COVID-19 spurred a seismic shift in buying behavior and fast-tracked years of change in the way companies across all sectors and regions do business.
During last year’s Cyber 5 period, U.S. consumers shattered holiday shopping records, with online sales 20.6% higher year-over-year. This holiday shopping season is shaping up to be similar as e-commerce continues to soar, and Black business owners stand to gain a lot with strong support from tech giants such as Google and Facebook. Given the increased expectations for online shopping this holiday season and the #BuyBlack momentum, here are four tips to help Black founders make the most of this holiday season.
BRACE FOR SHIPPING CHALLENGES
As of Oct. 1, nearly 60% of shoppers had already started their holiday shopping, and fewer than 2 in 10 say they will start on Black Friday or later. This early start will create a greater strain on shipping service providers. Consider establishing a back-up shipping relationship or spreading your shipping fulfillment across more than one partner for the holidays.
HARNESS THE POWER OF DIGITAL MARKETING
As of July 2021, 71% of business leaders expected profits to increase for the remainder of the year. The potential of the holiday season is a major factor. It’s a crucial time for Black business owners to enhance their brand’s online presence and social media can be a huge asset—especially with the ongoing support of #BuyBlack from platforms including Instagram and Facebook. Founders should try to participate in targeted initiatives such as Facebook’s #BuyBlack Friday Gift Guide, found in the Lift Black Voices Hub, which includes links to resources to help people #BuyBlack for the holidays and encourages posts/tags of Black-owned businesses.
The holidays are the best time to accelerate business growth, as they can represent up to 30% of annual retail sales. Successful business owners know the 2021 holiday shopping season will present more opportunity: holiday sales are expected to total nearly $1.3 trillion. To meet high consumer demand, founders must clearly communicate with consumers and set appropriate expectations from the start. Consider ways to make your customers’ experiences more convenient: ensure payment gateways on your website remain open for online orders, offer in store pick-up or even a simple return and exchange process.
ESTABLISH A LOYALTY PROGRAM
To keep these customers digitally engaged with the brand post-holiday, businesses must use customer information to develop a robust loyalty program. From airline miles and cash back rewards on a large scale to virtual punch cards on a local level, the whole notion is closely tied into e-commerce. Develop and/or focus on your loyalty strategy by asking what you can offer to keep that customer engaged and coming back to the store or your website.
Regardless of timing, investors know supporting diverse businesses is a smart business strategy. In October 2020, JPMorgan Chase announced our $30 Billion Racial Equity Commitment to help close the racial wealth gap and provide economic opportunity to underserved communities, especially Black, Hispanic and Latino communities.
As part of this, we’ve invested $42.5 million to expand the Entrepreneurs of Color Fund to more U.S. cities. This new commitment, which combines low-cost loans, equity investments and philanthropy, will help reduce barriers to capital for underserved businesses and owners to support their immediate needs and long-term growth. Business owners can learn more about the application process by contacting their local JPMorgan Chase branch.
Alton McDowell is the co-head of Technology and Disruptive Commerce – Middle Market Banking & Specialized Industries at JPMorgan Chase & Co, focused on e-commerce, highly saleable, and typically asset light companies. He leads and manages a national team of bankers at J.P. Morgan, focused specifically on
new and high growth consumer brands and technology companies. His passion is helping Black founders
meet and exceed their business goals. Alton received his BBA in Accounting from the University of
Houston and his MBA in Finance from Columbia Business School