Small Business Saturday: A festive shot in the arm for SMEs
This weekend, British shoppers can look forward to Small Business Saturday, a special event set up to support the nation's small, independent companies.
An import from the US similar to Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Small Business Saturday aims to encourage the public to spend their money with independent business instead of large chains on just one day. These SMEs, which are the backbone of the British economy, are then offered the chance to impress a new raft of consumers and encourage loyalty.
Last year's event was a huge success, generating around £440 million for the country's small businesses. Insurance company Direct Line predicts this year could be even more successful, generating an estimated £100 million more again.
The campaign is being co-ordinated nationally by smallbusinesssaturdayuk.com where firms can download helpful starter packs, marketing tips and find useful support and advice for making the most of the day. The hashtag #SmallBusinessSaturday is garnering a lot of interest on Twitter and across other social media channels, as companies and individuals pledge their support and publicise their events.
A grass roots, non-political and non-commercial campaign, the event aims to highlight small business success and encourage consumers to shop local; supporting small businesses in their communities. Supported by all political parties, the event throws the spotlight onto the some 4.9 million small and medium sized companies operating across the UK.
Online SMEs can also get involved, and local shops are urged to adopt online sales to support their bricks-and-mortar stores. Nicola Mason runs online jewellery and accessories business Hey Sailor and will be launching a pop-up shop in the centre of Glasgow for Small Business Saturday. She thinks the event is an excellent opportunity for online businesses, explaining: "Usually I'm sitting at home behind the computer so this will be a great opportunity to meet prospective customers and hear what they think of the products," reports telegraph.co.uk.
Nicola adds: "Even if people don't buy on the day, they can come back to our web shop later and buy. And we can also use Small Business Saturday on social media to reach customers who are hundreds of miles away from Glasgow."
This campaign comes as new research by the Department for Business Innovation and Skills shows that small firms could be missing out on online sales by not boosting their web presence.
A poll of 2,000 people discovered that roughly half find it difficult to support local small firms because often the companies are not online. Government entrepreneur-in-residence Simon Devonshire said to thisismoney.co.uk: "British Businesses should consider having a presence online as more important than having an office landline telephone number. Online is the new landline. A landline number used to be a mark of authenticity for businesses.
"The move to a digital economy has meant consumers are more likely to trust a business with a website and consider a business more credible if they offer the ability to transact seamlessly online."
American Express founded the Small Business Saturday initiative in the US in 2010 and is supporting the UK initiative with its 'Shop Small' campaign. Amex is encouraging consumers to support high street heroes by offering statement credit to those shopping with participating businesses between December 6-21.