While furniture and lighting fixtures may not be top of mind for many holiday customers, it’s still an opportunity for independent home furnishings retailers to build relationships with consumers looking to shop small on the now iconic shopping Saturday after Thanksgiving (Nov. 27). Hopefully, this year will see shoppers back in stores after a 2020 shopping holiday season marred by the pandemic. While safety remains job one to keep your customers comfortable, it is anticipated that more consumers will be out this holiday season. Small Business Saturday encourages consumers to shop Main Street businesses through promotions, including discounts when shoppers use American Express.
Do you want to take advantage of connecting with customers on Small Business Saturday? Credit card processing firm Paysimple shares tips to optimize business and to maximize connections and profits.
1. Prepare your staff
Think about customer service best practices you want your staff to follow and plan a day (or days) to train newer employees and offer refreshers for long-standing employees. As labor shortages could continue into the holiday season, if you feel that you will be short-staffed, create a plan now for hiring temporary and/or seasonal employees.
Consider incentives for your staff. Do you have day-of sales quotas you’d like them to reach? Create rewards for your staff to reach those goals. To limit competition, you can also create team incentives. Dealing with a lot of people on one day can be stressful. Keep spirits lifted by adding staff perks, such as more recharging breaks or free meals.
Plan for safety around COVID. Make sure your staff is prepared to protect themselves and your customers with updated cleaning methods and proper PPE so everyone has a positive and safe shopping experience. Be sure to check CDC guidelines for latest procedures and safety guidelines required in your locale.
2. Prepare your store
You want to make a good first impression. Prepare your physical and digital space to do that, and get customers to return.
Now is the time to get maintenance and cleaning done in your store. You may also want to rearrange your showroom to accommodate more people and to put your most popular and/or most profitable items front and center. Consider adding giftier items that coordinate with your primary focus.
Make it easy for customers to buy from you. Ensure your business is prepared to accept all forms of payment. Prepare a safe space with proper signage. Depending on your state’s guidelines and your preferences, add signage to remind people to social distance and/or wear masks. Update your website if there have been changes that could potentially confuse your customers. Is the phone number correct? Are your hours still the same? You can also strategically review and add keywords that could drive traffic to your store.
3. Plan Your Promotion
Small Business Saturday lays the groundwork for promoting your retail business. What can you add that will entice customers to shop with you? You can offer a simple model like a percentage off, or you might want to incentivize customers with a “gift with purchase,” based on a certain dollar amount. Think creatively on what kind of special offers you can share on Small Business Saturday. Keep it simple and easy for your customers and staff to understand. Don’t underestimate the power of loss leaders that get customers in store and closer to purchasing higher profit margin items.
5. Partner With Local Businesses
Partner with other local businesses that complement yours. Get creative and have customers get a reward for completing a scavenger hunt through multiple stores, for example. Share the cost of marketing materials.
6. Strategic Marketing
Once you have your special promotions laid out and your potential marketing partners lined up, brainstorm creative strategies to spread the word. For flyers or printed mailers, plan in advance to give your printer time to deliver (remember, you’re not the only small business planning for Small Business Saturday). Market via physical and digital outreach — newsletters, social media, your website — to potential customers.
Create a social media calendar, starting now to create excitement around your Small Business Saturday promotions. Make social posts interactive where possible and get your potential customers invested in joining you for festivities via challenges and event signups.
7. Create Fans
Surprise and delight your customers by making the shopping experience memorable. Add in bonus items or coupons to bring customers back for subsequent purposes. Create events where you offer free festive food or live music. Be aware of COVID restrictions in your town, however, and plan accordingly.
8. Leverage Your Success
Rather than thinking of Small Business Saturday as one day, think of it as the launch to the holiday shopping season. It’s also a way to create relationships with new customers. Follow best practices such as getting contact information so you can send promotions throughout the year. Make the people who support your business on Small Business Saturday feel special by thanking them with personal cards and offers to keep them coming back to your store. Remember, a customer might not be shopping for a sofa or chandelier right before the holidays, but with the right incentives, they will think of you when they are ready for that larger purchase.