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Christmas Shopping During a Pandemic
With Christmas creeping up rather quickly, thoughts are turning to Christmas shopping and just how doing all the normal running around is going to happen. We’ve seen that more and more people are comfortable with shopping online, and that’s not expected to stop.
What it does mean though is two-fold – shoppers need to be prepared to do their Christmas shopping early to beat postage delays and businesses need to be prepared to get their online stores up and running, and working efficiently. After what has really been an unusual, and frankly a bizarre, year, the last thing business owners need is for their online stores to be crashing at what is typically a very busy time of the year.
A recent report from AMP showed that during some of the harshest restrictions of the current pandemic, consumer spending in stores plummets to almost record lows. On the other hand, online consumer spending made up 11% of all retail spending.
Meeting Customers Where They Are
As with any digital strategy, it’s all about meeting your customers where they already are, and holiday shopping is no different. It is absolutely vital for businesses to be discoverable online, which means really ramping up your online presence through Google Shopping, optimising your website and social media.
This really requires knowing who your customers are and where they shop online. Having a good digital marketing strategy in place is essential, as is having tracking software to know where your customers are coming from.
Planning Ahead with Online Research
In a Think with Google piece in July, it was noted that searches for “available near me” have grown globally by more than 100% since last year, showing that it is important to have accurate inventory information available online. Because many people are restricted to only being outside for a certain number of hours per day, or only one person from the household being able to do the shopping, customers are confirming the availability of a product online before they go in store to purchase it.
What is interesting is the figures of people looking to purchase from small local businesses. The Think with Google piece notes that 66% of shoppers were planning on shopping more at these local businesses over large businesses. What this indicates for small businesses is that it is really important to be on top of your digital marketing, as well as your inventory management.
Safer Ways to Shop
While there is certainly a trend towards shopping online, there are a large number of people who still prefer to pick up their products in person rather than waiting for the post or courier; as we get closer to the holiday period, these delivery services are going to be under the pump so for those people who tend to wait until the last minute, curbside or contactless pick-up are going to become quite important options for customers looking for a safer way of shopping.
Offering contactless pick-up or contactless-shopping is yet another great way for small businesses to increase their sales over the coming holiday period, without really making a dent in the budget. It doesn’t cost a lot to provide this service, but it certainly makes a difference to a lot of potential customers.
Where Your Focus Should Lay
Retailers are always going to have people who shop in-store – however these people will tend towards shopping outside of busy periods or they will consolidate the amount of trips they make to the shopping centre. Having options of being open earlier or later will give potential customers looking for a safe shopping experience more choice.
However, online is where most shopping is expected to occur, so it is important to ensure your digital marketing strategies are in place, and that your website is easy to use. Now is the time to know where your customers are shopping online and to start providing them with the information they need and the experience they are expecting. Australian retailers are already seeing Christmas level shopping online while people avoid shopping in-store, so it will be interesting to analyse the increase in online shopping throughout the holiday period and once it is done.
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