Last year, none of us saw the Covid-19 pandemic coming. This year it will change Christmas 2020 for everyone. Your customers will soon start planning for Christmas, so this is the perfect time to prepare your store.
In this post, we’ll look at three types of customers who will be looking for alternative ways to enjoy the holidays despite covid restrictions. As a store owner, how can you help them celebrate Christmas online?
- Start planning before your customers do. If you’re planning to run a special offer or discount in your store, get the ball rolling early. With more customers stuck at home, they are likely to start looking for the best deals even earlier than normal.
- Aim your marketing at decision-makers. If your plan is to help companies with an alternative to the office Christmas party, don’t spend money advertising to everyone. Use platforms like LinkedIn to target decision-makers specifically, like people in HR departments. This way, you’ll reach the organizers who have the authority to make purchases on behalf of their company.
- Give them options instead of restrictions. People know that Christmas 2020 is going to be different, they don’t need you to tell them that. What they are looking for now are alternative ways to celebrate, so keep your tone positive and focus on what is possible.
If Christmas is going to happen (mostly) online this year, there will be a demand for different products than normal. Here are three groups of customers that may spend more than usual:
- Office party planners. Who’s in charge of the office Christmas party? They might still have a budget for it, but there’s no standard plan for an online party.
- Big families. The family might not all be together for Christmas, but they still want to feel close to each other.
- Happy hermits and introverts. Not everyone will be gutted about a low-key Christmas. Some customers—perhaps including couples, singles, and introverts—will welcome the opportunity to have some downtime without the awkwardness of Charades with the inlaws or extended family.
1. Sell online activity packages to office party planners
Every year the Christmas party is something to talk about. Should it be a fancy dress party or champion the ugly Christmas sweater? What’s the latest gossip? An office party brings a company together.
This year’s planners face a different challenge. How do you throw a covid-friendly Christmas party when everyone is working from home? Your store might have just what they’re looking for.
What kind of products does this work for?
Products that offer an experience or work as conversations starters over a video call, like:
- Team games. If you sell games online, consider offering a discount on large orders or a special corporate deal. This way, companies can give your game to each of their employees—it even doubles as a Christmas gift. Fancy challenging your coworkers to a Monster club tournament via Zoom?
- Drinks and cocktails. Cocktail classes and mixology have long been a favorite for team building and corporate events. If you’re in the hospitality industry (maybe your bar is even closed right now), try offering a gift set with all the ingredients people need to enjoy your cocktail class from the comfort of their own kitchen. If your bartender or mixology expert can host the sessions via video live call, you have a had-to-be-there live event on your hands.
- Gifts and clothing. Could you customize your existing range of giftwares with company logos? Businesses love personalized merchandise, and they’ll likely be shopping for extra-special employee gifts to say thanks after a tough year. Winter woolies like warm socks, cozy gloves, and bobble hats are always welcome in December. If you sell covid face coverings, could you produce a Christmas face mask to bring some festive cheer to the pandemic?
- Online courses or workshops. Give the gift of knowledge this year! Okay, that might take you back to the overwhelming disappointment of getting a calculator in your stocking—but with more and more people with time to fill over Christmas, learning something new can be a welcome pick-me-up. This could work well particularly for artists, musicians, and craftsmen. How about offering a Christmas choir session via Zoom? Or a “write your own Christmas carol” workshop if you’re a professional writer?
Whatever you go for, a good party package should have everything your customers need. Nobody wants the extra hassle of another trip to the supermarket. So include snacks, drinks, maybe a nice gift, and anything else guests need to log in and let loose!
How do you go about it?
- Start preparing your offer now. People are already making plans so get your deal out there as soon as possible. When the general public starts thinking about Christmas, it might already be too late.
- Don’t offer advice. Offer the full package. Party planners want fun activities or products that are ready to go “straight out the box.” They have plenty of places to go for covid Christmas tips and advice—now they’re looking for something different, so keep your offer practical.
- Share your offer on business networks. Explain how your offer takes the pain out of party planning by sharing it with your network on LinkedIn, Xing, your local networking groups, and online forums for entrepreneurs or HR departments. Aim to connect with HR departments in medium-sized businesses: they are most likely to put in orders that are big enough to be worth your while without overwhelming your business.
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2. Sell shared online experiences for large families
We all have our own Christmas traditions, but those aren’t really what matters most. It’s the shared experience that counts. As a store owner, could you help customers bring those experiences online?
If you sell your baked goods online, build on that by selling kits that customers can use to make your best-selling cookies at home. Families can order your kits for the whole family, have fun baking together (or virtually via video call), and all enjoy their oven-fresh cookies at the same time.
What products does this work for?
- Food and catering. If your catering business has missed out on office parties and corporate gigs this year, try catering for families instead. Could you offer a local pick up or delivery service, so customers can order their Christmas dinner online or buy specialty dishes in your online store to enjoy at home?
- DIY projects, crafts, and “grow your own” sets. Crafting and DIY have blown up across the world since lockdown. If you sell crafting materials online, you have all the products to sell complete crafting kits. Consider offering low-cost craft kits or projects that kids and grown-ups can do together—even if they’re in different households. Add a video on your website to give them the instructions.
- Online games, quizzes, and challenges. The Colonel… In the dining room… With the… Candlestick? If you haven’t experienced the joy of navigating a game of Cluedo with your kids or grandparents at Christmas, you’re never too old to start! People love solving mysteries and beating each other in intellectual battles. So online games, quizzes, and challenges are set to be a winner this Christmas. Could you offer your customers a mystery to solve or challenge them to crack your online escape room together?
How do you go about it?
- Avoid bottlenecks. Make sure you can sell the same experience to many customers. You can do so by live-streaming an event that customers can tune in to. If you don’t want to work during Christmas, record videos to guide customers through the experience and add those to your website.
- Make sure you can deliver. As always, postal services will have their hands full approaching the holidays and customers will need to have your products in plenty of time. Update delivery times on your website or explore alternatives to delivery companies, like local pickup for customers in your area.
- Build an all-in-one experience. Could you team up with another local business that sells products that compliment your own? If you offer an online tea ceremony, for example, include a few snacks (either from your own store or another seller) that complement the flavor and aroma of the tea. You can charge more, and customers are usually happy to pay a little more for an extra special experience. Especially during the holidays!
3. Sell cozy products for happy hermits and introverts
For many of us, Christmas is a time to share with family—eggnog-fuelled singing, cringey cracker jokes, and awkward moments included. Others would much rather spend a quiet, cozy evening at home. Introverts will be glad they don’t have to interact with so many distant family members this year. Couples have the perfect opportunity to cocoon together instead of visiting relatives and in-laws.
What do these people need for a perfect Christmas at home? They probably still want their home to look festive, have plenty of delicious snacks on hand, and have their favorite drinks within arms reach.
What products does this work for?
- Christmas cards. Customers who can’t or won’t visit the family will still want to send their best wishes. If you’re an artist or crafter then handmade or special edition cards are always a winner. If you’re a reseller, donating a percentage of your card sales to a specific charity can be a nice way to stand out and give back at the same time.
- Advent calendars. And they don’t even have to be chocolate ones! Do you have little products that would work well in an advent calendar format? From makeup to millionaire shortbread—it’s a great way to offer your customers a daily delight in the countdown to Christmas.
- Christmas decorations. Whether the party happens at home or over a video call, getting into the Christmas spirit is going to be harder than normal this year. So decorations are even more important! Highlight decorations in your store and in your marketing. Especially people who usually visit family may be on the lookout for some more decorations this year.
- Catering and hospitality. Delight guests who aren’t able to visit your restaurant this year by delivering your Christmas menu straight to your door. Just add the menu items as products on your website, include the delivery options, and start selling!
- Cooking classes or creative courses. Christmas dinner holds a special place in many of our hearts. So treat your customers to the full experience. As a cooking school or restaurant, you can offer meal kits with restaurant-quality food for customers to cook in their own kitchen. Making your step-by-step instructions available online (as a live stream, video call, or text or a video on your website) will help them achieve preparation-perfection!
- Wellness products like bath salts or massage oil. Help your customers turn their home into a festive spa and they’ll love you for it! People are likely to be less relaxed than usual this year, so if you sell these types of products you could help them avoid the Christmas-stress altogether by pushing these products in your marketing.
- Anything that is warm, woolly, or cuddly. Socks, sweaters, gloves, blankets… If it gives you a warm and fuzzy feeling, it’ll be perfect for those celebrating Christmas at home during covid.
- Books and entertainment. With no family obligations, a stay-at-home Christmas promises time to finally read a book, cuddle up together with a movie, or dust off your favorite board game. Do you sell anything that falls into this category? If so, this is the time to push it in your marketing or advertise it to the right people with some targeted Facebook ads.
How do you go about it?
- Visualize the experience on social media. Someone curled up in a comfortable chair, immersed in a book by the fireplace, Christmas decorations, and a glass of wine next to a nice foamy bath. Use images that show not only your products, but the experience customers will get when they buy them, on Pinterest or Instagram. Remember to include a few Christmassy lines of text and a link to your online shop.
- Remind your customers to treat themselves. Whether you celebrate Christmas or just love the holidays, the festive season is a special time for many of us. Even those staying at home will want to make it feel a bit special. If you sell bespoke, luxury, or handmade items, this gives customers a great excuse to indulge a little and buy your products—rather than the run of the mill products they usually get from a chain store.
- Highlight products in special store categories. Create a “Christmas at home” category in your store and fill it with all the nice things you need for a cozy stay-at-home Christmas.
How are you preparing your online store for Christmas 2020? Follow us on Instagram for more tips and tell us your plans!