According to the National Retail Federal (NRF), 2013 holiday seasonal sales growth is expected to increase to 3.9% from 3.5% in 2012. While many ‘big box’ retailers are hedging their bet on the 2013 holiday shopping season, the opportunistic merchant may just well be the small and mid-sized business (SMB). In fact, 35% of holiday shoppers note that they’re planning to purchase gifts locally from small businesses this year, possibly leaving some ‘big box’ retailers on the outside looking in. While SMBs struggled to compete with larger retailers in years past, there is definitely upward momentum in ‘keeping it local’ as evidenced by key media campaigns around “Small Business Saturdays” and “Made in the USA”.
This trend towards small business is not restricted to this holiday season and actually has been growing throughout 2013, with 76% of small business reporting increased revenue during the first six months of the year compared to 2012. While this is an encouraging trend, ‘big box’ retailers are not giving up sales potential without a fight with many beginning to leverage new data tracking and mining as well as new technologies to provide a more impactful and personalized shopping experience for their consumers. Moving away from looking at online, in-store and even mobile sales independently, many of the countries largest retailers are now focused on a holistic view of their entire customer base across and any all shopping mediums. In fact 75% of retailers surveyed responded that omni-channel fulfillment was very important to them, with many stating that creating enterprise-wide visibility is the best opportunity for technology enablement. For SMBs seeking the opportunity for a parallel lens into their customer data the news is positive as many point of sale systems are beginning to offer this type of insight along with other mobile based technology solutions to their customer base.
Focusing on this holiday season specifically, many retailers will fail to take advantage of the opportunities available to them today to increase their sales beyond the expected holiday bump. Showrooming (consumers looking at a product in-store and buying from a competing store online) is routinely referenced by merchants as a threat to their success, yet few leverage the ability to price-match or properly emphasize the benefits of cheaper and faster fulfillment by purchasing the product in the store. For many SMBs the holidays are also a great time to launch marketing or loyalty initiatives that will yield dividends well past the end of the holiday season, as the opportunity to offer small gifts to loyal customers, or launch holiday inspired in-store holiday parties or open houses can deepen relationships with local consumers.
Merchant Warehouse recently launched an infographic focused on “Thriving During designed specifically for SMBs owners looking for ways to improve their holiday sales and marketing efforts. The infographic is available at http://merchantwarehouse.com/thriving-during-the-holidays.