There was once a time when Thanksgiving was simply a holiday to enjoy time with family and get excited for December holidays. Now, it marks the beginning of the shopping season for Christmas and other holidays. While Black Friday is often the most exciting — and potentially dangerous — shopping day for consumers, a more comfortable shopping experience has taken over in recent years: Cyber Monday. 

In 2016, Americans spent about $3.45 billion on Cyber Monday, easily making it the biggest day for e-commerce in history. As online shopping trends upward, in-store retail has been trending downward. In 2014, Black Friday raked in about $51 billion for retailers. In 2015, it’s estimated that number dropped to about $30.6 billion — and may continue to trend downward. 

 Even though Black Friday sales are trending downward, the holiday isn’t one to be overlooked. There is a great opportunity to attract customers to a great day of savings, especially for small businesses. After all, the Saturday after Thanksgiving has unofficially become Small Business Saturday. Here are the best ways to make sure you’re prepared for Black Friday and Cyber Monday. 

Get the Word Out 

As Black Friday and Cyber Monday approaches, you should make special hours well-known on your site, if you’re partaking in these sale days (more on that later). Opening at 5 a.m. instead of 9 a.m. on Friday? Put a banner on your site that lets visitors know that. You can also take the route of buying pay-per-click ads on Google and ads on social media to make sure your potential customers know you’re offering something special for these shopping days. 

Though print journalism is on the decline, newspapers sell big in the weeks leading up to Black Friday. Why? Because people are looking for special deals they can take part in on that day. Be sure you contact your local newspaper and see what kind of listings they’re putting together for Black Friday, and secure your spot in that listing. 

As you’re trying to attract new customers, a good move is to offer exclusive deals to returning customers. If you have an email list, send out special online or in-store coupons that are just for newsletter subscribers. Those subscribers will feel like they are valued for their loyalty to your store, and will likely come back more and more. 

Figure Out What Sales Days Are Worth It 

Like many people, you may not want to drag yourself out of bed in the early morning after Thanksgiving. And as a small business owner, it may not be worth trying to compete with big box stores by offering deep sales on Black Friday. Instead of Black Friday, you may want to more heavily invest in Small Business Saturday, when shoppers are more focused on businesses like yours. 

By foregoing Black Friday, you give your employees another day to spend with their families, while also avoiding losing profits due to cutting prices. You could offer deals on Saturday instead, but they don’t have to be nearly as deep as Friday deals, as fewer shoppers are expecting such sales on Saturday. Determine which day is best for your business, and advertise for that day.  

While you may not want to be open on Black Friday, having Cyber Monday deals can be a great boon for your business. Again, having too many discounts can hurt your bottom line, so focus your advertising to a select group. You may only offer deals to people who “like” your Facebook page, or are on your email list. Doing so both saves you money and shows appreciation to loyal customers.  

Prepare Your Staff and Your Store 

Let’s say you’re preparing to have a Black Friday deal on dress slacks in your store. Do you have enough of each size on hand? If not, stock up now. This may mean taking out a small loan to get the inventory you need, but if your sale goes as expected, it’ll be well worth it. Even if you do stock up, you may need to offer rain checks on certain items. Be sure you’re ready for that possibility. 

As you’re figuring out how much inventory you need to buy, also consider how many staff you need on hand to sell that inventory. You may need to make quick hires for just the weekend, or make sure as many people as possible are scheduled for that day. However, you don’t want more employees working than you really need, as that can eat into your profits.  

On top of all of that, you must make sure your store is safe for the shopping rush. You’ve probably seen the videos of people being trampled in Black Friday stampedes. While that is not likely to happen for your small business, there are other safety precautions to keep in mind. For example, extra inventory means extra boxes. Don’t stack them too high, and don’t keep boxcutters laying around. Safety should be your top priority. 

Let Us Help You Prepare for the Holiday Season 

From Black Friday to Christmas, the holiday season could be an incredibly busy one for your small business. If you aren’t ready for it, you could be missing out on a big opportunity. Company.com can help you prepare for Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and beyond.  

We can help you quickly secure business funding to make sure you have enough inventory, and we can also help you make sure your accounting and billing process is optimized. Contact us today to learn more about our small business services, and to start a free trial of our premium software package.