The countdown to Christmas has begun, and many retailers are preparing to get their orders dispatched before Christmas Eve. alldayPA has looked at what SMEs need to do in order to continue their success during the retail industry’s busiest time of the year.
According to stats provided by the “on demand” customer service provider alldayPA, over 80,000 (85,707) retail businesses launched ahead of Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Christmas in 2020. The data analysts revealed that weeks 47-52 were the most popular time to launch an SME. To help pinpoint why the UK is starting to see a rise in small businesses launching towards the end of the year, the Manchester-based customer service company spoke to the sustainable fashion brand PrimaBerry about their experience with launching a business ahead of the festive season.
Co-Founder of PrimaBerry, Susana Tiexeira, from Sheffield commented on why she and her husband Amin launched their sustainable fashion brand before Christmas and the challenges they faced while running a small retail business online:
“Our main goal was to create a brand where we could bring together what we love the most: fashion, travelling and people. PrimaBerry is a UK-based sustainable online clothing and accessories store for men, women and children, featuring collections inspired by the diversity and culture of multiple countries from around the globe.
“We put together a project plan of when we wanted to launch PrimaBerry, and we decided to have our website and products ready to buy ahead of December. We decided that weeks 47-49 were likely to be the most lucrative period for us, taking into consideration when people would most likely be looking to buy gifts online for friends, family and loved ones. We also considered other factors such as postal delays, which turned out to be key with the Royal Mail being overwhelmed in 2020 due to the pandemic. It was important for us that our customers got their items on time ahead of Christmas Day without any parcel issues.”
PrimaBerry spoke about the issues they had when it came to launching online without any technical assistance:
“We had several issues with our website and we started to get really worried as we didn’t want to miss this opportunity to introduce our brand to the market, especially for consumers who are becoming more aware of sustainable fashion and trying to buy ethically. We know that customers prefer to shop online, so having a functional website that answered our customers’ enquiries was essential for us along with making sure that stock and delivery information was updated frequently. We have a shop listing on Etsy and that has been great for SMEs like us to reach a broader customer base – one reason why is because Etsy not only lets you sell direct but also helps to bring greater traffic to your own website.
“The orders that we received so far vary from as little as £4.50 to £100, which means that customers are choosing more selectively when it comes to purchasing online. Ultimately, it was important to us and the brand we aimed to build that we had quality items available that matched everyone’s budget, knowing full well, especially last year, that people may not have had as much disposable income to indulge as they usually would during Christmas.”
Susana Tiexeira also commented on the importance of customer service during the Christmas period : “Customers like to feel special, which is why we always try to do something extra for ours to ensure that, when shopping for our products, they leave with an experience worth coming back for. When it comes to customer service, the competition is really high, so simple things like not taking days to answer customer emails or social media messages are key, as losing a customer is far easier than gaining one.”
Founder of alldayPA, Reuben Singh, comments on how alldayPA is on hand to help support small businesses during the Christmas and into the new year:
”Small businesses are the backbone of the British economy, with the UK being home to over 5.5 million SMEs providing around 16 million jobs. As we approach our second Covid Christmas, entrepreneurs are showing the way when it comes to innovation, flexibility and resilience in terms of looking after their customers. Moving online, businesses are more accessible than ever, embracing digital and social media channels to promote their brand and provide quality customer service.
“When it comes to Christmas and New Year, many people will be looking forward to taking a well-earned break. It’s important to maintain a healthy work-life balance, switch off the phone and spend time with family and friends, even if plans are being reined in again as a result of Omicron. Switching off doesn’t mean being out of touch – at alldayPA we’re open 24/7, ensuring that businesses have that around-the-clock support that their customers need. With us, there’s always a friendly voice to handle calls professionally, no matter the time of day and regardless of whether it’s a busier period. Staffing and recruitment are big problems generally and more so during the festive period, with this year particularly being no exception, so it’s important to have a flexible, reliable back-up plan if your ‘Plan A’ fails.
“Going forward, whatever happens in 2022, customers aren’t going to lower their expectations so it would be a dire mistake for businesses to drop the ball when it comes to ensuring their customer support isn’t lacking. If you can’t provide the service, then all you’re left with is the price and that can be the road to ruin.”
Susana Tiexira, agrees with Reuben, sharing that people interested in launching a business should take a leap of faith: “Do not give up. If this is something you really want you will make it. Don’t compare yourself with someone who has already been in the business for several years. Networking is really important and necessary if you want to engage with customers online about your products and services.”