We have American Express to thank for creating one of the biggest shopping days of the year, just for you: Small Business Saturday. Some nine years ago, the financial-services giant kicked off the day to encourage shoppers to support local small businesses.
Today, it’s part of the holiday shopping trifecta — starting with Black Friday and ending with Cyber Monday. And, during its most successful year in 2016, Small Business Saturday brought in an estimated 112 million shoppers who spent more than $15 billion.
With numbers like those, it’s easy to see why you need to take advantage of this day for your retail store. But how do you prepare?
Here are six ways to hightail it through Nov. 24 from our Kinetic Business by Windstream team:
1. Map Out Your Game Plan
Know what products you’ll want to sell and how you plan on doing it. Make a marketing strategy as well. (Check out American Express’ free resources and tools to help promote the day with signs and email templates.)
But before you even get there, be sure to do your research on your own customers. What are they most interested in? What types of content do they respond to best? Which mediums do they use most frequently, and how often do they want to hear from you?
2. Prepare Your Staff
The first step here is to ensure you have enough staff. As Entrepreneur recommends: when in doubt, overstaff. It’s better to have workers with slow periods than have customers waiting to be helped. A bad customer experience can make the difference in whether you see that customer again.
And if you are hiring seasonal help, be sure to get the new employees in on time to where they be trained on business operations before it’s show time.
3. Take Stock of Your Stock
The holiday shopping season isn’t exactly the time of year when you’re running short on your products. And don’t forget about sales equipment, like shopping bags, packing materials and receipt tape!
Count and recount your inventory like it’s the post-2000 presidential election! Go ahead and order more before one thing runs too low.
4. Prepare Your Website
Online retail isn’t really going anywhere. In fact, it’s projected to grow to more than $700 billion by 2022. Today’s consumers are more empowered than ever and can do research on the products and services in which they’re interested before making a purchase.
So, what does that mean for you, particularly for the holiday shopping season?
Make sure your website is up-to-date with all of your latest products and promotions, and ensure that it’s able to handle any increased web traffic that your retail store might get. (Read more tips about making the move to online retail here and how to optimize your online shopping cart so consumers don’t abandon purchases here.)
5. Don’t Forget about Promotions and Marketing
Use your research from Tip No. 1 to send out ads and market to those target audiences in their preferred communication method. It’s never too early to start, either. Larger enterprises like Wal-Mart and Target were said to have released holiday shopping ads as early as Nov. 10, one report found.
And don’t forget about your social media channels, including Pinterest. It may help to create a content calendar of sorts, along with a sales and promotion calendar.
Also know that nearly three of every four online shoppers abandon their online shopping carts during the Black Friday-Small Business Saturday-Cyber Monday weekend, so be sure to send reminders about what they’ve left behind!
6. Prioritize the Customer Experience
The customer experience should be your leg up over bigger businesses. Maybe you can’t offer deep discounts like your larger counterparts, but you can still give your customers a little extra oomph — whether it’s free access to your wireless Kinetic Internet through Windstream Extra Connect or even some hot chocolate — to show them how much you appreciate them.
Learn more about how a state-of-the-art network, like that of Kinetic Internet, can help accelerate your small business this holiday shopping season!