Strategies for the Holiday Season: How SMBs can boost sales effectively

By Samba Natarajan, SVP Growth Markets, PayPal

The holiday season fervor has set in and preparations for gifting have already begun, with 74%1 of shoppers reporting that they plan ahead. According to Think with Google, consumers shop thoughtfully, even in environments that inspire impulse shopping. For example, online shoppers who are active on social media on average use 10 touchpoints to inform and evaluate purchases inspired by an influencer.2 The industry is expecting to witness a 12% jump in travel-related spending over the 2022 holiday season, as per PwC's Holiday Outlook 2023. The findings of the report also show that almost 40% of consumers will spend more overall than they did last year.3

A happy small-business owner celebrating, surrounded by holiday decorations.

These trends indicate unlimited opportunities for small businesses to sell and earn more. With 83% of online shopping now happening on smartphone apps4, it is crucial for businesses to offer a great buying experience, especially through cross-border commerce.

Here is how small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) can leverage the festive spirit to travel and shop, with the help of the right payment strategies to attract and retain customer loyalty and boost cross-border sales.  

Unified commerce key for a smooth shopping experience

A retail strategy that focuses on unified commerce helps to create a consistent shopping experience across all channels for each customer, whether they are shopping online, in-store, or even dialing into a business’s call center. Enabled by one centralized vault containing all in-person and online customer payment data, an omnichannel-focused payment solution can turn payment data into personalized customer profiles – which could include previous purchases, payment methods, rewards status, favorite items, brands, and more.  

The e-commerce landscape is growing multifold, with tailwinds from evolved customer preferences leaning toward convenience and frictionless experiences. The security and seamlessness of a platform and customer payment experience at check-out differentiate a business from its competitors, making it crucial for any merchant to minimize cart abandonment and win more customers.

To this effect, Indian SMBs that have adopted PayPal as a merchant partner have witnessed the impact a trusted brand can bring to their business. PayPal merchants and popular Indian fashion brands Aza Fashions, KALKI Fashion, and Purple Style Labs (Pernia’s Pop-Up Shop) have transformed from SMBs to international enterprises by successfully building their e-commerce strategy to capture a growing international customer base.

The bad actors

As small businesses prepare themselves to cater to escalating demands during the upcoming holiday season, efficient logistics and supply readiness become paramount. Even more important is ensuring smooth cross-border operations from convenient customer returns, secure online shopping, and easy currency conversions.

There are two ways to increase customer conversion rates and drive revenue. One is identifying known customers and delivering the shopping experience they want, which includes a frictionless checkout. The second is shutting out bad actors likely to commit fraud, particularly as the cost of fraudulent transactions increases. Advanced technical capabilities, including artificial intelligence (AI) and machine-learning tools, can help businesses achieve these goals.

Discounts and sales to make the most of the holiday season

Two-thirds of retailers in a supply chain survey expect consumers to be looking for discounts during this peak retail season.5 Mega sales events such as Black Friday, which marks the beginning of Christmas shopping, are immensely popular among consumers across the globe. Given this trend, merchants can boost sales through shopping festivals. However, the high volume of transactions during such periods can also impact payment authorization rates. Merchants would need to be mindful of ensuring a seamless checkout experience and enhancing the overall customer journey by associating with a trusted payments partner to reduce cart abandonment.

Crafting effective strategies  

Backed by a bullish consumer spirit, small businesses around the world have a tremendous opportunity to thrive during the holiday shopping season.   Whether it is incorporating local currency options in payments or leveraging local channels to reach the desired audience, SMBs must predict their customers’ needs to allow for less cart abandonment and increased brand loyalty. Offering special promotions, rewards, and discounts goes a long way during the holiday season.

Delivering an exceptional customer experience in products and services requires a powerful checkout experience that’s tailored to your needs. Given the holiday season’s potential, global commerce tools are needed to deliver seamless checkout experiences at scale. The learning is clear - by preparing diligently, embracing digital trends, seizing cross-border opportunities, and crafting effective growth strategies, SMBs can turn this holiday season into a prosperous one.

If you are a small to medium-sized business and want to increase your cross-border trade through digital payments, click here for more tips and insights.


1 Connect early with holiday shoppers - Think with Google
2 Online shopping behavior statistics - Think with Google
3 Holiday Outlook 2023
4 Most used devices for online purchasing in India as of June 2022
5 Retailers start preparing for a deeply discounted, down holiday season (

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