In 2020, Holiday shopping, like so many other of life’s little joys (or nightmares), has become more of a utility than an activity. Instead of visiting malls decked with boughs of holly or meandering the tree-lined streets of a charming holiday village, gift-buying has moved mostly online, with shoppers prioritizing convenience and time-savings above everything else.
So what can your business do to bring the magic of the holiday season to your customers when you can’t guide them through the wonderland of your store in person? How can you reinvent the traditional idea of customer service in a way that will translate across channels and pull in the seasonal sales that your business depends on?
Give the People What They Want
Customers will be shopping online, but that doesn’t mean that they’ll only rely on big names like Amazon and Walmart for every person on their gift list. Shoppers want to shop closer to their homes and are demanding flexible order delivery and return options. While most small businesses can’t compete on the free 2 day shipping front, there are other ways to meet the customer’s needs.
Contactless Delivery Options
Delivery will be one of the most important elements of your entire transaction because it is one of the final touchpoints you will have with a customer, and is the part most heavily impacted by the current pandemic. Here are some options to consider:
- Buy Online, Pick up in Store (BOPIS)
You’ve seen this silly-sounding abbreviation everywhere, but its impact on revenue is nothing to laugh at. Since the pandemic began, there’s been an over 500% increase in BOPIS purchases.
BOPIS benefits the customer because it enables them to control amount of time they spend in a public space – they need only enter a store after they have been notified that their purchase is ready for pick up. If consumers are looking to keep their shopping trips local, this option can often beat the turnaround time for free 2 day shipping. Some businesses can have BOPIS orders ready for pickup within a few hours.
BOPIS benefits the business because the transaction no longer involves shipping – saving both shipping costs and time spent preparing an item for shipment. If a customer enters a business to pick up the purchase, there is an additional opportunity to upsell different products on display or make recommendations based on customer questions.
- Curbside Pickup
Curbside Pickup offers the same benefits to the customer as BOPIS with an additional level of safety considerations. Although there is no opportunity for an upsell when this type of order is delivered, customers will remember that their safety was prioritized and appreciate the care given to preparing their order. Every touchpoint contributes to the development of customer loyalty and the successful execution of this exchange will surely make a lasting impression.
A flexible return policy will go a long way for customers prioritizing physical proximity to stores and overall convenience this holiday season. Free returns with multiple drop-off points will simplify the return process for the customer and increase the likelihood that they’ll buy a product from your business they might have seen somewhere elsewhere.
A Little Something Special – Because You Can!
Think of different ways to dazzle your customers without running up your costs. Offer free gift wrapping or a small bonus gift for orders that meet a price minimum. Leave short, handwritten notes to your customers thanking them for shopping small. Invite customers to call or email you for personalized product recommendations for that hard-to-shop-for family member. There’s no way Jeff Bezos would ever leave a handwritten note in your delivery box or remember your grandma’s favorite candle scent! Play up the fact that you are a real person with a business that is working hard to survive and show them that you care.
Make your customers feel good about supporting you and they’ll want to do it. They’ll even want to tell other people to do it. You’ll get bonus word-of-mouth marketing, too!
While nothing can replace the magic of shopping at your favorite holiday market with hot chocolate in hand, you can create an experience for your customers that comes damn close. And because this method of shopping will be around for the foreseeable future, there’s no better time to start.