25 November 2020


It’s been a tough year for the high-street all round. As we cruise into December and a slow off the mark festive season, analysts positively forecast more momentum for online sales but also say that overall spend may be 33% down. While the big corps are able to gain a pace by participating in the annual Black Friday / Cyber Monday sale from 27th to 30th November this year, independents are doing their best for visibility in a busy online marketplace. 

On the indie’s side, Small Business Saturday is an annual national event that occurs on 5th December this year. With the focus specifically on small retailers and just a week after Black Friday, in the run up to Christmas it’s a great opportunity for indies to get seen. And, of course there’s hope that the government’s national lockdown will end on 2nd December to ensure it’s all the more prosperous. 

Cited as the Black Friday alternative for independents, we’re fully supportive of Small Business Saturday and would advise shoppers to hold out just a little (2nd Dec is days away now) and perhaps try to refrain from doing all their Christmas shopping early this year. 

Localise chief executive Ashleigh Cornelius says, “Trading conditions throughout 2020 have been uncertain and difficult. The impact on smaller independent and boutique retailers who may not have previously had the infrastructure in place to rapidly adapt to sudden lockdowns or restrictions is painfully visible with some of our indie gems closing their doors as if for the last time during this year’s lockdowns. But there’s promise for the creative, agile and resilient and, with this in mind, we sincerely hope retailers are able to maximise the opportunity to make up for potential losses during the peak retail period in the lead up to Christmas. Most have implemented digital strategies now. With big shopping events such as Black Friday and Small Business Saturday open to our independents, this could be the perfect time to reach your target audience and increase sales conversions.” 

While uncertainty looms large and no-one can be sure what’s around the corner, here are our tips on how small retailers can actively tap into these seasonal shopping events:

  1. Set clear, realistic and measurable objectives that you believe you can achieve. Set a target that you’ll reach that defines what a “successful” Black Friday or Small Business Saturday means to you. What would it look like – is it an increase in sales? Increase in new customers and customer retention rates? Or is your main goal to shift stock that was stuck during lockdown?
  2. Start communications now. For small businesses that are willing to communicate offers early, the benefits could be huge. Reach out to existing customers by email, phone, SMS and advertise your offer messages across your social platforms and website. Stats show that text messages are ten times more likely to be redeemed than print and 90% of text messages are read within three minutes. So if you have a ready database of contact numbers, direct messages should help. 
  3. When you’re designing emails, make sure they optimise for mobile view and consider the quality of your content on social – encourage viewers to share deals and tag their friends and where possible, make posts shoppable. 
  4. Discounting isn’t always smart. Consider deals that will incentivise shoppers to return / purchase more, rather than just offering blanket price cuts. It’s not always simple, but try to personalise offers to be seen against the backdrop of white noise by the retail giants. Shoppers are smarter than ever so being transparent makes it easier for them to see what’s in it for them. 
  5. Set up delivery contracts with your couriers early. It’s vital to consider the logistics of getting goods out to shoppers in the time you promise to deliver products to them. While next day delivery is always a nice option to offer, it might not always be feasible. Shoppers that support small businesses know this – just tell them when they can expect their goods and meet that timeline. 
  6. Test your website load times. With widely promoted events like Black Friday and Small Business Saturday, you should expect increased traffic in general. Making sure your site can take higher capacity is essential for all ecommerce operations. You want to be confident your site can cope with any peaks, so perform load tests to find out how many users it can handle at any one given time. Check the shopping journey and transaction times to make sure the user’s experience is optimal and they find your online shop intuitive to browse. 
  7. Make it fun and easy for shoppers to browse your website and find the offers and deals you might have posted on different channels. If you can, publish a phone number, or direct them to a message box that is manned frequently, to be able to answer any questions they have as soon as possible. 
  8. It is Christmas after all … While it’s been a tough year for everyone, don’t forget to add some positive festive cheer into your digital content where it makes sense. Be it snowflakes or a festive banner with baubles, consider your webshop as you would your shop front and add imagery that makes everyone feel like Christmas is still worth celebrating.. 


Proudly working with…

British Independent Retailers Association