How to Reach Last Minute Christmas Shoppers During COVID-19

Despite the festive season, birthdays, and anniversaries coming around every year like clockwork, some shoppers still seem to be caught by surprise when it’s time to buy a gift. Procrastinators have their hearts in the right place, they just need a bit of help as they scramble to get everything perfect at the last minute.

For online sellers, the slowpoke celebrator can be the source of a lot of last-minute business, especially with COVID-19 sidelining a lot of in-person retail visits. Procrastinators are now turning to eCommerce more than ever for their last-minute gifts.

Even though, according to one study, around a quarter of shoppers will be buying their Christmas presents earlier this year, that still leaves plenty of straggling shoppers you need to be prepared for. Last year’s trend towards an earlier Christmas shopping season looks set to repeat, but will the stress of recent COVID-19 lockdowns and the upcoming bushfire season have any effect on this? It depends, in part, on which part of the country your customers live.

Across all states and territories, December is traditionally the most important for retail businesses. Christmas shopping can account for up to two-thirds of a retailer’s yearly profits. That’s a lot of dollars coming in at the last minute. So here are some tips to get those latecomers buying from your eCommerce store both during the festive season and at other times of the year.

Understanding a holiday procrastinator

While retailers must start preparing for the festive season and sales periods months in advance, shoppers have the luxury of waiting – and whether it’s because they’re too busy or they’re still bargain hunting, some wait until the very last minute.

They shop down to the wire. Some habits are hard to break, and many customers are in the habit of leaving it all to the last minute. Expect eleventh-hour calls and requests from this cohort. Offering extended shopping hours right up until the big day earns you a lot of goodwill with late shoppers.

They love express shipping. Online, these dawdlers are most likely looking for the fastest and most reliable shipping option to try to get their gifts in time. This goes for both physical retailers and eCommerce. In the most extreme cases, some procrastinators are looking for gifts that can be delivered after Christmas.

How to meet the procrastinator’s expectations

Whether they’re in-person or online shoppers, Christmas shopper procrastinators are generally looking to make a lot of purchases at once, mostly because they haven’t yet done very much (if any) preparation. Therefore they need your help ticking every item off their list.

Give helpful suggestions. Procrastinators know that leaving things to the last minute can make it hard to find what you want, so they’re looking to retailers for guidance. Gift guides, lists of what is popular that particular year, and recommendations for different types of recipients are extremely useful tools for procrastinators.

Take away the guesswork. Procrastinators can really benefit when your retail site offers gift cards. It takes away the time-consuming guesswork about what to get everyone – and procrastinators are always short on time.

Gift cards don’t have to be impersonal. Consumers like having the choice of how to spend their money at a certain business. One study of Australian consumer trends suggests we will see a spike in gift card sales leading up to Christmas this year. As experiential gifts grow in popularity, gift cards are a tangible way to package up exciting services like spa treatments, wine tastings, dance workshops, or anything that speaks to the receiver’s unique interests while allowing them to “cash in” at their leisure.

How to catch their eye

While some procrastinators are late to the party because of how busy they are, others are waiting until the last minute to save money.

Promote last-minute deals. These shoppers love bargains and specials, so if you’re thinking that a sale on Christmas Eve can’t possibly lure in any buyers, think again. Another option procrastinators love is delayed shipping deals. If they can save a few dollars on having something shipped after Christmas Day itself, they don’t mind having to wait at all.

Offer in-store pickup. These shoppers are also grateful if they can pick up their items in-store, instead of having to wait to have something shipped. So if you have a brick-and-mortar location to go along with your eCommerce store, in-store pickup is a great option to offer procrastinators because they don’t have to wait for something to be shipped.

Get social. Social media goes hand in hand with having an eCommerce store – and it’s a key way to advertise your products to Christmas shopping procrastinators, who are desperate for ideas on what to buy for everyone on their list. With so many shoppers researching and completing their Christmas purchases online, it’s essential you’re using your social selling tools to their best advantage.

Reaching Last-Minute Shoppers Checklist

  • Offer express shipping to help shoppers meet their deadlines.
  • Propose buying suggestions and gift cards to make the search less frantic.
  • Promote last-minute deals to show shoppers you have their back.
  • Advertise curbside pick-up to make shopping safe and convenient.
  • Utilise social media to get out the message about last-minute sales.

Leaving shopping to the last minute can be chaotic and stressful. Online marketplaces can often play into the chaos and rely on the impulsiveness of procrastinators to close deals. Instead of adding to the problem, create a calm, seamless shopping experience that gives procrastinators the peace of mind they need to enjoy the most wonderful time of the year.