It’s that time of the year when we start seeing ads for shop small business Saturday, but it shouldn’t be small business Saturday once a year. It should be small business every day.
The only way to create retail excitement for local and independent establishments is to create an atmosphere of community, service and unique products. It’s not a race to the bottom with price wars, but more of being able to provide the convenience of value.
Holiday season should be a special time to rejoice and celebrate with some of your favorite clientele and offer them some incentives that you might want to carry on throughout the year. Give them a reason beyond guilt and price to shop local.
Here are a few tips for increasing in-store sales over the holidays:
- Have unique, handcrafted, locally made products that are limited in production. In other words, items you can’t google and buy cheaper online with free shipping.
- Host fun events with Instagram photo ops and make sure they tag your store! Create a hashtag for your store and one for the local community.
- Give them a small gift with purchase. Do you know how great that makes someone feel when you say, “Here is a little something for you from us?” After spending all day shopping, that comes as a nice surprise.
- Offer a reusable bag. If you are going to do it just one time a year, this is the time when you want to have a branded reusable bag.
- Make sure there are universal cell phone chargers available. We put some in the dressing rooms and one near the seating area.
- If you can swing it, nothing beats a homemade cookie to pass around while shopping. You don’t want “hangry” shoppers. It’s easy to pop a mini tray of ready-made cookie dough in a toaster oven. They smell great and people love them.
- Have “special holiday” extended and flexible return policies. The money you lose for having a store-credit only return policy is greater than anyone “cheating” the system.
- Participate in local events, holiday fairs, and parades with your own marketing material (not a “shop small” bag!)
- Have a comfy seating area with free WiFi for significant others.
- Offer personal shoppers for those who don’t have time to shop (they can send a list and pick up in store for free or pay for shipping), take phone orders, and offer local same-day delivery.
- Post gift ideas with a “perfect for who” on social media, like an apple print scarf for your favorite teacher.
- Make sure gift cards are on display for those who just “don’t know what to get” for someone, and the last-minute shoppers. Offer a cute pouch/baggie instead of an envelope to make it more personal.
- Offer a coat and bag check for your shoppers. Don’t fuss too much. It could just be a coat rack with a small sign that reminds everyone you are not responsible.
- Have an iPad ready with a movie and a play rug, so small children can sit and watch a movie.
Don’t forget to enjoy the season yourself!
About Mercedes Gonzalez:
Mercedes Gonzalez is the Director of Global Purchasing Companies and author of Chronicles of a Fashion Buyer.
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