At RMS, our world pretty much revolves around community businesses. Specifically local pharmacies. Whether you operate a small apothecary pharmacy, a large retail pharmacy, an independent chain or hospital outpatient pharmacy, we believe in keeping it local and working together to win out over box store competition.
That’s why on black Friday, you won’t find me fighting the crowds for the best deal. I’ll be sitting at this desk just like any other Friday. (Although fair warning… I will be fighting off a food coma) The Saturday following Black Friday, however, is another matter. That’s because the day after black Friday is officially designated as Small Business Saturday. An event meant to promote and encourage holiday shopping at local independent businesses.
I first wrote about Small Business Saturday in 2014. And the phenomenon has only grown. In 2012, an estimated 5.5 billion was spent at local businesses on Small Business Saturday. In 2014 that amount grew to an estimated 14.3 billion. So it seems that the question is no longer “should your independent retail pharmacy participate in small business Saturday?” but “How can you make the most of Small Business Saturday?”
- Promote – Despite the fact that Small Business Saturday has grown, it still falls in the shadow of Black Friday. Not everyone knows about it. And even though your pharmacy may have an awesome gift department, many people may not think of your store as a destination for purchasing holiday gifts. So you’ll have to do a little work to remind people that your pharmacy is an awesome place to shop for the holidays and promote Small Business Saturday as an event to attend in your store. You can put up signs in your window and print flyers to stuff in shopping bags. (Check out the American Express Small Business Saturday website to see if you qualify for their free promotional materials). Put information about Small Business Saturday on your website. Post on Facebook and Twitter. Wherever you have an outlet, make sure you are talking about Small Business Saturday. You can also use your Pharmacy POS system to promote the event by changing the footer text on your receipts to invite customers to shop.
- Special offers – Black Friday is famous for its huge discounts. It’s why some stores have lines around the building hours before they even open. But independent business isn’t like that. Slashed prices and flashy giveaways just cut into margins that a lot of stores can’t afford. But that doesn’t mean you can’t do something special for customers that shop on Small Business Saturday. You could offer special promotions to members of your customer loyalty program and print coupons on your receipts for future use to drive repeat business. Even something as simple as free coffee and cookies while customers shop can make an impression. It doesn’t take much to show shoppers how much you appreciate their patronage during the holiday season.
- Talk up your gift cards – Gift cards are one of the hottest items to purchase during the holidays, especially for last minute or impulse items. Did you know the typical gift card user spends on average 20% more than the gift card value? Think about what that would mean to your bottom line!
- Be community minded – If you ever visit downtown Olympia, WA (near our headquarters), you’ll find nothing but independent businesses as you walk along the main streets. (Seriously, even the grocery store is an independent chain) It’s wonderful to be surrounded by businesses that are all completely unique. What’s more, you’ll find that the businesses support each other. The boutique will have advertisements for the shoe store. Restaurants use window space to support the local theaters and everywhere you go there are bulletin boards with ads for other local businesses. If you can coordinate with other local businesses in your immediate vicinity to promote and participate in Small Business Saturday, you’ll all benefit.
Remember, customers this time of year are looking for ways to spend their hard earned money on gifts. Give them an opportunity to patronize your store and impress upon them not only your unique merchandise selection, but your excellent customer service. Who knows, maybe you’ll gain a few customers that otherwise wouldn’t even have stepped foot in your store!