3 Ways SMBs Can Persuade Customers to Buy During the Holiday Season

August 23, 2021

COVID-19 has significantly accelerated the growth of ecommerce, forcing businesses to up their online game.

According to ShipStation research, online spending continues to rise, with 42% of consumers expecting to spend more in 2021 than they did in 2020.

With more consumers shopping online than ever before, and with the peak sales season almost upon us, businesses need to start preparing now for the post-pandemic holiday rush.

To help plan for the upcoming post-pandemic holiday season, ShipStation has launched a new eBook, The Ultimate SMB Holiday Prep Guide: A Month-by-Month Checklist After an Unprecedented Year.

The guide is based on survey findings conducted by ShipStation and Kickstart Communications  from more than 2,000 online shoppers around the world including the US, Canada, UK, and Australia.

Consumers Support Local Post-Pandemic     

Not only are businesses navigating the new normal of online demand, but they are also having to adapt to the expectations and behaviours of the post-pandemic shopper.

In ShipStation’s survey, 62% of respondents stated COVID-19 has pushed them to buy items online that they would typically only purchase in-store before the pandemic.

In addition, the survey highlighted how COVID-19 has shaped ecommerce buyer behaviours, including a newfound commitment from consumers to support local and independent businesses. Here’s what we found:

  • 74% of respondents said that COVID-19 made them more aware of small, local, and independent brands they can support.
  • 68% said they have spent more with small, local, and independent businesses in the last year than they did pre-COVID to show support.
  • 70% of respondents stated they now have more faith in small, local, and independent businesses delivering items on time over big-box retailers, who appear more likely to experience supply-chain and shipping challenges.

How to Capitalise on the Shift to Support Local

As you can see, consumers are increasingly looking to shop small ahead of this year’s holiday season. Here’s three ways to capitalise on the shift to support local and turn a website visitor into a customer.

1.  Free Shipping

Consumer delivery expectations for ecommerce are changing quickly and becoming more demanding by the day.

A merchant who delivers on time, automates refunds and returns, plans appropriately for demand, and accurately tracks inventory across channels will stand out.

In ShipStation’s survey, 62% of respondents stated free shipping as the top reason for transitioning from a website visitor to customer.

The best way to offer free shipping without ruining margins is by offering free shipping over a certain spend, such as free shipping for orders over $75. 

In fact, 91% of shoppers will spend more to reach free-shipping thresholds, so this promo also drives sales.

2. Easy-to-Understand Costs

When preparing for the post-pandemic holiday season, transparency is key.

In ShipStation’s survey, 43% of small/local/independent-business-centric shoppers agree small businesses are more trustworthy than big-box retailers.

With this in mind, it’s vital to ensure that during the busiest shopping period of the year, real-time shipping rates, and accurate delivery timelines are available to the customer at checkout.

According to ShipStation, 48% of respondents stated easy to understand costs, such as taxes, shipping, returns, would persuade them to shop with small and independent retailers.

84% said visibility into shipment status is important when shopping with small, local, and/or independent brands. This will especially apply during peak season.

In addition, 63% will turn to large retailers when small/local/independent retailers have unclear shipping or return policies.

To be transparent with taxes and shipping costs, at a minimum, add a “+ shipping” line at checkout. 

If you charge different shipping rates based on location or methods, consider including a shipping calculator on your product pages.

3. A simplified checkout process

During peak, purchases must be as frictionless as possible. Put simply, make finding products easy and make buying products easy.

According to ShipStation, 47% of online shoppers are persuaded to shop with a retailer that offers a simple check out process.

Having a usable and effective user experience is the key to ensuring that your customers see the purchase through.

Customers want a single checkout page, not a long chain of confusing steps. Include a short summary of completed steps on your payment page so customers can check their payment and shipping information without backtracking.

Additionally, include one-click payment options and consider offering instalment payments if you sell big-ticket items.

ShipStation has worked with its partners and merchants to provide actionable insights so you can go into the holiday season with confidence and a clear checklist for how to better strategise on, engage, support, and win over customers.

Download The Ultimate SMB Holiday Prep Guide: A Month-by-Month Checklist After an Unprecedented Year to learn more.

Is your small business holiday-ready? Click to download The Ultimate SMB Holiday Prep Guide