Holidays 2020 for Small Business: Will It Be Like Other Years?

We are eight months into this pandemic and still figuring out how to pivot small businesses to fit the needs of customers. The holidays are here, and with increasing Covid-19 cases, don’t plan on seeing stores bustling with shoulder-to-shoulder people. Holiday shopping this year will not be crammed into a 3-day bonanza. More people will be shopping online than ever before. They will be shopping earlier, thinking ahead about shipping gifts to family and friends they aren’t visiting this year. What else will be different for the holidays 2020?

Covid-19 Safety Measures

The last thing you want to do is drag your feet when it comes to the safety measures your small business is offering. Get the word out there, loud and proud, and let people know all of the precautions you are taking during this time. If a person is going to a business for shopping or service in person this holiday season, they are choosing the stores that have a safety plan in place. Take a look at these safeguards:

  1. Masks: Consumers feel more comfortable walking through stores where other patrons are wearing masks. It is impossible to know who is sick, and masks give a sense of security in knowing that if someone has Coronavirus, there are at least protections in place.
  2. Hand Sanitizer: Put up stations of hand sanitizer all over. It is an extra cost, and sometimes it’s hard to take on additional charges during the holidays. When you show customers you are serious about their health and safety, you will see that the payoff will exceed the cost. You can always meet with a small business accountant to break down the numbers together.
  3. Social Distancing: You will notice in hearing commercials and seeing ads that Black Friday sales have already started. The idea is that instead of packing your store full of people for 3-days of sales, you can offer the same deals for 6-weeks. You give customers the time to spread out and not be afraid of entering your store because it is too crowded. Find creative ways to give the sales momentum throughout the holidays. Meet with an accountant to be sure the benefits outweigh the risks with this strategy.
  4. Plexiglass Shields: These safety procedures are also in place for your employees as well as your customers. For the cashiers that come in close contact with dozens of people during a shift, plexiglass shields can be placed between the customer to protect the cashier. This will give customers an extra sense of security and also show that you are a business that cares about their employees.

Now that you have the safety measures in place, advertise them in every outlet. Post signs on your doors, share on social media, and send out an email newsletter. Let your customers know that you are doing everything it takes to make their shopping experience convenient and safe from illness.

Shopping Alternatives

While online sales have significantly increased each year since 2017, they will be bigger than ever this year. With more people staying outside of busy public places during the pandemic, they’ll be turning to online shopping from the safety of their homes. If you haven’t set up your small business for online sales, now is the time to do so. Think of all the ways that you can reach people who don’t feel comfortable shopping in person:

Online Shopping

The big concern with online sales this year is shipping. USPS and UPS have already released notices that they expect substantial shipping delays this year. Combine the increase of shopping online with the pandemic safety measures taken in shipping facilities, and you can understand how packages might be postponed. Make sure you are alerting your customers to shop early. Add banners across your website and shipping alerts at checkout. Your customers will appreciate the transparency.

Curbside Pickup

For customers who want to buy local and not worry about shipping costs or time, curbside pickup is a great option. You can advertise your products and even offer virtual tours of your holiday layout in your store. This will give these customers a chance to enjoy the shopping experience from the safety of their homes. Be sure you have safety measures in place with curbside pickup by wearing masks and using trays, so you don’t have to touch hands or get too close. Set up contactless payment options as well.

Delivery Options

Some small businesses are going above and beyond this year and offering delivery. While this has become a norm in the food business, this is new to retail. If your small business has the means to do this, then offer it! Your customers gravitate toward the companies that are sensitive to each customer’s comfort levels during the pandemic. If they feel seen and understood, then they will shop with your store.

As you offer several options to your customers, they will recognize that they are valued. You can even offer a hybrid option that includes a virtual store tour with a personal shopper who sets items aside that catch the customer’s eye. There are so many ways to show you are inclusive of all customers during the pandemic.

Consumers Supporting Small Businesses

Something specific to the pandemic is that many small businesses have been negatively impacted during this time, while the huge corporations are thriving. Consider Amazon and Target; their sales haven’t been hurting but rather booming during the pandemic. Consumers are aware that small businesses have been hit during Covid-19, many companies having to close down or lay off employees. Because of this, more people will want to shop with small businesses this year to help where they can.

How can you be sure your small business is one that catches the eye of people looking to shop small?

  • Engage on Social Media: Get to know your following. Post insights into your personal life and small business journey. Connect with people personally and never leave a question unanswered. Come up with interactive posts where people can vote or share their favorite item in your store. When you are active in your social media, people feel more connected to you and remember your business.
  • Offer Virtual Services: If you haven’t already done so, now is the time to come up with virtual offerings. If you own a bakeshop, offer live baking classes where customers can pick up a baking kit beforehand. Or if your business is an art or music school, offer virtual lessons. Another idea for a hairstylist is to post hair tutorials for cutting your children’s hair at home during the pandemic. If your business is service-oriented, then take it to a virtual platform.
  • Sidewalk Shopping: For those taking precautions not to be indoors with people in small spaces, then bring your shopping outdoors. You can set up a cute display and post special hours for sidewalk shopping on sunny days. Be sure to offer contactless pay options as well. Show your customers that you are willing to make changes to fit their comfort levels during this time.
  • Giveaways: Everybody likes to get things for free! If it is between your shop and a big box store, then set yourself apart by doing giveaways. You can have a drawing or a social media contest. You can also include a free gift with purchases over a particular price. Make it fun and interactive, and customers will show up.
  • Holiday Display: Set your business apart by going all out with holiday decorating. Create window displays that draw people inside. For your customers staying home, offer a virtual tour of your business after you’ve decorated and put out your holiday-specific products. Make sure everyone gets a chance to peek inside your store.

Small businesses have a charm that people admire. Customers know they will get a more individualized experience when they shop with a small business. When you walk into a small business, you can expect undivided attention, workers invested in the product, and specialized packaging that is already gift-ready. Emphasize your shop’s allure this holiday season and show customers that you are ready for their support.

Contact Accounting Professionals

As you set up your business to thrive this extraordinary holiday season, contact a professional accounting team to help. Get your books in order before the big holiday rush. Review numbers when deciding on a free gift with purchase – how high should the purchase price be to make it worth it? An accounting team that specializes in small businesses will break it down with you and make sure your investments give you a substantial return.

Let us help you during the busy time of the holidays. If you need a consultation on keeping your accounting in line during the holidays, then call us today! Our team at Easier Accounting will answer any questions you might have about small business accounting. Schedule an appointment with us by calling (888) 620-0770.

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