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Could new digital tools herald Black Friday success for SMEs?

5 min read

04 November 2019

Features Editor, Real Business

With Black Friday sales no longer being defined by the high street, is there space for small businesses to stand out online?

It’s official, SMEs are ‘in vogue.’ Well at least in the business world they are.

How do we know? Well, a number of global tech companies are making a public show of saying that they want to help them grow.

Google and Yahoo are just two of them. And they’ve developed a range of tools (some of them free), to help small businesses, advertise and market themselves better.

Tech giants want to ‘help’ SMEs. Why?

Google HQ

Google, (London HQ, pictured), has released a range of digital products to help SMEs grow.

From Google My Business, (where SMEs can set up a free listing online and post information and news updates), to Yahoo’s cloud-based e-commerce store, (promising a quick and easy way for small businesses to set up an online shop, including credit card processing), there’s a lot for SMEs to choose from.

While some of these tools have been around for a while, Yahoo and Google’s public marketing of these tools to benefit SMEs is something new.

Acknowledge SMEs – or cease to be innovators

Yahoo is even hosting its own ‘Black Friday’ deals including discounts on digital tools for SME businesses to adopt ahead of the big discounting holiday.

What’s their agenda for engaging with smaller businesses?

The SME community, especially in the UK, is vitally important to the overall economy – meaning it would be a mistake if larger corporates didn’t engage with this ever-growing market. Put simply, if they don’t, others will.

The statistics speak for themselves

According to statistics from 2018, nearly 100% of the UK’s 5.7m businesses fell under the SME category.

It also looks good for Google and Yahoo’s CSR to be both engaged with and supportive of their smaller counterparts – for no one likes a big faceless greedy corporate, do they?

Google’s even having an SME ‘digital skills’ mega-conference in Paris later this month, (in case you thought these companies weren’t serious about it. We’ve got an exclusive ticket to the show and will be telling you more about it soon*).

But, what’s the connection between Black Friday (Nov 29), and the tools big tech businesses are peddling to SMEs?

Black Friday has changed…

If last year’s statistics are anything to go by, Black Friday is the new ‘Christmas’ in terms of year high sales and consumer spending.

November 2018 saw the highest rates of sales for the entire year, with experts citing Black Friday success as the reason why – with spending hitting £1.23bn.

While the event was once defined by high street sales on discounted tech products, this has changed. So too has Black Friday’s successive retail event, Cyber Monday, which was traditionally the online shopping day.

An opportunity for SMEs

The popularity of e-commerce means that Black Friday and Cyber Monday are now more of a combined retail event which is being defined increasingly by consumer interest in an entire range of discounted products online – and not just in stores.

It’s in this ‘free for all’ and non-product specific environment that smaller businesses (with limited staff) can benefit most. They can harness the power of tech tools, including AI to make consumer engagement and the sales transaction process easier when they’re looking for products online and accessing business sites.

A ‘brighter’ Black Friday for small businesses

With Black Friday being less about the high street, it’s smaller businesses that can benefit over retailers with large and costly high street stores full of stock, who will face more pressure.

(Think the utility of customer service chatbots on small business websites over understaffed stores with stock littering the shop floor).

Considering the number of online tools small businesses have at their disposal this year, who’s to say that Black Friday success has to be dominated by the likes of Argos or Currys, anymore?

There will always be consumers who prefer to buy more unique products from smaller retailers and who like supporting smaller businesses.

Make it easier for them by making your sites digital shopper-friendly before the 29th.