The A to Z of Attracting Last Minute Shoppers



7 Tips for Attracting Last-Minute Holiday Shoppers

Attracting last-minute holiday shoppers can be a significant opportunity for your retail store. 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.

Last year, 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 these potentially profitable procrastinators?



Tips for Attracting Last-Minute Holiday Shoppers

Power Up

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.

Attracting Last Minute Shoppers

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.


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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.

Attracting Last Minute Shoppers

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.



Incentivize with Immediate Perks

Offer instant gratification perks such as same-day delivery or immediate in-store discounts for purchases made. This strategy encourages quick decision-making among procrastinators and drives them straight to your store.

Personalized Shopping Assistance

Provide personalized shopping services either in-store or through your online channels. This can include live chat support, tailored gift recommendations, or dedicated personal shoppers to help customers quickly find what they need.

Highlight Local and Unique Items

Distinguish your store by showcasing locally sourced or unique items unavailable elsewhere. This approach can attract shoppers looking for special, last-minute gifts that stand out from generic offerings.

Loyalty Program Promotions

Encourage last-minute purchases by offering exclusive deals or bonus points for members of your loyalty program. This not only drives immediate sales but also fosters long-term customer relationships.



Utilize Countdown Clocks in Marketing

Incorporate real-time countdown clocks in your marketing materials to create a sense of urgency. This tactic reminds shoppers of the limited time remaining, motivating them to act quickly.

Extend Store Hours

Consider extending your store hours during the last-minute shopping rush. This gesture accommodates busy shoppers and provides them with more flexibility to visit your store.

Offer Gift Wrapping Services

Providing complimentary or expedited gift wrapping services can be a major draw for last-minute shoppers, adding convenience and value to their shopping experience.

Run Flash Sales

Host flash sales on popular items, creating an atmosphere of excitement and urgency. This tactic can effectively capture the attention of shoppers who are looking for great deals at the last minute.



Utilize Social Media Countdowns

Leverage your social media platforms to run countdowns, showcasing daily deals or highlighting unique gift ideas. This keeps your audience engaged and informed about what’s available in your store.

Optimize for Local SEO

Make sure your store appears in local search results by optimizing for local SEO. Include keywords related to last-minute shopping, your location, and specific holiday deals.

Collaborate with Other Local Businesses

Partner with nearby businesses for joint promotions or cross-marketing initiatives. This collaboration can expand your reach and offer shoppers a more comprehensive shopping experience.

Set Up a Holiday-Themed Photo Booth

Create a holiday-themed photo booth in your store. This not only attracts families and groups for a fun activity but also encourages them to spend more time in your store.



Simplify Checkout Processes

Streamline your checkout process to make it as quick and hassle-free as possible. This could include additional staff at registers, mobile payment options, or self-checkout kiosks.

Provide Last-Minute Shopping Guides

Create and distribute last-minute shopping guides, either in-store or digitally. These guides can help indecisive shoppers quickly find suitable gifts.

Implement Email Marketing Reminders

Send out email reminders with gift suggestions, special offers, or store hours updates. This keeps your store top of mind among subscribers who are still finishing their holiday shopping.

Engage with Shoppers Through Live Video

Use live video on platforms like Instagram or Facebook to showcase products, offer gift ideas, or announce special deals. This direct engagement can effectively influence last-minute purchasing decisions.



Offer Express Shipping Options

For online shoppers, provide express shipping options to ensure delivery before the holidays. This can be a crucial deciding factor for those making last-minute online purchases.

Create In-Store Only Deals

Attract online shoppers to your physical store by offering exclusive in-store deals. This strategy can increase foot traffic and provide an opportunity for additional sales.

Promote Through Influencer Marketing

Collaborate with local influencers to promote your store and its offerings. Their endorsements can reach a wide audience and attract more last-minute shoppers.

Host a Last-Minute Shopping Event

Organize a special shopping event exclusively for last-minute shoppers. This can include extended hours, special discounts, and festive in-store activities.



Highlight Convenience Features

Emphasize convenient features of shopping with your store, such as easy parking, product reservations, or quick customer service.

Utilize Retargeting Ads

Deploy retargeting ads to remind potential customers of the products they viewed or left in their online carts. This can nudge them towards making a purchase.

Offer Bundle Deals

Create bundle deals that combine popular products at a discounted rate. This simplifies the decision-making process for shoppers and increases the perceived value.

Emphasize Your Return Policy

Highlight a flexible and hassle-free return policy. Knowing they can easily return items can make last-minute shoppers more confident in their purchases.

Create a Festive In-Store Atmosphere

Ensure your store is inviting and festive. Decorations, holiday music, and a warm ambiance can enhance the shopping experience and encourage purchases.

Share Gift Ideas on Social Media

Regularly post gift ideas on your social media channels. These posts can act as inspiration for followers who are still searching for the right gift.

Tactical Approaches for Retail Triumph

  • Seize the Procrastinator Potential: In a world where holiday planning starts early for some, there’s a vast segment of shoppers who thrive on last-minute excitement. Channel this energy to your advantage by tailoring your retail strategies to cater to those who are still seeking perfect gifts in the eleventh hour.
  • Craft Urgency Through Limited-Time Offers: Create a sense of urgency by implementing limited-time offers that target the lingering procrastinators. Flash sales, exclusive discounts, or bundled deals that are time-sensitive can prompt swift action, driving customers to your store in the final stretch of the holiday season.
  • Leverage Location-Based Advertising: Utilize geotargeted advertising to reach local shoppers who are on the lookout for last-minute gifts. As they search for nearby stores, ensure that your store’s information, including holiday hours, reviews, and promotions, is readily available and prominently displayed in local search results.
  • Embrace Social Proof Through User-Generated Content: Rally the power of user-generated content by encouraging customers to share their last-minute shopping experiences on social media. Create a dedicated hashtag that customers can use when sharing their finds and experiences. Repost their content on your own social platforms to foster a sense of community and inspire other procrastinators.
  • Offer Curated Last-Minute Gift Guides: Help overwhelmed shoppers by curating gift guides tailored to different preferences and budgets. These guides can provide quick solutions for the undecided, making their last-minute shopping spree more efficient and enjoyable.
  • Implement Seamless Buy Online, Pick Up In-Store (BOPIS): Bridge the gap between online convenience and in-store immediacy by offering a streamlined Buy Online, Pick Up In-Store (BOPIS) service. Highlight this option in your marketing campaigns, emphasizing that customers can still secure their desired gifts without worrying about shipping delays.
  • Dazzle with Express Gift Wrapping Services: Ease the stress of last-minute shoppers by offering express gift wrapping services. Present your store as a one-stop destination where customers can not only find the perfect gifts but also have them beautifully wrapped, ready for gifting.
  • Engage Through Interactive Store Displays: Create interactive in-store displays that showcase your most sought-after items and prompt engagement. Interactive elements like touchscreens, augmented reality (AR) features, or QR codes that link to product information can captivate shoppers and guide them toward making swift decisions.
  • Partner with Local Influencers for Real-Time Recommendations: Collaborate with local influencers who resonate with your target audience. Leverage their reach to provide real-time recommendations, showcasing your store as the ultimate destination for last-minute shoppers seeking unique and thoughtful gifts.
  • Fine-Tune Your Mobile Experience: Since mobile usage is prevalent during holiday shopping, ensure your website and emails are fully optimized for mobile devices. Simplify the purchase process, streamline navigation, and make sure all essential information is easily accessible on smaller screens.
ApproachDescription
Seize the Procrastinator PotentialTailor retail strategies to cater to last-minute shoppers who thrive on excitement. Capitalize on their energy and provide solutions for those seeking perfect gifts in the eleventh hour.
Craft Urgency Through Limited-Time OffersCreate a sense of urgency with time-sensitive offers like flash sales, exclusive discounts, or bundled deals. Prompt swift action from procrastinators, driving them to your store during the final stretch of the holiday season.
Leverage Location-Based AdvertisingUtilize geotargeted ads to reach local shoppers searching for last-minute gifts. Ensure your store's information, including holiday hours, reviews, and promotions, is prominently displayed in local search results.
Embrace Social Proof Through User-Generated ContentEncourage customers to share their last-minute shopping experiences on social media. Foster community with a dedicated hashtag and repost user content to inspire other procrastinators.
Offer Curated Last-Minute Gift GuidesAssist overwhelmed shoppers by curating gift guides tailored to various preferences and budgets. Provide quick solutions for undecided customers, enhancing the efficiency and enjoyment of their last-minute shopping spree.

By strategically aligning your retail approach with the preferences and behaviors of last-minute holiday shoppers, you can tap into a valuable market segment and curate an unforgettable shopping experience that encourages both their loyalty and return visits.

Attracting Last Minute Shoppers

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the significance of last-minute holiday shopping?

In 2016, last-minute holiday shoppers contributed to record-breaking spending. This trend is expected to continue. To tap into this potential, retailers can employ strategies that cater to procrastinators seeking the perfect gifts.

How can retailers maximize their efforts as the holiday season nears its end?

As the holiday finish line approaches, retailers can initiate a final push to boost sales. With many free shipping deadlines around December 18, a marketing effort during the week leading up to December 18 to 23 can capitalize on the advantage over e-commerce sites.

Why are online reviews particularly crucial during this time of year?

During local searches for nearby retailers, shoppers closely consider star ratings. Positive and plentiful reviews hold increased importance during this season. Retailers should actively monitor feedback to maintain a positive online reputation.

How can retailers promote sought-after products effectively?

Promoting popular and hard-to-find gifts, such as Hatchimals or Star Wars merchandise, can attract last-minute shoppers. Google reports that searches for “where to buy” peak on Christmas Eve. Retailers can showcase these items in online ads and on their website to capture this demand.

Why is it important to communicate holiday hours effectively?

If your store operates during unconventional hours, it’s essential to inform shoppers, especially during the holiday season. Update local search directory listings and leverage online ads and social media to broadcast special holiday hours.

How can voice search influence retail strategies?

With the rise of home voice assistants, incorporating natural-language queries into keywords is crucial. As more people use voice search for online queries, adapting ad copy and website text to match conversational phrasing is necessary.

Why should retailers consider offering virtual store tours?

The popularity of “store tour” YouTube videos has surged. Retailers can create appealing store tour videos showcasing last-minute gifts. Quick and effortless videos can effectively highlight products and entice shoppers.

What role does mobile optimization play in last-minute holiday shopping?

Given that a significant percentage of consumers use mobile devices for holiday shopping, retailers must ensure their websites and emails are mobile-friendly. A seamless mobile experience enhances the chance of capturing last-minute shoppers’ attention.

How can retailers tailor their strategies for last-minute shoppers?

Retailers can seize the potential of procrastinators by crafting urgency through limited-time offers, leveraging location-based advertising, and embracing social proof. Curated gift guides, Buy Online, Pick Up In-Store (BOPIS) services, and engaging interactive displays are additional strategies to consider.

Why is collaborating with local influencers beneficial for retailers?

Local influencers resonate with target audiences and can provide real-time recommendations. Partnering with them showcases your store as the ultimate destination for last-minute shoppers seeking unique and thoughtful gifts.

How can retailers optimize their mobile experience for last-minute shoppers?

With the dominance of mobile usage during holiday shopping, retailers should ensure their websites and emails are optimized for smaller screens. Simplified navigation and easy access to essential information enhance the overall mobile shopping experience.

By embracing these strategies tailored to last-minute shoppers’ behaviors, retailers can create a compelling shopping experience that fosters loyalty and encourages return visits.

Photo via Shutterstock


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Rieva Lesonsky Rieva Lesonsky is a Columnist for Small Business Trends covering employment, retail trends and women in business. She is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media company that helps entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. Visit her blog, SmallBizDaily, to get the scoop on business trends and free TrendCast reports.

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  1. And you should showcase your products by advertising them. This will allow you to put your products in front of your target market.

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