Small Business Saturday is one of the top five shopping days of the year. Falling on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, this shoppers’ holiday offers a much more leisurely pace than the Black Friday Smackdown. By shopping locally, you might run into a neighbor, discover a shop or restaurant that’s new to you and get home with a sense of satisfaction in supporting your community. It’s a good thing.
On the other hand, owners must figure out how to make their business a go-to destination, whether they’re brick-and-mortar or online.
Here’s how to draw customers to your shop and make sure they return after the holidays are over.
Market Your Really Cool, Really Unique Stuff
Part of the appeal of Small Business Saturday is finding gifts that are unique and special. Shoppers want Etsy-esque, not Amazon.
When advertising, highlight some of your interesting, offbeat items that make your shop different than the competition, along with any merchandise on sale only that weekend. And if you have a Twitter presence, appeal to your followers by including hashtags. Use something like #SmallBizSat or #ShopLocal, and come up with some of your own.
Offer Free/Discounted/Convenience Shipping
Shoppers not only love free shipping, they’ve come to expect it. Offer free shipping for online orders as well as anything you ship from your shop.
If you can’t afford to offer free shipping across the board, consider an alternative perk, such as discounted shipping for online orders, free in-store pickup or free gift wrapping.
Ensure Secure Transactions
It’s critical to ensure your payment card transactions are highly secure. Well before Small Business Saturday, review your systems and processes to ensure they meet the current Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS).
For example, do you provide end-to-end encryption when transmitting payment card information? Do you store payment card information only as long as it is needed for business, legal and regulatory purposes? If you need a refresher on requirements, refer to the latest PCI DSS Quick Reference Guide (version 3.2.1, as of this writing).
While you’re at it, train or provide a payment card refresher session to employees, emphasizing the safety and security of customer information.
Beef Up Customer Service
What customers will remember from Small Business Saturday, aside from scoring unique gifts, is great customer service. That, more than anything, may be the key to repeat visits.
Have an extra employee or two available to handle customer service needs (in-store and online), as well as serve as “floats” or “roamers” who step in to whatever role is needed.
A brick-and-mortar shop in particular should:
- Ensure there’s ample room for multiple shoppers to maneuver within your store. Having to push past people is stressful for everyone.
- Ensure customers can check out quickly. Consider having an employee do mobile checkouts from a tablet or smartphone on the shop floor, much like the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts do at their sales tables.
Be Prepared for the Deluge
You know better than anyone to have plenty of merchandise in stock before Thanksgiving, but double-check supplies – bags, tape, gift wrap, register tape and so on. Keep in mind that your stock might be diminished right after the weekend so plan for extra inventory. On that note, is your stock-receiving area or workroom clean and organized? Make sure employees can find what they need in a snap. And be sure to have manual payment card sales slips in case your point of sale system goes down.
Are you prepared to process and ship orders? Like I mentioned, customers expect free shipping, but many are willing to pay a reasonable shipping fee if they know they’re dealing with a small business. They still want the order out your door quickly, which usually means within two or three days after the order is received.
Small Business Saturday is as much about human connections and relationship building as it is about sales. Putting your best effort into preparations will reap rewards. Enjoy your Saturday!