Since its birth in the 1950s, Black Friday has become the pinnacle of American consumerism. Each year, as Thanksgiving dinners conclude across the country, millions of Americans flood shopping destinations in search of mega discounts, marking the official kickoff of the holiday shopping season.
Eleven years ago, a new, intentional, shopping tradition emerged with enthusiasm—Small Business Saturday. Founded by American Express in 2010, Small Business Saturday is a day for consumers across the country to return to America’s main streets, shop “small” and show support for local, independently-owned businesses.
The tradition has catapulted into a huge success, rivaling Black Friday and the e-commerce shopping holiday, Cyber Monday. Small Business Saturday has helped local businesses re-enter the holiday business narrative with fierce numbers—in 2020, nearly 110 million consumers participated, leading to roughly $19.8 billion in spending.
Throughout the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, shoppers across the country have prioritized supporting local businesses—helping many thrive throughout the worst of the pandemic. Like last year, this holiday season, many consumers are rallying together and pledging to support small businesses that have been adversely impacted by the pandemic. As a small business owner, you know the power of community, so lean in and make sure to use it to your advantage.
This year, we encourage you to celebrate community on November 27. At Beyond, we’ll be shopping small and stopping by our clients’ stores in our local communities. And if your business hasn’t had time to prepare for Small Business Saturday, don’t panic. We’re outlining four last-minute tips to help you make the most of Small Business Saturday 2021, whether online or in-person.
1. Focus on Community
Did you know that small businesses account for 99.7% of all registered businesses in the US? Take pride in being a local business—your community wants to support you and is committed to celebrating the smaller, mom-and-pop shops this season. If Small Business Saturday hasn’t been on the top of your radar, you’re not alone. With all the twists and turns the past two years have brought, most small business owners have been focused on keeping their doors open, not planning for the shopping season. If you don’t have a game plan, take a step back and check-in with other small businesses in your community.
Consider making a small business punch card with neighboring stores and restaurants to promote shopping locally. If customers make a purchase at all the stores on the card, give them an incentive to continue shopping locally, like 10 percent off at every shop on the card. Even something as simple as swapping business or discount cards for your business with other local stores will help bring in new business. If your business is focusing on expanding online revenue streams, apply of these ideas online or to social media and encourage patrons that you’re open for online business.
While Small Business Saturday is important to boost sales and connect with the community, it’s essential to keep the momentum going. Evaluate how your strategy worked and tweak it if need be for the rest of the holiday season. Take stock of missed opportunities and think about how you can leverage them in the future.
2. Get Connected Online
With the colder months ahead, your business simply must be online. In 2020, 56% of Small Business Saturday shoppers reported they shopped online with a small business on the day, a 13 percent increase from 2019. Online shopping during the holidays is increasing, but that doesn’t mean your small business needs to be left out of the narrative.
Social media is one of the most effective ways to share your business’s story and get consumers excited about shopping local. Show patrons how you’re getting ready for Small Business Saturday, what safety measures your business is taking, and what customers can expect for a COVID safe shopping season. Create a Facebook event to remind your followers that Small Business Saturday is this week and include details of anything special you’re planning, and ways they can participate. Many consumers are celebrating the return to in-person experiences this year, so play off that enthusiasm with signage and promotions that emphasize some return to normalcy.
On the big day, highlight popular and fast selling products, and don’t forget to share photos of your staff and customers with your online community. See what consumers are saying and join the conversation by leveraging hashtags like #ShopSmall, #SmallBusinessSaturday, #DineSmall, and #SmallBizSat.
Don’t forget, there’s more to e-commerce than social media. Just because you’ve got your social media and website up, doesn’t mean that’s all you can do. If you don’t have an online storefront, you need one. We know that creating a website and accepting payments online can be costly and complicated, which is why we developed our own online storefront to help get you there faster, at an affordable price. We make it fast and easy to open an e-commerce store—whether your business already has a website. With brand customization, easy online store management, and worry-free security, this is the easiest and safest way to help your business start growing its profits online. Even if you don’t have time to get a storefront up for Small Business Saturday, consider launching one to carry you through the holiday season and into 2022.
3. Ensure Your Business Info Is Up to Date
Take time to double check the little details. Make sure your website and social sites are updated with your latest address, contact information, and most importantly, operational hours. Many businesses have evolved and changed since the onset of the pandemic, many customers will check out your website or Facebook change to double check hours, policies, and mask requirements you have in place. Don’t forget about American Express’s great online resources, and be sure to update your business on their Shop Small site. Your customers need to know when and where to find you, so don’t make it hard for them to find this information. If you’ll be extending your hours on the 27th or throughout the holiday season, be sure to make a note of that.
4. Promote Shopping Small All Holiday Season Long
While the past two years have been harder on small businesses than the big-box stores, there’s one thing businesses like yours can offer that the big shops can’t—a personal touch. Small businesses offer something unique—from a sense of community to personal recommendations, supporting small businesses and their entrepreneurial spirit is a win-win for everyone. Take Small Business Saturday as an opportunity to tell customer’s how much their support means and encourage them to keep shopping small all holiday season long.
For business owners and shoppers alike, celebrating local is more important than ever. As a small business owner, you have the advantage of adding a human touch to everything you do—remember, the big-box stores can’t do that. From Facebook posts to hand-written thank you cards, keep reminding your customers why supporting your business all season long is so important.
Beyond is here to support your business. From our local advocates to a commitment to our local communities, we help small businesses across the US get the job done. We give local businesses the tools, support, and go-to partner they need to keep their businesses running, and our communities thriving. Learn more.