During the time from Black Friday to Cyber Monday, the average consumer will spend $738. The small brick-and-mortar business owner may stress and lament these dollars migrating to retail giants. Or the savvy entrepreneur can claim the shopping day in between with dedication to creating pleasurable experiences for local shoppers on Small Business Saturday.
The peppermint striped bar is high
The National Retail Federation predicts spending of $728 billion in November and December 2019. Parade reports that about 71% of consumers will spend time in big box stores, and 54% will take advantage of e-commerce. Those numbers are significant, but they do not reveal two critical factors.
First, not all holiday shopping money is spent with major retailers (even a portion of $728 billion can be substantial). Second, consumers still crave a tactile experience, especially during the holidays. Neither the crushing fervor of hysterical crowds nor the esoteric efficiency of a few mouse clicks can create the sensory experience that makes holiday shopping a genuine delight. The small business that combines the sight, smell, touch, and sound of the season with exceptional service provides an experience that rekindles the consumer’s belief in the joy of shopping for loved ones.
Big ideas (not big marketing budgets) create big results
Consumers want to know if their gift will be as good as it seems on their phone or computer screen. They want assurance that their hard-earned money is well spent and that the gift recipient will be pleased.
Small business owners have the power to assuage these consumer anxieties. Two days after Thanksgiving, Small Business Saturday is the perfect opportunity cement the value the establishment brings to shoppers in your community. How can a small business successfully provide a satisfying customer experience?
- Make it simple. The goal is to bring consumers into your shop. Your online presence accomplishes that. Make sure your website is attractive, easy to navigate, and up to date. Make location, phone number, and hours of operation front and center and easy to find.
- Throw in an incentive. An exclusive Small Business Saturday coupon that can be scanned at the register is the ultimate blending of onsite and online. Or perhaps a percentage of sales donated to a local charity, or a raffle for on-site shoppers.
- Go where the shoppers are. Hootsuite estimates there are currently 2.41 billion active monthly users on Facebook alone. Make it easy for shoppers to find get what they want on your social media pages with information, enticements, and insight that makes shoppers want to stop by.
- Take advantage of affinity. If you belong to a local or state Chamber of Commerce, they probably push Small Business Saturday with no-cost printable posters, email templates, web badges, and other marketing materials. Use them!
- Be available. Nearly everyone is extra busy during the holiday season. It isn’t enough to “offer it, and they will come.” You have to offer it when they CAN come. That means extending hours to accommodate before work or evening shoppers.
- Make customer service your priority. What does that mean for your niche? For those small businesses in cold climates, offer of a hot cup of coffee as a frozen shopper enters your store. Or have a “runner”—a helper trained to fetch items that might be of interest—to assist shoppers. Another option is to offer a comfortable chair for a weary spouse to relax while his/her SO checks items off the list. And, in the simplest terms, have enough staff to keep the register from bogging down.
- Invite someone special. It could be Santa, or it might be a local dignitary, a sports celebrity, or a resident musician. Let shoppers know your store is their chance for an intimate meet and greet with an interesting luminary. Encourage selfies and social media sharing, with a hashtag you provide in a prominent poster.
- Support it all with communication. Newsletters, emails, and posts help get the word out to consumers. Direct mail or even an elf out front wearing a sandwich board works as well. Whatever it takes to let consumers know that you are here for them, making the shopping experience easier and a little more fun than online or big box.
Jingle all the way – enduring benefits from Small Business Saturday sales
Small Business Saturday is just one day—but these far from random acts of cheer can create a beneficial ripple that extends throughout the year. Do it right, and your shop can become a holiday tradition for seasons to come; building momentum and loyalty that extends beyond the yuletide. The personal relationships you and your team build with customers, through compassion, patience, and a sense of service, can help to smooth the peaks and valleys of small business sales, from New Year’s Eve to Halloween.
Jonathan McCormick is CRO (head of sales) for Intermedia, managing and overseeing sales for the company. McCormick pulls from his 20 years of experience to provide 24×7 managed services support to customers and partners. With Intermedia since 2007, McCormick has played an integral role in bringing a number of industry firsts to market for the company including securing Intermedia’s Assisted Technical Support certification from J.D. Power and Associates and TSIA—a first for the cloud.