With more customers’ holiday shopping being done online, retail business owners may want to focus on getting their customers to buy from their own brick-and-mortar location or website.
While this can be difficult, there are trends working in retail business owners favor. Some people are buying experiences and relationships with companies more than just products.

Keeping this in mind, there are some ways to get your business on the top of your customers’ holiday shopping lists—or at the very least on their radar.


Optimize for local search.

Search engines are designed to show local businesses. They typically factor in the person’s location when providing results.

You can use local search engine optimization (SEO) strategies to compete with big-box stores. Ensure that your business and associated website have a Google Business Page or Bing Places for Business. This can help push your rank higher for generic business search terms. Plus it may also display your company in a featured sidebar box when a prospect looks for you by name during their holiday shopping.

2. Get personal with videos.

Tapping into the personal side of your retail location with video can help get you closer to your customer.

You can do this by presenting your products and team with a mission and story that prospects can relate to. This can include sharing behind-the-scenes photos, telling first-person stories about your company on social media and using staff picks for in-store product preferences.

Allowing customers to actually see the human aspects of your business may help boost loyal and lasting consumer relationships.

3. Create community.

I think all things being equal, many customers would prefer to buy from local retail stores. But it’s up to business owners to give them a compelling reason.

Make sure it is easy to search and buy products like the big-box retailers do since this is what customers now expect when shopping online.
Customers want to see local businesses interacting with others who are part of their community. Think about getting involved in local sports teams, charities and community events. If your business supports these local groups, customers in the community may consider it a good reason to support your business.

4. Promote in-store experiences.

Big-box stores may have a hard time matching the personality of a local retail store. Consider using unique product displays and an in-store team that are educated about what the company is selling. Maybe even host holiday shopping events with refreshments to encourage prospects to visit the location, or hold workshops to give prospects a hands-on experience sampling the products that are sold at the store.

5. Partner up.

In the spirit of holiday shopping, think about finding other complementary businesses that you can partner with to increase revenue for both companies. For example, you could have a local car wash give a discount coupon to everyone that buys something from your local auto supply store.

6. Map out holiday promotions.

I recommend scheduling all of your special offers and discounts by date. You can put the exact special promotions that will be done every day before and after the holidays through January on a calendar. With the rush of the holidays, it’s easy to get caught up in customer service and ignore marketing.

7. Make your website state of the art.

Make sure it is easy to search and buy products like the big-box retailers do since this is what customers now expect when shopping online.

You can even develop product wish lists by different types of recipients like spouse, children, and bosses. This can expand the amount of shopping that a customer does with your business, perhaps increasing the chance they will buy for more people and keep coming back to your site to update it. Setting up wish lists is easy to do with shopping cart software from companies like Shopify and GoDaddy.

You can also explore retargeting strategies so customers can see what they looked for on your site while they continue to shop on the internet.

8. Manage your reputation.

Prospects almost always look at what other customers thought of your company before they buy. Make sure you’re diligently managing your online reputation by thanking positive reviewers and proposing solutions to disgruntled ones.

Google makes it easy to promote the good reviews in your stores and online. With their #SmallThanks Hub, businesses can get free customized marketing materials to promote their business. Simply search for your company’s name on the site and Google will create posters, flyers, social media posts, window clings and stickers based on the reviews from your customers on Google.

Remember: Any previous experience customers had with your company may determine when they will buy from you again.

9. Use automated marketing.

In between online or in-person connections with customers, consider backing it up with automated marketing on social media or by email. People want and expect this, especially during the holiday shopping season.

Consider sending something the customer is interested in that shows your company as an expert at least on a weekly basis. For example, if your company sells men’s clothing, you can send a guide on how to pick the right size in jeans. This way, you can always be there when they are ready to buy.

No matter what, don’t give up! You can compete with the big-box retail stores with the help of these marketing tactics.

Author: Barry Moltz
Getting Small Businesses Unstuck, Shafran Moltz Group