How small retail business owners can make the most of the holiday shopping season
If you’re a small business owner, we’ve got some great news. American consumers are supporting small and local businesses more than ever before. In 2021, American Express estimated small business Saturday brought in a record-high $23.3 billion. With the 2022 holiday shopping season upon us, a large majority of consumers say they’ll be shopping small again. This means now’s a great time for small business owners to capture new business and increase sales through the end of the year.
For small business owners around the country, the holiday season represents a time you can capture a large amount of revenue. But it can also bring stress to small business owners and their employees. Here are our tips for helping your small business attract more holiday shoppers and reduce stress to make the most of the season.
How can small business owners attract more customers this holiday season?
From your store decor to your employees’ demeanor, here are a few ways to maximize your success during the holidays.
Decorate for the holidays both in-store and online
Don’t be a Grinch! Help your customers get into the holiday spirit by decorating your store both in person and online. For many customers, holiday shopping is enjoyable. On the other hand, rushing around from store to store to complete holiday shopping can leave many feeling overwhelmed.
Your small business can go the extra mile to ensure customers enjoy the shopping experience by making small, yet valuable, gestures like offering food, drinks, and entertainment at your store.
A few ways you can stand out from the mall and superstore crowd include:
- Having live, local musicians instead of canned Christmas tunes
- Offering snacks from other local businesses to customers while they wait in long lines
- Providing something warm to drink and a place to sit for shoppers who need to get out of the cold
If you have an online presence for your small business, you can still “decorate” and make the experience unique and enjoyable for customers. Consider giving your website a holiday face-lift for consumers looking to avoid the crowd by doing their gift shopping online. Be sure to offer the same holiday discounts online as you do in-store and make them prominent on your website so customers don’t miss out.
Create holiday gift guides, gift bundles, and gift cards
Everyone has at least one person on their list they can’t figure out the right gift for. Help your customers complete their holiday shopping at your store by creating gift guides. You could make it simple and only offer a couple of guides like gift ideas “for him” and “for her.” But making more specific guides like “for outdoor lovers,” “for foodies,” and “for teachers” can help show customers that you have the perfect gift for everyone on their list.
Another great way to sell more during the holiday is with bundles. Select three to five products that people often buy together and pre-wrap or package them as one product. Make sure you offer different bundles for the different types of people on your gift guide and consider offering bundles at different price points to accommodate everyone’s budget.
Finally, for the truly hard-to-shop-for, make sure you have holiday gift cards available. Even if they’re just purchasing a gift card, shoppers love the option to make it look like a real holiday present. Printing some different holiday-themed gift cards can entice customers to pick up a few for the people on their list they may have forgotten about or just not know what to buy for.
Offer discounts for Small Business Saturday
If you aren’t already planning on offering any discounts for Small Business Saturday, you may want to rethink that plan. Falling in what is traditionally the busiest shopping period of the year (the weekend after Thanksgiving), Small Business Saturday encourages consumers to shop small and local.
Small business owners can capitalize on this highly-profitable day by offering discounts and special offers. Just make sure your customers are aware of any holiday deals you plan on offering and how they can take advantage. Promote your Small Business Saturday specials through emails, social media, newsletters, and anywhere else your customers are sure to see them. Not least of all, use outdoor signs to grab customers’ attention as they walk down the street, especially if your small business is in a walkable local shopping district.
How can small business owners decrease stress during the holidays?
While the holidays are a great way to capture new business and increase profits, they can also be extremely overwhelming. This is especially true for small business owners and employees who may be working overtime to handle a sudden surge in sales and customers.
Here are a few ideas small business owners can implement to help themselves and their staff decrease stress during the holiday season.
Set realistic goals and expectations
While small business owners often wear many hats, the truth is you can’t be everywhere at once. Working 15-hour days or selling out of all your products may seem like a great way to boost revenue, but it’ll take a toll on everyone. Instead, before the chaos of the season starts, sit down with your staff and set some realistic goals and expectations for your business.
It can be helpful to look back on years past to know what you might be facing this year in terms of sales. If this is your first holiday season as a business owner, it might help to check in with others in your area and see if you can get an idea of what to expect. You can often find similar local business owners through your Chamber of Commerce or Small Business Administration.
Chaos is bad for business. No matter how organized you are the rest of the year, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and forget to complete basic tasks during the holiday rush. The best way to stay on top of the busy holiday season is to remain organized.
Take some time at the beginning and end of each day to take stock of important things like receipts, customer orders, and other important documents. It’s always a good idea to write things down either on paper or in an online planner so you don’t forget. Don’t hesitate to go overboard on reminders to yourself and your staff during this hectic time. And don’t forget to ask for help when you need it.
Empower your employees during the holidays
Your employees are an asset all year long, and even more so during the busy holiday season. From helping customers on the floor to processing online orders to fielding questions and complaints, your staff keeps your business running smoothly.
Equip your employees with the resources and information they need. Make sure everyone is up to date on holiday specials and that employee workstations or registers are fully stocked before things get busy.
Be sure to show your appreciation for your staff however you can. That could mean giving out holiday bonuses or gifts. Remember that your staff also needs time to complete their own holiday shopping. You might consider giving employees an extra hour of lunchtime once a week that they can use to run errands or even just to relax.
Small business owners can win big during the holiday shopping season
The holidays should be an exciting time for small business owners. With plenty of opportunities to capture new business, you have a chance to finish the year out on a high note. Just be sure to take the time to check in if things start to get overwhelming. Encourage your team to power through the holiday season to end the year strong, and don’t forget to give everyone a little downtime when things slow down in January.