Does Small Business Saturday Actually Help Small Businesses?

As the definition of a small business changes, so must Small Business Saturday.

Small Business Saturday is the third largest shopping holiday of the year in the United States. Held the day after Black Friday, it’s aimed at supporting the millions of small businesses in the U.S. that create jobs and boost the local economy across the country. For these businesses, it’s an opportunity for them to gain new customers, grow sales, and carry momentum into the holiday shopping season.

But while corporate giants like American Express may hype the #shopsmall ethos, do small businesses themselves really feel the love? After surveying close to 500 small business owners, we found that just about half are unaware the national holiday exists. And of those who do know about it, over 50 percent were neutral or negative about the impact it has on business growth.

So where’s the gap between the image of Small Business Saturday and the businesses it’s trying to promote? It starts with understanding the realities of small business success in an increasingly digital and service-based economy.

Small Business Saturday is largely portrayed as “Main Street’s shopping holiday,” but it largely ignores small e-commerce shops and service-oriented businesses. That’s a mistake, especially when an e-commerce presence has become stable stakes for many small businesses. In fact, 59 percent of survey respondents claim that 75-100 percent of their business comes from online sales vs. in store. Even more, nearly 60 percent of respondents who sell consumer products online feel that Small Business Saturday is not valuable to their business. If Small Business Saturday is truly about supporting small businesses, it should start to include both in-store and e-commerce small businesses.

But it’s not just small e-commerce shops the holiday needs to consider; it’s online service-oriented businesses as well. Of those that feel the holiday is of no value to their business, more than 40 percent of respondents came back with responses such as:

  • “We provide a service, not a product.”
  • “Never thought about using it for services.”
  • “Not selling physical goods.”

While Small Business Saturday might have some expansion to consider, there is still a ton of opportunity in creating buzz and taking advantage of the holiday. Here are some tips from Tim Joo, longtime Fiverr buyer and co-founder of Haerfest, on how to make sure your business is prepared for the holiday shopping season:

Believe in an omnichannel approach.

Having multiple touch points to uplevel awareness of your brand is key.

Work with customers on expectations and show you appreciate them.

Handwrite a note to your customer to thank them for shopping from your business. This goes a long way and they will remember having a positive experience with your brand.

Use strategic partnerships and cross promotion.

Partner with other companies to produce newsletters and sent jointly to subscribers. This will bring more awareness and customers to your site and is cost-effective.

And if you’re in the business of shipping products… have a strategic shipping plan in place.

That includes having an express shipping option for customers and notifying customers early on about your shipping windows.

Overall, the idea behind Small Business Saturday is in the right place. No one is arguing that we shouldn’t shop small, or support local entrepreneurs. However, the idea of what constitutes a small business has evolved, and therefore so must Small Business Saturday in order to truly champion small business owners the way it intends.

What do you think about Small Business Saturday? Let us know in the comments below.

Sam Katzen
Sam runs Fiverr’s communications department, focusing on the policies, the products and the initiatives that drive Fiverr’s global community of doers.
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This is really helpful