11 Ways Small Businesses Can Compete With Major Retailers for Holiday Sales

Cyber Monday and Black Friday are great opportunities to attract customers to your small business, but there is often a lot of competition from major retailers during the holiday season. While your small business may not be able to compete on the same level as a major retailer, there are a lot of strategies you can use to sell more products or services through the end of the year.

To help you plan ahead for the big holiday sale days and beyond, the members of Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) answered the following question:

small businesses sales tips to compete with major retailers

“What’s one tip you have for how small businesses can compete with major retailers during times like Cyber Monday and Black Friday? How can they draw in customers?”

Here’s what they recommend you do to stand out from the competition.

1. Offer Products Unique to Your Company

“Big retailers can’t compete against items that they don’t have. Offer products that are unique to your company’s brand and industry with better customer service to create brand loyalty. On Black Friday, customers will respond to discounts for products that you offer because they trust you. It also doesn’t hurt that they can’t find it anywhere else!” ~ Robert De Los Santos, Sky High Party Rentals

2. Partner With Shopping Apps and Plugins

“Partner with cash-back and discount apps and plugins that shoppers use to find deals year-round. These solutions see more use during the holiday shopping season, and many shoppers rely on their recommendations to make buying decisions. Don’t bother creating your own shopping app if you’re a small, independent retailer; it’ll get lost in the app store’s clutter.” ~ Andrew Schrage, Money Crashers Personal Finance

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3. Find New Clients Through Old Clients

“Use your current client base to draw in new customers. Incentivize them to speak to their friends and colleagues about your brand. You can often see this on social media via competitions, and it’s highly effective. Small businesses will never achieve the same numbers as corporate giants, but you can still significantly increase your base by using what you already have.” ~ Nick Venditti, StitchGolf

4. Host Earlier Sales

“As a small business, I compete with larger retailers by running an early Black Friday sale for my client list to get ahead of the craziness. Every year this has set us apart from the noise and made a huge difference in our Q4 sales.” ~ Rachel Beider, PRESS Modern Massage

5. Encourage Email Subscriptions

“People will already be thinking about the deals months before they happen. Start your campaign early to compete with major retailers. By enticing customers to subscribe to your newsletter, you can give them exclusive deals earlier than the big-box retailers.” ~ Jared Weitz, United Capital Source Inc.

6. Capitalize on Your Strengths

“Don’t compete with the big-box stores. They can take the financial hit to their margins; you can’t. Instead, capitalize on your strengths and competitive advantage. Have good relationships with your customers? Use them to host a special event. Are some products more in demand than others? Bundle them in deals rather than selling all items at a discount. Revel in your unique qualities.” ~ Duran Inci, Optimum7

7. Increase Your Social Proof

“If you want to compete with larger companies, consider the benefits of social proof. Over 90 percent of online shoppers check for reviews before placing an order. You can expect a significant boost in seasonal sales if you have reviews, trust seals and live sales notifications (all excellent forms of social proof) on your site.” ~ John Brackett, Smash Balloon LLC

8. Leverage the Fear of Missing Out

“It won’t be possible for small businesses to compete with major retailers on price cuts. So, they will have to resort to other marketing strategies. Leveraging the ‘fear of missing out’ can work like a charm. Offering limited-time offers, setting a limit to your deals, bundling products, getting celebrity endorsements and more can get you much-needed traction from your audience.” ~ Jared Atchison, WPForms

9. Stay True to Your Company Values

“There’s a reason customers choose you over a major retailer, so you need to be careful to maintain that edge — especially during busier holiday seasons. Focus on what makes your business, product or service unique and provide thoughtful offers that customers will value. If you have the resources, offers tailored to customers’ unique buying habits can go a long way.” ~ Diana Goodwin, MarketBox

10. Be Active on Social Media

“Small businesses often have a huge advantage in their customer relationships. This holiday season, lean on that. Reach out through social media and offer separate Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals. Promote what is unique about your offering. Be active and accessible on your social media platforms. The more positive the experience, the more likely your customers will share your brand.” ~ Blair Thomas, eMerchantBroker

11. Diversify Your Services

“The best way to draw in customers from large retailers for Cyber Monday and Black Friday is to offer things the big retailers don’t offer. You will need to compare your offerings with theirs to do that. It could be a bundle, a gift, better customer service, gift wrapping, layaway or free delivery.” ~ Baruch Labunski, Rank Secure

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The Young Entrepreneur Council The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world's most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.

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