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By Jason Eisenberg | Community Program Manager for Office Depot

Many businesses rely heavily on the holiday season to help bolster their sales for the year, but the big question is: what will holiday shopping look like in 2020? Given the circumstances, businesses plan to be open in an attempt to make up for a difficult year they’ve had to weather. However, in order to be as safe and prepared for the holidays in any given year, it helps to get a jump on planning early on. An article in Forbes recommends planning up to three-to-four months ahead.  

Kellie’s Baking Co. in Austin, Texas is an example of a retail and event-oriented business that made creative changes in order to accommodate the global situation as well as prepare for the holiday season. Owner Kellie Moore says their holiday season begins in August – especially this year because a few operational changes are being implemented. Below are the actions she’s taken to prepare.

An event-based business that had to shift

What makes Kellie’s Baking Co. unique is that they are the originators of on-site, on-demand selfie photo cookies (Instabites Events) – where people can have their photo taken and get it printed on a cookie at said event. Given the current situation of limited gatherings and social distancing, Kellie had to pivot as it was a large portion of her business – especially during the holiday party season. These pivots came in the form of doubling down on delivery and curbside pickup, optimizing the website experience, adding new and relevant products, and working with clients to meet their unique needs at this time. And she’s been working on all of these since summer began.

“Realistically, the holidays start now – we have to start planning our marketing and what our products are going to be now so we can take orders early.” 

1. Doubling down on delivery and curbside pickup

Kellie’s Baking Co. has had a warm cookie delivery experience for about a year, but didn’t put a lot of emphasis in it as most of her business came from corporate clients.

Her business utilized their strong social media following to help get the message out about their delivery and curbside service, but it’s not the only way. Having clear signage can help to indicate curbside pickup or a new delivery system at your place of business.

2. Adding relevant products and services

Business owners are always looking for ways to identify where there is a need for something in their market. For instance, there were already delivery apps prior to the pandemic, but when restaurants had to shutter, virtually every restaurant could offer a delivery service to their customers through one of these apps.

Using the same logic to fulfill a need, Kellie pushed her company’s curbside/delivery services and saw that many of her clients wanted to keep employee morale up. A good cookie with your face on it might do the trick!

While her corporate clients can’t order bundles of cookies to be sent to the office or host holiday parties (because no one is there), they can still send small care packages for emotional support. One of Kellie’s latest examples was a company that hired their 300th employee. Everyone received a cookie with that new employee’s face on it and it offered a good laugh to both Kellie and her customers.

They also added a line of “Covid 19 Survival Cookies” to go with their other themed cookies like “Holiday”, “Tiger King”, “Graduation”, and more. 

3. Focus on website experience

There’s still time to get your website/app experience optimized for the holiday season. A unique way Kellie is keeping the spirit of the selfie cookie service alive is through their website portal, where customers can upload their photos to print on their cookies. Not only is this meeting the customer halfway to offer their product, it also allows her photo cookie service to expand beyond her local region.

“We are constantly improving the experience and working to make uploading photos for us to print easier.”

4. Working with clients personally

To delve further into adding relevant services, Kellie stressed the importance of open and honest communication with clients – especially because there is some time to get ready for the holiday (if you’re preparing now).

Kellie explained that they are trying to understand how their customers are going to gift this year. In the past, it would be one client order for 300 boxes to deliver to a company. But now, they may have to ship to individual homes, which could raise the cost.

“We have to figure out the pain point and the price point for the customer,” said Kellie. “I will literally call a client and say, ‘I’m thinking about this idea’ and then get feedback so we can tweak it.”

As a result, the business learns more about its customer, and the client feels heard and appreciated.

“Customers love to help and give their feedback – it’s been really helpful since we don’t know what everyone is thinking on a given day since the world is changing so much.”

5. Advice for retailers during the holidays

When I asked Kellie Moore what was the best advice she has for another retailer facing the holiday season this year, she gave a quick thought and answered:

“You cannot wait for people to walk into your store this year. Set up curbside and delivery now so you can market it for the holidays. If you can, figure out how to ship because then you’ve expanded your reach from local to nationwide. Learn about what your shipping options are before it gets too busy and you can’t catch up.”

We see many businesses moving forward trying to adjust to constant change – and we are inspired. Our business is to keep business going and your life moving with solutions for it all.

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