Once the leaves start to fall from the trees, the clocks get turned back one hour, the first snows begin to fall, and the Halloween candy is eaten, retailers begin gearing up for the mad rush leading up to Christmas. If you have a small retail business in the United States, you likely know that 25% of your annual earnings come from the two months leading to Christmas. So, should you be getting excited? Oh, yeah.

Christmas is shaping up to be an unexpectedly good year for small retailers. While labor shortages and supply-chain breakdowns create industrywide impact, small retailers have shown more resiliency than big-box stores. Most small businesses will still be unable to compete head-to-head with them, but the gap in sales performance is becoming noticeably less for online sales.

What does that mean for small businesses, especially those with an online presence? It means that it’s time to get creative with your marketing strategies.

Here are some key takeaways to consider:

  • Labor shortages and supply-chain issues create an opening for small retailers to showcase their creativity and resilience and compete with big-box stores
  • About 72% of Americans prefer to buy local
  • Small retailers can use their online presence to promote their products this Christmas
  • Delays in shipping in 2020 have led shoppers to buy online and opt for pick-up in-store (BOPIS) for Christmas purchases

When Should You Start Christmas Plans for Your Small Business?

The quick answer to this is as soon as possible because retailers’ big “moments” are around the corner. The first is Black Friday, followed quickly by Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday.

Adobe predicts online sales will draw in $36.5B or 17% of the whole Christmas season during these three days. It’s a big chunk of your potential revenue for the year. For the 77% of small retailers with a website, you need to make the most of your online presence with creative marketing, so get cracking.

Best Day to Buy by Category Image
Source: Adobe

What Tools Will You Need to Promote Your Business?

Small businesses with brick-and-mortar stores depend on local communities to support them. However, there’s no denying that an online presence was a significant factor in the survival of many small businesses during the pandemic.

Promoting and conducting business online requires critical digital marketing tools. These include inbound marketing and social media management tools to capture leads and spread the word about your promos and products. These tools also help you track your engagement and conversions in real-time, so you have sufficient time to pivot your strategies if you need, for the holiday season and beyond.

For small retailers without a website, you might want to check out how to bring your business online. While it might be a little too late for this holiday season, you need to get to it to boost the other 75% of your revenue for the rest of the year. You can also start thinking about the best e-commerce platform for you while you’re at it.

Tips for Promoting Your Small Business During the Holiday Season?

Assuming you have a general digital marketing plan in place, the next step is to develop holiday-themed promotions that will put your small business on the map. Some of these tips for promoting your small business during the holiday season might surprise you.

Ditch the Free Shipping for In-store and Curbside Pickup

Shipping delays are expected during the holidays due to the sudden uptick in volume, which is why retailers encourage people to do their Christmas shopping early. However, given the shipping issues that plagued 2020, an increasing number of people are starting to buy online and pick up in-store, so they receive their packages on time. About 67% of shoppers have used BOPIS through most of 2021.

Start focusing your online promotions by offering discounts for customers that BOPIS with a buying threshold. You save money on shipping and avoid the inevitable complaints when packages don’t arrive on time. As a bonus, 75% of customers that pick up in-store tend to make additional purchases, so it’s a happy holiday for everyone.

Position Your Store as ‘Buy Local’

The shipping and logistical issues for imported goods have resulted in many retailers struggling to fill their shelves, but it is easier for you to pivot as a small business. Surveys show that a majority (72.86%) of consumers prefer to buy local, and you can use this to your advantage.

Collaborate with local manufacturers and independent producers to fill your product pages and promote your store online as a “buy local” one. You might not be able to offer the latest gadgets or deep discounts on your products, but you can guarantee the availability of the products you display. Plus, you get the goodwill for supporting local businesses, which is always good for your online reputation.

Offer Gift Cards

Gift cards are very popular as they give recipients the freedom to choose products they want when they want them, thus reducing product returns.

You can offer gift cards as a cash value for use with any product in your store or a specific product. It can be a physical card, a virtual one, or both.

You can select products currently out of stock on your online store as eligible for a gift card and offer it as a promotion, such as discounted or with freebies to encourage shoppers to buy at a later date.

Offer Free Gift Wrapping

Instead of offering free shipping, offer free gift wrapping instead with a purchase threshold. Make a big splash of it on your site and social media as not many retail stores offer it as a free service.

Gift Wrapping and Gift Options Image
Source: Nordstrom

It’s a small thing but a big convenience for harried shoppers trying to complete their Christmas gift list while making sure no one gets a peek before they have a chance to wrap the stuff they have already bought.

A gift-wrapping service also gives it the personal touch, which many consumers appreciate, especially if you do it well. If customers purchase on your site instead of in-store, provide them with a choice of designs ― if you can, use sustainable wrapping products and make sure they know about it ― and a chance to personalize the card.

Spruce Up Your Homepage With a Christmas Video

Posting a Christmas video on your site and sharing it on social media is a great way to get people to notice you. While you might not have the chops to make a holiday video with a story, making one that embodies your message and resonates with your audience is all that matters.

Even a simple Christmas greeting from you and your employees can go a long way toward personalizing your interaction with your customers. If you can manage it, an even better idea is to have mini-interviews with customers in-store and get them to say hi. However, make sure you get a release from anyone you use in the video to use their likeness on your website.

Hype a Series of Giveaways

Many online sites have twin-number sales: 10.10, 11.11, and so on. You can do something similar, but with a twist, by creating a series of promotions with more of a holiday theme, such as the 12 days of Christmas. The goal is to get people to visit your site or store on specific days to take advantage of the promos.

For example, on the first day, you can have a buy one take one promo, which is an excellent way to liquidate old stocks. On the second day, you can offer his and hers bundles at deep discounts, and go from there.

Black and White Shirts Image
Source: Etsy

Make sure you promote and announce all the themes per day in advance on social media to create a buzz around your site and store. It’s essential to emphasize that you have limited stocks and that it’s on a first-come, first-served basis to trigger customers’ innate fear of missing out (FOMO). Better yet, make it a BOPIS only promo to make it easy for everyone to commit to a purchase.

You can start on any day leading up to December 25, making sure to have enough time to hype it so that your message reaches a larger audience.

Boost Your Posts

Are you hoping to get all-organic traffic to your site during the Christmas season? It’s a fond hope, but not realistic. If you have any budget at all for paid advertising, this is the time to use it, and it doesn’t have to be expensive, either.

For example, there are many ways to use your Facebook page for marketing. A quick one is to pay to boost a post rather than take out a Facebook ad.

Boost Post Image
Source: Facebook

When you boost a post, you can dictate how much you want to spend and for how long while laser targeting the audience you want to reach. This allows you to maximize your ad money. If you’re offering BOPIS, for example, then you want to specify a very small area.

Conclusion

Small business owners often lament that they cannot compete with big-box stores because they have fewer resources. However, small retailers have the upper hand in times of uncertainty because they’re more agile and quick to take advantage of every opening. These tips on promoting your small business for Christmas are geared toward taking the current situation and running with it. Which is something you should do too.

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