There’s no doubt about it, this holiday season is outside of the ordinary. Whether you are online-only or have a physical storefront, the pandemic has created new challenges for small businesses this year. But with every turn, small business owners have shown their ingenuity and hard work in coming up with new solutions. Here are some of the ways we’ve seen small businesses getting creative this holiday season.
Gift card exchange
Independent music and video retailer, Waterloo Records, is a fixture of the Austin, Texas music scene. Having endured since the 80s and continuing to remain strong in a world of mp3s and streaming, Waterloo has proven its resiliency.
So it’s no surprise they have some creative ideas up their sleeve for this holiday season. The retailer recently announced they would be accepting gift cards from big box competitors, like Walmart, Target and Best Buy, in exchange for store credit at Waterloo Records.
The intention is that once shoppers are in store, they are likely to spend more than what the gift card was worth, thus netting some revenue for Waterloo. Plus the move backs up their ongoing message of ‘shop small and shop local.’
New product drops
Some businesses are leveraging all the excitement of a new product launch to drum up extra holiday business. Another local Austin small business, The Paper + Craft Pantry, launched a brand new line of custom journals just after the Black Friday Cyber Monday weekend.
Likewise, online exercise clothing and accessories retailer Maven Thread launched new comfy work-from-home or office trousers. A new product launch is a great way to pull in additional sales, from both new buyers and loyal customers. It’s also excellent fodder for social media to increase engagement and expand your reach.
Extra curbside incentives
With delivery delays mounting, many retailers have had to move their guaranteed shipping cutoff dates up. But there will always be the last minute shoppers, and high expedited shipping costs are likely to turn them away. That’s why many retailers are relying on free curbside pickup to bring in those late shoppers. Some are even going as far as to offer additional discounts for customers that choose the curbside pickup option.
Online shopping, but make it personal
With COVID cases still high, many consumers don’t feel safe returning to in-store shopping, particularly during the busy holiday season. While they can easily turn to online shopping, you lose the personal connection and interaction with your buyers.
That’s why many small businesses are relying on social media to maintain that engagement, as well as provide a more personal shopping experience without the customer actually being in store. All small businesses should be heavily utilizing their Instagram stories right now to show off products, provide gift ideas, and stay top of mind with customers.
Again, The Paper + Craft Pantry is a great example of how to use Insta stories to connect with shoppers but also promote products. The Brooks Collection, a gift shop in Collierville, Tennessee is taking personal online shopping to the next level by offering customers the ability to shop on FaceTime with her.
Another way small businesses are catering to the more COVID-cautious shopper base is by offering special appointment-only shopping hours. This ensures a safe and social-distanced time to shop, with only a few, or no, other customers in the store. It also means that retailers have the time and space to cater to that shoppers needs and questions, which isn’t always easy during the busy holiday season.
These are just a few of the many ways that small and local businesses are getting creative to adapt to a weird holiday season. The good news is, 1 in 4 consumers said they aim to shop more with small businesses this year. Your customers want to see you around for years to come. So lean into your small business banner with pride, and think outside the box for more ways to reach customers and get sales.