Business-boosting tips to help small businesses maximize holiday sales

(BPT) – It’s that time of year again.

Small business owners are preparing for a lucrative holiday season – with nearly three quarters (71 percent) expecting consistent or better sales this year compared to last year, according to Capital One’s Q3 Spark Business Barometer.

At the same time, research shows many shoppers will be buying gifts online and using credit cards. In fact, more than a third of Americans plan to do their holiday shopping online, and more than half plan to use credit cards to make purchases.

With the growth of online shopping and credit card spending, how can local businesses, like yours, and entrepreneurs capitalize on these trends to maximize sales and boost bottom lines? Enhancing your e-commerce strategy and leveraging the latest mobile sales tools are great places to start.

Capital One Spark Business offers tips and tools to help small businesses grow and save, including:

* Embrace mobile technology to maximize sales and save cash. New point-of-sale technologies make it easy and affordable to accept credit card payments and market your business more effectively. For example, Spark Pay offers a simple pricing plan with no contract necessary and enables businesses to send customized holiday offers and promotions to shoppers for free.

* Simplify your online shopping cart process and optimize your landing pages. Did you know that 68.06 percent of online shopping carts are abandoned? Give the customer plenty of choices by offering as many payment methods as possible. For smaller businesses competing with online giants, cart simplification technologies can be critical. You’ll also want to make sure your landing pages are fully optimized to meet all your customers’ needs. The last thing you want to do is increase your bounce rate and waste your marketing efforts.

* Make shipping and returns as painless for customers as possible. It’s important to customers: 70 percent of U.S. e-commerce shipments during the 2014 holiday shopping period could include free shipping – a 3 percent increase over 2013. 

* Invest in new marketing methods and focus on your online capabilities. Small business owners are already expressing a desire to do this. According to the Capital One Spark Business Barometer, 18 percent indicated that, besides attracting and retaining new customers, their most popular business goals are improving advertising and marketing tactics and streamlining expenses. E-commerce solutions can help them achieve both goals.

* When it comes to business expenses, use credit card programs that offer reporting and cash management tools, plus rewards to help increase margins. Capital One Spark Business Cards make earning and redeeming rewards easy, with no: rewards expiration; travel blackout dates; limit on the amount of cash you can earn; redemption tiers; and the list goes on.

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