.
Why small businesses may have the upper hand
While retailers of all sizes across the U.S. hurry to meet newly imposed shopping restrictions and prepare for an influx of online customers, small businesses may have an advantage. A Google Survey reports that 66% of shoppers will shop more at small businesses this holiday season to avoid large shopping spaces like malls and gallerias. Even giant e-commerce leader, Amazon is helping to fuel online sales toward small businesses by committing to invest an additional $100 million to highlight third-party sellers on their site throughout the holiday season.
Ways small businesses can prepare for further in-store restrictions and online shopping surges this holiday season:
1. Stay outside: By setting up outdoor shopping areas, small shops can minimize the potential spread of COVID-19 and maximize airflow and space between customers.
2. Sell online: As shoppers turn to online shopping to avoid crowds, small businesses should prepare online inventories ahead of time and keep customers updated on in-store hours and limitations.
3. Anticipate delays: Small businesses should allow employees ample time to process large amounts of online orders and anticipate worse than usual holiday shipping delays due to COVID-19.
4. Offer options: If resources permit, smaller retailers can offer a range of minimal-contact delivery options in order to keep their customers and employees safe, from curbside pickup to local deliveries.
In a time when adaptability is key, small retailers may be at an advantage to accommodate ever-changing COVID-19 restrictions and to customize shopping methods for their customers. With the holidays just around the corner, small business owners are encouraged to plan ahead, get creative, and stay safe in the process.