For America’s 33-million-plus small businesses, the days are getting merrier and brighter. That’s because the holiday shopping season is just around the corner. Today’s consumers want to support local, independently owned businesses, which makes the holidays a critical time for the small business community. Make sure you’re ready by following these tips from the SBA.
- Consider adjusting your hours: The holiday season will likely be your busiest time of the year. Extending your hours by opening earlier and closing later could have a big impact on sales.
- Be prepared for crowds: You’ll want to plan for an influx of customers by stocking up on inventory. Pro tip: Checking last year’s orders could give you a baseline idea of the items you’ll need, from shipping supplies to branded gift cards for shoppers (more on that later). Hiring seasonal employees is another effective way to account for higher demand.
- Huddle up with your staff: Now is the time to have a meeting with your employees. Remind them to greet each shopper when they enter and exit your business. Also, thank them and show appreciation for their work. After all, small business success is often a team effort.
- Refresh your digital profile: Your online information should be accurate so that customers know the basics, such as what you offer, where you’re located, and how they can contact you. Make any necessary updates to your website, social media accounts, and review sites.
- Optimize your social media: Social media is the key to reaching today’s customers, especially during the busy holiday season. Use your channels to promote your deals and share how you’re preparing your store. Encourage shoppers to snap a selfie and tag your business using the hashtag #ShopSmall and #HolidayShopping. This can increase engagement on your posts, ultimately reaching new customers.
- Set yourself apart: It can be tough for small businesses to compete with big box stores. Make your marketing efforts shine by showcasing your singular brand aesthetic with customers. Do you have a unique product or service? A special way of creating an inviting space for shoppers? Share it!
- Plan an event: There’s no better way to spread a little cheer in your community than by hosting an event. Set up an in-store activity that puts your products or services on display, and organize a holiday kickoff with refreshments and promotional items to draw shoppers in. Small Business Saturday, which takes place on November 25, is a great opportunity to do so. You can also identify other holiday events and determine how your business can participate.
- Partner up. Reaching out to other small businesses in your area to see how you can team up could have big implications on your sales. It could also go a long way toward building good faith and community. Want to embrace the spirit of the season and give back? Consider highlighting a local charity at your business.
- Promote gift cards. The numbers don’t lie: More than half of American consumers buy gift cards as holiday gifts. Make sure they’re a centerpiece of your holiday marketing strategy.
- Track your success. Once the season is over, take some time to analyze what worked and what didn’t. This could set the tone for your strategy over the next year.
As you decorate your business, SBA resource partners can help you spruce up your holiday shopping season game plan. Learn more by visiting sba.gov/local-assistance. The SBA Learning Platform is also a great resource. With courses like “Understanding Your Customer” and “Social Media Marketing,” our online learning programs will make sure you’re geared up for the most wonderful time of the year.