holiday shoppers

By Rieva Lesonsky

For small retailers or ecommerce entrepreneurs, the next few months are make-or-break. To grab your share of the cash this holiday shopping season, you’ve got to be on top of your game. A new survey by Accenture on what holiday shoppers want will help you plan your strategy.

Here’s what you need to know—and do—to maximize your sales this year.

Shoppers are ready to spend…

Shoppers feel pretty confident and ready to open their wallets. 44 percent plan to spend more on holiday shopping this year than in 2015.

But they’re still feeling frugal.

Despite their willingness to spend, shoppers don’t want to pay more than they have to. They are driven by discounts, with 42 percent saying they “rarely” or “never” pay full price for holiday purchases. They are willing to work for deals, too: More than two-thirds will shop multiple stores and/or websites to get the lowest possible prices.

You can attract them with coupons, discounts and promotions.

With discounts top-of-mind, no wonder deals are a huge motivator for shoppers. Nearly three-fourths (72 percent) of consumers say promotions or coupons would get them to shop at a store they haven’t visited in the past year. In addition, more than half (54 percent) are willing to share their personal information and shopping preferences if it means getting discounts, while 52 percent will do so for loyalty card points.

They’re shopping both online and off.

Customers are almost evenly split between those who plan to do most of their shopping online and those who plan to do most of their shopping in physical stores. Switching between the two channels is becoming the norm: Eighty-one percent of shoppers polled plan to participate in webrooming (visiting a website to research products, then buying in a physical store). The same percentage plan to use showrooming (visiting a store to examine products, then buying online to get a better price). If you have a brick-and-mortar store and an ecommerce website, try offering a buy online, pick up in-store option. Not only do consumers love having the choice to get their items in-hand immediately, but 71 percent also say they’re likely to buy additional items while picking up their online order.

They want free shipping.

The biggest reason consumers don’t buy more online? Shipping costs. If you’re an ecommerce entrepreneur, offer free shipping if you can (just make sure it doesn’t cut into your profit margins). Setting a minimum spending level at which free shipping kicks in will spur shoppers to buy more. You can also offer free shipping as a promotion on certain days to help you compete with bigger retailers.

They hate to wait.

Customers’ biggest pet peeve about brick-and-mortar shopping is waiting in long lines. Be sure to schedule your staff appropriately so you have adequate coverage on the floor, as well as backup staffers you can call on if needed. You can speed up lines by setting up separate checkout stations for cash and cards, or by using mobile devices to accept payment from customers while they’re elsewhere in the store. Looking at last year’s sales figures is a good way to project which days may be busiest so you can plan for them.

They love small businesses.

Last year, some 95 million people supported small, independent businesses on

Small Business Saturday, the Saturday after Thanksgiving (this year, on November 26). You don’t have to be a retailer to benefit from Small Business Saturday, either. Salons, spas, restaurants and entertainment venues can all promote themselves to attract shoppers who need a break from shopping. There are tons of resources to help you create marketing materials and promote your business on the Small Business Saturday website.