Merchant Innovation

Small Business Saturday's $14B Potential

Small Business Saturday might well surpass its $14.3 billion sales mark from last year as consumer predilection for buying and supporting local businesses is showing positive growth.

The Saturday event, which was first started in 2010 by American Express, has seen a rise in popularity, with reported shopper participation of 100 million last year. But much like Black Friday, Small Business Saturday is taking a turn toward digital and is now quickly transforming from being just an exclusive mom-and-pop store day to a social media-driven retail sales day.

For instance, the Saturday event now even has an app, which makes it easier for consumers to shop and dine at local stores and restaurants much more easily. And while many SMBs lack a strong online and social media presence, things might not be as bad for them after all.

CNBC spoke with Nicole Kroese, vice president of marketing and partnerships at Likeable Local, an online tool that helps SMBs manage their social media presence, about how small businesses can still make the most out of the business opportunity.

Kroese explained that it's never too late for businesses to start promoting socially as they always benefit from a niche, loyal customer base. That means that even if they don't have a social media presence or feel as if they can't get a grip on it, they can still benefit by using good old-fashioned flyers for promoting products and offers.

However, Kroese pointed out, part of building a wider customer base means more than simply driving customers inside the door; those efforts must translate into engagement, which helps retain customers.

"Encourage and incentivize customers to check in and interact with your business during the day," Kroese said. "Any way you can make it interactive with the customer."

Finally, he pointed out that it's imperative that mom-and-pop businesses extend their reach by participating in community events and should even consider collaborating with local government to truly expand reach and profits.

With many retailers moving away from staying open for Black Friday sales, 2015 might prove to be a better year for small businesses, but with a stronger social media presence, the path to making customers shop at their stores rather than their neighborhood mall might prove to be just what SMBs need this holiday season to keep their stores busy.



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