10 Ways Small Businesses Can Maximize on Last Minute Holiday Traffic

December 16, 2015

'Twas the week before Christmas and all through the mall the shoppers were making their one last big haul…. The last few weeks of the year can make or break your small business, and not just in retail. For many businesses, the fourth quarter is their highest-grossing quarter, and December their most profitable month. Savvy holiday small business marketing ideas can boost your bottom line when it matters most. Whether you do business in a store front in the mall, a retail location downtown, an online merchant or an office, you can increase your year-end revenue with some (or all) of these ideas.

1. Special promotions

This doesn’t have to mean slashing prices. Offer customers cookies and hot cocoa when they come in to shop in the evenings, or offer gift wrap for those last-minute purchases. The promotions that will add the most to your bottom line will be those that offer something to bring shoppers in the door, or something to increase the amount of each sale, like a $10 gift card when they spend $50. If you've been savvy enough to save money on your small business liability insurance, it’s okay to splurge on a special promotion.

2. Extended hours

Staying open extra late or opening early, especially on weekends, can bring in extra customers during the busy holiday season. If your business is virtual, consider free or discounted expedited shipping to increase the amount of time your customers have to shop and still receive their purchases in time.

3. Special events

If your business caters to women, whether it’s a beauty salon, a spa, a clothing store or something else, have a special shopping event for men. Men are traditionally last-minute shoppers and may need some help deciding on the perfect gift. If the woman they’re buying for is a regular customer of yours, you've got an advantage because you can tell him exactly what she wants.

4. Social media promotions

The magic of social media for business means you can have instant promotions right up until Christmas Eve. Post on Facebook or Instagram, tweet or Snapchat your promotions. To add some urgency, make some of your promotions for big discounts for a single day or even a few hours.

5. Gift cards

Gift cards are a great way to bring in extra revenue late in the quarter. In addition to the traditional cards that have a dollar value associated with them, considering offering cards for a specific product or service. A day of beauty or a session with a personal shopper could make a gift card seem more thoughtful.

6. Extras and add-ons

Last-minute shoppers are impulsive, so make that work to your advantage. You (and your staff if you have one) should be ready with suggestions to add to every purchase. Suggestive selling can go a long way to increasing each ticket and pumping up your holiday sales.

7. Fire on all cylinders

Make sure you’re taking full advantage of all the marketing tools you have. Use your social media presence to drive sales to your retail location, and make sure your retail customers know about your website. The customer who left your retail store without buying may change their mind and hit up the web site when they get home.

Young woman holding SALE sign in gift shop. Focus on sign.

8. Have a secret sale

Send out an email to your email list, post on Facebook, tweet, Instagram and Snapchat a special sale for your customers. Your ‘secret’ sale should be the first thing people see when they go to your website. Offer a free item with a purchase of a certain amount, or a gift with their purchase.

9. Don’t leave sales on the table

If you have an ecommerce website, make sure you have a procedure for dealing with abandoned carts. If a customer puts something in their shopping cart but doesn’t complete the purchase, you should automatically send an email suggesting that they come back and finish the transaction. If the  abandoned cart is still there 12 or 24 hours later, you might offer 10% off if they come back and buy.

10. Go the extra mile

Help make your customers’ holiday shopping a little easier by offering free gift wrap or opaque bags so they can get their purchases in the house without giving away the surprise. Or, offer to deliver their items, or hold them until they can pick them up at a time when they can sneak them in the house.

How is your small business taking advantage of holiday sales traffic? Tell us in the comments!