With Small Business Saturday 2021 fast approaching at the end of November, it's time to set your small business up for success. Thankfully—and despite ongoing pandemic-related challenges— strategic planning now may be able to help you connect with customers, increase profits and drive loyalty.
What Is Small Business Saturday?
Created in 2010 by American Express, Small Business Saturday was designed to help celebrate and drive business towards independent retailers and restaurants. In 2011, the Senate passed a unanimous resolution in support of the day. In addition, both local and national business organizations like chambers of commerce have come on board to drive awareness and participation. As a result, Small Business Saturday in 2020 was the biggest ever, generating an estimated $19.8 billion in spending by U.S. consumers.
When Is Small Business Saturday 2021?
Now an annual event heading into its 12th year, Small Business Saturday happens on the Saturday following Thanksgiving. Small Business Saturday 2021 is on Saturday, November 27.
What's the Outlook for Small Business Saturday This Year?
In short, the answer is exceedingly positive. According to the October 2021 American Express Shop Small Impact survey of 523 small business owners performed by Teneo on behalf of American Express, 63% of small business owners reported that they're preparing for a bigger holiday shopping season this year, despite supply chain shortages and other challenges.
If consumers bring the purchasing power small business owners are hoping for, it'll be cause for celebration, too. More than half (56%) of the surveyed businesses say that Small Business Saturday is more important than ever this year, with 78% reporting that this year's holiday sales will impact their ability to remain open in 2022.
How Can Your Business Prep Smart for Small Business Saturday 2021?
To help you identify and take early action on potentially critical areas of your business, several business owners have shared how they're each prepping for Small Business Saturday. Whether it's your first year participating or you're a seasoned pro, these tips can help you build a well-rounded strategy, so both your business and customers emerge winners.
Face Supply Chain Concerns Head-On
With pandemic-disrupted supply chains impacting countless industries, small businesses have unique concerns in 2021. Jerry Abramovich, founder and owner of New York-based furniture retailer Bowery & Grand, advises businesses to get proactive with supply chain concerns throughout their businesses and lead with transparency.
"Certain things are out of my control because of delays caused by the supply chain issue," says Abramovich. For example, he's experiencing long lead times for his furniture, which in turn impacts when his customers will receive their orders.
For Small Business Saturday this year, he's taking a multi-pronged approach that other business owners can use to address their own supply chain issues.
First, he's choosing to contact his customers by texting and phone calls instead of email, which helps customers feel more in the know about their orders. He's also offering pre-orders, which gives him more insight on how many items he needs to produce and helps ensure his customers will have their pieces in time for the holidays. Finally, he's relying more on other small businesses in the shipping industry to make deliveries over larger, overloaded freight companies.
"This method not only helps other small businesses. It helps me avoid longer shipping times," he says.
Ask how your business can proactively address its supply chain issues to keep customer expectations and satisfaction high. There's always a way to stay close to your customers, even when the things they want most seem far away.
Partner With Local Businesses to Build Community
If you run a brick-and-mortar business, you don't have to go it alone on Small Business Saturday. You might find more success and build deeper connections in your community by partnering with another independent retailer.
Jeff Moriarty of Moriarty's Gem Art, a fine jeweler in the suburbs of Chicago for over 25 years, does precisely this.
"For Small Business Saturday, we partner up with a local brewery and serve drinks to our local patrons," he says. "This not only gets them to come into our store and shop, especially those men that never did before. But it also helps promote another local business in town."
When considering partnerships, look for complementary businesses in your area where shared promotion makes sense. Not only can you get twice the marketing power, you can also introduce new customers to both businesses.
Bolster Your Website
Since an annual shopping event can bring in a large influx of customers, your website has to be up to the task. Nunzio Ross's company, Majesty Coffee, an online retailer specializing in coffee grinders and espresso machines, is planning to optimize digital elements well before Small Business Saturday to avoid lost revenue and customer frustration.
"The page loading speed must be as fast as possible," he says. "[That means] streamlining files, reducing plugin use, and checking your hosting plan to accommodate the traffic are crucial measures."
Ross also says businesses should make sure their payment gateways and checkout process are running smoothly. Consider offering multiple ways to pay to satisfy a wide range of preferred payment methods.
This year for Small Business Saturday, Majesty Coffee expects a surge in coffee and espresso machine sales. Ross and his team are actively checking and rechecking their website to ensure they're ready to go on the big day.
Focus on Customer Service
Busy shopping days mean more customer concerns, and you don't want your customer service to suffer on such a revenue-critical day. David Adler, founder and CEO of The Travel Secret, a subscription-based travel platform, says small businesses should anticipate different customer service situations, then devise a strategy specifically for Small Business Saturday.
"TravelSecret normally costs $1,995 for a lifetime subscription," says Adler. "However, on Small Business Saturday, the membership will cost $995." While the company stands to gain eager new subscribers at a reduced rate, Adler says that the price tag always brings in more inquiries from curious customers.
This year, his customer service team will receive specific training to help handle the higher volume of inquiries across multiple channels to build the trust necessary for higher-dollar purchases.
Consider how Small Business Saturday will impact those responsible for customer service in your business. Even a team meeting can help brainstorm potential questions and concerns and help develop a strategy for resolutions.
Offer Your Best Sale of the Year
Finally, consider using Small Business Saturday to offer your biggest sale of the year instead of Black Friday. Both brick-and-mortar and online retailers can use this strategy to drive revenue and build a memorable annual event for customers.
"It's okay to do the same discount and amount as other big sales like Fourth of July and Labor Day," says Jessica Benhaim, owner of Philadelphia-based Lumos Yoga & Barre. "Just make sure there isn't a sale you've done this year that's been bigger."
This year, for extra impact, Lumos is bringing back a member favorite, a 20-class class package that hasn't been offered for the last few years. The package will only be available throughout the Small Business Saturday weekend and at a discounted price. Unique offerings like Benhaim's can help your customers know they're getting an incredible deal on a unique product, making them look forward to your business's offerings each year.
There's no one right way to prepare for Small Business Saturday 2021, but preparation is essential to help you build deeper relationships, delight customers and increase revenue. The individual strategies above can even have a big impact on your business throughout the year.
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