Amex: SMEs must extend their digital reach

Shoppers in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Boston may notice a new art installation this holiday season featuring products from local businesses. But these murals, a collaboration between American Express and Google, aren’t just for aesthetics – they create a fully shoppable experience, allowing consumers to scan and purchase the products they see.

“It’s really about thinking about how to give a new twist to traditional holiday shopping,” said Marianne Rausch, vice president of Shop Small and Small Business Saturday for American Express. “So we are building on the beloved tradition that many of us have of visiting holiday storefronts. “

Rausch said the exact locations of the murals, which are painted by local artists from each community, will be announced later this month. Additionally, American Express and Google offer workshops for small business owners to help them build their digital capabilities.

“Consumers are spending more than ever online and in stores,” said Rausch. “So it’s incredibly essential to think about how you can extend the reach of your customers across physical and digital touchpoints. “

The murals and workshops are part of American Express’s 12th Small Business Saturday, which includes a nationwide marketing campaign showcasing ways consumers can support local businesses, as well as downloadable resources that merchants can use for promotion. American Express is also launching a Shop Small x ByBlack Marketplace powered by Showfield’s, an extension of ByBlack’s national business directory of black-owned businesses.

“Small Business Saturday has evolved over time to both meet new social needs and reflect changing consumer preferences,” said Rausch.

Related news: Mobile Wallets and Automated Receivables Key to Successful Holiday 2021 Sales for Small Businesses

Reap the rewards of the investment

According to Deloitte’s Holiday Retail Forecast, the holiday shopping season is expected to reach nearly $ 1.3 trillion in total consumer spending for November and December, an increase of 7% from last year. PYMNTS data also shows that nearly three-quarters of consumers plan to spend at least as much as they did last year, with 19% planning to spend more.

See also: Holiday Shopping Outlook Hints ‘Amazon Christmas’ May Be Underway

Rausch said that more than ever, traders need to do their best to try to capture consumer spending.

“I know it’s been a tough time for all marketers, but I think now is the time to think about investing at every level possible in their retail experience, marketing and operational improvements,” said Rausch. She added that small and medium-sized businesses also need to think about how they can brag about what makes them “unique and special” through unique offers and highly personalized service.

But traders need to work as early as possible to connect with customers. According to The data According to an exclusive UPS study, nearly 25% of people plan to complete their shopping before the start of the traditional holiday shopping season, and 95% prefer to start their holiday shopping before Black Friday if promotions and balances are published earlier.

“Even for people who aren’t going to complete their shopping until Black Friday, there is certainly an interest and an appetite to start earlier this year,” said Rausch.

Respect consumer preferences

It is also crucial that merchants conduct their operations online, she noted – e-commerce sales are expected to be over $ 210 billion this year, up 15% from 2020, and 20% of buyers now transact through social media, according to Deloitte’s Holiday Retail Forecast.

“There is a huge percentage of the market that you don’t take advantage of if you don’t operate in this space,” said Rausch.

In addition, regardless of where consumers choose to shop, they are increasingly opting for digitally-driven approaches such as online purchase, in-store pickup (BOPIS), and pay with their own contactless devices, which means having these capabilities is no longer a desire – it’s a need.

“To get the most out of this highly anticipated shopping season, small businesses should consider making their purchasing processes as versatile as possible to meet consumer demand for these options and for the amenities,” said Rausch.

Related news: New pandenomics study: 76% of SMEs say local economies are still on the road to recovery

PYMNTS research found that 44% of small and medium-sized merchants saw their income increase year over year in 2020 after implementing contactless payment capabilities. Additionally, a recent survey by American Express found that small and medium-sized businesses that have foregone these investments are less confident that this year’s revenues will exceed 2020.

“We see that there can be a real and tangible impact on companies once they adopt these practices,” said Rausch.

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NEW PYMNTS DATA: 2021 HOLIDAY SHOPPING OUTLOOK

On: It’s almost time for the holiday shopping season, and nearly 90% of American consumers plan to do at least some of their purchases online, up 13% from 2020. The 2021 Holiday Shopping Outlook, PYMNTS surveyed more than 3,600 consumers to find out more about what drives online sales this holiday season and the impact of product availability and personalized rewards on merchant preferences.

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