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Tips for Making Big Sales on Small Business Saturday

5 min read
woman sorting through clothing

The holiday season is right around the corner, and retailers are rolling out their festive branding, doorbuster deals, and gift-giving guides left and right. It’s as if a light switched as soon as Halloween ended, and on Nov. 1, black and orange were swapped for red and green.

Behind the scenes, both online and brick-and-mortar stores have been planning for this massive shopping season since the summertime. But for consumers, visual cues are starting to build hype and make gift giving top of mind this month.

(Source: National Retail Federation)

Lots of attention is given to big-box stores around the fall and winter holidays, and it can sometimes feel tough for the “little guys” to compete. While it’s tempting to hop on the bandwagon and host sales for Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Giving Tuesday, Boxing Day, and on and on, smaller businesses have one advantage that massive retailers don’t…

Small Business Saturday is the day to sell to customers who prefer to shop from local, independent sellers and reach shoppers who are still seeking out gifts for all the important folks in their lives. Shopping small makes people feel good and more connected to the sellers they’re purchasing from.

In 2020, approximately 1/4 of CommentSold retailers sold double their normal daily sales on Small Business Saturday, and 33% beat their average daily sales by at least 50% on that day.

Small Business Saturday falls on Nov. 27 this year, drawing the so-called “Blackout Week” to a close. Many shoppers prefer browsing in-store and online deals over the weekend—especially after a busy holiday—when they have more time to thoughtfully look through products and make a whole day out of it. 

The first Small Business Saturday was created by American Express and caught on through radio and TV ads and social media promos back in 2010. Since independent retailers today are using social media as their primary selling tool, promoting Small Business Saturday deals through social posts is an excellent way to tap into these existing online communities.

So, how can today’s retailer plan for a successful holiday sale on this important Saturday at the end of November? We recommend working backward with your goal in mind and planning as far in advance as possible.

Start Backward and Plan Accordingly

Think about the main goal you want to accomplish during your end-of-year sale events. Determine what you want to achieve early on, and make sure you have enough time to put a plan in place to execute it.

  • Do you want to make up for slow sales during the summer?
  • Do you want to push out aging inventory so you can start shopping for spring styles next year?
  • Is there a target revenue amount you want to reach before the year ends?

Bonus Tip:

Schedule as much ahead of time as possible! Make sure you have enough staff scheduled to work on the day of your big sale(s). Schedule your promotional pricing, social posts, Facebook events, app notifications, emails, and other customer communications in advance—so you aren’t scrambling last minute.

Pick One or Two Shopping Holidays

With all of the hustle and bustle happening around the busy holiday season, keeping it simple will help you keep your sanity! Plan for one or two main holiday sales events in November and December. Black Friday and Small Business Saturday are great options for smaller retail shops to prep for, plan around, and promote.

Remember: You want your customers shopping your store and checking out multiple times throughout the month, so don’t just save your live sales, social posts, and regular marketing initiatives for one or two dates! Reserve the retail holidays of your choice for special promotions and offers that feel exclusive to those days.

Bonus Tip:

Don’t overcomplicate things. Less is more! Don’t offer too many types of discounts on the day(s) of your holiday sale(s). Pick one or two (e.g., BOGO and free shipping).

Get Creative

With so much competition happening during the “Super Bowl for retailers” (aka “Blackout Week”), now is the time to think outside the box for your holiday sale and promotion ideas.

Here are a few ideas to try out:

  • Create themed collections on your webstore and mobile app
  • Host games and contests during your live sales 
  • Offer introductory prices on new releases
  • Post sneak peeks
  • Create a countdown to your big sale on your Instagram story
  • Push gift cards (great for picky gift recipients!)
  • Promote items you carry from small, local vendors 
  • Offer discounts that increase or decrease by the hour (e.g., 20% off at 12 p.m., 30% off at 3 p.m., etc.)
  • Introduce new messaging into your posts: “limited,” “while supplies last,” “customer favorite,” “shop favorite,” etc.

Get Festive

There’s something magical about walking into a busy shopping mall during the gift-giving season. The twinkling lights, garland, festive music, and impressive window displays evoke a nostalgic and warm feeling. With more shoppers buying online, it’s important to create that same joyous mood virtually.

Having a cheery holiday background during your live sales will catch peoples’ attention as they’re scrolling through their newsfeeds. When they stop the scroll and see others commenting “sold,” they’re more likely to join in on the action!

You can utilize tools like Canva to create holiday-themed banners for your Facebook Page and Group, graphics for your Instagram posts and stories, and images for your webstore and mobile app. Make sure all of your shopping channels scream “holiday” with visuals and keywords that reflect the fall and winter gathering (and gift-giving) seasons. It’s all about building hype for your big sale!

Don’t Give it All Away

Offering massive discounts may seem like an effective way to get customers buying more from your business, but it’s important to be realistic and make sure you’re still earning a profit. Think about what promotions add value to you as a retailer.

Loyalty rewards are oner great way to offer something special or exclusive to customers who buy from you time and time again.

If you offer free shipping, make sure your team can cover costs and is equipped to get things moving on time. While there will surely be a lot of planning and work involved in executing a stellar holiday sale, you don’t have to overextend yourself or lose money in the process. Think about what you can offer that will delight customers while getting them to spend more during the big shopping and gift-giving time of year.

November retail holidays like Small Business Saturdays encourage people to shop from local, independent retailers. Let’s face it: shoppers aren’t going to rush to your boutique to buy a scarf at 10 a.m. after getting up at 4 a.m. to stand in line at Best Buy for that great deal on a TV. 

Small Business Saturday 2020 was the second-best day for CommentSold shops setting their all-time, best day record.

Keep your audience and their spending habits in mind while crafting memorable, engaging virtual shopping experiences. Buyers will love the ability to support you on Small Business Saturday through the convenience of their mobile device while cozying up on the couch or hunting online for that perfect, last-minute gift.

Get ready for Small Business Saturday and the upcoming holiday season:

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