This post originally appeared on startupnation.com/grow-your-business
Bring on the tinsel, the lights and the magic of the holiday season! Why? The “most wonderful time of the year” will take on new meaning for startup businesses this year, especially those that sell a unique product.
Though it can be challenging to navigate at times, the changing nature of retail has created a multitude of new opportunities for both small and large brands alike. For starters, consumers shop a number of different channels now, and more shoppers are empowered than ever to seek out specific products that align with their lifestyles and values.
To achieve your sales goals this holiday season, and beyond, entrepreneurs must think big. While you may not have entire departments devoted to holiday marketing, or massive fulfillment centers to handle supply and demand, there are a few strategies that can help introduce you to new customers and maintain their loyalty all year long.
Make your product more available
While brick-and-mortar sales remain strong, more consumers are indeed shopping online.
In fact, e-commerce sales are expected to grow 14 to 18 percent this holiday season, according to Deloitte.
Meet consumers where they are and take advantage of the opportunities that come with having a store that’s always open online.
According to new research from GS1 US, many small brands may underestimate the business advantage of using different sales channels. Nearly half of survey respondents (46 percent) believe they are over-reliant on one retailer or marketplace.
Also, when the study examined the differences between growth leaders (those who experienced 25 percent or more sales growth in the past year) versus laggards (those whose sales had declined in the past year), there were marked differences in their channel strategies. Growth leaders used three channels, while laggards used just one.
Catering to multichannel shoppers is worth the effort, as they spend $93 more on average than consumers who only use one channel, according to a National Retail Federation study conducted during last year’s holiday season. But an unfocused approach won’t suffice to reach these prospective shoppers: brands need to use each channel effectively and develop consumer-centric strategies to win long-term loyalty.
Pack your product listing
Often, expanding into new channels is a matter of preparing to meet retailer requirements effectively, which will in turn, help you connect with more consumers. Small brands that provide extensive product information and images can capitalize on holiday sales opportunities and might even able to attract new retailer partners.
Growth leaders in the GS1 US study were much more likely to include product images, more than twice as likely as lagging brands to include detailed information (like the product’s country of origin for example) and make sure the information is mobile friendly. More than half of the growth leaders (59 percent) said they see a direct correlation between providing complete product information and the number of products sold. That number jumps to 70 percent for just the brands that sell online.
Adding an authentic UPC to your product listing will also help you fulfill an important retailer requirement. Retailers consider the product identification numbers encoded in a UPC to be a key touchpoint that ties supplier to the product, no matter which channel is used. If you want to leverage major retailers like Amazon, eBay, Target or Walmart, you’ll need to show you are knowledgeable in this area. Growing companies in the GS1 US study were almost three times more likely to label their products with authentic UPCs than declining brands.
Remember the old saying, “there’s strength in numbers.” Small businesses that have experienced growth typically rely on the expertise of others to help propel their business forward. The successful small brand simply can’t do everything alone, especially when high volume is expected during the holidays.
The GS1 US survey findings point to a strong correlation between growth and the nature of external relationships. Growth leaders are about three times more likely than the laggards to use a business advisor, consultant or retail broker; to work with software providers (like ERP and supply chain management solutions); and to use barcode services like printing and labelling.
Specifically, 83 percent of small brands that leverage online marketplaces and national retailers say partners improve their understanding of product information and its impact on their business.
The reality is that every small business has gaps, in both resources and expertise. Finding partners to fill those gaps is what enables small brands to reach new customers, drive growth and position themselves to become truly competitive alongside product offerings from more established brands.
So, break out the festive sweaters and eggnog. It’s time to embrace the season’s major sales opportunities available to your business during the holiday season with enthusiasm. Strategizing effectively to reach consumers can bridge your business to a new level of long-term success.