Last year’s holiday season was fraught with challenges as social distancing disrupted many of the things we cherish most at that time of year (virtual get togethers, anyone?). This year, we expect to see a thriving holiday season as more people look to reconnect with family and friends and spend the holidays as they should be spent — together. For the many who understand the gift is in the giving, finding the perfect product for the ones they love most will be a top priority.

So expect to see longer shopping lists, more discerning customers, and more competition from merchants looking to satisfy the demand we’ll see this year. To stand out in this noisy environment you’ll need to start preparing now with strategies and tactics that are sure to increase your awareness and drive sales.

Here are six things you can do today to get started:

1. Increase your digital presence

increase digital presence

One thing that will likely carry over from last year is the expectation for a simple, intuitive ecommerce experience. According to Statista’s survey of 1,012 shoppers last year, 49% were more interested in online shopping than they were in 2019, and that percentage will likely increase this year.

Even though brick and mortar stores have largely reopened, an online experience is still the easiest and most convenient way to quickly search, browse, and purchase for many shoppers. To capture their attention (and their dollars) make sure that your website is easy to find across search engines, easy to navigate, and has all the payment options your customers are already using.

2. Get ahead with social media posts

There may be no quicker introduction to your product than a well-placed photo as shoppers scroll through their timeline looking for ideas. You can even create a catalog using Instagram Shop that features a mix of photos and videos to bring your products to life. Each month, 130 million Instagram users tap on shopping posts to learn more about a product.

Facebook, Twitter, TikTok and other social platforms also offer an exciting way to access new customers who would have otherwise never come across your products. If you’re not already active on social media or your presence needs a tune up, now is the time to start building and nurturing communities of shoppers who will be searching for the perfect gift this holiday season.

3. Join a holiday gift guide

join a gift guide

If shoppers don’t know where to find you yet, being part of a gift guide will be a great way to leverage the presence and networks of companies offering gift guides. This has become a favorite way for shoppers to browse and discover gifts for multiple people on their list all in one convenient place. According to publitas, emails that contained gift guides had a 48% higher transaction rate than other promotional emails.

Last year our Holiday Guide had more than 160 unique products and gift ideas from Amazon Pay merchants and we’re excited to launch our 2021 Holiday Gift Guide again this fall.

4. Make sure you offer a gift card

Offer gift card

Whether it’s a picky teenager or the person on your list who already ‘has everything’, gift cards remain a popular way to give flexibility to shoppers this year.

According to rise.ai, which manages electronic gift card and loyalty programs, online retailers sold twice as many gift cards in 2020 than 2019 and increased their income from gift cards by 181%. While many shoppers are sure to find the perfect product for their loved ones, gift cards give you the opportunity to capture dollars that may have otherwise been spent elsewhere.

5. Be ready for more capacity

busy holiday shopping, more capacity

The National Retail Federation revised its forecast for retail sales in 2021 and now projects growth of at least 10.5% to more than $4.44 trillion. So whether your business is all online or also has a physical presence, merchants should start making preparations now for an increase in your customer base. This could mean everything from ensuring you have enough inventory to make it through the season to confirming with your web host that your website is prepared to handle an increase in customers.

6. Keep your and your customers’ info safe

While growing your business is your top priority, make sure you’re also protecting both your data and your customers’ payment information. Since 2019, there has been a 158% increase in cyber attacks in North America, and the many high profile attacks that have already occurred this year show no signs of slowing down. Further, holiday shopping has notoriously been a popular time to launch malware attacks with many targeting customer payment information. Between now and the start of the holiday shopping season, you should run a thorough security test of your website.

For more strategies to make the most of the upcoming holiday season, check out our 2021 Holiday Toolkit for Businesses.

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