Enhancing the Customer Experience
Here’s something merchants and small business operators learn pretty quickly — it’s hard to compete with big-box retailers and chains on price. Fortunately, consumers don’t shop on price alone. They shop value.
Small Business Saturday is a celebration of local merchant value. In a retail study, more than three-quarters of respondents said they would shop Small Business Saturday expressly to discover and support these neighborhood merchants.
As your local communications provider powering many of the small businesses in our community, we want to help make this year’s prime shopping season a success. This Small Business Saturday, and throughout the holiday season, consider elevating your customers’ experience, “CX.” Flip the script! Encourage shoppers online to check you out IRL (in real life).
Here are 10 ways you can raise that ‘X’ factor this Small Business Saturday.
1. Get ready, virtually!
The best local businesses have a vibrant virtual presence because, as we know from experience, we reach for our smartphones for everything from hours of operation to maps (even for businesses just a few miles away!).
To boost your Small Business Saturday marketing without paying a dime, refresh the details on both your website and any social media channels (including Yelp and other review sites).
- Do you offer visitors a map/locator that’s featured prominently?
- Is your site responsive to mobile platforms?
- Sounds silly, but is your telephone number current and are your hours of operation accurate?
Relatedly, is your store’s bandwidth more than sufficient for your online business needs and that of your customers’ (guest WiFi)? If not, check us out. Faster speeds may be available to your business! Offering customers high-speed WiFi is a necessary part of the customer experience. In fact, some WiFi solutions even allow you to push promotional messages to customers while they are in-store. So count it in among your Small Business Saturday promotions.
2. Check in with DIY marketing material
American Express, the credit card company that started Small Business Saturday in 2010, now offers a small business DIY marketing portal with the Shop Small Studio.
Create your own Small Business Saturday hashtag (and don’t forget #ShopSmall, too), and print promotional signs or placards asking patrons to “check-in” on social media. Why? Check-ins are virtual little ads, and effective ones at that: 86% of consumers read reviews of local businesses. Check-ins are de facto positive reviews.
3. Foot traffic and window shopping
If yours is the kind of storefront for which foot traffic and pop-ins tally a big pile of receipts at the end of the month, add an outdoor “scene” among your Small Business Saturday ideas. This might be little more than a seasonal display that catches the eye, but you may shoot for “tenting” out front with some swag.
And consider a special Small Business Saturday in-store event that includes giveaways, prizes and other attention-getting tactics.
4. Charity partners
It’s not cynical to seek charity partners when it creates genuine value for both organizations. Charities seek such commercial supporters because they do good while reinforcing the sentiment that merchants are deeply entrenched in the community. Local owners are human beings, not merely a brand or a product.
- Keep it local.
- Set the goal high (otherwise, it is little more than a ploy).
- Ask the charity partner what resources they have to help you meet your Small Business Saturday marketing goal (even small charities have a development specialist who can talk strategies and promotion).
5. Turn shoppers into influencers!
A social media “influencer” is someone with an online following great enough that they can make mention of a brand or business and, in effect, advertise it. While every shopper that enters your store may not have “influencer” status, having a group of people tagging, checking in or @ mentioning your business extends your brand reach exponentially. Encourage shoppers to engage with your brand on social using your custom hashtag. Get greater participation by making a social media post the entry for a valuable giveaway.
6. Roleplaying ‘CX’
Consider the spectrum of customer needs as they shop Small Business Saturday. Be helpful and be local.
- Ask what brings a person in, and then make relevant recommendations.
- Let them know of any special promotions you are running or ask if they are interested in joining your loyalty program for ongoing perks and rewards.
- Stay apprised of other Small Business Saturday promotions and offers and plug other local businesses. You are the expert.
With that in mind, consider roleplaying various interactions with your staff ahead of the big day. Some shoppers come in simply for a sale or deal, others because of a display out front or because their partner is at another shop nearby. Many may need gift ideas!
Being prepared to happily and gently guide a buyer through a purchase decision is what makes your business different and better.
Remember, shoppers don’t shop price, they shop value. (Yes, price may be the value proposition foremost in their minds.)
You’ve got them in the store. You’ve got merchandise marked down competitively. You’ve got the store decked out beautifully — what’s the one additional value you offer?
If you’re a retailer, let us suggest gift wrapping. A beautifully wrapped gift is a treasure unto itself, and a chore many gift buyers would prefer to skip.
8. Special guests / News release
Into your bag of Small Business Saturday ideas throw personal invitation. Certain people should be invited to your shop. You’re going big, and they’re a special part of it.
- Call a local politician or celebrity to stop by.
- Reach out to local media, offering them full access to your local business on the busiest shopping weekend of the year, and tip them off to what you’re doing special.
- Nearly all media have a “contact us” option on their sites. If not, try “news” and/or “info” @ [domain name]. You can also tweet at them or message them on Facebook.
Not all news media chase “news.” Some just want to be where the action is — if it’s where their potential viewers or readers are.
9. Failure is not an option!
If there’s one thing that cannot go wrong when people turn up ready to shop Small Business Saturday, it’s your point-of-sale (POS) network connection.
Don’t let the connection that powers your POS go down for any reason! Kinetic Business by Windstream’s Always On Wireless Internet Backup delivers a 99.999% uptime SLA. If your primary internet connection is disrupted – even for a moment – your 4G wireless connection immediately kicks in. One less thing to worry about this holiday season.
10. We’re all in this together
Partner with each other in Small Business Saturday promotions. Your fellow merchants are part of your extended sales outreach in the community — and you are part of theirs.
- Trade promotional material, even discounts, with merchants whose patronage tracks yours. (Remember, more than three in four Small Business Saturday shoppers are out to support the entire community of independent and enterprising business operators.)
- Have you checked in with your Chamber of Commerce? Are there any neighborhood or citywide promotions you can be a part of?
A recent report in the Journal of Consumer Psychology found some evidence shopping is a stress therapy. It turns out, shopping fosters “personal control restoration.” At Kinetic Business we strive to offer you some “small business owner restoration” with improved internet connections, mobile friendly phone solutions and tips and tricks to make Small Business Saturday a success.
Level up your customer experience for Small Business Saturday! Check out our checklist to find out how you can make the most of the upcoming kickoff to the holiday shopping season.