With the Thanksgiving food coma and the weekends biggest array of sales finally winding down, I thought I would reflect on the shopping festivities that surround this turkey day holiday.
There is one day that is often always lost amid the hype of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. And in my opinion this “shopping day” is pretty important – as it emphasizes more than just pure monetary profits. It is not about the killer deal (is 85% off actually a real thing?) or that buy-one-get-one-free offer you just can’t pass up… Instead, it surrounds and celebrates what makes the communities in which we all live in unique. It is what makes them familiar and cozy. It is what makes them feel like home.
And with that I bring you Small Business Saturday – falling this year on November 25th, 2017.
A little background on Small Business Saturday before we really dive into the nitty gritty. Founded by American Express in 2010, this annual shopping day supports independently owned businesses that create jobs and make local economies thrive. Amy Marino, VP and head of Small Business Saturday at American Express emphasizes that, “our ultimate goal is to help small businesses do more business…that includes arming them with the tools to help make the day a success.” Small Business Saturday’s goal is to connect these mom-and-pop shops with the local community and encourage customers to show their love when they #shopsmall.
American Express actively works to provide small business owners with tangible tools – offering free business boot camps, online “SBS 101” educational content, and customizable print and digital signage for the day-of. Additionally, promotional content such as event flyers, posters, save the dates, and social media assets are available for business owners to customize and then download for free to promote their business. American Express has been committed to actually helping these companies thrive – even beyond SBS.
Since its inauguration back in 2010, Small Business Saturday has continued to grow. In 2016, an estimated 112 million shoppers and diners reported spending money on SBS – establishing a new record, and a 13% increase from 2015 reports. These individuals who shopped at local small businesses and independent restaurants also spent a total of 15.4 billion. Things have been looking up for this shopping day, and I have optimism that the statistics from this past Saturday won’t disappoint, as predictions were high building off of last years success. According to a Deloitte survey, local stores are still drawing consumers for the shopping kickoff this SBS: 52 percent plan to shop at brick-and-mortar stores on Saturday, while 24 percent plan to shop online that day.
However, despite the excitement surrounding this shopping day these small businesses are still facing major challenges. What ultimately stands in the way of more long-term foot traffic and larger sales is these businesses hesitation to fully lean in and embrace technology. Although this is understandable in some aspects – as these technological innovations can be huge capital expenses, thus making it harder for these businesses to invest in certain technology. SBS is a great awareness tool – but word of mouth can only go so far, and these small businesses must learn to adapt if they want growth beyond just the hype of SBS.
Below are just a few of the ways small-businesss can work to pull ahead and take advantage of the hype that often follows the week after SBS. Adapting and implementing these digital technologies can help businesses continue to grow.
1. Collect data…but then actually analyze it:
I sound like a broken record here… but we all know that data is king when it comes to business. Even though small business retailers might be limited in the caliber of technology available for investment (due to limited budgets) – it doesn’t mean they can’t leverage data. There are plenty of platforms and applications that allow companies to collect data at a fraction of the price without a need for huge IT overhauls. Data about customer’s purchasing behavior must be collected from a variety of sources and then should subsequently be analyzed and used in future decision making. Additionally, small businesses must review the data received both online and offline – allowing them to provide a seamless integrated experience between digital and in-store, akin to what I stressed in my presentation from last week.
2. Invest in mobile point of sales systems:
This simple investment can enhance the overall retail in-store experience. It allows employees to help customers check-out without having to wait in long lines. Mobile POS is also a great IT investment because it gives small businesses the freedom and flexibility to set up pop-up stores in other locations (as we all know that the “pop-up” trend is one the rise these days). The POS technology allows small businesses to expand their presence and collect customer data simultaneously.
3. Social Media is your best friend, so use it:
Social media can be used for an array of functions – discounts, promotions, new merchandise, etc. But the most important rule with any social content is ensuring that it is as interactive as possible. Creating a two-way relationship with the customer through polls or direct replies to questions creates both brand identity and deeper trust. Social media can be used to give your business and voice which will in-turn help you gain a following. (Sounds like @briandentonbc‘s Yard Goats to me??)
4. Make sure you don’t ignore any channel:
Social media isn’t the only place customers can look for information or advertisements regarding a small business. This is where leveraging discount apps as another promotional channel can come in handy. Offering consumers exciting deals on applications like Groupon, SnipSnap, and RetailMeNot – can provide visibility for your company, Additionally, it might encourage more consumers to come into your physical store with the incentive of a discount – when they otherwise wouldn’t choose to visit.
Overall, SBS has been able to provide a platform to bring awareness and to celebrate small businesses. They are what the American economy was built upon and in my opinion are what give our neighborhoods character. However, in order for these small businesses to weather the storm against big-name retail they need to be as up-to-date if not slightly ahead of the game with digital solutions in comparison to the major players in the industry. With the push to #buylocal becoming more “trendy” everyday small businesses need to make sure they are ready to satisfy the new wave of customers that are used to the perks offered by the big-names.