The most wonderful time of the year is just days away! Small Business Saturday, a shopping holiday created by American Express in 2010 to promote independent retailers, is a great way to kick off a successful finale to 2018.
Here’s a four-point plan to prepare you for a prosperous day.
Clean up. It’s always a good idea to maintain a clean and organized shop, but it’s particularly important before you anticipate a lot of foot traffic. Research proves clutter is distracting, that it discourages customers from lingering. Allocate some time for tidying to ensure your space is eye pleasing and inviting.
Freshen up your website. Sure, Small Business Saturday’s aim is to bring customers into your store. But expect your website to get more traffic too. A recent study found that 82 percent of smartphone users consult their phones to research products they intend to make in-store and 45 percent read reviews before making a purchase. Update your website to highlight merchandise likely to draw SBS shoppers, such as holiday decor (trees, ornaments, wreaths, garland) and small items, perfect for stocking stuffers (candles, lotions, jewelry, stationery, mugs). Make sure your featured floral arrangements are seasonally appropriate. And add a Small Business Saturday badge to your website; you can download it (and other marketing materials) for free from American Express. For more details on refreshing your website from search engine optimization and online shopping experts, check out “Rank and Style.”
Make it an event. Think bigger than a discount. Turn Small Business Saturday into a must-attend experience, complete with music, refreshments and some kind of activity. Some inexpensive ideas that don’t require much planning: an ugly sweater contest, photos with Santa, an Instagram-worthy photo station.
In Scott, Louisiana, Annie Taylor, owner of Leona Sue’s Florist, invites local vendors to set up booths in her shop’s courtyard for Small Business Saturday. “We don’t have a downtown strip where everyone goes to shop,” she explained. She typically gets about 15 vendor participants and 100 customers. “It’s a real community event,” she said. She’s had employees dress up as Santa and elves to pose for pictures with customers and has set up inflatable equipment for children to jump. “If you have something that’s fun for kids, it’s a huge draw for Mom and Dad,” Taylor said. She also always incorporates a holiday design class. “It gets people excited,” she said. “Plus, we stress that those Christmas greens will last through holidays and that they can bring their design back in to have the flowers refreshed. It works like a charm to customers back in — and, each visit, they always end up buying more than they originally planned!”
Shout it from the rooftops. Will you be open on Saturday, Nov. 24? Make sure people know. Take advantage of American Express’s free flyers, email templates and graphics to use on social media. Take photos and videos throughout the day, sharing real-time updates. Also, give your local media a call. Taylor has had great success getting press for Small Business Saturday. “I tell reporters, ‘This is a day to support your community mom and pop stores. If we don’t support local businesses, we’ll turn into a ghost town. What will happen if the Internet is the only option? It will be really tough if you need to get a gift today.”
Katie Hendrick Vincent is the senior contributing editor of Floral Management.