How small businesses can be ready for this holiday shopping season amidst the pandemic

(BPT) – Nearly every business has been disrupted by COVID-19 in some way, which makes this year’s holiday shopping season more important than ever for many small businesses. Small business owners have demonstrated incredible resilience and creativity this year, and there are ways they can prepare for a holiday shopping season unlike any we’ve seen before.

For consumers, the season is already underway – and the way to reach them is online. More than 70% of U.S. adults said they planned to do more than half of their shopping digitally this year, and those shoppers are open to buying from small retailers, especially local small businesses.

Below are a few ways businesses can be digitally ready to reach customers this holiday shopping season from Kim Spalding, Google’s global product director for small business ads.

Create a strong digital presence and keep customers informed

To help you get ready for the holidays, we created a holiday hub where business owners can get personalized recommendations to reach shoppers where they are across search, shopping and maps.

Sixty-six percent of people in the U.S. who plan to shop this holiday season said they will shop more at local small businesses. This is great news for business owners, especially as they can stand out by personalizing the customer experience.

To ensure customers are finding the most up-to-date information about your business when they search on Google, be sure to claim and update your Business Profile. During this holiday season, you can add links to your online store so shoppers can easily place a pickup or delivery order when researching your business on Google, and also let customers know the added safety precautions you’re taking throughout COVID, like offering plexiglass at checkout.

In just six months, we’ve seen people changing how they shop. Global searches for ‘curbside pickup’ have grown by over 3,000% over this time last year. Knowing that curbside pickup is likely to be of interest for many holiday customers, you could showcase this service, as well as offering virtual shopping concierge services, gift certificates, customizable gift packages, or flexible return policies. Make sure to share this information on all of your online channels, including your website, and across your social media channels.

Show up when shoppers are searching

For small businesses owners, it’s critical for your products to be in front of consumers searching online. We recently announced that retailers offering e-commerce can list their products for free on Google, making what you offer more accessible to the hundreds of millions of people who shop online every day. You can get started by either submitting your product feed through our Merchant Center or by automating this through platforms like Shopify, WooCommerce or BigCommerce. You can also get your inventory online instantly by connecting to Pointy from Google via a compatible point-of-sale system or device.

If you’re ready to advertise, you can use Smart campaigns – built specifically for small businesses. If you don’t yet have a website, Smart campaigns can automatically build a landing page with your phone number, hours, photos and even your reviews. Platforms like Wix and WordPress also offer free accounts that help small business owners build affordable websites.

Adapt to changing customer behavior

To keep your finger on the pulse of customer trends in real time, our Rising Retail categories tool shows a list of the fastest growing retail-related search categories on Google at a national and state level – including the most popular queries related to each category.

We know customers want to shop locally and support small businesses. And this is even more evident this holiday season, so be sure to get your business in front of the people who are looking for your products and services.

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