Many retailers are facing a high-stakes holiday season after a difficult year. On average, retailers gain 26% more customers per month in November and December. While the holidays will look different this year, they aren’t going away – and neither are many of the holiday traditions and gifts that mean big sales for local retailers.

A perfect storm of shipping surcharges and delays positions local retail to win this holiday season. But there’s good news for small businesses – customers are on your side. According to a Canva survey, 79% of people changed their minds about the importance of small businesses to their community during the pandemic. 

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But, along with this change of perspective, consumer behavior and expectations have changed. In short: shoppers expect delivery this holiday season, and to win their business, retailers, both big and small, need to provide it. A seamless delivery service can help you convert holiday shoppers to loyal year-round customers. It’s not just safer; it’s become a matter of convenience. 

Prep your team and store

Expect reduced foot traffic replaced by more delivery and pick up this year, and start planning for that early.

  • The team: Pick a delivery logistics point person and make them the expert. Get the team on the same page about how shipping and delivery will work. 
  • The process: Communicate the process clearly. Figure out what you can automate through your available tools to avoid manual processes when possible.
  • The supplies: Decide what you’ll need for the season and order early, such as traditional packing supplies, gift wrap, cards, postcards or business card inserts. 
  • The online experience: Set up your online storefront and delivery or pickup options immediately, so that people know what to expect during the holiday season.
  • The in-store experience: If you expect foot traffic to be down, consider converting part of your storefront into a delivery prep area – or even going delivery and pickup only.

Looking for more tips? This comprehensive guide walks you through every step of setting your business up for delivery. 

Set customer expectations: clear delivery pricing, deadlines & policies

Thanks to Amazon, many customers may be used to free and fast delivery, so you’ll want to be clear about what you can offer ahead of time. 

  • Delivery fees: Simplify delivery fees so customers know what to expect. Flat fees for specific sized orders or delivery radiuses avoid confusion. According to Google, 74% of shoppers prefer price discounts while72% prefer free shipping deals, so plan your promotions accordingly.
  • Deadlines: Nothing’s worse than a gift or a treat that doesn’t reach the recipient in time for the annual “Christmas Vacation” viewing party (even if the party’s on Zoom). Provide clear and simple deadlines and order cut-off times on your site.
  • Managing SNAFUs: In a busy holiday season, you’re bound to have mistakes. Think through the potential problems ahead of time and create a process for handling them to keep customer satisfaction high.

Leave an impression that converts customers year-round

Consider delivery as an opportunity to set yourself apart from other local retailers or e-commerce options. 

  • A personal touch: Consider adding a handwritten thank you note.
  • Added convenience: Shed your traditional packaging and offer gift-wrapping so that the item arrives feeling festive. Include that handwritten thank you note here too.
  • Incentive to shop in 2021: Since November and December are banner months for customer acquisition, consider including a discount or other incentive to shop again in the new year.

Customers want to support small businesses this holiday season. Set yourself up for success – now and in the new year – by preparing your business to deliver (literally) on the convenience and safety that they demand.