I came across an article on Daily Finance which discussed the success of the Small Business Saturday campaign, which was held on the 24th of November, American Express has been running this campaign since 2010, but was it really a success and do shop small campaigns work?
Lets look at some of the figures. We all know the merits of shopping locally and supporting communities through supporting local businesses, but some additional findings from the Small Business Insights Survey that I found interesting were the following:
The top five places that consumers planned to shop on the 24th was restaurants (52%), bakeries (35%), clothing stores (34%), gift shops (31%) and book shops (29%). My immediate thought was that these percentages are really small, especially for a day when small businesses are being heavily promoted. So 48% of people were going to stick to a restaurant chain and 71% of people still wanted to head to Amazon? Ouch.
But my main issue with this type of campaign is sustainability. Of course there was a good amount of press coverage and Small Business Saturday would have raised awareness of the benefits of shopping at local stores – the number one reason (76%) why consumers planned to support small businesses on the 24th was because the valued the contribution the small businesses made to their community. I would feel better if people could say that they prefer to shop locally because its better than shopping online or at a chain in terms of experience, the merchandise or customer service. Thankfully, the number two reason that consumers gave for the same questions was better customer service (59%).
I strongly believe that small business owners can offer a superior shopping experience and customer service than larger stores and online retailers. Through building a rapport with consumers, retailers can create not only loyalty, but can have a better understanding of what their customers want and like, but can offer more unique products that are not available anywhere else if they can’t beat those with greater buying power on price.
Consumers will pay for something that they really want and it won’t matter of they’re are buying online on in a local store. However, people are less willing to spend time browsing and its is near impossible to search for specific items at small stores online (where Photiq comes in). This makes connecting with potential customers and then having a regular contact with them really key. This is why Facebook pages and Pinterest boards work, because they continue to engage people all year round on the social networks that they already spend a lot of time on.
Amongst all the advertising noise and big budgets of giant retailers, real relationships with customers count and is where any small business can win.