Understanding what peak sales are and why they are so vital to small and medium-sized retailers, not just the eCommerce giants, is the first step in taking full advantage of the opportunities they present.

The next step is to assess how to capitalise and maximise sales. In recent years it has become clear that retail, not necessarily just during peak sales periods, is about so much more than the product on offer and its price.

Instead, shoppers are looking for an experience whether in-store, online or through an app. Just 45% of consumers in the UK value discounts above all other factors when shopping online, meaning more than half are looking for something more. In Spain, half of shoppers favour things like loyalty bonuses, extended return periods, free or fast delivery. Ingenico’s research found that simple and seamless payments as key factors.

Big discounts may be important in luring new customers away from giants of the market, but it’s these customer experience additions, like single-click checkouts and mobile functionality for payments, that go a long way in building customer engagement and keep them coming back in the long run.

Think social

As marketers and brands embrace the value of social media influencers, retailers are also understanding the value of social commerce. Although a new and relatively small payment channel compared with the more established ones, it is an attractive option, particularly for younger consumers.

Social media platforms like Instagram are integrating shopping into its user experience, bridging the gap between advert and checkout. Shoppers can now discover, view and purchase products all within the familiar social media space, minimising cart abandonment. Social channels present an opportunity for smaller retailers to offer more engaging and personal shopping experiences to younger and more tech-savvy consumers, giving them a huge advantage over bigger companies. What’s more, social commerce is relatively inexpensive to implement compared with other options.

Think mobile

While social commerce may have a significant future, mobile commerce is the channel for now and the future.

A recent report by Ingenico found that 93% of retailers believe that utilising mobile technologies directly impacts profitability and customer satisfaction. Despite that, just 39% describe themselves and ‘mobile-first’.

Keeping up with the latest mobile commerce technology not only boosts customer engagement right now, but also ensures the business is well prepared for the future growth. It means the customer experience is simple and seamless from the very start to the very end of the customer experience. More advanced systems enable smaller businesses to offer more tools that enhance the experience even more. Chatbots and messaging apps can provide the more personal touches that modern consumers crave in an often impersonal digital world.

It can be easy to assume that small businesses should operate in a small way, with older, cheaper payment methods and out of date technology. With the accessibility of technology, it just simply isn’t the case anymore. Smaller retailers can, and should, utilise the latest technology to enhance the more personal and engaging customer experience they can offer over their bigger, more corporate rivals.

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

Originally posted on the Great British Entrepreneur Awards website.