PEARLAND - As pandemic concerns keep people out of crowds, the National Retail Federation expects 'online' shopping to see significant growth, during the holidays.
60% of shoppers are projected to spend their holiday dollars online and nearly all retailers expect online sales to increase this year, over last. It all poses a unique challenge for small businesses trying to get noticed.
"We're designed to be very high-touch, on purpose, so it's been a challenge adapting to the Covid-era," says Bricks & Minifigs owner Devon Shows.
He opened his specialty shop dealing in Lego sets, pieces and figurines, in the Pearland Towncenter, a little more than a year ago. Since the satisfaction comes from physically clicking the pieces together, to create something only limited by the imagination, Covid has not been great for business.
After the initial COVID-19 shutdown, Shows found he could sell to some customers by showing his inventory on the company's Facebook page.
Item by item, updated daily, it allows virtual browsing and shopping instead of waiting for passersby to wander in to make an impulse buy.
"They really like being able to see everything we have in the store without, necessarily, having to come in," says Shows of his customers. "That allows them to make decisions when they want to come in; when they want to have something shipped; they know what they've got without having to show up to see what's here."
And, when calling and passing along credit-card numbers got a little cumbersome, Shows recently added online purchasing. "We want to make it as easy for them, as possible," he says.
None of this was part of the original business plan. Devon Shows just wanted to sell Legos, but COVID-19 has required a little creativity to survive. When you sell toys, and the holidays are here ... every bit helps.
"It's their experience that really matters: Not how we want to sell, but how they want to buy."