The COVID-19 pandemic has inspired more consumers to shop small this holiday season. These tips will help merchants make the most of Small Business Saturday, leveraging excellent customer experiences to drive brand preference and increase sales year-round.
Consumer Support for the Shop Small Initiative on the Rise
Ware2Go’s recent consumer survey revealed that 76% of consumers feel more compelled to shop small as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Whether this sentiment was spurred on by seeing their favorite small businesses struggle through shut-downs or more quiet time at home reflecting on the value of community, it could mean a big opportunity for small businesses this holiday season. In fact, in the same survey, 52% of consumers indicated that they plan to participate in Small Business Saturday this year, and 63% overall plan to make a purchase from a brand they’ve never shopped with before.
But Small Business Saturday Will Look Different This Year
Of those shoppers planning to participate in Small Business Saturday, 44% plan to make their purchases online. This is an extension of the overall trend towards online shopping that spiked during Coronavirus shut-downs. In fact, 83% of consumers indicated that they plan to shop online this holiday season, with 35% saying they’ll be doing all of their holiday shopping online.
This is probably unsurprising for most SMB’s who have already navigated changing consumer shopping habits brought on by COVID-19. Respondents to Ware2Go’s recent merchant survey indicated overwhelmingly that they pivoted their selling strategy in response to COVID-19 shutdowns, with 35% of merchants launching an online store for the first time.
How to Succeed on Small Business Saturday
So how can merchants make the most of consumer sentiment towards the shop small movement this holiday season?
Optimize Digital Sales Channels: It may be time to perform a site audit and tune-up on your ecommerce site to ensure a seamless customer experience. Look for broken links, cumbersome checkout processes, and conflicting or unclear messaging. And don’t stop at your ecommerce storefront, but leverage a multichannel approach to expand your reach. Update product listings across all channels with excellent photos and descriptions, highlighting holiday gift ideas and seasonal offers.
Leverage Community: Many communities have Small Business Saturday events — make sure your business is participating. These events may look different this year, with a higher emphasis on virtual events, but talk to other business owners in your area to stay in the loop. And be sure to share consistently on social media, infusing posts with your personality to set yourself apart from big box retailers. 32% of survey respondents said that they shop at small businesses because of their unique personalities/brands.
Run Small Business Saturday Promotions: 72% of consumers report that they would be interested in shopping at a small business if special discounts or offers were available, but don’t think that those promotions have to eat up your profits. As opposed to steep discounts, consider promotions like a free gift with purchase, limited edition products, or special holiday bundles.
Be Strategic With Ad Spend: Digital advertising costs are on the rise. Big box retailers announced early in the season that they would not open their doors on Thanksgiving day and would rely more on extended online holiday promotions rather than in-store Black Friday deals. As a result, small businesses will find themselves competing with major retailers for ad space, which could quickly drive up their Customer Acquisition Costs (CAC). SMB’s should maximize their ad spend by employing targeted local campaigns and extend their reach with free posts by using hashtags and locations.
Understand Customer Expectations for eCommerce Sales: If your business is new to online sales, it’s important to understand that consumer expectations for fast shipping extend to businesses of all sizes. In fact, 37% of survey respondents indicated that they expect SMB’s to ship faster than their big box competitors. Children’s toy and furniture manufacturer, ECR4Kids, learned this first-hand when they branched into marketplace sales. They found that delivery expectations for ecommerce sales were much different than their traditional sales channels and needed to find a fulfillment solution that would satisfy the fast pace of marketplace sales.
Leverage Shop Small Sentiment Year-Round
Possibly the best news for SMB’s this Small Business Saturday is that 84% of consumers who are aware of Small Business Saturday said the day makes them want to shop small all year long. That means merchants have a unique opportunity to find new customers this year and convert them to loyal shoppers and brand advocates.
It’s clear that fast shipping is now a major component to customer satisfaction. In a merchant survey released earlier this year, 58% of merchants reported seeing more repeat customers when 2-day shipping is offered, and 38% reported better online reviews.
To learn how Ware2Go is helping merchants of all sizes deliver exceptional customer experiences through shipping and fulfillment, reach out to one of our fulfillment specialists.
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