Business Partners Limited Investment Manager, Arnold February shares three strategies that can help small businesses to make the most of the end-of-year rush
According to a survey conducted by Statistics SA, the average South African intends to spend 12% more this festive season compared to last year. Their planned expenditure will amount to R6 326 over and above their monthly expenses, compared to R5 673 in 2020. For small businesses across the board, this is a welcomed prediction. And while small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) may not have the budget or time to run fully-fledged festive campaigns, there are a few ways in which they can use their smaller size as an advantage and capitalise on the festive shopping rush.
This is according to Arnold February, Regional Investment Manager at Business Partners Limited who recently shared his opinion with Business Report on the fact that size is an advantage for both large and small companies when it comes to the festive season rush. Large companies have the stature and resources to plan festive season campaigns up to a year in advance by employing trend forecasters who can “make projections about the state of the economy, aesthetic trends and purchasing behaviour ahead of time. For many SMEs, the same level of foresight is financially inaccessible. But the inverse is also true.”
As February goes on to explain: “SMEs need to remember that their smaller size, when used strategically, can also be an advantage. SMEs are generally more agile and able to adapt than their larger counterparts. They are also much better equipped to provide a level of personalised customer service that major retailers simply cannot. This major difference comes to the fore more than ever during the festive season.”
February offers the following three tips as “quick fixes” that SMEs can implement in a short space of time to make sure they capitalise on the festive season hype:
One of everyone’s bugbears around festive season shopping is not knowing which gifts to buy. Depending on the size of their operation, SMEs could offer a personal shopper service, free of charge – something that large retailers simply cannot reproduce at scale.
As February explains: “A small retailer could introduce a day for “last-minute” shoppers where potential customers fill in a quick form that describes the person they are buying a gift for. The SME could then offer them a list (via email or even Whatsapp) of gifting suggestions, obligation-free.”
To replicate this kind of promotion, large retailers have to build entire microsites and use artificial intelligence, but SMEs will be able to do everything manually – it’s one clear advantage of being a small business.
As an SME owner, the festive season presents a unique opportunity to hone in on the aspect of giving back. If small businesses incorporate a charity component, now is the perfect time to make a difference and encourage customers to do the same. SMEs could, for example, reward customers who make a donation to a specific cause, with a discount, an extra “VIP discount” voucher on a post-festive sale or a chance to win a prize.
“If budget is not available to sponsor a prize, SMEs could join forces with a few other businesses and run a collaborative competition for a product or service hamper with a greater value than they would be able to offer as an individual business,” February suggests.
Loyal customers are the mainstay of any small business. SMEs have the ability to do what large companies spend millions using technology to do – make a personalised impression. SMEs could, for example, send a customised “thank you” messages to loyal customers. They could go beyond just personalising the subject line or greeting with their customer’s name and include a reason (or two) for why they’re particularly grateful to have had their support during the year. As a gesture, SMEs could offer them an exclusive discount or gift with their next purchase as a way of encouraging them to spend during the festive period or early in the new year.
February notes: “You’ll be surprised how rare a sincere, ‘thank you’ can be, and the potential impact of those two words, which may go further than you can imagine.”