It’s the 2020 holiday shopping season and it’s different than previous shopping seasons, and retailers everywhere are going to need to manage things carefully. Let’s take a closer look.
Shoppers will lean on digital
A Google-commissioned Ipsos survey  says that 74 percent of U.S. Shoppers are going to do more online shopping than they did previously this holiday season. In response, retailers will need to:
- Make sure that they are findable online, including websites, Google My Business (GMB) listings, and socials – especially on GMB listings, which act more like a digital front door to retailers nowadays. This means ensuring that GMB listings are up to date with accurate location data including store hours (especially any holiday store hours).
- Put GMB features such as Posts to work in order to promote holiday specials, deals, and any special virtual (or offline) events.
- Make sure that GMB click-to-website functionality is flawless. After people visit your GMB listing, how easily can they find your website? Is the information about holiday deals on your site consistent with your GMB listing?
Shoppers are still going to stores, though
According to Google, people do plan to go to stores this season, but on certain conditions. More than half say they will go to stores that offer contactless shopping, and 47 percent use options to buy online, pickup in-store, or use curbside pickup. Shoppers searching online will look for retailers making those services easy to find and use.
In addition, according to new research by CodeBroker  , most shoppers who are avoiding actually going into brick-and-mortar stores would change their mind if they received a high-value mobile/digital coupon for a product in which they were interested. So even during the pandemic, shoppers are open to going into the store.
Retailers need to:
- Ensure that GMB click-to-directions functionality works effectively. When my company Reputation.com studied retailers’ GMB traffic during the height of the pandemic, we saw that GMB clicks-to-directions among our clients had increased as states eased up their lockdown restrictions, which demonstrates the power of GMB listings to drive traffic to stores. But the conversion needs to be seamless.
- Lean in hard with the online offers. People are receptive to location-based offers. Here again, functions such as Google Posts as well as Google Maps can be instrumental to creating offers that attract shoppers at a moment when they are most likely to visit your store.
Shoppers are going to need some TLC
People are going to be shopping under a different mindset. Each time they leave their homes to visit a store, they’ll be acutely aware of putting their personal health and safety at risk. They’ll be more cautious before they visit. For example Google says that 67 percent of holiday shoppers will confirm online that an item is in stock before going to buy it.
In addition, for most shoppers, large gatherings with family and friends won’t be possible during the holidays for perhaps the first time in their lives. It’s going to be an emotionally trying time as they shop for loved ones who cannot be in the same place with them.
Retailers should go overboard to be responsive to shoppers online. That means:
- Being ready to handle a spike in queries on your Facebook Message, Messaging on Google My Business, and your website. Shoppers will ask about order status often. How well will you be prepared to be responsive?
- Being mindful of the tone you employ. People will need more than holiday cheer. They’ll need comfort and assurance, too. Avoid language that reinforces being home for the holidays or using images that depict large gatherings of family and friends. Put the focus on the shopper and their needs and priorities.
Shoppers are shipping
Because shoppers will be buying gifts for people as they practice social distancing, they’re likely to be shipping more gifts far and wide. So it’s no surprise that FedEx is hiring 70,000 people to meet holiday demand  . It’s clear that this holiday season, retailers that win the delivery wars will win the holidays. How visible are your delivery options everywhere people find you online, starting with your website and GMB listings? How well you answer this question may make or break your 2020 holiday shopping season.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here  .
- ^ Google-commissioned Ipsos survey (www.thinkwithgoogle.com)
- ^ by CodeBroker (codebroker.com)
- ^ So it’s no surprise that FedEx is hiring 70,000 people to meet holiday demand (www.cnn.com)
- ^ here (searchengineland.com)
- ^ Reputation (www.Reputation.com)
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