Just as big companies are preparing to celebrate the holidays during COVID-19, your small business also has to adapt to the new way of doing business. You need to be ready to serve your customers safely in the midst of the pandemic.
A new wave of the virus is already starting, and that means new government restrictions.
The holidays are, historically, when annual retail sales are on the rise. But if you don’t start preparing ASAP, the pandemic will have a negative impact on your sales.
Don’t worry! There is a lot you can do. In this article, you’ll find tips and tricks that will help your business make the most out of the holidays during COVID-19, improve your sales, and take care of your customers and employees.
|Table of contents|
|1. Small Businesses and the Holidays During COVID-19|
|2. Ten Ways to Prepare your Business|
|3. Increase your Sales|
|4. Take Care of Everyone’s Health|
|5. Celebrate the Holidays During COVID-19|
Small Businesses and the Holidays During COVID-19
The pandemic has wreaked havoc on all businesses, especially the smaller ones, who have experienced massive losses.
But believe it or not, the holiday season might create a less bleak outlook for small businesses. Don’t take our word for it; these opportunities for recovery are based on very positive numbers.
- According to a study by Visa, this year, 60% of Americans will do their holiday shopping at local retail stores.
- The same study indicates that 3 out of 5 consumers plan to do half (or more) of their shopping online.
- And 32% plan to shop mainly online.
Furthermore, this year people will want to make bigger celebrations than usual.
Since people haven’t been spending on trips, movies, or restaurants, they could spend more on their holiday shopping.
The holidays can also mean an escape from the stress of the pandemic: although there are still quarantines, holiday celebrations can help everyone forget about their stress. So many people might celebrate bigger than they usually do.
10 Ways to Prepare Your Business for the Holidays During COVID-19
The success of your business this season depends on how you prepare for the holidays during COVID-19.
This means working on two fronts: ensuring your customers’ safety while they visit your business and creating strategies to generate more income. You must also follow the restrictions imposed by the government. In short, this means that you’ll have to be creative.
Here are 10 ways to create a safe environment for everyone in your small business.
1. Keep yourself informed
The most important thing you can do during these times is to keep up with the news. Remember, knowledge is power, and this pandemic is not the exception.
Staying up to date will allow you to help reassure your customers that their health is important to you and that you are working hard to keep them safe while they visit your business.
If you know the latest restrictions that the government is planning, you can plan accordingly, and your business will not be affected as much.
Compare where you’re now and where you were at the beginning of the pandemic. Before no one knew anything, restrictions were a surprise, and businesses didn’t know what to do. But now, you have the advantage of knowing what is coming, the best practices to follow, how to keep your customers safe, and how to keep your business afloat.
2. Take extra safety measures
This goes very hand in hand with the previous point: staying up to date is crucial.
Since this pandemic began, we have discovered new things about COVID-19, how it is transmitted, and how to fight it.
For example, now we know that air filtration systems can help eliminate the virus. While they do not kill it completely, they are an important part of your coronavirus action plan. The Environmental Protection Agency has stated, “When used along with other best practices recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and others, filtration can be part of a plan to protect people indoors.”
To safely celebrate the holidays during COVID-19, make sure you are up to date on the best ways to protect yourself, your customers, and your employees.
3. Create a strategy to inform customers
With so much information, you know how to minimize the risks of contagion. But you need to let your customers know.
Create posters to tell your clients what your security protocols are and the rules they must follow when visiting your business. Show them, with pictures, the measures you have taken to keep them safe. For example, how you clean your premises or safe distancing rules.
Many people still don’t feel safe going out, so you need to guarantee that they will be safe in your business.
Don’t forget to add to your posters all the online purchasing options you’re offering (eCommerce or delivery apps).
Some prefer to stay at home for safety, but others still enjoy going out to buy what they need. The best thing is to have something for everyone.
4. Change your hours
Extend your hours to avoid congestions at your store for the holidays during COVID-19. This can help have fewer customers at the same time at your premises. Do not forget to notify your clients on social media about these changes and update your Google Business profile.
You can also create exclusive hours for older people or people with pre-existing conditions. During this time, they can do their shopping or use your services with more peace of mind. This is something that many supermarkets began to do at the beginning of the pandemic, and it was very successful. Why not do it, too?
5. Reorganize your store and have enough inventory
Organize the products and shelves so that there’s more distance between them (hey, even products can practice social distancing!). This will help give people more space to circulate in your store.
Try to also place best-sellers at the entrance of your store. That way, customers can make a quicker and safer visit.
And don’t forget to keep enough stock.
Due to restrictions and the fear of getting sick, customers may prefer to make fewer visits to stores and buy everything they need at once. This means that you might need enough stock of everything.
If you need capital to buy more stock, we recommend considering an inventory financing loan.
If you have a restaurant, make sure to have all the ingredients you need to offer your season specialties.
6. A date with your customers
Allow customers to book an appointment to shop at your store. That way, they’ll have the place to themselves or with very few buyers.
This means that you’ll have to find a way to create and manage staggered hours so that your clients can choose the one that suits them best. Is there an easy way to do this? Yes! We recommend using Calendly: its free version will let you share a link with your clients, so they choose the time that suits them best.
7. Tech is your best friend
Implementing technology for contactless payments is crucial. You can do this through mobile applications or card readers. This will allow you to make fast and secure transactions: your customers will definitely thank you.
Not everyone will feel safe at your business, so we recommend taking social distancing to the next level. The following tips will help you with this.
8. Offer curbside pickup
Curbside pickup or curbside delivery service has grown exponentially during the pandemic. It’s sure to be a hit for the holidays during COVID-19. This method allows users to pick up their products outside of your store.
How exactly does it work?
Your customers make their purchases online (if you have an eCommerce, of course) or by phone. Then they choose a time to go to collect their products. The moment they arrive, they pay (unless they did it beforehand), and you go out to give them their purchases.
9. Online shopping at your physical store
This sounds weird, almost contradictory (it’s not!), but it’s a practice that can help you a lot if people don’t feel comfortable going into your store.
It is about using technologies like QR codes so that consumers buy from your window. Thus, when they are walking and passing in front of your warehouse, they will be able to see the products in your shop windows and windows.
All they have to do is scan the QR code of the item they prefer (this code will take them directly to your eCommerce), buy it and receive it directly at home. They won’t even have to enter your store! If you have a restaurant, you can do the same, but redirect them to the app where you offer home delivery.
What is a QR Code? It’s an image (kinda like a barcode) that people can scan with their smartphones. The QR code takes them directly to a specific website. In this case, your eCommerce.
10. Outdoor business
The trend among restaurants is outdoor dining to take advantage of the ample space and good ventilation, making consumers feel safer.
But this is not exclusive to restaurants. You and other businesses in your neighborhood could get together and make an outdoor market (of course, with proper permissions) where you all can sell their products.
Ensure your state government allows these types of “gatherings” and that health regulations do not prohibit them.
Holidays During COVID-19: Increase your Sales
Although times are difficult, there are opportunities to increase your profits during the pandemic.
These are 3 actions you should take now to improve your growth opportunities this end of the year:
1. Strengthen your online presence
Online shopping has grown dramatically with the pandemic. For the holidays during COVID-19, 75% of consumers in the United States are expected to buy online more than in previous years.
That’s why an eCommerce is the most obvious tool. The pandemic has probably forced many to create their own websites and sell their products on the Internet. You should do it, too!
But opening a virtual store is not enough. It must be optimized so that it responds to the needs generated by COVID.
Create a great user experience. This means having a web design that is easy to navigate. Don’t forget how important it is to write full product descriptions and include photos.
Also, make sure to offer easy and varied payment options, as well as shipping options, and implement return and refund policies.
2. Create a marketing plan for the season
Your marketing plan should have:
- A social media strategy to promote events, promotions, and information about safety protocols. Also, make it easy for people to buy your products through these platforms.
- Email marketing. One of the best ways to tell your customers about your holiday season plans during COVID-19 is a newsletter.
- Traditional media. Use all the tools at your fingertips so that people know what you are planning for the holidays: billboards, the local newspaper, press releases, or paid advertising are some options.
3. Create promos and special sales
The more variety of promos you offer, the more attractive your products will be to your customers. Here are some ideas:
- Start your sales as early as possible and extend them longer. This way, customers will have more time to take advantage of them and help you avoid a crowded store.
- Offer free shipping and returns policies.
- Create special discounts for doctors and first-line workers.
Take Care of Everyone’s Health
Remember, you don’t just have to worry about the health of your customers; your employees are equally important:
- Ask employees to stay home if they feel sick.
- Train them in security protocols: what to do, what not to do, and how to act in different scenarios.
- Stagger their schedules so that you don’t have excess staff in your store.
- Make sure you give them what they need to be safe, like hand sanitizer and face masks.
- Follow strict cleaning and sanitizing protocols. Hire additional staff for these tasks if you need them.
- If possible, allow employees to work from home. For example, if you have someone who runs your eCommerce, maybe they don’t need to work inside your business; they can do it from home.
Preparation and Creativity to Celebrate the Holidays During COVID-19
Let’s face it. We are going to have to celebrate the holidays during COVID-19. But this does not mean that your sales have to be affected.
You are faced with an unprecedented situation, but you can use your creativity to stay afloat.
- Making your customers feel safe in your business is essential. Tell them what steps you’re taking.
- Facilitate social distancing for those who feel nervous going out, or offer them other purchase options, so they do not even have to step outside their homes.
- Your eCommerce and your social platforms will be your main allies to get your share of the online sales projected for the season.
- Special promos and sales are other strategies that you need to implement.
- Finally, remember that the health of your customers, your employees, and yours is the most important thing.
At Camino Financial, we don’t leave any business behind, especially during these difficult times. Contact us and learn how our loans can help you during this crisis.