Prepare your business for holiday shoppers with these tips

Dear M&M: I’m starting to prepare for the holiday shopping season and want to know, what are some ways to stand out in the competition of the large online shopping giants?

-Rodney

Dear Rodney: As a retailer it can be tough to compete with the online world where everything is at your fingertips. However, there are many ways that you can leverage your customers to “shop local” vs online this holiday season, it all comes down to product, delivery, and experience. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Offer Top Notch Customer Service: From the bottom to the top of your company, this is essential. Ensure that all employees are providing the best customer service around. This is one way to beat the online shopping experience every time. Knowledgeable, friendly and motivated employees will bring repeat customers. You and your employees are not going to be able to meet all needs the way online shopping can, but you can be focused and passionate about the needs you do meet for your customer.

Attractive In-store Displays: one thing that is missing from an online shopping experience is the retail display. This is an opportunity for your shop to shine. Whether your shop is selling rakes or evening gowns, get creative and spend some time creating an engaging and exciting holiday display for your customers.

Use SEO to Drive Local Visitors: First, your business must have a website. If you are not online, you don’t exist. Many consumers will only find out about your business by searching the web. Therefore, it is essential that your website clearly tells the customer where your store is located. This will increase the odds that your page will have a high ranking on Google and other search engines, especially if potential customers are using their mobile device to search. According to a local search study conducted by Google, local searches via a smartphone lead to 50 percent of consumers visiting a store within one day, and nearly 18 percent of those store visits result in a purchase.

Compete With Convenience: Amazon and other online retail giants have marketed the convenience factor of quick shipping turn around, but that doesn’t mean you can’t. Offer in-store pick up or delivery for items purchased on the phone or online.

Provide Online Shopping: We are long past the debate of the necessity to offer customers products online. If you don’t have at least some aspect of your store set up to sell online, you’re going to be losing business. Local retailers need to invest in digital retailing to build online presence and drive traffic into the store where they can then provide better customer experiences. If you’re not set up to sell online this holiday season, make it a New Year’s Resolution to be prepared for 2018.

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