4 tips to prepare your small business for the holidays

Attributes that matter most to merchants when they are considering a new payment service

As you prepare your small business for the peak shopping season, it can be hard to know where to start, and what to prioritise. The surge of holiday shopping in 2019 could prove to be a big win for your business, but it’s essential to put the right plans in the place so you aren’t leaving money on the table.

1. Start with the customer and begin testing

You know what they say: a goal without a plan is just a wish. But what’s the best way to set your business goals for peak season? We recommend starting with your customer first, asking the right questions to clarify their wants and needs so you aren’t making assumptions.

Consider analysing summer campaigns and last year’s holiday learnings to inform your direction and develop new ideas. And then you can use September and October to test those ideas before ramping up full promotions during peak. Maybe you are extending your product line to a new channel, or testing a few products in a new marketplace or region. Better to test and plan early to mitigate risks in the final months of the year, where small strategic changes can have the biggest impacts.

2. Stay social to attract customers

These days discovery is happening everywhere and one great way to attract new customers is by increasing your visibility where shoppers are finding inspiration. According to a report from WTC about the Future Shopper, half of the general population find inspiration through search engines (weighted towards older consumers), with almost four in ten people finding inspiration on social media. The research shows a trend towards social inspiration rising with younger age groups. In fact, social is the number one place 16-24 year olds find inspiration. Brands seeking out younger consumers may need to rethink their long-term media strategies as the consumer base looks to slowly shift away from a crowded traditional media market.

There are few ways to make the most of social during the holidays. Start by ensuring you have tent pole communications around your holiday campaigns and either extend your commerce experience through social, or streamline your customer’s path from discovery to purchase. Because authentic discovery is at the root of social success, empower consumers to tell your story. Turn your most engaged customers into advocates by offering an incentive when customers share a product they’ve purchased on your site through their social channels. Once you define your holiday bets for attracting customers, refresh your paid media mix to optimise your return.

3. Break through the holi-daze

Break through the holi-daze by offering your customers something special. Play into the fact that consumers see this time of year as a big opportunity for discounts and specials by offering something exclusive on Small Business Saturday. Why not take it a step further by extending unique deals for each one of the three holidays (Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday). Whether it’s a limited edition item, or varied gift card values based on tiered spending, optimise for each day with holiday specific landing pages that feature signature deals and products. As you create deals, don’t forget that the days immediately following the shopping weekend can experience a boost in traffic. Take advantage of this traffic by providing something memorable like a free gift, or a discount off the next order to incent repeat purchasing. Shoppers are typically looking for loved ones, but always have an eye out to grab something nice for themselves. Giveaways like a “Free $35 candle when you spend $200 or more” can be a great way to reward your shoppers for spending a little more, as well as creating a nice first impression and lasting touch after the weekend.

4. Invent and delight

Another way to make the shopping experience more memorable is providing a totally new way for customers to interact with your business. 50% of consumers say they wish brands were more innovative, and of those same people, 40% of customers are more likely to purchase from digitally innovative brands1 . Extending your shopping experience to voice could be the perfect opportunity to innovate, as voice continues to become a part of consumer’s everyday life -- with people using Alexa in the home, in their car and while they walk around. An easy way to add value to your shoppers’ pre-holiday blitz is by helping them keep track of their gift orders with Delivery Notifications through Alexa. This feature lets you provide shipment tracking information to Amazon Pay so that Amazon Pay can notify buyers on Alexa when shipments are delivered. BigCommerce is in the process of configuring Alexa Delivery Notifications as part of their shopping cart solution, minimising the work needed to extend your shoppers experience to his new channel.

Resources to prepare for the holidays

We’ve assembled a Small Business Startup Kit, a collection of ebooks, research papers, tip sheets, and

While we here at Amazon Pay can’t guarantee that these resources will turn the holidays into a winter wonderland, it should go a long way to helping you and your business feel confident that you’re making the most of this consumer frenzy.

You can download the kit right here.

1WTC, The Future Shopper Report. 2019.