How Can Smaller Retailers Prepare for Black Friday & Christmas Holiday online shopping?

Updated: Oct 1



The coronavirus pandemic has changed the worldwide economy over the last six months and  will continue to have a substantial impact the foreseeable future.  How will this impact be felt during this years Black Friday & Christmas holiday season and how can smaller retailers prepare their approach for this prime shopping season to respond to changing customer trends? 


This blog will cover some of the key changes in recent customer behaviours and show you the most effective and cost-efficient ways to adapt your online sales strategy.


1. RESEARCHING ONLINE


With an understandable reluctance to browse or window-shop as before, people are now searching online for days, sometimes weeks before making a final buying decision. Studies have shown that this 'consideration phase' averages 41 days. So how can you attract and convert potential customers during their research phase?


Video content on your website improves your SEO rankings by 53% which means more people will visit your site. It's crucial that you do everything you can to get on that first search results page, as the top three search results get 55% of all clicks!


Using video on your website not only improves your SEO rankings but also increases sales conversions rates x 6 and shareability rates x 12 more than just text & images.


Video allows you to showcase details of your products or services in ways which text descriptions or images cannot compete.  Consumers not only prefer to watch videos but they also remember more information from a video than simply reading text.


Viewers retain 95% of a message when they watch it in a video, compared to 10% when reading it in text.



2. LESS IN-STORE SHOPPING


Online shopping is nothing new, particularly for Black Friday promotions, but the signs are this year online shopping will account for an even greater portion of sales.


Health and safety concerns about crowds, queuing in shops and social distancing will mean  fewer physical customers in store.  More that 33% of UK shoppers who normally shop in-store for Black Friday deals say they won't this year. And in the US many of the big traditional Thanksgiving sales will be exclusively online as Macy's, Walmart and others have given their staff the day off for the first time.


The expectation is that the Black Friday / Christmas holiday shopping period will start in late Oct and continue through to December with rolling promotions and discounts. This year Amazon announced 'Prime Day', an exclusive online sale for Amazon Prime members starting on Oct 13th.


These events do not just profit the largest retailers - smaller retailers can benefit from the enormous marketing campaigns that the giants unleash to draw millions of us online at this time of year but you need to be prepared to take advantage of this opportunity.





Retailers  need to get their ecommerce platforms ready in time to take advantage of this, whether they have a full multichannel offering, a Spotify store or are using Facebook and Instagram to drive online sales.


Don't just focus on one channel - 40% of black Friday shoppers eventually bought a product on a different channel to the one they started browsing on. So, they might first see your products on Instagram, but eventually buy on your ecommerce website so it's important to have good content across all your channels.


Creating videos is a key element of your online sales toolkit and now is the time to prepare your online content. Whether you are showing your products in action, sharing advice and expertise, or drawing attention to particular discounts and promotions, video is one of the most powerful ways to get and keep your customers attention.


Video doesn't have to be hugely expensive or time-consuming. With platforms like Video Sherpa, you can create your own, high quality videos in-house in a fraction of the time and cost of hiring external production companies.




3. BUY ONLINE, PICK-UP IN STORE


There has been a huge growth in BOPIS (Buy Online, Pick-Up InStore), which increased by 100% in June 2020 alone. Not only is it a very convenient way for people to shop while adhering to safety protocols, it's also a great boost for 'Buy Local' campaigns to encourage shoppers to spend their money in the local economy.


Despite the undoubted increase in online shopping, 93% of people still prefer to buy from local and small retailers - preferring the more unique range of products and the fact that it means they can support businesses in the local community. As a smaller retailer, you can encourage these customers even further if you offer this BOPIS service, and it’s important to let people know that it’s available and exactly how it works – is there a dedicated pick up point, when is their product available etc.



Whatever the size or type of retail business you have, the key qualities to remember over the coming months are sensitivity and adaptability. Know what barriers your primary consumers are going to be facing and adapt your approach accordingly. 


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