Merchants Think Big As Consumers ‘Shop Small’
In a RetailWire article last November, The Retail Doctor and BrainTrust member Bob Phibbs made a strong argument for merchants to put aside reservations about working with American Express and get behind the Small Business Saturday (SBS) initiative created in 2010 by the card company. In the final analysis, SBS 2011 appears to have been a success as more than 100 million people shopped at independent retailers.
This year, more retailers are asking consumers to "shop small" on Nov. 24 along with a wide range of advocacy groups (AARP, local Chambers of Commerce, retailer associations, etc.), public officials and corporate supporters (Ace Hardware, FTD, etc.). This increased focus along with this year’s improved consumer confidence levels and signs of increased purchasing strength has small merchants hopeful that SBS 2012 will be even more successful than before.
Ultimately, however, what merchants do on Saturday will be of little consequence if they are unable to turn SBS shoppers into regular customers.
In an email to RetailWire, Connie Certusi, executive vice president and general manager of Sage Small Business Accounting Solutions, offered five recommendations for retailers looking to build on the SBS event. These include:
- Be prepared to shine. "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."
- Provide incentives to return. Offer small gifts with purchases or discounts attached to return visits to stores.
- Get social (media). Use Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, etc. to promote special offers and "encourage conversations about your business."
- Know your customers. Put systems in place to learn about and communicate with consumers. Use the information gained to better serve customer needs.
- Become more mobile. Make use of mobile payment tools using smartphones; utilize apps and mobile hardware to assist customers, track inventory, etc.
- Small Business Saturday: Our Day – American Express/YouTube
- Small Business Saturday – American Express
- BrainTrust Query: Main Street Needs Small Business Saturday – RetailWire
- BrainTrust Query: American Express Small Business
- Saturday – Good for Independent Retailers – RetailWire
How would you quantify the Small Business Saturday opportunity for independent retailers? What recommendations do you have for turning SBS shoppers into regular customers?