As we move into one of the biggest shopping weekends of the year, most people are looking forward to Black Friday or Cyber Monday, both of which have been gaining popularity in recent years. What we shouldn’t overlook, however, is Small Business Saturday. Created in 2010 to encourage patronization of local businesses, it has quickly gained rapport among consumers due to national media attention as well as shopping programs like the passport program. For small business owners, Small Business Saturday is a great day to attract consumers, build customer loyalty, and boost revenues.
To prepare for Small Business Saturday, there are a variety of resources you can take advantage of. SBA.gov (the U.S. Small Business Administration’s website) has marketing materials and a social media toolkit for you to use, as well as many blog posts on how to best market during the holiday season. American Express, one of the key founders of Small Business Saturday, also has resources on their website. You can add your business to their map so customers in your area can locate you, and you can also download various promotional materials. Marketing is important because you want to differentiate yourself from the other small businesses and draw customers to your store. Engage your followers on social media in the days leading up to Saturday- generate anticipation and excitement. If you have an email list, send out a short email detailing what promotions you’re offering, just so your customers know you will be participating.
These are the categories of materials you can get for free from shopsmall.com
Apart from marketing, you should make sure that your store is adequately staffed. You want to make a good impression on your customers in order to have high customer retention, so customer service is key. Exceptional customer service can also give you a leg up on big-name retailers. In addition, try to forecast your demand for this year- if you anticipate sales to be a lot higher than usual, then you may also need to lease additional equipment, like cash registers or mobile credit card readers. Make sure that your most popular items (or the items that you predict will be most popular during this season) are in stock and that you have a sufficient amount of safety stock on hand in case demand is greater than you expected.
One of the best ways to keep customers coming back to your store is to provide incentives. You can hand out coupons that shoppers can use on their next purchase or give discounts for referring their friends. Make sure to track customers by asking for their email addresses- you can offer to email them a coupon or enter them in a giveaway as an added incentive. Another incentive is the “passport program,” popularized by Pure Detroit. It encourages shoppers to spend money at multiple small businesses throughout the day. Shoppers are given a passport that is stamped at each store they make a purchase at, and those with full passports are given complimentary items and/or discounts.
This year, Etsy is partnering with American Express OPEN to provide trunk shows for online Etsy sellers. Even if you’re not an independent Etsy seller, you can take advantage of this by hosting a trunk show for the seller. These trunk shows are a good way to increase traffic to your store.
Last year, nearly 70 million customers spent $5.5 billion nationwide last year at small, independent stores. This just goes to show how popular small businesses have become as consumers are realizing their importance in the economy and in their lives. Shoppers often have loyalty for small, local businesses because of the high personalization and outstanding customer service. This Small Business Saturday is your chance to capitalize on the shopping spirit and draw in both new and old customers, kicking off your holiday season with a bang.
Nancy Chen is a Content Marketing Intern at Repsly, Inc. and is currently completing a Marketing degree at Northeastern University. A contributor to the national online publication Spoon University, she is experienced in delivering knowledgable, quality material to readers.