Taking place on the Saturday after Black Friday and before Cyber Monday—meaning November 27 this year, Small Business Saturday is a can’t-miss event for small and local businesses.
Celebrated to encourage consumers to shop at small businesses, this day is a great opportunity for you to boost sales and build relationships with local customers.
Whether you have a brick-and-mortar store or an e-commerce site, have you prepared for this day yet? Don’t worry, you still have time.
Below are 10 tips to help you prepare for Small Business Saturday so you can get the most out of this event.
1. Make the experience easier for customers
Offer free shipping and gift wrapping
Shipping costs concern a large number of customers, so free standard shipping is a huge plus. Free gift wrapping is also a small, yet attractive, complimentary service.
Have a wishlist feature on your online store
This feature allows customers to select items they’re interested in. They can put their favorite items in and decide to purchase from the list sometime in the future.
Family and friends can also put their preferred items on the list. This is convenient because it reduces the guesswork. Buyers just need to visit the wishlist and purchase items that their loved ones like.
Many businesses set up alerts to remind customers of the items that they’ve put in their wishlist, or that someone has shared a wishlist with them. This is to make sure consumers don’t forget you, given that they’re surrounded by too many stores and services these days.
Offer in-store and digital concierge programs
Concierge programs are services that assist customers and make the shopping experience easier for them. Here are some services you can offer:
- Offer curbside and gift wrapped pickup service: customers place an order online and come to the store to pick it up. They can park near the store and the store employee will bring the order to their car.
- Keep customers’ purchases for later pickup or offer to deliver to their home.
- Integrate chatbots on your store website so that customers can find quick answers to common questions.
- Offer virtual appointments so that customers can receive styling and gifting advice from the store experts.
2. Recommend the right products
Having a wide range of options seems to be a huge plus for any store. However, customers can get overwhelmed quickly, and decide to leave instead of making a decision.
Some buyers pick up a product just because it’s the first thing that appears in the search results. They can receive a product that doesn’t match their expectations, and end up having a bad impression on your store. That’s why you need to recommend the right products for them.
Create categories on your online store
Categories are useful to navigate customers to products that match their needs. You can categorize products by:
- Types: Outerwear—Sportswear—Shoes
- Preferences & interests: Fishing—Running—Hiking
- Buyers’ personality & traits: Animal Lovers, Bookworms
- Price: Under $20—$20-$50—Over $50
- Recommend products
- Popular products
Train staff on giving recommendations to customers
Train your staff so that they can recommend products that are related to what buyers are interested in or are purchasing. Recommendations such as offering a larger size or signing up for a rewards program are also good ones.
These products will surely attract fan bases of those trends, movies, etc. For example, create T-shirts for fans of the F.R.I.E.N.D.S. show. However, you need to be careful with problems regarding copyrights and trademarks.
3. Make preparations regarding your staff
Your staff are the face of your business. They work directly with customers and directly affect customers’ shopping experience at your store.
On a busy Small Business Saturday, not every staff is gonna be happy. They might be exhausted or fed up with being asked the same questions, and bring in an attitude that will do more harm than good.
As a business owner, you need to prepare your staff for this occasion.
Hire and schedule enough staff
If you sense that day is going to be busier than usual, hiring and scheduling more staff can help.
Check your employees’ availability and time-off requests. Then, estimate the demand for that day and hire temporary workers if necessary.
Offer incentives and rewards on that day
Who doesn’t love rewards and incentives? They will motivate employees to adopt a positive attitude to go through this chaotic day.
Hold training sessions on customer service skills and best practices. Make sure employees know clearly about specials, promotions, and products you offer.
You can also create virtual situations that may happen and let employees practice handling those.
Support your staff
The event can be exhausting and require lots of work. Don’t forget to schedule enough breaks for staff, and switch their tasks in case they’re bored.
4. Make preparations regarding your store
Establish your online presence
Create or refresh your business website. A majority of people search for your brand before buying at your store. A website with enough information regarding contact, location, opening hours, deals, etc. would be much more trustworthy.
Be active on social media channels. Announce your Small Business Saturday events and run ads to reach more potential buyers.
Redecorate your store
Display decor elements and products that match Small Business Saturday events. Arrange items in a way that attracts customers and makes it convenient for them to move around and check out your products.
Focus on local search
As a small business, you should appear in local search results to attract local customers. You can set up a business listing in MozLocal and on Google to make sure you show up on listing sites.
Extend opening hours
Customers can stay a bit longer or show up a bit later at your store. Check if there are any events happening nearby because customers may drop by after attending those events.
5. Prepare materials for marketing, promotions, and advertising
Check out materials from American Express
American Express is the one initiating the Small Business Saturday event. They offer multiple free posters, flyers, email templates, etc. so you can download and prepare for your marketing efforts.
Create and publish promotional materials on your blog and social sites. You can run paid ads on Google and social media channels to make sure your event gets known.
In terms of social media, be active and use relevant hashtags such as #SmallBusinessSaturday or local hashtags. Announce events, rewards, and giveaways to attract potential buyers.
Contact customers via emails or texts
If you have a list of customers’ emails already, don’t forget to send emails announcing the date and time of the event, as well as attractive deals and promotions.
6. Increase foot traffic
Contact community leaders and local organizations and ask for their help to promote your business.
Get word-of-mouth traffic through friends, family members, and staff.
Create in-store events to keep your business not empty. An empty business is less attractive to passers-by, while one with a crowd will provoke curiosity. Hire a local singer or band. Offer sweets, coffee, snacks, samplings, and coupons throughout the day.
Create a customer-friendly environment to bring the best shopping experience to customers. If they’re happy, they’re more likely to recommend your store to their circle.
7. Partner with other small businesses
You can partner with other small businesses to support each other:
- Offer promotions and punch cards for other businesses when customers make purchases at your store, and vice versa.
- Create collaborative ads and marketing materials to attract each other’s customer base.
- Provide direction guides to each other’s store.
8. Tell your story
The purpose of Small Business Saturday is to support small businesses, and people who care about your story. Don’t be afraid to tell your own story and connect with potential customers.
9. Partner with local charities
Today’s customers love to see a humanized brand making contributions to society. You can donate part of your profits to a good cause, or encourage customers to bring clothes or food for donation when they visit your store.
10. Get feedback from customers
You can send out surveys to ask for customers’ feedback on your Small Business Saturday events. Ask about what you’re offering, service quality, shopping experience, and more.
Make suitable changes to increase customer satisfaction. Customers love it when you listen to them and actually make the changes.
Now you’re ready for your Small Business Saturday events
Are you ready to get out there and give the above tips a try?
With all of the resources and recommendations we’ve written here for you, all there’s left to do is test them out for yourself and see which ones work best for your business.
However, all the hard work and preparations you make should continue after that big Saturday. Continue with your promotional and marketing efforts. Provide the best service and shopping experience. Who knows, customers who drop by once can become regular and loyal visitors.
Read more on marketing ideas for small businesses.