Without fail every year the holiday shopping season seemingly sneaks up on shoppers around the world. While it may sneak up on shoppers, owners of retail stores, especially small businesses aren’t afforded the same luxury. In fact if your small business wants to compete with the big chain stores you’ll need to begin planning for Black Friday and the holiday shopping season months in advance like a musician who records a holiday album in the heat of summer.
Last year brick and mortar stores took in an insane $12.3 billion on Black Friday alone, up an impressive 2.3% from 2012 according to CNN Money. An additional $1.964 billion was added in online sales on Black Friday, up an even more impressive 18.5% from 2012.
While most of that money is clearly going to the big chain stores, like Walmart, Target, and Best Buy, there is still a large piece of the pie available to small business retail store owners.
Here’s 7 tips to help prepare your retail store to get your piece of this $14.3 billion pie:
1) Have a Plan for When to Open
Some stores can rack up as much as 50% of it’s annual sales during the holiday shopping season so going in to the unofficial start of that season with a plan to maximize your business hours will be crucial to success. This will ultimately depend on the location of your store and the merchandise you’re selling however. If your store is located in a mall then it may be beneficial for you to open when the big chains do to ensure the same amount of hours with access to customers and in the hope that when the crowds are done ravaging the chain stores they will stop at yours before giving in to the tryptophan. If your store isn’t located in a popular mall or sells high end or non limited quantity products feel free to open at your regular time on Friday morning and attract customers with your sales.
2) Rearrange Your Store for Customer Convenience
To accommodate for bigger than usual crowds and the extra employees required to service those crowds odds are you’ll have to rearrange your store. For example the Gap Outlet in Ames Iowa rearranges their storefront to create a more spacious area in the event the checkout line extends to the doors. Moving merchandise that is on a special deal to the front of the store is also a great way to attract customer attention and make it easier for them to find the items they want. Ensuring the customers have an easy and enjoyable experience will be a key to your store’s success on Black Friday.
3) Offer “flash sales” Throughout the Day
Flash sales, where items are discounted even more heavily for a set amount of time, are becoming increasingly popular on Black Friday and throughout the rest of the year as well. You can promote these special sales on social media and or have employees walk around the store toting cardboard signs detailing the promotion. These special sales can last anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour, just make sure that you provide interested shoppers with a card guaranteeing the discount so no one ends up walking away disappointed. The promotions are invaluable when it comes to getting people excited about shopping.
4) Price Match
While it may be impractical for you to price match everything offered by both you and the big chain stores, you may want to consider it for a few of the more popular items of the holiday season. You have to compete with the chains stores for every dollar you can and odds are once you get customers in the door they’ll end up buying more than just the item they came there for because of the price match.
5) Offer Online Alternatives
With almost $2 billion coming in from online sales alone on Black Friday you need to offer online shopping if you want to be successful. Having a way for potential customers to order from the comfort of their own homes while simultaneously avoiding the crowds out on Black Friday will only help your business. With 21.8 % of all online sales coming from mobile devices, a mobile site wouldn’t hurt either. In today’s day and age being prepared for Black Friday is as much a digital venture as it is a brick and mortar one.
6) Stay Social
Just like with offering online shopping and exclusive deals it is essential for any retail shop to have a social media presence in today’s day and age. It’s not just enough to have a Facebook page or a Twitter account though; they need to be updated regularly and used to engage with your customers and promote specials to be effective. Instagram would be a great tool as well for retailers to promote their flash sales on Black Friday. The more engaged you are with your customers the more likely you are to get them to spend money in your store.
7) Expand Beyond Black Friday
With Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday following directly after Black Friday coupled with the extension of the Holiday season as a whole it makes no sense to limit yourself to only offering deals on Black Friday. With the right deal at the right time you’ll be making a steady stream of money all throughout the Holiday season.
Do you have any additional tips for preparing for Black Friday? Leave a comment below!