How small businesses can win big during major sales events

festive shopping

Two e-commerce founders share their advice for making the most of the festive shopping season. Left: Josh Howard, Single Use Ain't Sexy; Right: Rebecca Veksler, SoL Cups. Source: Supplied.

Whether you have an established online presence or are just dipping your toe into the world of e-commerce, SmartCompany spoke to two successful entrepreneurs to help you make the most out of major sales events.

Make every sales event count

It’s easy to get bogged down in the traditional idea of what the festive season should mean for your small business. In decades past, pre-Christmas and Boxing Day sales were the all-powerful sales events of the year, and it’s what most owners invested the majority of their ad spend into. 

But a new favourite is emerging: Black Friday. That means you have far more opportunities to make sales and a pool of customers who are willing to spend big, more often.

In Klarna’s recent report The State of Smoooth: 2021 Holiday Spending Season, sales volumes increased by a whopping 193% on the year prior, and the majority (53%) of shoppers planned to increase their gift-giving budgets by $101–500 this year — a marked opportunity for savvy small businesses.

Join the ride.

Think beyond the ‘sale’ itself

For an entrepreneur like Josh Howard, who founded Single Use Ain’t Sexy, he didn’t get his brand to where it is by doing the bare minimum. To truly make your small business stand apart, you need to look beyond your products and find unique ways to get your brand in front of more eyes.

“Partner with content creators and influencers around the festive season,” he recommends. “When you’re looking for influencers to partner with during those periods, what really cuts through is finding people with a level of trustworthiness. Who in the community do people trust recommendations from? 

“It sounds obvious, but in a market where every online brand is throwing products at anyone with a following, the element of trust becomes much more significant.”

Don’t forget about what’s worked in the past

Howard also says that the tried-and-true methods of yesteryear are still worth exploring, as they could open up new revenue streams for your business.

“See if you can get on Christmas lists and guides,” he says. “Every media publisher creates a Christmas gift guide, so you want to be hitting them all up and making sure you can get on their lists. 

“Because when everyone starts looking for gifts they usually say, ‘Oh, I don’t know what to get.’ And they often end up looking at those ‘Ten best gifts from Aussie-owned companies’, or ‘the ten most sustainable Christmas presents’ lists.”

Get your brand out into the community

It’s good advice no matter the time of year: your business success starts with the people you know and the community you live in — so says Rebecca Veksler, founder of SoL Cups.

“The reason why SoL Cups is so successful is because before our product even landed in the country, I had already pre-sold the entire container worth of goods,” she says. 

“That happened because I went out there and made real connections and networks. I met every coffee shop owner, every stockist of mine personally. I went to events where media would be and I made relationships with PR agencies, influencers and relevant people in the community.”

Don’t neglect digital

Your physical shopfront may be your bread and butter, but if the pandemic has taught us anything it’s that sales need to happen online in order for SMEs to stay afloat. After all, the value of e-commerce is immense, with the Inside Australian Online Shopping 2021 report finding that 82% of Aussie households already shop online and there’s been a 57% year-on-year growth in online purchases.

The Klarna report also revealed that the majority of shoppers (63%) will be making their purchases online during Black Friday this year, a rise on the 61% who did so last year. Bottom line: if you aren’t investing in your digital real estate, you are neglecting a huge segment of your potential customer base.

Engage with customers online

While coronavirus might have hampered some of your face-to-face brand-building strategies these past two years, Veksler says there’s no excuse for not reaching out to your customer base online.

“You can send a message on Instagram,” she says. “You can send an email. You can send a voice note. You can connect with people. It’s literally about getting out there and trying everything. It’s about letting go of any fear of rejection, because that’s just part of doing business. You have to put yourself out there.”

And that extends to partnering with the right people.

“If you want to position yourself as a leader, you have to take the space,” she says. “That happens in e-commerce by investing in advertising, investing in public relations, creating partnerships that are meaningful and engaging, and being innovative about how you can both utilise each other’s audiences.”

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Klarna has been connecting the world’s biggest brands with customers for over 15 years. With Klarna, shoppers get the freedom to shop when inspired and pay later. Boost sales, increase average order value and keep your customers coming back for more. Klarna reaches and engages millions of hungry shoppers across their app and social channels, driving traffic to your store.

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