Uncertain Times: Creating A Covid Back-Up Plan For Christmas

by Lucy Robinson

It comes as no shock that things are going to be a little bit different this winter...

Christmas is now upon us, the time that would usually be manic for the retail, services, events, tourism and hospitality industries. The seasonal period is often the big revenue boost that businesses rely on to bring in funds to cover overheads, wages and provide financial security for those quieter sales periods.

But now, with Covid-19 very much still a huge threat, tight regulations in place and businesses struggling more than ever, Christmas is starting to look like a scary time for everyone. Pair that with the current UK unemployment rate,  financial struggles being faced by families and generally lower disposable income, you could predict that the public might be spending less this Christmas.

So, what can we expect to be different this Christmas?

  • Smaller family gatherings- The current Covid restrictions limit the number of people that you can interact with and the number of households that you can mix with. When it comes to Christmas, it is very likely that we will have less people around the table than before. This might mean that people have less presents to buy, if they are keeping their circle close knit this year.
  • An increase in online shopping- As more people avoid busy shopping centres and high streets, it is likely that footfall will see a significant decrease. This means that eCommerce businesses may benefit well from this, whereas those with a smaller (or no) online presence will fall short. Worryingly, it might also mean that smaller businesses lose sales to large online retailers.
  • No Christmas work events or meals- Currently, the limit on booking numbers for bars/restaurants is capped at groups of 6. So, unless you work for a very small business, it is likely that the work meal will be scrapped this year too, along with any fancy parties that you would usually attend. Good for your bank account, but bad for your social life and the hospitality industry!
  • Fewer Christmas getaways- If you're like me, then Christmas would usually be a time where I would choose to take a little break away with my partner. Usually, this would be to visit a nice Christmas market or Hyde Park Winter Wonderland, have a nice meal out and cosy up in front of the fire afterwards. But, as with most things this year, it looks like it'll be off the cards! Popular Christmas locations may suffer from a loss of tourism, which will hit the hotel industry particularly hard.
  • No Christmas markets- This leads us on to another one, as there will be fewer or no Christmas markets to look forward to! If you haven't ever visited the Lincoln Christmas Market, then you will be blissfully unaware of what you're missing out on, but if you have, then you will probably be feeling just as gutted as we are at iocea! Often, small businesses and sole traders rely on the custom from Christmas markets to sell quirky and handmade products. This is equally as gutting for us customers, who would usually pick up some lovely gifts for friends and families at these events. To continue supporting independent businesses, we would recommend using sites such as Etsy to find some nice bits this Christmas.

These are just a few of the main differences that I noted, but there will be many more. But where there is a problem, there is always a solution. Flip a negative on it's head and turn it into an opportunity!

Below, I have listed problems and solutions, to help you identify ways in which your business can adapt its activities to create a back-up plan this Christmas.

covid back up plan

Problem: People are seeing less friends and family, so might not buy them gifts
Solution: Create delivery gift sets that can be sent to loved ones from afar

Personally, I love this idea! I even created some personalised pamper boxes filled with goodies to send out to my friends when they were having a tough time during lockdown.

This is so simple to do and creating a quirky gift box is a great way to add value to your products. For example, the video below shows This Morning presenters trialling different delivery gift boxes, one of which is the DIY Doughnut Time Boxes, which start at £17.95 (excluding delivery). Looking at the ingredients and packaging, I'd estimate that the cost of producing these boxes (excluding any additional operational costs) would be around £3 per box. Depending on their economies of scale, this is likely to be even less! Whilst I do not know their exact costs, I would imagine that these have a very good profit margin. 

By creating something similar, quirky or thoughtful, your business can easily generate some additional revenue this Christmas. Below, I have listed some simple examples that I quickly came up for inspiration, along with a video that showcases some real-life examples!

  • A Spanish tapas restaurant: A 'DIY Sangria Gift Box' with a branded sangria glass, a nicely printed sangria recipe, along with miniature spirits and ingredients needed to make the sangria. 
  • A mature ladies clothing collection: A 'Cosy Christmas Gift Set', including cuddly socks, a nightwear set, along with a mug and hot drink sachet.
  • A crafts company: A 'Christmas Eve Crafts Kit' with Christmas designs for kids to make, along with all of the materials that they require.

Problem: More people are shopping online, so my bricks and mortar store is losing sales
Solution: Have a bigger eCommerce presence

Get prepared early! Not only is it beneficial to have an online website or shopping channel whilst Covid is reducing footfall, but it is also an important step for securing the future of your business. Business is increasingly heading in an online direction, so you risk falling behind if you don't keep up.

At our website design agency in Lincoln, we can help to develop and design an online website that allows your customers to shop eCommerce. We have helped a variety of businesses, big and small, to get started online.

We also offer ongoing support so that you aren't just thrown in the deep end with no arm bands!

Below is an example of the website that we created for Crafty Products, a supplier of crafts materials.

Crafty Products Website

Problem: My restaurant relies on Christmas meals for revenue, but we aren't getting bookings this year
Solution: Offer a takeaway option and a takeaway work buffet for Christmas parties

The government guidelines can be confusing, but as it stands, colleagues are allowed to socialise safely in work bubbles, providing that this contact is kept to work and regulations are put in place. However, restaurants aren't allowed to host groups of more than six. A simple way to work around this is to offer a takeaway buffet package, where colleagues can still have a lovely meal provided by you, but from their place of work. For example, a pizza chain could offer a price per head, set menu. 

Not just for work bookings, but for any customers, iocea can help you to set up a takeaway or collection booking system. With a bespoke booking system, you can easily control products, offers, delivery slots and capacity. Get in contact with our website development team to see how we can arrange something that suits you and your customers.

Along with setting up an online booking system for your business, we can also help to market this and get the word out to your customers! One of our clients, Ole Ole Tapas Bar and Restaurant in Lincoln set up an online delivery service during lockdown so that they could still bring in revenue whilst the restaurant was forced to shut. Our social media marketing team helped them to promote this via Facebook and Instagram, whilst our graphic designer created visuals for the new delivery service. You can see examples of this below and you can order from them by clicking here!

We really are here to help your business with every step of the process, as well as offering ongoing support.

ole ole takeaway

Problem: As a sole trader, I rely on Christmas Markets to sell my products
Solution: Set up a quick and simple Facebook/Instagram shop

Many independent sellers rely on Christmas Markets to sell their products, which means that they may be worried about being unable to generate revenue this year.

A simple solution to this is to set up a Facebook and Instagram page and create a shop on these platforms. Facebook/Instagram shop allows you to list a catalogue of products, which can be bought directly from your social media listing. Facebook shops allow you to manage orders and inventory easily.

Along with a shop on these sites, we recommend posting regular, interesting content that will engage your customers and help reach new ones. Our Lincoln social media experts can help you out with this, whether you require full management of your social media platforms or just content creation services. 

Problem: My business is struggling to attract conversions and new customers

Solution: Use iocea marketing services to help us promote your business, as well as our exit-intent software to help increase conversions online

If you are struggling to attract customers or sales, then promotion is an absolute essential. At iocea, our Lincoln digital marketing experts are on hand to help you to spread awareness of your business and encourage those crucial conversions!

We offer social media marketing solutions to build up a business presence on social media, reach new audiences and increase engagement with existing customers. As well as social media, we offer digital marketing services including PPC, Email, SMS and SEO marketing. PPC is a simple quick-fix marketing solution that aims to reach audiences that are actively searching for products/services similar to yours, or for reaching relevant audiences on social media. Email marketing and SMS works as great encouragement to get existing customers to revisit your business or remind them to make a conversion. SEO is a longer process, but will ultimately help more people to reach your business by appearing closer to the top of search results pages.

If your problem isn't traffic, but is that website visitors aren't converting, then you need our exit-intent software! Exit Intent technology monitors visitors mouse movements and detects when they are likely to leave the site without making a conversion or purchase. This is an incredibly effective way to improve bounce rates and recover abandoning visitors. We offer our own specialist in-house software, Konvert, which displays a fully bespoke and unique pop up that works around your goals and preferences, ensuring you have the very best opportunity at converting potential lost revenue before it’s too late.

Visit our website to find out more about our services and how we can help your business adapt to ever-changing market demands.

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