It’s no surprise by now. COVID-19 has had a significant impact on e-commerce — from how, where, and when consumers are choosing to shop online. In order to better understand these shifts in buyer behavior, we conducted a recent survey of over 2,000 global consumers. We gained some interesting insight, specifically on how these changes have and will continue to affect small-and-medium-sized businesses.
From this data, we have extracted the top four ways SMBs can prepare for a groundbreaking holiday season.
1. Start Your Holiday Prep Now!
Honestly, it’s never too early to start preparations for the holiday season. It’s the biggest sales season for most businesses, both large and small. But particularly for SMBs, the holiday season can often make or break your business. As early as possible, we recommend analyzing your sales data, site analytics, and auditing customer feedback from your past holiday seasons to determine trends, forecast future sales, and know how to best prep your business for the new year. This process will reveal new opportunities for your business from new sales channels to new tools and software you may need to make operations more efficient.
Here’s a quick look into what we recommend you start planning, and when:
- August – refresh your website and promotional content
- September – perform system updates & upgrades
- October – test out an order, return to ensure a seamless and enjoyable experience
- November – communicate shipping deadlines as soon as possible
Get the full month-by-month SMB holiday prep checklist.
2. Encourage More Customer Reviews
Did you know the majority of global consumers are more likely to consult online reviews for lesser-known small, local, and independent brands as opposed to big-box retailers. This means that reviews are one of the most important sales enablement strategies you can have for your small business.
Here are a few ways you can help encourage more customer reviews:
- Request product reviews after purchase
- Send automated or one-off email newsletters
- Include a “leave a review” link at the bottom of emails, receipts, blogs, and social
3. Enhance Your Post-Purchase Experiences
The customer experience never ends after their order is placed. In fact, the opportunity for you to make a lasting impression on how they see, review, and recommend your brand has just begun. By refining your post-purchase processes (think: tracking, returns, remarketing campaigns) you elevate their experience and as a result, encourage brand loyalty. Loyalty = more reviews = more sales
Start by walking through your customer’s experience after checkout. Do they get an email or text confirming their purchase? What about a follow-up email with tracking information that features your branding? Have you ever considered setting up a re-marketing campaign that emails recent customers related products or incentive discounts? Keeping your brand top of mind is key to creating a seamless post-purchase experience.
Another thing to evaluate is your returns policy. Our research shows that 52% of U.S. consumers say offering free returns is the #2 way a retailer can persuade them to complete the purchase. While not every SMB can afford free returns, having a clearly communicated and convenient option for returns can go a long way!
Learn how ShippingEasy’s Customer Marketing add-on can build repeat business and better relationships.
62% of consumers are willing to accept longer shipping times in order to support a small or local business📦
— ShippingEasy (@ShippingEasy) November 22, 2021
4. Embrace the Social Commerce Movement
Social commerce didn’t find its beginnings during COVID-19, but it certainly gained significant traction. We’ve all been there! Sitting at home during lockdown, scrolling Instagram when we come across a product we can’t live without. Whether you’re actually selling on Instagram Shop or simply promoting your products through a branded social page, creating exposure outside of your website or marketplace listings can make a significant impact on your business growth.
Our research shows that 54% of U.S. consumers discovered a new small, local, or independent e-commerce retailer via social media in the last year. And, even more surprisingly, 75% of those individuals made a purchase from that experience. Just imagine the returns you could see off of one viral post!
Want to learn more about how to set your SMB up for success this holiday season?
Download The Ultimate SMB Checklist for exclusive data on the shift in how consumer’s buyer behavior as a result of the pandemic, an actionable (and printable!) holiday prep checklist, and insight from leading industry experts.
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- 4 Ways SMBs Can Prepare for a Groundbreaking Holiday Season - August 19, 2021