With UK retail and hospitality sectors only just starting to recover from the first lockdown in spring, we have now been hit with another one, forcing the closure of all non-essential shops, pubs and cafés with the exception of delivery and click and collect. Whilst necessary for our public health, the timing of the second lockdown couldn’t be worse – the time period between Halloween and Christmas is possibly the most profitable of the year for retailers of all sizes. How will lockdown affect Christmas shopping and what can you do as a business owner to survive and even thrive during this challenging time? Keep on reading to find out!
The importance of going digital
We know, we seem to be talking about this in every other blog, but it’s important to reiterate that without a strong digital presence, your business will be struggling over the next few months. Even if you manage to survive the lockdown, your market share will be taken over by those who have adapted their strategy to the current climate. The pandemic has certainly accelerated our move to digital retail and it was evident that retail giants like Amazon, who already has a strong online presence, actually found 2020 to be one of the most profitable years. Wouldn’t it be better though, if these customers went to smaller businesses who are struggling instead of retail giants? That is why it’s so important they can find you online and you have a strong digital presence to be able to compete during Christmas shopping and lockdown period and beyond.
If you can’t beat them…
With more and more consumers turning to online shopping this festive season, it has been shown that customers are more likely to use mobile apps and marketplaces. As a small business, it may be important to consider selling your products via marketplaces such as Amazon, Depop, Etsy, eBay and more. Yes, there is the risk of increased costs, which can be particularly difficult to manage if your profit margins are small, however, it could attract more customers and bring in extra business in the run up to Christmas. You can also put a link to your website, which may encourage people to check it out and buy direct instead.
Christmas shopping and lockdown: how will it affect our shopping habits?
One positive to come from lockdown is our focus on things that really matter. There is a greater focus on sustainability, family values, supporting small businesses and shopping local. This is where you can really distinguish yourself from faceless, multi-billion pound retailers and offer your customers the personal experience they would enjoy. Are you able to offer handmade, personalised items? Maybe a handwritten note with every order or a gift-wrapping service? At a time where people are isolated and loneliness creeps in, that extra little personal touch can really brighten up someone’s day and become the reason they choose your business over anyone else’s. Many of us are sending gifts to people we haven’t seen in a while and you can help make that experience all the more special.
While you may not be able to greet your customers in your store, think of ways you can connect with them online instead! Perhaps, instead of the usual shopping experience they’re used to, you can make some entertaining videos demonstrating your products, so they get a digital shopping experience instead. Don’t forget to upload and promote as much information as possible about your items, since they will be unable to try them in person. Make sure to use your past product reviews and encourage the customers in your email database to write new ones if they haven’t already. Existing testimonials will encourage your customers to buy from you, especially if they have been previously unfamiliar with your brand. Since the convenience of fast delivery may be one of your biggest threats, think of how you can offer a better, if not faster, delivery service for your customers.
Christmas shopping and lockdown on the high street?
With lockdown restrictions predicted to lift on the 2nd of December, it is still likely that people won’t be rushing to the high street and lockdown could also be extended. If, however, you manage to open in time for the pre-Christmas rush, it’s important to offer an incentive that will entice people to come to your store instead of ordering online. Think about the service you can offer, as safely as possible, that will be more valuable than their online experience and will encourage people to come in. The upside is that if hospitality industry is allowed to open, this will likely drive more business your way since a meal or a coffee out goes hand in hand with some retail therapy.
Going digital? We can help!
If you need help with going digital, we could be the team you are looking for! As a full-service marketing agency, we offer everything from web design to social media marketing, search engine marketing, content creation and more. We have decades of expertise between us and we provide our services at very reasonable prices. Let us take some of the stress away and look after your online presence while you look after your business – give us a call or email us today!