Small Business Tips for Black Friday and Cyber Monday
A few small-business tips can go a long way to help you prepare for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, where the supposed advantages of large-scale retailers are countered by small businesses' nimble response to changes in the marketplace. Another advantage? Small businesses are well-positioned to offer customer service, including post-sale return and support transactions, that may far exceed the capabilities of large retailers.
Are you ready for Black Friday and Cyber Monday? Here are some small-business tips to help you make the most of these popular customer holidays:
Get your Business Website in Order
It's critically important that all facets of your website are operational and provide the best customer experience possible. Towards that end, take time to fully revisit your site, testing it page by page for load times, broken links and ease of shopping cart functions. There's no point in attracting customers and guiding them through the buying experience if they encounter glitches at precisely the moment they wish to purchase your product or service.
Noting that "nearly half of all ecommerce browsing and purchasing research" takes place on prospective customers' mobile devices, business blogger Chase Jones urges entrepreneurs to check that their sites are fully mobile-ready. Again, testing is in order: "Pick up your phone and tablet and see how user-friendly your experience is," he writes. Pay special attention to the check-out process (mobile version). Don't add images at this point, because they will only slow the loading time. Employ big buttons for convenient use by mobile customers and make sure contact information is clearly visible on each page. Finally, keep necessary customer information as limited as possible, particularly from customers who've bought from you in the past, Jones says: "They should be able to check out with just their username and password."
Hire in Advance
If you anticipate a healthy turnout to your brick-and-mortar store, don't wait till the last minute to hire extra staff. Begin the temp hiring process now, both for those you plan to employ directly in sales and customer support, as well as behind-the-scenes personnel needed for replacing inventory and fulfilling online requests. Getting staff on board now, says business writer Natalie Taylor, "will give you a chance to prep your team ... so they know what to expect and are familiar with the merchandise."
Promote Through Email
Email remains an effective means for alerting customers to your Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals, as long as you provide specific value to them. Business consultant Margot Carmichael Lester suggests offering eye-catching gift suggestions ("10 Gifts Under $10, Ideas for the Guy Who Has Everything"), as well as "invitations to store events and exclusive purchasing opportunities." Lester also reminds business owners to include "explicit calls to action that promote visiting the store, buying online and connecting via social channels."
Stay Active on Social Media
Presumably, you're maintaining a healthy presence on social media platforms most often visited by your target audience. Don't let up now! Make the most out of paid and free promotions on Twitter and Facebook and keep inviting people to follow you on Twitter and "like" your business Facebook page. Focus on posting fresh, informative content that engages your followers and even motivates them to retweet your posts. Facebook and Twitter analytics can provide insight into when you're getting the most views; schedule new content to appear at those times.
Make Things Easier for Frenzied Customers
The more convenient you make the shopping experience on these two "shopping-frantic" days, the more customers will likely appreciate you. Small business specialist Ryan May offers these helpful tips:
- Open your store later to attract Black Friday shoppers who like to avoid crowds and do their shopping after 10 a.m.
- Set up a register dedicated exclusively to the buying of gift cards.
- Combine different products at a discounted price (like free batteries for a new flashlight) or free gift wrapping for items over a certain dollar amount.
Don't wait another day to get your online or physical retail store ready for Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Doing things right—the way your customers prefer—could potentially translate into significant sales to carry your business through the rest of the year.