Email is the top channel being used by small businesses this holiday season.
Among U.S. SMBs, 73% are deploying email to drive in-store traffic, according to a small business forecast by Ecwid, a provider of ecommerce software.
The second most-used channel is organic social media, (used by 70%), followed by word-of-mouth (66%) and paid social media (47%). Text messages are way down the list.
The numbers reflect an increasing shift to digital marketing in the face of the pandemic. Merchants expect the bulk of their sales on Black Friday and Cyber Monday to be online.
But “most still have a long way to go before they reap the full benefits of a comprehensive e-commerce strategy,” according to a Ecwid blog post on the findings.
That’s not the only challenge -- 75% say COVID-19 has had an impact on their businesses. And 76% report it has affected their holiday strategy, with 45% saying it has had a significant effect.
In addition, only 41% expect sales to be higher this holiday season. And 55% believe it will take six months to a year for the U.S. business climate to return to normal.
SMBs are preparing for the expected surge. For instance, 55% plan to move up their shipping deadlines to account for delays.
But resources will be stretched, for 87% have no plans to increase seasonal staff to fulfill online orders.
The research shows that owners are “still challenged to provide lucrative and engaging holiday experiences with fewer resources across an extended holidays season,” states Ruslan Fazlyev, founder and CEO of Ecwid E-commerce.
SMBs will have difficulty competing with the low prices offered by big-box retailers on Black Friday. But many are gearing up for Small Business Saturday, the study continues.
For instance, 48% will conduct promotions on Small Business Saturday. And 41% expect a spike in sales on that day.
Overall, 78% will offer holiday sales or promotions this holiday season, 40% from 11% to 25% off. Only 1.5% are offering reductions off 50% or more.