3 ways to be ready for last-minute holiday shoppers

John Fanous, John McAteer / December 2020

There’s no doubt 2020 will be remembered as the year of uncertainty. Retailers have had to adapt to constant change, and consumer behaviours have shifted dramatically. One thing that likely won’t change? Last-minute holiday shopping.

In previous years, mobile searches that contained “store hours” peaked on Christmas Eve in both Canada and the U.S., as last-minute shoppers flocked to stores.1 With expected shipping delays due to supply chain issues or lack of inventory, we expect that will happen again this year. In fact, as of December 9th, Canadian shoppers reported they still had nearly 40% of their shopping left to do.2

But in-store shopping has looked different this year, with people seeking safer ways to shop. As proof, 48% of Canadian shoppers who plan to shop this season said they’ll choose to do so at stores that offer contactless shopping.3

So how do you make sure you help these last-minute shoppers get what they need safely? Here are three things retailers should do to be ready for local customers, whether it’s at your curb, the counter, or with a cashier.

3 illustrated icons represent the three things retailers should do to be ready for local customers: Alleviate inventory guesswork; highlight your purchasing options; boost local presence

1. Alleviate inventory guesswork

Before heading to your store, shoppers are more likely than ever to research online for the latest local inventory to make their trip safe and efficient. Sixty-two percent of Canadian shoppers that plan to shop this season said they will confirm online that an item is in stock before going to buy it.4 Alleviate the guesswork by making it easy for people to find which products are available near them by keeping your site up to date with local inventory. Your in-store products can also appear in free listings across our properties, from Google Images to Google Maps. And if you’re curious about what shoppers are buying, keep close to Google Trends to see what products are trending this season.

2. Highlight purchasing options

Shoppers have varying levels of comfort when it comes to shopping in-store this holiday season. For example, 34% percent of Canadian shoppers said they were nervous about shopping in-store,5 while only 16% said they wouldn’t shop in-store at all this season.6

To meet shoppers where they are, be sure to highlight your pickup and purchasing options. Quick and simple updates, like adding or editing attributes on your business profile on Google, can signal that your location offers “contactless shopping,” “store pickup,” or “curbside pickup” and help shoppers feel safe.

3. Boost your local presence

Being “hyperlocal” and tuned in to what your customers need has become even more critical during the pandemic. In fact, searches for “available near me” have grown globally by more than 100%.7 To help last-minute shoppers who choose to go to stores, it’s important to focus on your local advertising as well. Reach nearby shoppers with the right information about your locations with tools such as Local campaigns. You can highlight the products available at your store, curbside or in-store service options, health and safety updates, special promotions, and important business changes on a store-by-store basis or at scale for multiple locations.

5 things Canadian retailers need to know about the most digital holiday shopping season on record