With the Christmas countdown well and truly underway, all of the big retailers are launching their Christmas displays, plans and features.

John Lewis is one of the recent stores who have launched their Christmas shop, and it’s certainly a special one this year in response to the current pandemic.

They have launched a virtual shop showing their London flagship store for you to browse. Customers can head to their website and virtually wander around the Christmas shop. All of the products are there and individuals can click on the products as they appear on the shelf to view the product in more detail before adding to their basket.

You can see this virtual shop for yourself: www.johnlewis.com/content/virtual-christmas-shop

The aim of this feature is to offer in-store browsing for those individuals that cannot physically get to the shore. This is a fantastic step that I am sure will be appreciated by many.

Whilst this is a possibility for a large business with a huge marketing budget, it's something that is out of reach for many smaller businesses. So just what can smaller businesses do this year to help those who want to browse but can’t or won’t physically come into your shop. Here at Digital Nachos, we have some ideas…

#1: Improve your Online Experience

Whilst your business may not have the budgets of John Lewis, you can improve your current website offering to enhance your online experience.

Look closely at your category structure to ensure that it's laid out in a logical manner. Link products that are relevant via a ‘related products’ section on each product page, and create gift guides to help people find the product that is relevant to their intended recipient.

Whilst it isn’t a traditional in-shop browsing experience, it will help your customers browse your products on your website with ease and allow them to find things they may not have otherwise done.

#2: Get Creative with Postage

Weigh up the cost of postage and how express postage can make your customers more likely to purchase directly from you instead of other retail giants such as Amazon.

If you have a strong local customer base then look into whether you can offer next day delivery delivered by your company directly to their door.

Whilst looking at your postage costs, also look at your refund policy to make it clear what goods can be returned and when.

Whilst its not necessarily a browsing experience, it will give people more incentive to purchase from you and perhaps even make them more willing to take a chance as they can return if it's not quite what they pictured (although the chances of this can be minimised with good product images, clear descriptions and FAQs for your products).

#3: Use Social Media

Both Facebook and Instagram allow you to do live stories, use and abuse these features to showcase what you have in your store. Go further by reviewing products live on your feed, highlighting how the product works and what kind of individual they would suit.

You can walk around your store and showcase particular items on certain days – perhaps even split up your marketing plans by publically stating that you will be focusing on x age group on Monday, gifts for your other half on Tuesday, Stocking gifts on Wednesday, and so on.

Whilst these clips will only remain with your channel for 24 hours, on Instagram for example you can add these clips to your Instagram highlights to allow people to view them at their leisure.

If you have the swipe up feature on Instagram then you can add direct links to products you are showing during the live event, otherwise, you can clearly say that they can find product A in category B on your website.

If you don’t feel comfortable doing live stories on your platforms then you can pre-record them and post them straight to your feed.

However, you choose to do this, with a little structure and planning you can show your products to your audience in a very attractive and interactive way. Making it almost the same as physically attending to them in your store.

#4: Introduce Shopping Appointments

If you can offer private shopping appointments then they may be a good way to encourage your regular shoppers out of their homes and into your stores before Christmas.

These shoppers may be put off from physically entering your shop due to concerns about social distancing etc. It is not going to be possible for all shops but there may be some that it's suitable to.

With a little bit of Christmas music and a relaxed personal shopping experience it just may encourage your customer to spend more than they may otherwise do as they would be more likely to purchase all of their gifts from your store.

And lastly.

#5: Highlight your Small Business

If you are a small business then this is your time to shout that from the rooftop. There is a trend for customers to purchase from local businesses and small businesses.

Showcase your team on your website and social channels to make it clear just who your customers will be supporting when they buy directly from you instead of high street giants. Show your personal touch.

On social media channels use hashtags such as #ShopLocal, #BuyLocal and get involved with campaigns such as Small Business Saturday which will be happening this year on the 5th of December. More information on Small Business Saturday can be found here: smallbusinesssaturdayuk.com

However your business tackles Christmas this year, be proud of yourself and your efforts to keep going in a very challenging time. And of course, if you need assistance with your website or marketing efforts then contact the team here at Digital Nachos today.

Published: 6th Oct 2020

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