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Friday, October 23, 2020

Tackling The Holiday Shopping Season Mid-Pandemic? You’ve Got This

It’s no secret that Covid-19 has rocked us business owners’ worlds. From temporary shutdowns to mandatory regulations, we’ve had to adjust to many different changes over the past few months. With the coronavirus still in full swing and the holiday season quickly approaching, one thing’s for sure: this shopping season will be unlike any other we’ve seen before. 

With so many changes in this coronavirus age, brace yourself for the holiday season by making your business as Covid-friendly as possible.

Getting Ready For The Holiday Shopping Season During Covid

It should make for an interesting holiday shopping season. And ready or not (but hopefully you’re ready), here it comes. To prepare for the holiday season in this coronavirus climate, take advantage of these six tips. 

1. Put Health And Safety First

First and foremost, your customers’ and employees’ safety should be at the forefront of your mind this holiday shopping season.

In previous years, you never had to worry about things like sanitizing stations, social distancing, and masks. But, this year is obviously a whole new ball game. 

You might be worrying a smidgen and wondering, Where do I even begin? Instead of panicking about this Covid curveball, start prepping. And I mean, ASAP. The sooner you start preparing, the better off you’ll be come Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, etc.

Think about what kinds of precautions you need to take to keep everyone at your business safe. You can:

  • Set up sanitizing stations
  • Put up social distancing signs for customers
  • Set a maximum capacity for your store (e.g., no more than 100 customers allowed inside at a time)
  • Offer curbside pickup or delivery options
  • Have workers sanitize their stations after every transaction

Depending on your state, you may be required to ask all customers to wear masks while shopping at your store. If your state or locality does not have a mask mandate, consider asking customers to wear one anyway. If your business requires a mask, post signs at the entrance to let customers know about your policy.

2. Keep Customers In-The-Know

There’s nothing worse than being left out of the loop, especially when you’re a loyal customer. Before the Covid holiday shopping season kicks off, communicate with your customers to give them a heads up about your policies, deals, and hours.

Let your customers know about things like:

  • Covid-19 shopping rules for your store (e.g., wearing a mask, maximum capacity, etc.)
  • Regular store hours
  • Extended or reduced holiday hours
  • Days your store will be closed (e.g., Thanksgiving Day)
  • Upcoming deals (e.g., Black Friday sales)
  • Other precautions you’re taking as a business (e.g., having sanitizing stations)

You can keep your customers informed about holiday hours, promotions, and rules by updating your business website and social pages and reaching out to customers via email. To ensure shoppers can easily view your location, store hours, and contact information, consider also claiming your business profile on Google

3. Create Or Expand Your Online Store

Have you deliberately purchased products or services online instead of in-store because of the coronavirus pandemic? If so, you’re not alone. According to one source, nearly half (47%) of Americans plan to do most of their holiday shopping online this year due to Covid-19. 

If I had to take a wild guess, this online shopping trend won’t be going anywhere anytime soon, especially if the coronavirus is still lurking around. 

To keep up with the times and give your customers an alternative way to shop moving forward, consider creating an online store for your business (or expanding yours).

Offering online shopping to customers can help you reach new customers, boost sales, and give you more insight into your customers’ needs and buying habits. Not to mention, it can help keep your customers safe during the pandemic holiday shopping season by allowing them to avoid shopping in person and stay home. 

4. Plan And Stock Up On Inventory 

Although many people will likely do their holiday shopping behind a computer this year, the pandemic won’t stop all shoppers from going in-store to get some good deals. Because of this, it may be hard to predict how much inventory you’ll need for this unique 2020 season. After all, none of us truly know what kind of holiday shopping turnout there will be this year.

More than ever, you need to make sure you plan ahead—I’m talking to you procrastinators—and have plenty of inventory to go around this holiday season. The coronavirus hit businesses with low supplies, delayed shipments, and—in some cases—high demand (think back to those “no-toilet-paper-on-the-shelf days”). 

To avoid missing out on sales due to low inventory levels, plan in advance. Do your homework to figure out how much inventory you think you’ll need this holiday season (I know it can be hard to predict, but do the best you can). Then, place your orders ASAP and stock up on your inventory early to ensure your store is ready to roll this holiday season.  

5. Have A Game Plan For Promotions

Your customers not only love a good bargain, but they expect them during the holiday shopping season. To prepare your business for the upcoming holiday shopping season, create a game plan for your in-store (and online) promotions. 

Map out exactly what promotions you plan to have and when. You may want to create a calendar solely for your promotions to lay out and organize your plan of action. That way, you know when you need to promote said sales and what days or weeks you’re having them.

For all of my visual learners out there, here’s an example of a Covid-19 holiday promotions game plan:

  • Black Friday (Friday, November 27): 30% off everything in-store and online
  • Small Business Saturday (November 28): 20% off your purchase of $20 or more
  • Cyber Monday (November 30): 20% off all items and free shipping on purchases $50+
  • First two weeks of December (December 1 – 12): 15% off your purchase of $75 or more
  • Week before Christmas (December 13 – 19): 20% off your purchase of $75 or more
  • Week of Christmas (December 20 – 24): 25% off your entire purchase 

Let your customers know about your promotions in advance so they can plan ahead, too. Send email updates, post on social media, and add information on your business website to inform customers about upcoming sales.

6. Prepare Your Staff

Last but certainly not least, make sure your staff is roaring and ready to go for the upcoming Covid holiday season. 

Keep your staff well-informed about:

  • Protocols (e.g., wiping down registers after each transaction)
  • Covid-19 shopping rules (e.g., mandatory masks to enter the store)
  • Upcoming sales
  • Store hours (e.g., extended or shortened hours)
  • Days your business will be closed, if applicable

Like your customers, let your employees know well in advance so they have ample time to prepare and ask questions. Trust me, this is one thing you definitely don’t want to procrastinate on.

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