How SMBs Can Maximize Tech Tools for Holiday Success

By Kimberly Little, SVP and Commercial Lead of at Newfold Digital, parent company of Bluehost and

The holidays may be jolly, but small business owners aren’t always laughing all the way to the bank, despite the seasonal sales increase. Perhaps it’s the pressure of the winter season, which is “crucial to … the financial health” of two-thirds of all SMBs. Meeting the demands of this peak shopping season and the increased volume of website and in-store visitors involves work at all levels of the organization, often with stretched resources and time.

To overcome the myriad challenges that accompany the holiday season, many SMBs turn to technology. The right digital solutions will go a long way toward streamlining operations, saving time and unlocking the full potential of the most wonderful time of the year.

Small businesses face big hurdles to maximizing holiday shopping surge

Standing in the way of a successful winter season for many SMBs is the sheer competition they face from larger, resource-laden companies. Price wars have only escalated over time, leaving behind many businesses that simply cannot replicate the powerful algorithms that big retail players have at their disposal.

Even for businesses equipped to engage in price competition, matching the online presence of e-tail giants is a tall task. SMBs are experts in their industries, not in the broader technology landscape. Setting up a functional, user-friendly e-commerce website, connecting it with inventory-management systems and ensuring it works consistently isn’t always easy for mom-and-pop shops.

Demand-driven supply chain slowdowns can exacerbate existing inventory issues. While larger retailers are well-equipped to order extra inventory in anticipation of the holiday season, smaller businesses often don’t have the luxury of buying products they may not sell or have enough time to produce the products they need to match the demand of the season. That means small businesses need tech tools capable of tracking customer traffic and behavior to accurately map out their supply and demand strategies.

One answer for many SMBs is more hands-on-deck. The holidays bring demand for seasonal workers, even if 2023 holiday hiring figures lag behind previous years. Competing for seasonal workers can be tough for smaller businesses that lack the perks and benefits that many major retailers offer, but the right tech can be an ample substitute. Online tools can optimize an entire operation, allowing the existing team to gain a competitive step up by saving time and equipping them with data-driven insights to inform a successful seasonal strategy.

Brands are going digital for crucial shopping season

To keep up with the rigors of the holidays, SMBs are going digital. An American Express survey  shows SMBs plan to leverage social media to broaden their marketing reach and AI to “sell and serve customers.” Some companies even plan to use AI to fill open roles.

Bluehost research of SMBs found nearly half (47%) of business owners are looking to save time with technology. However, 38% are uncomfortable building and maintaining their own sites, and 48% don’t use any DIY tools.

Luckily, there are many digital tools entrepreneurs can use to simplify efforts and gain a competitive advantage no matter their level of experience. From using intuitive website builders to design and amplify their online stores to distributing promos and launching digital campaigns, there’s no reason SMBs should lose out on the most important business moment of the year.

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SMBs can find a strong tech match regardless of expertise

 Today, there are solutions available for SMBs with any level of technical know-how. Bluehost’s research shows that nearly one-third of all SMB owners believe they lack the knowledge and 44% lack the technical skills to expand their online businesses. But these small companies need not despair. As technology has evolved, so has ease of use.

For SMBs with a bit more technological expertise on staff, the e-commerce ecosystem is rife with AI-powered tools for every aspect of operations. The new wave of platforms aims to be as easy as possible to use, and many small businesses are leaning into that trend. Smart CRMs, mobile payment and loyalty apps and e-commerce plugins allow companies with a working website to add extra holiday flair and enhance the customer experience without the typical associated cost.

MarTech platforms increasingly offer more integrations, so teams can integrate promotion and price information with data from other key support systems like inventory and CRMs. With a heavy dose of AI, these platforms can automate entire campaigns, allowing business owners to save time and focus on customer-facing facets of their business.

For less technologically savvy or nimble teams, the rise of no-code and low-code solutions has made setting up a website a breeze. Solutions that plug into WordPress and other website-building tools allow SMB owners of all skill levels to launch holiday-themed e-commerce stores and campaigns.

Thoughtful technology decisions can propel SMBs toward holiday success

 The National Retail Federation projects 2023 holiday spending to reach record levels. That annual gold mine is not always accessible for SMBs with fewer resources to put toward marketing and visibility.

But despite the immense pressure to compete amid a host of uphill challenges, SMBs have a great opportunity to close the gap between them and larger retailers by integrating the right tech with an intentional approach.

Online solutions providers now offer everything from hyperintelligent automation to white-gloved services, to help SMBs expand their presence and reach new customers. In this high-stakes game of holiday sales, the right tools can help even the smallest shops make holiday sales magic happen.


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