Are you one of those people who had your holiday shopping done in September? Good for you, but most Americans are more like me: still scrambling for those final few gifts. In 2016, last-minute holiday shoppers  pushed spending to new heights, and there’s no reason to think it won’t happen again this year. How can your retail store take advantage of those potentially profitable procrastinators?
Tips for Attracting Last-Minute Holiday Shoppers
As the finish line draws near, you’re undoubtedly exhausted, but making a final push can make all the difference in your sales. Many retailers’ free shipping deadlines for Christmas delivery is December 18. Even paying for delivery won’t be enough to get gifts there in time if shoppers wait much later in that week of December 18 to 23. Plan for a marketing push during this time to take advantage of your edge over ecommerce websites.
Nurture Your Online Reviews
When shoppers do a local search  for nearby retailers, they pay a lot of attention to the star ratings that pop up with search results. It’s more important than ever at this time of year for your reviews to be positive and plentiful, so keep an eye on what people are saying about you and nip any problems in the bud.
Promote Popular Products You Sell
Whether it’s Hatchimals or Star Wars paraphernalia, there are always those hot, hard-to-find gifts that shoppers pursue up until the bitter end. Last year, Google  reports, searches for “where to buy” peaked on Christmas Eve. All in all, mobile “where to buy” searches increased by more than 85 percent in the past two years, according to the search engine. When frantic shoppers scour the town for the perfect stocking-stuffer, you can win their business by promoting your hottest products in your online ads and on your website. You may want to use both brand names and product descriptions depending on which keywords work best.
Timing is Everything
If your store is open on Christmas Eve or other unusual hours, let shoppers know about it. Put your special holiday hours in your local search directory listings  — you may need to update these daily to keep them up-to-date at this time of year. You can also tout your special holiday hours in your online ads and on social media. (The Google data shows that mobile searches for retailers peak on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.)
Don’t Forget About Voice Search
Sales of home voice assistants soared over Thanksgiving weekend. More and more Americans are searching for things online by saying, “Hey, Siri,” or calling out to Alexa or Google Home. While someone using traditional search will type in keywords like “cashmere sweater,” someone using voice search will use more natural-language queries and full sentences, such as, “Where can I buy a cashmere sweater under $100?” You’ll need to take this into account when incorporating keywords into your ads and website text.
Do a Virtual Store Tour
Google says the time spent watching “store tour” YouTube videos has soared more than tenfold in the past two years. Make your store look appealing — and show off all the great last-minute gifts you’ve got in stock — with a store tour video. You don’t have to put a lot of time and effort into it. For example, you can use Facebook Live  to quickly create a series of short videos where you highlight gifts for different types of people or gifts at different price points.
Think Mobile First
Last year, 76 percent of consumers used their mobile devices for holiday shopping . After all the work you’ve done to get your business to show up in search results, make sure that when shoppers actually go to your website to look up your information, they can view it on their smartphones and tablets. Sending out some last-minute emails to capture stragglers? Those emails had better be mobile-friendly, too.
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