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4 Small Business Opportunities to Boost Real-Time Sales this Season

4 Small Business Opportunities to Boost Real-Time Sales this Season

Black FridayWas your Black Friday a bust? You’re not alone. This year, more than half of customers said Black Friday shopping in a brick-and-mortar store was a bad idea. Where did they shop instead? Online of course.

An estimated 103 million people went online to shop during the 4-day Thanksgiving break. That’s an increase over last year, and it could signal a permanent shift in buyer preferences.

But your store could be a bright spot in your community, if you put a plan into action before the holiday season ends. Inspire consumers to bring those naughty and nice lists to your store with 4 key steps.

1. Make your store a destination

Online shopping is a solitary activity. People point, click, and pay without ever talking to another human being. Be different.

Lure online shoppers away from their phones and computers with a real-time party atmosphere. Provide snacks, festive music, pretty surroundings, and pleasant conversation. When your store is a happening place, customers (and their wallets) will linger.

Then, boost your revenues with a sensory experience online shopping just can’t provide. Scatter your best items around your store, and encourage immersion through signage, verbal prompts, and elbow room. Let your customers touch, feel and smell your products. Once they have a sensory experience, they might find it hard to imagine life without your products.

Does it work? Consider this: One retailer had a 5% purchase rate online but an 83% purchase rate in person. He attributed the difference to the see-and-feel factor. Add it to your marketing, and you might get the bump you’ve been looking for.

2. Track the customer experience

Of the 82% of customers that shop at small businesses daily, only 20% spend more than $30. How can you get stingy consumers to open up to your small business? Ask them what they want. And ask them often.

Use a comprehensive Voice of the Customer program to reach these spenders at key touch points. Whether it’s feedback surveys on your website, forms in your email newsletters, or special focus group meetings—it pays to find out what people love—and hate—about the shopping experience you provide.

Companies that provide products and services that consumers want will be positioned for success during the holidays—and beyond. Track consumer sentiments to make smarter decisions about how to serve those customers you need.

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3. Utilize customer-generated content

Hard-pressed for time? Let your customers handle the heavy lifting on marketing. Tap into the reviews they write on sites like Angie’s List, Yelp and Trip Advisor. Grab the compliments you see and splash them on your social media channels. And put less-than-happy feedback on the top of your fix-it-now list.

Do what you can to skew the results in your favor, too. Those online reviews matter, as 58% of customers said they looked at ratings and reviews online before they made a purchase—and 82% of those looked at both positive and negative reviews.

Reach out to your customer BFFs and remind them that you have an active presence on review sites. That little ping could inspire them to talk you up online, so a quick search into your company’s benefits will bring back nothing but good news.

4. Compare your company with the competition

Are you doing better than the competition? Or is someone down the road beating you, and stealing your customers in the process? Find out quick.

Hop onto those review sites, and study the words consumers use when they’re describing those other businesses. Making the same mistakes as the competition? Get to work on a fix. See an idea consumers love?Steal it to boost your own success rates.

Remember those Voice of the Customer surveys? Use Benchmarks to compare your work companies in your niche AND across the globe.

As a small business owner, you provide value to your community—both during the holiday season and afterward. Remind your customers of your worth, and take heed of the solutions they provide, and this could be your merriest month yet.

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