Small Business Saturday, or SBS, is a much-anticipated shopping event that takes place between the Black Friday and Cyber Monday holiday shopping frenzy. This day benefits local businesses since it encourages 72% of shoppers to shop and dine at small, independently-owned retailers and restaurants—not only on SBS—but year-long.
This Saturday is always the last one in November, falling somewhere between November 24 and November 30. It’s the day small business owners get the chance to show off their offerings to shoppers looking for local gems.
But what exactly is it, what are its benefits, and how can you leverage it to your advantage? Here’s everything to know about Small Business Saturday.
- Founded by American Express in 2010, Small Business Saturday encourages consumers to shop at local small businesses. The 13th annual event is set for November 25th this year.
- Participating in Small Business Saturday can help SMBs boost revenue, foster customer loyalty, and strengthen the local economy. It’s a smart, efficient move to maximize your holiday operations and long-term success.
- Small businesses can thrive on SBS with these 8 tips: (1) Lay the groundwork with past data, (2) enhance digital presence, (3) improve the in-store experience, (4) run marketing campaigns, (5) promote special offers, (6) engage the community, (7) collect feedback, and (8) develop post-event strategies.
What is Small Business Saturday?
Small Business Saturday, a.k.a. The Shop Small® Movement, is a shopping day dedicated to supporting local small businesses across the US. It was established by American Express in 2010 and gained official recognition from the US Senate the following year. The 13th annual event is set for November 25th.
As a partnering non-profit organization, The Small Business Administration (SBA) invites shoppers to patronize 32 million SMBs nationwide and throughout the holiday season. It encourages consumers to shop at SMBs rather than large chain stores (e.g., Walmart, Target) and eCommerce giants (e.g., Amazon, eBay).
Fast-forward to today, the initiative’s cumulative impact has resulted in about $163 billion in purchases across all 12 Small Business Saturdays. Here are some of the advantages of seizing this opportunity.
Why Participate in Small Business Saturday?
With 71% of surveyed shoppers doing their holiday shopping on Small Business Saturday, SMBs can maximize holiday sales by participating. Check out the remarkable benefits it provides in terms of boosting sales, enhancing customer loyalty, and strengthening community ties.
Small Business Saturday drove an estimated $17.9 billion in US consumer-reported spending in 2022. Thanks to the strategic schedule between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, coinciding with the holiday shopping season’s peak—right when customers are already eager to shop.
This one-day event garners substantial media coverage and promotional support, which can significantly boost consumer awareness. Shoppers will find your business through Shop Small Maps (i.e., American Express’ database for SBS-registered SMBs). Thus, they’re likely to seek out your special deals and promotions to maximize holiday savings.
Better customer loyalty
Participating in annual Small Business Saturdays lets shoppers recognize your brand as a local staple. They can easily associate you as a reliable go-to during their holiday shopping haul. This instills in them a strong sense of purpose as they contribute to your company’s post-Covid resilience and recovery.
Improved local economy
Over two-thirds of consumers (72%) will continue to shop small throughout the holiday season because of its impacts on their local community. A shopper spending $10 at a small business alone would support $2 billion in local economic activity across the country.
Small businesses benefit from a strong local economy over the long term. With more financial resources circulating locally, SMBs have a better chance of weathering economic challenges.
Now, let’s look at some strategies you can employ to realize these benefits.
8 Small Business Saturday Tips for Success
Small Business Saturday demands careful preparation for businesses aiming to excel. Whether you’re a seasoned participant or new to the scene, these 8 pointers will help you make the most of this annual event.
1. Lay the groundwork
Analyzing past sales data lets you forecast product or service demand during the event. It would help you stock up on bestsellers and maintain optimal inventory levels.
To do so, compile your Small Business Saturday sales records for at least the past few years. It should include sales figures, customer foot traffic, transaction details, etc. Assess which products had the highest sales and cross-reference this with your current inventory level to optimize your stock purchases.
Lastly, establish contingency plans with suppliers to meet unexpected demand (i.e., how many additional units and when they can deliver if needed). The key is to always rely on data, not guesswork.
2. Enhance digital presence
36% of consumers prefer to interact with small businesses online. Strengthening your digital presence is critical to attracting them. Optimize your website and highlight Small Business Saturday deals on your homepage.
Smore, a beauty eCommerce brand, prominently displays its 15% off and free shipping promotions in the site’s above-fold. It advertises the Saturday sale while making the offerings irresistible for shoppers and new visitors.
Don’t forget to ensure mobile responsiveness for a seamless user experience. Visit your website on various devices (e.g., smartphones, tablets, and different web browsers) to test if your site looks and functions correctly on all screens.
3. Improve in-store experience
While 36% prefer online shopping, 64% of shoppers want in-person interactions in brick-and-mortar stores. Create an open and welcoming ambiance inside and outside the store to attract foot traffic and engage passersby.
Use a combination of signage, lighting, and creative arrangements to grab their attention. American Express provides free marketing materials like in-store banners and window displays here.
If you want to go the extra mile, organize product demos, mini-workshops, or interactive activities related to your products or services. These events not only provide value to customers but also create a memorable in-store experience. Bonus: Offer freebies or refreshments to set your store apart from the competition.
4. Implement effective marketing campaigns
Collaborate with local businesses for cross-promotions to reinforce your local community presence. Here’s an example from Denver, Colorado’s Highlands Square neighborhood. The district’s staff and SMB owners team up to promote the Small Business Saturday event.
Source: Highlands Square
Through joint marketing initiatives, it’s easier to pool resources and generate more buzz for the big day. Send engaging email marketing campaigns a week before to create anticipation and drive traffic. You can also use local hashtags (e.g., #SBS2023, #ShopSmall, #SBSDeals) and geo-targeted ads on social media to reach a broader audience.
5. Promote special offers
Some shoppers need an extra nudge to make a purchase. Introduce time-sensitive promotions, flash sales, and bundle deals to entice them. These strategies leverage the sense of urgency and added value to encourage buying decisions.
- Limited-time offers. By setting a clear start and end time, you motivate customers to act quickly and take advantage of the deal. E.g., “3-hour 20% Off Sale from 2 PM to 5 PM on Small Business Saturday”
- Flash sales. Surprise your audience with unannounced, short-duration sales—e.g., “Flash Sale: 50% Off Select Items for the Next 2 Hours!” Use different communication channels, such as social media, email, or in-store announcements so they won’t miss out.
- Bundle deals. Create packages of complementary products at a discounted price to offer value and convenience. E.g., a “Family Movie Night Bundle” that includes a DVD, popcorn, and candy at a reduced price.
Do you notice an influx of first-time Small Business Saturday shoppers? Offer loyalty rewards and discounts to foster retention. This incentive urges them to come back not only on that day but also for future recurring purchases.
6. Engage the community
Many places organize special events like local markets, fairs, or festivals on Small Business Saturdays. Identify any local festivals or parades happening in your community. Inquire with the organizers about sponsorship opportunities or participation.
If you operate a bakery and lean toward charitable initiatives, collaborate with a local food bank. You can pledge to donate a percentage of your SBS sales to support the food bank’s mission and community efforts.
On the other hand, let’s say you own a fashion boutique. Invite a local fashion blogger or influencer to visit your store, explore your collection, and share their experiences online. Both cases help nurture local camaraderie and increase visibility, drawing potential customers to your small business.
7. Engage customers and collect feedback
Gathering feedback allows you to assess your customers’ firsthand Small Business Saturday experience. Understand what worked well and what didn’t to improve future SBS events.
First off, set up a feedback station in your store where shoppers can share their experiences. It could be a physical suggestion box or a digital kiosk where they can leave reviews in exchange for incentives. E.g., a 10% off coupon for their next visit or a small free item or sample like a complimentary dessert.
Another strategy is to interact with old and new customers on social media platforms to further solidify your relationships. Encourage SBS shoppers to share their purchases and repost them on your profiles to express gratitude. You can also turn it into a giveaway contest—either way, it’s free word-of-mouth marketing.
8. Develop post-event strategies
Send personalized thank-you emails or messages to nurture long-term customer relationships. Perhaps add a sneak peek of upcoming products, special promotions, or behind-the-scenes insights into your business. Make them feel like valued insiders.
Pro-tip: Personalize the messages whenever possible. Specify the customer’s name and reference their specific purchase.
To keep the momentum going, share how the SBS day unfolded and how the local community came together to support small businesses. It can help inspire ongoing brand support and turn one-time customers into repeat customers.
Analytics-wise, examine sales data to determine which products or services were the most popular. Review your revenue for the day and compare it to previous Small Business Saturdays to gauge your success.
Small Business Saturday Simplified with Stax
Small Business Saturday celebrates entrepreneurship and community spirit while providing local businesses a platform for growth. This November 2023, implement the 8 tips above to thrive during the holiday season and be one of the neighborhood champions.
Now, you didn’t boost your SBS sales only to grapple with uncollected payments. Reduce late/failed payments by up to 700% and save 80% of billing time with the help of service providers like Stax.
Our payment processing solutions ensure a seamless checkout process for credit cards, debit cards, mobile wallets, and contactless payment methods. Less stress, more efficiency. Make this year’s Small Business Saturday effortless with Stax.
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FAQs about Small Business Saturday
Q: What is Small Business Saturday?
Small Business Saturday is an annual event that encourages consumers to shop at local small businesses the Saturday following Thanksgiving in the United States. Small Business Saturday started in 2010 and has since become an important day to recognize the significant role that small businesses play in the American economy. The event takes place on the last Saturday of November, nestled between Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
Q: What’s so special about Small Business Saturday?
One of the notable things about Small Business Saturday is its focus on supporting small business—which as many of us know, are the backbone of the economy. It’s a day when consumers are particularly encouraged to “Shop Small,” highlighting the importance of local support in enriching communities across the US.
Q: When is Small Business Saturday 2023?
This year, Small Business Saturday falls on November 25, 2023.
Q: How do you register for Small Business Saturday?
To participate in Small Business Saturday as a business owner, you can register to appear on the American Express “Shop Small” map. Here’s how:
- Log in through American Express’s merchant profile page to verify your business with your Employer Identification Number (EIN) and business zip code. If you’re an American Express Merchant Services user, you can use your Merchant ID or Access Code.
- Select your shop’s location on the map, ensuring you toggle on the “Show on Shop Small Map” option.
- If necessary, edit your business details such as name or contact information.
- Save your updates, which may take up to three days to reflect on the Shop Small Map or Online Directory. This registration process allows your business to gain visibility during the event, potentially boosting sales and customer awareness at no cost.