Black Friday and Cyber Monday will get the headlines in what surely will be another record-setting year of sales via computer and wireless devices. But who will get the customers post-long weekend and should SMBs even open their doors in an attempt to compete?
It’s something far short of dire for small and medium-sized businesses, according to those polled for the American Express Small Business Saturday Consumer Insights Survey http://about.americanexpress.com/news/pr/2014/small-businesses-drive-holiday-sales.aspx. Nearly that one-third (31%) of their holiday shopping will be done at small businesses.
The patronizing of small businesses won’t wait until the holiday weekend and Cyber Monday are concluded.
Eighty-two plan to shop or eat at an independently owned store or restaurant on Small Business Saturday Nov. 29. American Express, which started Small Business Saturday in 2010, says that 77% see Small Business Saturday as a catalyst to shop small all year long.
What’s to get someone out of their warm home or off a mobile website at a bus stop that makes buying fast and easy?
-- Nearly all (94%) U.S. consumers say that shopping at small businesses makes them "feel good”
-- Two-thirds (66%) of consumers say the main reason they patronize small businesses is because they value the contributions they make to their community
-- More than half (57%) say they know one or more of their local small business owners personally
As I’ve written about in this space, SMBs are winning with mobile programs, especially via loyalty clubs that remind opted-in customers to return to the store and reward them with offers, exclusive showings, and more.
Of course, mobile shouldn’t live on an island. The increase in traffic makes Small Business Saturday and the entire holiday season terrific times for SMBs to build their mobile VIP clubs.
Before the doors open following Thanksgiving, these businesses should ensure that there are prominent calls to action on premises, calling attention to the loyalty club and quickly communicating what is in it for the shopper.
Also, store personnel should not only be up to speed on the ins and outs of the program so they are prepared for questions, front-line folks should talk up the club and be given incentives to grow the database.
What about those SMBs that don’t have a text-based loyalty club (only 38% of businesses use mobile messaging for marketing, according to a 2013 survey by StrongMail)? Given the time to find a provider, provision a short code, and promote the program, there is zero chance to make something happen for 2014.
But for 2015? Holiday efforts for these folks should start as early as January.
It could make a meaningful difference as the competition gets even more heated next year.
This post was brought to you by IBM for Midsize Business and opinions are my own. To read more on this topic, visit IBM's Midsize Insider. Dedicated to providing businesses with expertise, solutions and tools that are specific to small and midsized companies, the Midsize Business program provides businesses with the materials and knowledge they need to become engines of a smarter planet.