Small Business Saturday – a nationwide holiday shopping event created by American Express in 2010 to encourage local merchant patronage – is an opportunity for small businesses to establish themselves as a shopping location/website of choice and increase their customer base in communities they operate. And it doesn’t have to be only a 24-hour window of opportunity. Small Business Saturday can be a launch pad to increased visibility and more engaged customers while providing momentum for the rest of the holiday shopping season – and beyond. Connie Certusi, Executive Vice President and General Manager of Sage Small Business Accounting Solutions, suggests the following for making the most of Small Business Saturday and leveraging the customer insights gained:
Be on your best behavior – Small Business Saturday has the potential to attract new customers and, as such, you should be prepared to shine. Be ready to showcase or offer samples of your best products or services and pay particular attention to your customer service. You get one shot at impressing visitors, so don’t spare any effort or appropriate expense in achieving this goal.
Incentivize your customers - If you want to increase the probability of Small Business Saturday customers purchasing your products or services again, you may want to offer a gift or discount that can be redeemed on their next visit. One efficient way to give out coupons is investing in a payment terminal that automatically prints discounts along with the customer’s receipt. Coupon details can be programmed and customized in advance, saving you the time and trouble of remembering to provide the coupon every time you help with customers’ purchases.
Social Media – Use social media tools like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest to promote your Small Business Saturday deals and encourage conversations about your business. Present your followers with a discount or gift when they visit you on Small Business Saturday, bring a friend along or recommend your business on their profiles. After Small Business Saturday, encourage people to write reviews of your business and their customer experience.
Track Small Business Saturday customers and best-selling items – Keeping records of the clients who visit your business on Small Business Saturday can aid customer retention. For starters, be sure to get their email address, and put systems in place to track their purchases. This information gives you an opportunity to thank customers for shopping and reward them with exclusive offers. It also helps you understand customers’ shopping behaviors better when planning how to retain their business. Additionally, track what sells best and what extra inventory is leftover afterward to identify sales trends, potential discount items and if additional holiday staffing will be needed. Depending on your size and needs, consider either a contact management or customer relationship management (CRM) tool to track these relationships more effectively, and an accounting system that can track inventory details and purchasing habits for your customers.
Cash in on mobility – Worldwide, businesses big and small are experiencing the many benefits of integrating mobility into their operations. If you haven’t tried it yet, consider testing a few tools on Small Business Saturday. Have your employees use a mobile payment tool via smartphone while assisting customers in the store, or look up inventory on a trial mobile app. You can also mobilize your customer data onto smartphones and tablets so sales associates can use the information to make purchase recommendations when speaking with loyal customers (i.e. a clothing retailer, beauty shop etc.). After Small Business Saturday, you can analyze if implementing mobile tools can further help improve your sales and customer service.
Connie Certusi is Executive Vice President and general manager of the Sage Small Business Accounting Solutions (SBAS) business unit, which includes the Sage 50—U.S. Edition (formerly Sage Peachtree) and Sage 50 Accounting —Canadian Edition (formerly Sage Simply Accounting) businesses, as well as the Sage Accountants Network.