In an unpredictable year, one thing is for certain: the 2020 holiday season will be unlike previous years. It’s hard to estimate how the COVID-19 pandemic will impact overall holiday spending, but businesses are already making adjustments to their typical holiday plans. Companies are ramping up online shopping and scaling back in-store promotions in an effort to discourage crowds and keep workers safe. Canadian business owners are also making plans to prepare for the early kick off with these tips from PWC.
How to Prepare for Holiday Shopping Season During a Pandemic
- Create a plan of action early. Long before the holiday season begins, start planning and setting goals. The forecast for consumer behavior may not be crystal clear, but you can still make sure shelves are stocked and you are promoting products that fit with shoppers’ current reality. Keep in mind your chain of supply could be affected by the pandemic, and plan accordingly.
- Hiring for the holidays? Stay flexible. The National Retail Federation predicts shoppers are planning on being practical with their purchases and have transitioned to the order online, curbside pick-up model or are shopping online exclusively. Carefully consider the staffing levels to meet the needs of customers while still helping employees needs as well.
- Improve your online presence. There is one thing you can be sure of this holiday season: most businesses will see reduced in-store purchases and increased online sales, which is why you need a strong online presence. Make sure your website and online shop are up-to-date and running smoothly. Be sure to work out any bugs before holiday shopping really picks up. Consider investing in online advertising or social media marketing.
- Consider flexible payment options. PayPal, a BBB Accredited Business, encourages business owners to take a proactive approach this holiday season by embracing digital payments and flexible payment options for consumers, to keep sales coming in.
- Try an outdoor pop-up shop. If the weather in your area cooperates, open-air pop-up shops are becoming a popular way to sell goods and services while allowing customers to avoid enclosed spaces. If your community has a weekly open-air market, see if it could be a worthwhile way to increase your sales.
- Keep your customers safe. Plan for additional customers during the holiday season. Set up hand sanitizer stations and clear signage to direct consumers to what they are looking for faster. Mark any waiting areas or queues with social distancing markers and take advantage of enlarged waiting areas to display additional services or smaller, “impulse buy” products.
- Bring seasonal employees up to speed. By now, full-time employees probably know the routine when it comes to enforcing social distancing practices and sanitizing your business. Make sure seasonal staff is thoroughly trained, too. Set up clear policies outlining how you will handle employee notification if one of your staff tests positive.
- Offer curbside pickup. Curbside pickup can help you and your customers save on shipping costs. In addition, this service can help you win over many consumers who are hesitant to enter a store. Start planning your curbside pickup system as soon as possible and let your clients know it is available.
- Go cashless and give clients contactless payment options. Cut down on physical contact by going cashless. You can also keep your customers and employees safe by offering contactless payment options like Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, Google Pay, and QR codes.
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