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Get Ready for Small Business Saturday

How Small Retailers Can Win the Holiday Season!

The Holiday season is coming soon for retailers – and it all starts with Black Friday and Small Business Saturday!  These two days (the Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving) have become the traditional kickoff of the holiday retail season each year when retailers offer big sales and in-store events to get shoppers to come out for holiday shopping.

In this piece, we’ll tell you all about Small Business Saturday, and provide 10 easy tips that will make your retail business successful during Small Business Saturday — and throughout the Holiday season!

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Small Business Saturday is the day for small businesses to shine with offers, sales, and events that highlight the unique experience of shopping small.  Independent retailers in neighborhood small business districts partner together to create festive retail communities for shoppers to visit. It’s also an opportunity for small businesses to show the public how they give back locally. Small Business Saturday is a really big deal! Here are some numbers that prove why it matters: 

Small businesses come out the clear winner when it comes to the Big Three shopping days at the beginning of the holiday retail season!

About Small Business Saturday

Studies on consumer opinions about Small Business Saturday reveal how the day makes customers feel about supporting small businesses.

  • 85% of shoppers who shopped on Small Business Saturday encouraged friends and family to do the same.

  • In 2021 42% of all shoppers planned to support small businesses on Small Business Saturday and 80% said they planned to shop at a small business during the holiday season.

  • 95% of shoppers who supported small businesses on Small Business Saturday said it made them want to shop at small businesses throughout the year and not just during the holiday season.

Small Business Saturday makes consumers intentional about including small retailers in their holiday shopping, which then translates to year-round support of small businesses.

How Important is the Holiday Season for Small Retail Businesses?

In 2021 78% of small businesses said the upcoming holiday season would determine if they stayed open for another year.  The importance of the Christmas shopping season for independent retailers can’t be overstated – it’s actually when most small businesses make the most money!

Getting shoppers to your store during the holidays is critical.  It starts with bringing them in on Small Business Saturday – or even before the big day – but also enticing them to come back throughout the remainder of the holiday retail season.
If you don’t yet have a customer loyalty system, we’ll show you how this tool helps independent retailers successfully prepare for the holidays.

Getting Ready for Small Business Saturday and the Holidays

Preparing for the holidays requires creative and strategic planning well before the pumpkin and turkey decorations start appearing.  Waiting until the week before the holiday retail season kicks off means missing out on valuable opportunities for engaging with your customers.  

As you’re planning your holiday strategy, here are 10 tips that will help your business be ready for a great holiday shopping season!

1. Have Holiday Signage for Your Store

Creating holiday signage for your store is a great way to bring more customers in.  Not only is it festive, but it’s a way to market your products and prime shoppers for holiday shopping at your store.

You should have your signage designed, printed, and in place by late October or early November.

2. Put Your Store in the Best Light

You want your business and your products to look their best, so make sure you have good lighting in your store.  Replace non-working bulbs and have plenty of extras on hand.  

Add new lighting in areas that need it.  Strands of Christmas lights are great ways to add extra light around your store and set a holiday mood for shoppers!

3. Evaluate Your Retail Space Layout

Your top-selling items should be front and center in your retail space.  Make sure they’re in your window displays or reorganize your layout to make these products highly visible when shoppers come into your store.

4. Know Your Inventory!

Know what your inventory looks like so you can place orders and identify what you’ll offer pre-season markdowns on.  Make sure you can get stock during the holiday season by keeping the lines of communication open with your suppliers. Have a plan in place that offers flexibility, traceability, and savings for dealing with out-of-stock items and any delivery issues that might occur. 

5. Create Your Holiday Offers

Plan your offers and when you’ll have them.  Mark your offers on the calendar and be sure to schedule the staffing you’ll need.

6. Identify Products to be Packaged as Gifts

Do you have products that you can sell together as a gift package?  Make sure you market packages to shoppers with in-store displays and via text or email campaigns.  Train your staff to sell these packages to shoppers – not just ring them up!

7. Be Ready for Gift Wrapping and Shipping

If you’re going to offer gift wrapping and shipping services to shoppers, make sure you have plenty of supplies before Black Friday rolls around.  You don’t want to run out before Christmas!

8. Don’t Forget Your Website

Besides your physical retail space, your website should also be ready for the holiday season!  This means making sure your website is optimized and updated with holiday content.

Audit your site with these questions in mind:

  • How’s the website’s speed?  

  • Does it need new product photos?  

  • Do the products pages make shoppers want to purchase what they see?  

  • Is the checkout process easy?  

  • Are all the prices, shipping costs, and tax fees clearly visible so shoppers know what the actual cost is?

Make any necessary changes so that shoppers have a transparent and smooth online shopping experience with your business.

9. Social Media Opportunities

This is a great time to have fun with your social media presence!

You can do things like offer sneak peeks of holiday inventory, promote in-store giveaways, announce events or contests, or partner up with small business neighbor stores to promote each other.

Create holiday hashtags for your business and encourage shoppers to use them when they post on social media. And don’t forget about short videos of your products and business that you can post on platforms like TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube!

10. Start a Loyalty Program!

If you don’t have one, now is the perfect time to create a loyalty program for your small business.  We can’t overstate how important this is for collecting information about new customers and keeping those customers once the holidays have ended!

An independent retailer relies on customer loyalty, especially during the holidays.  Remember, most small businesses said last year’s holiday season was the make-it-or-break-it point for staying open this year!

Creating customer loyalty means you need a customer loyalty program that incentivizes shoppers to purchase or engage with your brand on a recurring basis and then rewards them for doing so!

Part of your customer loyalty program is having a customer loyalty system.  With a customer loyalty system, you can reach out to customers early, often, and in the most effective ways.

How to Use Customer Loyalty Systems for the Holidays

A customer loyalty system provides some key functions for building a relationship between a small business and a customer for the holiday season.

  • A loyalty system should create a contact database of shoppers for holiday loyalty campaigns.

  • A loyalty system should send out notifications to shoppers about upcoming events.

  • A loyalty system should announce rewards such as offers, promotions, sales and more!

A customer loyalty system helps build a relationship between retailers and customers that continues after Small Business Saturday, through the holiday season, and into year-round shopping.

Using Email and Text Campaigns for the Holidays

Customer loyalty campaigns are easy and effective ways to position your small business in a shopper’s holiday planning.  

Send out scheduled email and SMS campaigns to shoppers in the weeks leading up to Small Business Saturday.  Consider creating weekly campaigns with themes such as

Nov. 7 – Getting in the Spirit / Holiday Decorating & Entertaining

Emails containing holiday content will put shoppers in the holiday mood – not every campaign has to be sales-focused.  Creating a connection in the shopper’s mind between the holidays and your small business brand is also important.

Email campaigns can take the form of holiday-themed invitations to sign up for newsletters or to join Facebook pages.  Sales ads are a reason why some shoppers sign up for newsletters around the holidays!

Previews of holiday items or pre-season sales are other campaigns to send out in early November.

Nov. 14 – Small Business Saturday

Even though it’s been around for more than a decade, some shoppers still don’t know about Small Business Saturday the way they know about Black Friday and Cyber Monday, so these campaigns are designed to educate shoppers about it.

Emphasize the instant gratification of leaving a small retailer with a gift in hand that customers can’t get from shopping online.  Even better is if the gift they buy is also beautifully wrapped!

The campaigns are opportunities to encourage pre-Small Business Saturday shopping and notify shoppers of offers available on Small Business Saturday.  Don’t forget about rewards that can be redeemed at a later time to motivate shoppers to return after Small Business Saturday.

Small Business Saturday campaigns can also tell the story of your business with family photos and behind-the-scenes video to create an emotional relationship between the shopper and you.

And finally, part of Small Business Saturday is education about how small business impacts the local economy – so let shoppers know how you’re giving back to the community!

Nov. 21 – Expect the Unexpected

Nothing ever goes perfectly, so why not plan for it?  Create a campaign with ideas of what to do and what to have on hand for situations like uninvited guests or receiving last-minute invitations to holiday events.

Nov. 28 – Shopping for Family

Create campaigns that include gift guides tailored to different members of the family offering a range of gift ideas.  

Don’t forget the family pets and gifts they’d love to receive!

Dec. 5 – Shopping for People Outside the Family

Besides family, there are other important people like friends, neighbors, co-workers, bosses, or service providers that we remember at the holidays.  Create gift guide campaigns of ideas for people outside the family that shoppers buy gifts for.

Dec. 12 – Pamper Yourself

These campaigns remind shoppers to slow down for much-needed stress relief and “me time” during the holiday.  Suggest ways to self-pamper, with options ranging from free all the way to indulgent!

Other Ideas for Email and SMS Campaigns

You can also create other types of customer loyalty campaigns – here are just a few ideas to get your creativity flowing!

  • Invite shoppers to post social media photos or videos of their favorite products you sell

  • Announce flash sales

  • Offer in-store rewards

  • Giveaways to get people through the door

  • Encourage shoppers to bring a friend with them for deals

A customer loyalty system should be an integral part of your planning as you gear up for Small Business Saturday and the holiday season!

Spark Loyalty

Spark Loyalty is the leader among customer loyalty systems.  It’s simple to use, customized to your small business brand, and designed to increase customer loyalty and engagement with independent retailers.  It’s also affordable at just $99 a month. With unlimited text and email campaigns, you’ll be able to get shoppers excited about Small Business Saturday, invite them back during the holiday season, and keep them returning for year-round business.

To make Spark Loyalty part of your small business holiday preparations, sign up here to get started.