There’s something so special about shopping with independent retailers. From baby gifts to kitchen pantry staples, I know exactly where to go on Main Street or off the beaten path in my hometown. It’s in these places I find something unique, things I can’t find at the department and chain stores. Many even locally made. And I find it rewarding to put my money right back into my community and to thank the shop owner for their extraordinary offerings and helping hand. On November 26, 2016, we recognize them for this hard work. We observe Small Business Saturday, a great day to be an independent retailer.
Why It’s a Great (and Tough) Time to Be a Small Business
Last year, more than 95 million people shopped small businesses on Small Business Saturday and spent $16.2 billion. This was a 14% increase over 2014! Yet, the best news is that purchases at independent retailers aren’t reserved for this designated day. Consumers are choosing to buy from them year round. In fact, small businesses win almost 53% of all retail sales, and we shouldn’t be surprised to see an increase in their share. That’s because local retailers are offering today’s shoppers just what they want – authenticity.
Your patrons appreciate the transparency in dealing with a small business. And many want to join your ranks. There are currently 30 million small businesses. But we’re expecting 12 million more to open their doors over the next 10 years. This means, not only must you contend with larger and “big box” retailers, you must now face greater rivalry from shops your own size.
5 Ways to Stand Out On Small Business Saturday
When you consider almost 1.3 million small businesses participated in last year’s Small Business Saturday, how will you stand out among the competition? Here are five ideas, scalable for any budget, to get consumers in your independent retail business.
Give them incentives.
A tried-and-true and oh-so-simple means for getting shoppers in your doors is to offer them something they can’t refuse. It may be a certain percentage off, a gift with purchase or a giveaway. Like your larger opponents, you may even advertise doorbusters to get shoppers in your store before they hit others. Fortunately, advertising is accessible and free or economical when you use social media to reach current and prospective customers.[Tweet “1.3 million businesses participated in Small Business Saturday last year. How will you stand out?”]
Host a holiday event.
The holidays are a hectic time, prompting people to rush through their shopping or to order gifts online. Help them slow down a bit and find some enjoyment this season in your retail store. Not much is necessary for a holiday event, aside from friendly faces. But, if your budget can support it, a glass of wine or a festive treat can go a long way. Further boost their spirit with holiday music, or feature a live performance if you can. Even a one-man band on acoustic guitar can set the mood and create an inviting shopping experience. These unique touches will remain in consumers’ hearts and minds for many years to come.
Take to the streets on Black Friday.
You know exactly where consumers will be on Black Friday. Why not get in front of them and personally invite them to shop with you on Small Business Saturday? This form of grassroots marketing is known as a street team. And it can help initiate relationships with buyers with little expense and minimal use of other resources. By using street teams to engage people outside of your store, brand ambassadors personify your brand and offer a warm welcome to visit your store. It’s also an opportunity to let them know about your incentives and/or holiday event.
Let them experience your offerings.
That line of handcrafted candles you just added to inventory? Light one and let shoppers enjoy its aroma. What about that local-made pecan brittle or Bloody Mary mix? Set up a table with samples and give them a taste. The possibilities are endless, whether you run a cosmetics store or spice shop. By allowing people to get hands-on with your products, you encourage both personal and gift purchases. Actually, samples have been reported, “in some cases,” to boost sales by “as much as 2,000 percent.”[Tweet “Help shoppers enjoy the holiday season when you host an event on Small Business Saturday.”]
Set up a second location.
Let’s face it. Even with AmEx bringing recognition to smaller stores, many consumers will still shop the malls out of habit. But that doesn’t mean you have to miss out on their business. Many smart retailers will set up a temporary or secondary location in well-trafficked areas this holiday season. This type of store, or pop-up shop, can put you exactly where your shoppers are and facilitate the introduction you need. Once consumers see your products and form a relationship with your brand, they’ll be more inclined to break the habit and venture out to your primary locale.
2 Tips for Any Small Business Marketing Initiative
In planning to make a big splash on Small Business Saturday, you’ve likely asked yourself the following questions:
- How will I staff these initiatives with limited employees during an already busy time?
- What if my results aren’t as successful as planned or, on the flip side, how do I keep the momentum?
First, know that event staffing companies exist to provide the “talent” you need to execute marketing and holiday events. They can supply trained individuals for your street team, pop-up shop, product demonstration or to greet customers when they enter your store. This allows regular employees to focus on routine responsibilities, while your event staff lay the foundation for sales.
Second, marketing initiatives boost sales year round, not just on Small Business Saturday, and help companies maintain a competitive edge. The key is to always collect data so that, in the event of a missed goal, you can make adjustments in the future to drive consumer purchasing. You can also use the data to notify customers of future events or sales on their favorite products. Simplify data collection and follow-up efforts when you implement a comprehensive technology platform.
Just because you’re a “small” business now doesn’t mean there isn’t room for tremendous growth. Make small investments this Small Business Saturday and reap the rewards for some time to come.
Since 1999, EPS has helped businesses of all sizes appear big when it matters most. Contact us to discuss your event staffing and technology needs for Small Business Saturday and year round!