As the holiday season begins gearing up, retailers are working with small business lenders to guarantee they have the working capital to adequately prepare for the biggest shopping day of the year: Black Friday. This day gets its name due to the fact that many small businesses finally get out of the red for the year and go into the black. When a day is named after retailers finally turning an annual profit, you know there’s money to be made. According to the National Retail Federation, November and December were responsible for almost 20 percent of the industry’s annual sales for 2013, accounting for more total sales than Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Valentine’s Day, Easter, Halloween and St. Patrick’s Day combined.
Following the day after Black Friday comes Small Business Saturday. This day has been designated for small businesses to honor their contributions to the world of business, especially since these companies have generated 64 percent of all new jobs since 1995, and paid 44 percent of all private payroll during that same time period. Needless to say, without small businesses, the U.S. economy would be a pale imitation of its current state. As USA Today noted, 25 percent of all Americans went shopping on Small Business Saturday last year, and collectively these individuals spent an estimated $14.3 billion on that one day.
With so much potential for big profits on Black Friday and Small Business Saturday, what can retailers and other small business owners do to prepare for this festival of consumerism? Here are several ways small business owners can prep for the one-two punch of these major back-to-back shopping holidays:
Start planning early
Customers start preparing their Black Friday plans as early as October, which means you too should be making similar plans. Analyzing sales from previous years can help you order the right amount of inventory, since you don’t want to run out of popular products. Take advantage of your store’s layout by placing high-revenue items in more visible areas and provide plenty of signs showcasing the year’s hot-ticket items.
Create a more visible queue
Normally, when customers reach the checkout line, there’s a bit of a nebulous order to the way people stand. Generally, it’s single file and everyone waits their turn. However, during the busy season, this ordinarily normal process can quickly devolve into chaos, conflicts and catastrophes. By using rope barricades and creating a proper queue that customers can follow, you can easily make the checkout process a much more orderly affair.
Build up anticipation
Now is the perfect time of year to leverage your mailing list and social media accounts. Instead of simply announcing a Black Friday sale, include sneak peeks of new items that will be on sale, or provide comparison of the everyday prices with the sale prices. By whetting customers’ curiosity and piquing their interests, you can create an environment of anticipation that will only build in excitement the closer the sales day gets.
Small businesses can take advantage of a strategic partnership to make their company feel even bigger. Coffee shops can partner with bakeries, or clothing stores can team up with shoes shops, or any number of combinations. Partnerships provide ample opportunities for cross-promotions and shared marketing strategies. Ultimately, this can increase exposure and boost revenues.
Create an experience
More now than ever, businesses are creating experiential shopping events. Designed to immerse a customer and stimulate as many senses as possible, these phenomena create memories that stick with individuals, which they associate with your store or product. This can be anything from having a reading, live music, a taste testing, a free class or something similar. By attracting people with the allure of these experiential events, retailers can then entice these individuals into spending money in their establishments.
Although it might cost extra money, small business owners should consider contacting their web-design team or IT department and try to update the company’s website to highlight this holiday. This can be a new landing page or some sort of lead generation offer, such as a coupon or registry. Since so many customers plan out their shopping routes and daily agenda for these days, having something online that speaks to these sale-seeking individuals draws in their attention.
Look toward next year
Keep customers coming back by offering deals and special offers for next year. While November and December are key sales months for retailers and small businesses, owners can use this time period to create lead time for future sales. One such way to do this is to create a program that rewards customers when they return in 2016, but only after they purchase something during the Black Friday or Small Business Saturday events.
If you are a small business retailer lacking the funds to sufficiently prepare for the holiday shopping season, there are retail business loans available that can get you the funds you need in plenty of time for Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, or even Cyber Monday.