Small businesses owners are optimistic about the holiday shopping outlook this year, according to a survey by Chase Ink.
Just over 500 small businesses with 2 to 99 employees were polled in October. Forty percent of the owners said they think business will be better during this year’s holiday season compared to last year. Sixty-one percent said increased consumer demand would lead to higher sales, and 43% said that online sales, e-commerce, and mobile sales would contribute to increased holiday business. Last year, only 27% were looking toward online, mobile, and e-commerce to benefit their bottom line.
Other key findings of the survey showed that businesses weren’t just looking to established customers for sales, but expected to get new customers during the season. Fifty-two percent of those surveyed said that up to 20% of their business was likely to come from new customers. Forty-five percent attributed their own improved marketing efforts to the expected uptick in business, compared with 31% last year.
Retailers are prepared for the holidays
When asked if they feel better prepared for this holiday season than they have in previous years, 64% said they did. Thirty-six percent of them were planning to begin promoting holiday deals on or before Thanksgiving.
Social media is a playing a bigger role in small business marketing this year. Nearly half of small businesses planned to use social media to reach out to prospective customers. Last year only 29% said they would be active on social media to promote holiday sales.
More small business owners also planned to take advantage of the big shopping days surrounding Thanksgiving – Black Friday and Cyber Monday – than last year. Thirty-one percent were planning promotions for those days, up from 24% in 2013.
Small businesses have an edge
Compared with big box stores, small businesses are often able to give more personal attention to their customers, and 62% of those surveyed said they felt this gives them an edge over the competition. Fulfilling special orders or requests was the key to gaining the advantage over larger retailers.
Other advantages include the ability to reach out personally to customers and to create custom shopping options. Fifty-eight percent said that getting in touch with customers one-on-one was a benefit, and 49% indicated that they offer individualized shopping experiences to set themselves apart from larger retailers.
“It’s encouraging to see that U.S. small business owners continue to maintain a positive outlook about their business and future growth opportunities,” said Laura Miller, president of Ink, Chase’s line of small business credit cards.