Suggestions for small businesses to prep for holiday shoppers

FORT SMITH, Ark – 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 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.

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

Create a strong digital presence and keep customers informed

To help business owners get ready for the holidays, Google created a holiday hub where they can get personalized recommendations to reach shoppers 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 the business when they search on Google, businesses should claim and update their business profile. During this holiday season, they can add links to their online store so shoppers can easily place a pickup or delivery order when researching the business on Google. Companies can let customers know the added safety precautions they’re taking throughout COVID, like offering plexiglass at checkout.

In just six months, Google has 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, businesses could showcase this service, as well as offer virtual shopping concierge services, gift certificates, customizable gift packages or flexible return policies.

Companies should make sure to share this information on all their online channels, including website and social media.

Show up when shoppers are searching

For small-businesses owners, it’s critical for their products to be in front of consumers who are searching online.

Google recently announced that retailers offering e-commerce can list their products for free on Google, making what they offer more accessible to the hundreds of millions of people who shop online every day. They can get started by either submitting their product feed through the merchant center or by automating this through platforms like Shopify, WooCommerce or BigCommerce. They can also get their inventory online instantly by connecting to Pointy from Google via a compatible point-of-sale system or device.

To advertise, they can use smart campaigns built specifically for small businesses. If a business doesn’t yet have a website, smart campaigns can automatically build a landing page with a phone number, hours, photos and even 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 a finger on the pulse of customer trends in real time, Google’s Rising Retail categories tool shows a list of the fastest growing retail-related search categories on Google at national and state levels, including the most popular queries related to each category.

Google knows customers want to shop locally and support small businesses. And this is even more evident this holiday season. Companies can get their business in front of the people who are looking for their products and services.

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