How exactly to Win Local Customers Back from Amazon this Holiday Season
Your neighborhood business might not be able to beat Amazon at the quantity of their very own game of convenient shipping this holiday season, but don’t assume it is a game you can’t at least enter!
This small revelation took me by surprise last month while I was buying a birthday gift for my brother. Like many Americans, I’m feeling growing qualms about the economic and societal impacts of putting my own, personal perceived convenience towards the top of a list of larger concerns like ensuring fair business practices, humane working conditions, and sustainable communities.
So, when I found myself on the periphery of an author talk at the area independent bookstore and the book were one I thought my brother would enjoy, I asked myself a brand new question:
“I wonder if this shop would ship?”
There clearly was no signage indicating this type of service, but I asked anyway, and was delighted to discover that they do. Minutes later, the friendly staff was wrapping up a signed copy of the quantity in nice paper and popping a card in at no extra charge. Shipping wasn’t free, but I walked away feeling a brand new type of happiness in wishing my sibling a “Happy Birthday” this year.
And that single transaction not just opened my eyes to the fact that I don’t have to remain habituated to gift shopping at Amazon or similar online giants for remote loved ones, but it addittionally inspired this article.
Let’s talk about this now, while your neighborhood business, large or small, still has time to produce plans for the holidays. Let’s examine this opportunity together, with a small study, a checklist, and some inspiration for seasonal success.
What do people buy most at the holiday season and who’s shipping?
Based on Statista, the categories in the next chart are probably the most heavily shopped during the vacation season. I selected a big town in California with a population of 60,000+, and phoned every business in these categories which was ranking in the top 10 of Google’s Local Finder view. This comprised both branded chains and independently-owned businesses. I asked each business if I came in and purchased items whether they could ship them to a friend.
Takeaways from the analysis
- A lot of the chains promote online shopping vs. shopping inside their stores, which didn’t surprise me, but which strikes me as opportunity being left on the table.
- I was pleasantly surprised by the number of independent clothing and jewelry stores that gladly agreed to ship gift purchases.
- I was concerned by exactly how many employees initially didn’t know whether their employer offered shipping, indicating too little adequate training.
- Finally, I’ll add that I’ve physically visited at least 85% of the businesses in the past few years and haven’t been told by any staff member about their shipping services, nor have I seen any in-store signage promoting such an offer.
My overarching takeaway from the experiment is that, though most of us are actually steeped in the proven fact that consumers love the ease of shipping, a dominant percentage of physical businesses continue to be operating like this realization hasn’t fully hit in… or that it can be safely ignored.
To place it another way, if Amazon has taken a number of your visitors, why not take a page from their playbook and get shipping?
The nitty-gritty of brick-and-mortar shipping
There’s virtually no time like the holiday season to experiment with a brand new campaign. I sat down with a staff member at the bookstore where I bought my brother’s gift and asked her some questions about how exactly they manage shipping. From that conversation, and from some additional research, I came away with the next checklist for implementing a delivery offer at your brick-and-mortar locations:
✔ Determine whether your organization category is one that lends itself to holiday gift shopping.
✔ Train core or holiday temp staff to package and ship gifts.
✔ Craft compelling messaging surrounding your shipping offer, perhaps promoting pride in the area community vs. pride in Amazon. Don’t leave it to customers to look online on autopilot — make them realize there is a choice.
✔ Cover your store and website with messaging highlighting this offering, at least 8 weeks before the holidays.
✔ In October, run an in-store campaign in which cashiers verbally communicate your holiday shipping service to every customer.
✔ Sweeten the offer with a dedication of X% of sales to a hottest local cause/organization/institution.
✔ Promote your shipping service via your social accounts.
✔ Make an effort to earn a note of one’s shipping service in local print and radio news.
✔ Set clear dates for when the final purchases can be made to achieve their destinations with time for the holidays.
✔ Coordinate with the USPS, FedEx, or UPS to have them grab packages from your location daily.
✔ Determine the finances of one’s shipping charges. You may need to experiment with whether free shipping would put too big of an opening in your pocket, or whether it’s essential to contend with online giants at the holidays.
✔ Track the success of the campaign to find out ROI