In the lead-up to Christmas, it’s unlikely that we’ll see retail stores and shopping centres as crowded as usual, many people may continue to shop from home. Research shows that consumers want to support local businesses when shopping online, but many feel that small businesses have a limited online presence. Here, we look at five ways your business can prepare to trade online this festive season.
Update your website
Your website is essential for helping new customers find you. Think of it as your online showroom – sprucing up your website in preparation for busy Christmas shoppers is just as important as decking out your stock or window display. Check that product or service descriptions are clear and easy to understand, especially for new customers who might not be familiar with your business and its offering. It’s worth checking that all links and buttons are working and that the site is easy to navigate. It’s important that customers can find what they are looking for and make a quick purchase if they want to.
Create a customer service plan
As shoppers compare offers and search for gifts, it’s likely that the volume of customer enquiries will increase during the busy Christmas period. Many consumers prefer to engage with small and medium businesses online, so there could be ways to simplify the customer experience process so you’re not replying to emails in your downtime. Consider adding a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page to your website and using social media to update your customers with special deals or information about how you will be trading over the holidays for exceptional customer service.
Define your delivery options
People are already experiencing delays with deliveries and it’s likely to get worse as we get closer to Christmas. Australia Post is warning shoppers to place Christmas orders early. Give customers the best experience of your business and make a plan for sending parcels, providing status updates on deliveries, and whether you will be offering a click and collect option. There are many delivery channels available – it’s just a matter of choosing one that suits your business best. You could even consider outsourcing it to a third-party.
Use the opportunity map your customer experience
The lead up to Christmas is often the busiest time of year, so thinking about capturing customer data now can have great benefits in the future. In fact, most consumers don’t mind sharing their data – as long as businesses use it to deliver better products, services or experiences. Customer data collection might sound daunting, but there are low-cost Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software options available and simple strategies that can help turn new customers into loyal ones. Capturing email addresses will help you grow your database for Christmas marketing campaigns – like post-Christmas sales. And by capturing a person’s date of birth, you can send them an annual birthday offer to encourage them to shop with you again. Remember though, when you collect customer data to help with loyalty, it’s vital that you understand and implement measures to store it securely.
Be diligent with cyber security updates
At this time of year, there is a high volume of data being exchanged online – including credit card payments, email sign-ups and personal information. Cyber criminals are often looking to take advantage of these information exchanges if they aren’t managed securely. Be wary of online scams and common types of threats – like phishing emails that prompt you to enter your personal information – which can expose you and your business to a cyber attack. The Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) is a great resource to help you understand common threats. If you’re unsure of how cyber-secure your business is, it might be worth hiring an expert to advise you on how you can improve and stay on top of cyber security updates.
Despite the challenges that the pandemic has brought for many small and medium businesses, now is the time to make the most of Christmas eCommerce ideas and digital tools to help you succeed. These five areas can help prepare you for the holiday rush and help you optimise how you trade online in the long run.