Businesses are now into their busiest time of year with sales and promotions to entice shoppers as the countdown to the festive season looms.  Predictions are indicating that spending will rise this Christmas with the thanks to the increasing financial confidence of young shoppers. The run up to Christmas for any business is a challenge especially around resources.

For retailers that have online and high street branches it will be even busier than usual.  Experian released figures that indicated that there were 208 billion clicks in the UK alone with online shopping in December 2012 which was up nearly a third from 2011.   For those of us that are not organised and leave online shopping until the last minute, the 22nd December 2012 was the busiest day for high street shopping.  Even after Christmas day was over the demand for online shopping continued where 113 million visits were made to online retailers.  There was a rise of 52% in footfall from 26th to the 27th December for people venturing out onto the high street looking for bargins.

Consumers are now changing the way they festive shop and consumers expect a high service and with this high demand it is having an overall effect on small businesses. For many shops in 2012 they launched their sales on Christmas Eve rather than at the end of the festive season, as it was many years ago.  This change in high street sales starting early gave a huge spike in taffic to online shopping which means that December becomes even more hectic for small businesses.

All businesses need an online presence even if the business focuses on a service or product that requires actual customer presence such as a beauty salon or restaurant, having that website will drive traffic to the business: a recent report compiled by FedEx shows that e-commerce is thriving at 3 – 4 times the rate of traditional retail buying and within the 20 years this will account for more than half of all sales.

Econsultancy have conducted a recent survey and found that 87% of UK shoppers are happy with the delivery of the goods they had bought online, which is a great satisfaction rate.  Small businesses shouldn’t become relaxed with the results as more than half of the people who completed the survey also said that they would stop using a retailer who failed to meet their delivery promises.  This shows that businesses need to look at reliable delivery companies.  The same survey also showed that nearly a quarter of consumers had avoided buying something online because delivery options had not been suitable.  This could have been through lack of express delivery services or time specific slots or overseas postal options.

“The largest driving force in the global economy is now e-commerce,” stresses Raj Subramaniam, FedEx‘s executive vice-president of marketing and communications. “By changing how we buy, and from whom, the marketplace connects consumers.”

If businesses are to continue to grow in a competitive market it is essential to keep adapting processes to stay competitive, research, get prepared for busy periods like Easter and Christmas and put processes in place to meet customers’ requirements