It goes without saying that this holiday season is going to be a little bit different. Canadian businesses are doing their best to adapt to the pandemic, shifting their focus to their online presence - we see this reflected in the record number of .CA domain registrations since March.
Before the pandemic began, nearly half of businesses in Canada did not have their own website; now it is seen as an essential tool to keep the lights on. And while Canadians were shopping online in droves before COVID-19, this holiday season will likely see exponential growth in the popularity of e-commerce.
So, what can businesses do to gear up for the 2020 holiday season? Here are a few tips:
- Make shipping details crystal clear. Many companies put Free shipping over $x in their website headers (see lovelybody.ca below) to encourage sales and have a dedicated page about shipping to help set customer expectations and reduce questions. Some details you can include are: where your business is located; where exactly you ship to (just the local area/province/Canada-wide), the different rates, and any terms and conditions.
- Set a holiday shipping deadline. Holiday shipping deadlines aren’t a new concept, but you should definitely have one this year that lets your customers know when they need to order by. Make sure this deadline is displayed clearly on your website, in your checkout process and in any transactional emails you send.
- Invest time in adding products to your website. Include critical information on product sizes, keep quantity and product availability up-to-date and upload quality photos of your items.
- Offer an option to gift items. A customer may want to order items for delivery to multiple addresses. Make this process seamless to encourage your customers to do as much of their shopping at your business as possible. Add in the ability to include a customized note or gift wrap for an extra fee.
- Offer curbside pickup. This is a great way to avoid shipping delays completely and develop a personal relationship with your local customers.
- Promote gift cards. This can help spread out order fulfilment to after the holidays and provide customers who may not be able to run to a mall at the last minute with more gift options.
- Share your story. Many Canadian want to support local businesses, particularly this year. Let them know who you are and where you’re from to develop a personal connection with your customers. If you have a .CA website, let us know, and we could feature your business.
- Share how your products are made. Be clear on where you source materials from and how they are made, particularly if they are locally sourced or environmentally friendly.
- Sell items from other local businesses you can partner with. Feature products from complimentary local businesses on your website. Make a package deal or a bundle to increase your average sale. Neighbourhood Coffee has incorporated this into their business model, selling their own coffee beans with other products like BBQ sauce in the summer or candles and chocolates for their holiday package.
- Show you’re Canadian. Canadians always like to support local businesses, but this year it is more important than ever. A .CA domain is the quickest, easiest way to say “hey, this is a Canadian business” which automatically lets your customers know that prices will be in Canadian dollars, shipping will be fast and easy, and there will be no border hassles.
Want to learn more? eCommerce Canada and Digital Main Street share more tips about selling and shipping during the holiday season in this webinar recording.