The day after Thanksgiving marks the start of the official holiday shopping season with Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday all stacked up one after the other. While Black Friday and Cyber Monday are typically associated with large businesses and corporations, that doesn’t mean small and medium businesses (SMBs) can’t take advantage of them too, particularly as a tie-in to Small Business Saturday, which is tailored specifically to benefit smaller local businesses. The key is to properly prepare so that these holidays create a launching point for the entire holiday shopping season. Here are six ways to do just that and capitalize on the month-long shopping spree leading up to the new year.

1. Offer Irresistible Deals

Offering irresistible discounts can greatly benefit SMBs over the Thanksgiving weekend. Discounts and deals attract new and repeat customers, boost sales, and allow SMBs to compete with larger businesses. Business owners can do this by offering time-sensitive deals, bundling products, and offering discounts on their most popular items or services. The goal is to get people in the door with the promise of a great deal, where they will then be more likely to check out everything else the business has to offer and make additional purchases.

2. Spread the Word

It’s important for SMBs to let customers and the local community know that they are participating in the Thanksgiving weekend holidays. There are a few easy ways to spread awareness and encourage customers to visit both brick-and-mortar locations and business websites:

  • Send “save the date” marketing emails to customers with details on any seasonal products, deals, and events the business has planned
  • Post the same type of information on social media and ask friends, family, and loyal customers to share the posts
  • Post on online local community pages such as
  • Train employees to tell in-store customers about the upcoming dates and deals
  • Make flyers and post them in the store in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving

3. Extend Business Hours

An easy way to have a successful Thanksgiving weekend is to simply extend business hours. A business that typically closes at 5 p.m. could extend its hours to close at 9 p.m. or 10 p.m. on Black Friday and Small Business Saturday. It’s not necessary to go over the top like corporate retailers and stay open all night, but staying open a few extra hours will give SMB customers a larger window to shop and take advantage of discounts and deals.

4. Stock up on Popular Items

SMB’s should make sure to stock up on their most popular items, as well as any items that will be on sale, before opening the doors for the Thanksgiving weekend. Properly assessing inventory well in advance can help recognize fast-moving, popular items that will need to be reordered. Additionally, SMBs should take stock of what items sold well over the Thanksgiving weekend to provide insight into what to stock up on for the rest of the holiday season.

5. Improve Customer Service

It’s always important for SMBs to provide top notch customer service, but especially so over the busy Thanksgiving weekend when shoppers are in a hurry and often stressed. A few extra personal touches like making sure employees know the return policy and wishing everyone “happy holidays” during the checkout process can go a long way. Not only will customers feel cared for, but they will be more likely to refer friends and family, and write positive comments on review sites, which will increase foot traffic and brand awareness for the entire shopping season.

6. Have a Professional Website that is Mobile Friendly

During the holiday shopping season, it’s essential for SMBs to have a functioning, attractive website. That includes ensuring that the website is mobile friendly, since customers will be looking for local businesses on their phones to find information on business hours, discounts, deals, and more while out shopping.

To take advantage of Cyber Monday, SMBs will want to have their online store set up on their webpage, if applicable, or come up with creative hybrid approaches to tap into the online excitement. For example, a business could offer an in-store deal to anyone who signs up for their mailing list on their website on Cyber Monday. This will not only encourage customer visits, but will also help the business grow their customer mailing list, strengthening their marketing reach for future campaigns.

Taken together, these six strategies can help SMBs take advantage of the busy Thanksgiving weekend and hopefully sustain that momentum through the rest of the holiday shopping season. Planning ahead and having a strategy for execution will make all the difference when it comes to communicating with customers and offering the personal touch that makes shopping local so special.

RJ Horsley is the President of SpotOn Transact, LLC, a cutting-edge payments and software company redefining the merchant services industry by offering the most comprehensive tools for small- and medium-sized businesses. Under Horsley’s leadership, SpotOn is rapidly growing its team, which includes a national outside sales force along with internal employees at SpotOn’s San Francisco headquarters and offices in Chicago and Detroit. By creating a dynamic workplace that effectively engages employees, SpotOn fosters an environment that encourages innovation and flexibility while offering unparalleled support to its business clients.

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