With their seemingly endless budgets and global reach, it’s easy to assume the big retailers dominate the year’s busiest shopping periods. However, the modern technological landscape in which even the smallest retailers operate means it no longer has to be the case.

Technology allows smaller retailers to operate in the same way as the eCommerce giants, and, coupled with the right strategies, can be the big winners. The modern shopper doesn’t go straight to the biggest brand. They want the best deal, the best-reviewed product, the best incentives, especially during peak sales periods.

Often led by entrepreneurs and founders themselves, rather than career corporate executives, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) can offer greater passion and dedication to their products and services. Although that can initially be enticing for the customer, retailers must ensure the full customer experience is up to scratch to ensure they hold onto the customer’s interest and attention. Personalisation, localisation and security are essential to capture the trust of shoppers, grow and scale in a highly competitive market.

We’ve teamed up with Ingenico, the global leader in seamless payments, to bring you the advice you need to plan ahead and make the most of peak sales periods.

But what exactly is ‘peak sales’?

In its simplest form, peak sales is the busiest periods of shopping in the retail calendar. It can either be a day or extended period of time where shoppers are likely to make more purchases than normal. Some periods will be the same regardless of their industry, but some retailers will give greater focus to others depending on their target market and products.

The most common peak sales period is Christmas and the long build up to it. Others include international holidays like Easter, national holidays like Bank Holiday weekends in the UK and France’s Bastille Day. And, of course, there are one off days like Valentine’s Day, Halloween, Father’s Day and Mother’s Day.

Shoppers are seeing more one-off days designed purely for sales, rather than celebrating something in particular. Typically a US event, Black Friday has become a key date in the retail calendar in the UK over the past decade. And Amazon created its own annual ‘Prime Day’ with discounts and offers exclusively for Amazon Prime customers. Meanwhile, the most savvy businesses take full advantage of industry or product-specific days, like National Barbeque Day (which is 16 May, by the way!).

The age of the social media influencer is also having an impact on peak sales for retailers. A positive review or endorsement for a product can cause a huge spike in sales almost immediately, changing the way retailers are thinking of peak sales. They no longer have to be set days or timeframes. Now, retailers can create their own peak sales through marketing alone.

Even just a decade ago peak sales were reasonably flat throughout the year, with the expected rise around the big holidays. In 2019 and beyond there are more spikes and opportunities than ever before to engage with new and existing customers, regardless of business size.

Failing to utilise technology, executing poorly planned strategies or simply ignoring the opportunities available will leave smaller retailers lagging behind the competition.

These insights are based upon Ingenico’s ‘Preparing for Christmas this Summer’ e-book. You can download the full e-book here.

Originally featured on the Great British Entrepreneur Awards website.