The holidays are just around the corner—is your business ready for the seasonal rush? As a small business owner, it can be challenging to compete with national chain stores that dominate particular markets. That’s where Small Business Saturday comes in.
Small Business Saturday is part of Cyber Week, occurring the Saturday immediately following Thanksgiving. Unlike Black Friday and Cyber Monday, which typically cater to mega-retailers and large eCommerce sites, Small Business Saturday encourages consumers to shop at independent businesses. If you own a small business, this is an excellent opportunity to boost your bottom line before the end of the year.
Small Business Saturday started in 2010, when American Express launched the idea to help small businesses gain additional exposure during the holiday season. Today, up to 70% of American adults said they are aware of Small Business Saturday—meaning there’s clearly plenty of money to be made as holiday shopping ramps up. Holiday retail sales have steadily increased over the past two decades, with no signs of slowing, and small businesses can grab a bigger piece of the proverbial pie every year.
According to the 2018 Small Business Saturday Consumer Insights Survey, 104 million shoppers spent a record high of $17.8 billion on Small Business Saturday last year, and the spending isn’t expected to stop in 2019. This year, Small Business Saturday falls on November 30th, and small business owners across the country are preparing for an influx of shoppers to flood their stores.
We’ve compiled 5 tips and ideas for Small Business Saturday to help you make the most of the upcoming seasonal shopping spike, and most of these tips can be used year-round to help increase profits and improve customer retention.
Check out the best Small Business Saturday tips below:
- Update Your Website
- Promote Your Deals
- Organize Your Store
- Personalize the Shopping Experience
- Prepare Your Staff
1. Update Your Website
In today’s increasingly connected world, small business owners should be aware of their online experience and must do their best to create and maintain a consumer-friendly website that efficiently promotes their wares. According to a 451Research survey, 61% of U.S. online shoppers said that search and navigation (easy to find products) was the most important attribute of their online shopping experience, followed by product rating and reviews and a fast and convenient check-out process.
The benefits of maintaining your small business website are vast. Consider that the average American spends 24 hours a week online. According to the eCommerce Foundation, up to 88% of consumers research products online before making an in-store purchase, which means the quality of your site could influence how likely the consumer is to purchase the product from your shop or online ecommerce store.
If you plan to offer deals online for Small Business Saturday, make sure your website is ready and optimized.
Create new landing pages: Advertise specific Small Business Saturday deals and discounts on unique landing pages. You might consider sharing those pages on your social media channels to potentially reach a wider audience.
Run quality assurance tests: If you’re offering promo or discount codes, then make sure they work by running through the shopping process yourself.
Optimize for mobile: The average American spends 69% of their media time on smartphones. Don’t lose out on valuable customers because your site isn’t optimized for mobile users. Google found 61% of users are unlikely to return to a mobile site they had trouble accessing.
2. Promote Your Deals
Let customers know what kind of savings they can expect in your store on Small Business Saturday by promoting upcoming deals. Consider the following marketing strategies to help increase store traffic:
Give flyers to current customers: Don’t forget to tell your regular customers about Small Business Saturday! At least 2 weeks ahead of time, toss flyers into bags that remind your customers to return the Saturday following Thanksgiving for big savings. This effort may be worth it when you consider that 84% of U.S. adults are loyal to retailers and 65% of a company’s business comes from existing customers.
Utilize social media: Today’s business owners need to harness the power of social media to reach their target audience. As 70% of the U.S. population has a profile on at least one social networking site, businesses can leverage social media marketing to pull in and engage with customers, both new and old. If you’re on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, consider promoting any special discounts you plan to offer on Small Business Saturday.
Pro Tip: Spice up your social ad copy with hashtags like #ShopSmall and #SmallBusinessSaturday to help shoppers find you on their favorite social media channels.
Post window signage: Post signage that advertise your store deals early on. Or, if you are an online store, consider putting banner ads on the homepage of your website.
Pro-tip: In need of marketing materials? American Express provides free, personalized resources for small business owners; consider utilizing their online Shop Small studio to help create or download ready-made social, online, and storefront promotional items.
Partner with small businesses in your immediate area: To help increase awareness, you may consider teaming up with other local small businesses to purchase promotional materials that position the neighborhood as a great shopping area for Small Business Saturday. You could also help promote each other’s wares; for example, if a customer makes a purchase in your store, they may qualify for a 10% discount in the store next door, and vice versa.
3. Organize Your Store
Last-minute holiday shoppers want to be able to find gifts with ease. Consider these tips to help make your store is easy to navigate:
Create an open, welcoming entrance: Don’t overcrowd your store entrance—you don’t want customers bumping into each other the moment they walk in. Make sure the front of your store is furnished in a way that will allow for multiple shoppers at once.
Make space for new inventory: Many retailers receive an influx of new inventory to appease holiday shoppers, so stock up retail displays and shelving to organize your additional products. If you anticipate a lot of shoppers, then it might be a good idea to have a few extra staff hands on deck to help restock when necessary.
Put your best products up front: Place lower-priced items at the back of your store; if shoppers have to walk through bestsellers to get to your discounted products, they may be more likely to add more full-price items to their basket.
Organize similar products into single areas: Small Business Saturday is an excellent opportunity for holiday shoppers to begin their hunt for gifts. To help make it easier for customers to locate presents for family and friends, you may want to showcase merchandise that fits the bill, such as small stocking stuffer type items. Gather together items on tables with signage like “Gifts for Mom” or “Gifts for Coworkers” to help inspire last minute ideas and potentially guide their purchases.
4. Personalize the Shopping Experience
The goal of Small Business Saturday is to help remind consumers that they play a huge role in the success of small businesses in their community and encourages them to get out and support their local diners and businesses. With this intention in mind, Small Business Saturday can help introduce your business to a wealth of new shoppers and may have year-round benefits. Up to 96% of consumers surveyed said that shopping on Small Business Saturday encourages them to frequent independent businesses year-round.
In order to keep new customers coming back every season, consider adding special touches to their shopping experience. Easy-to-implement ideas include:
Refreshments: Provide complimentary coffee, hot chocolate, or cookies to your customers to enjoy while shopping or waiting in line.
Raffle: Show customers your appreciation with a raffle giveaway. Ask shoppers to write their email on a raffle ticket when ringing up their purchase; pull a winner and provide a gift card or free items. This tactic runs double-duty: collect email addresses and build your email list for future promotional efforts.
Loyalty Program: According to eMarketer, 71% of survey respondents aged between 55 and 64 and 43% of respondents aged between 18 and 24 stated that they were a member of a loyalty program. Considering the demographic of your typical shopper, you might consider advertising a loyalty program that offers a discount or free item after so many purchases or dollar amount spent at your store.
Tote bags: Fill reusable bags with branded promotional items, such as sample products. This is a simple and inexpensive way to delight customers with free gifts while building brand awareness.
Free gift wrapping: Make the holidays easy by setting up a gift wrapping station, where customers can have their newly purchased items wrapped up in-store. If shoppers know they can buy a gift at your store and have it wrapped and ready, then they may be more likely to buy with you due to the convenience factor.
5. Prepare Your Staff
By implementing tactics like the above, small businesses owners could strengthen their opportunity to provide customer service and personality that megastores may not be able to do.A recent survey from Yodle Insights asked consumers what small businesses do better than large retailers. The results are below:
88% of respondents said that local business perform better customer service overall, which is why it’s important that your business is adequately staffed with great employees. Preparing your staff may be the most valuable tip to consider, as your staff can either make or break your small business. To help ensure you’re prepared to provide an exemplary shopping experience to every one of your customers, you’ll need to have a dedicated and driven staff on-hand. Additionally, if you’re short-staffed, then eager shoppers may easily become frustrated and that could shine a negative light on their overall experience and encourage them to shop elsewhere.
If you’re expecting an increase in foot traffic, then it may be time to bring on seasonal staff to help handle the rush.
If you do decide to recruit new hires, then it’s important to take your time during the hiring process, as every new hire may present risk. Small business owners are incentivized to do their due diligence when taking on new employees; even if you only plan on hiring positions for a few months’ time, making the wrong hire at the wrong time can have devastating consequences on a small organization.
Not only can the wrong hire disturb a delicate work environment, but they can also affect your business success. Hiring the wrong job candidate could lead to:
- Losses in productivity
- Decreases in staff morale
- Added recruiting costs if you have to replace the hire
Remember, your future hires are the face of your small business and they will potentially be on the front line affecting your customers experience and-when chosen correctly-will be some of your most powerful assets. However, no matter if your employee is a short or long-term hire, making the wrong hire could hurt productive and team cohesion. And, likely force you to spend money to hire someone else, a cost estimate at $4,129 by the Society for Human Resource Management.
To help start your hiring efforts off strong, consider these qualities of a good employee during the recruiting stage:
Making sure you have the right staff to help with Small Business Saturday and the holiday season is crucial. Aside from good employee qualities, small business owners should thoroughly screen job applicants by running an employment background check on every new hire.
ShareAble for Hires is an online pre-employment background check service that can help you create an efficient, streamlined hiring process. Unlike traditional screening companies that can take weeks to screen job applicants, ShareAble for Hires provides you with immediate access to screening tools, expediting delivery of the critical information you need to make a confident hire so you can find the best customer service workers. Employers will receive important reports, such as a credit, background and identity report to their inbox in a matter of minutes. This enables you to hire quickly and confidently for the busy season.
With these Small Business Saturday tips, small business owners can put their focus on bringing in more customers and capitalizing on the seasonal shopping rush—and reap the benefits long after the holidays are over.
And as you take on staff for the seasonal rush, screen thoroughly with ShareAble for Hires. It is an online pre-employment screening tool that is built just for small businesses. Using our online employment screening services, you can verify you’re hiring the right person for the job through:
Sign up with ShareAble for Hires for free and start screening prospective employees today!