Evolution of Small Business Saturday: How technology transformed a foot traffic holiday
Open signboard on shop door

Open signboard on shop door
Small retail businesses are turning to generative artificial intelligence to improve their customer engagement.

It seems like a long-standing tradition, but Small Business Saturday wasn’t formally established until 2010. That’s when American Express registered the trademark and began its Shop Small marketing initiative. During this short span, we’ve witnessed a rapid evolution of the initiative due to the role technology plays in helping retail businesses reach customers.

In its first iteration, Small Business Saturday encouraged consumers to patronize small and local brick-and-mortar businesses. Since then, small businesses have really embraced innovations to streamline operations, reach consumers, and improve customer experience. The brick-and-mortar aspect of Small Business Saturday has become less and less important, shifting focus to customer engagement through technology.

Some examples of technology used by small businesses to enhance customer engagement are:

— Marketing Automation: Automation tools can help small businesses segment leads and develop customized campaigns to reach each group with the information they seek.

— Social Media: Small businesses share creative and purposeful content across social media channels to engage consumers and reach customers.

— Targeted Advertising: With technology, targeted advertising can ensure that resources are being used wisely to reach a target audience.

More recently, small retail businesses are turning to generative artificial intelligence (AI) to improve their customer engagement. Examples include dynamic outreach, guided discovery, and interactive chat. According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, 1 in 4 small businesses already use AI, and those who do report high satisfaction and improved performance, primarily in marketing and communications to reach customers.

AI technology is especially important for small retail businesses given the workforce shortage in Florida and across the nation. Small-business owners can create efficiencies and improve customer service despite unfilled jobs with AI.

Though technology is critical for small business success this holiday season, the fear of regulation weighs heavily on the minds of business owners. The U.S. Chamber warns that roughly half of small-business owners are concerned about tech regulations harming their businesses and having to comply with increased costs and litigation stemming from out-of-state regulation. In addition, 7 out of 10 small-business owners agree that their businesses would struggle to survive without access to technology platforms.

“Technology plays an integral role in helping small businesses thrive,” said Dr. Edward Longe, Director of the Center for Tech and Innovation at The James Madison Institute, a free market think tank based in Tallahassee. “It’s important that any policies we implement on the state or federal level are designed to encourage innovation and support the adaptation of technology. Diminishing the value of technology through regulation would significantly harm small businesses, the backbone of our economy.”

Small Business Saturday is Nov. 25. According to the Florida Retail Federation, consumers plan to spend $875 on average on gifts, decorations, food and other key seasonal items this year. For retail stores, holiday sales represent roughly one-fifth of annual sales, making this season critical to a retail business’s bottom line.

Peter Schorsch

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises Media and is the publisher of FloridaPolitics.com, INFLUENCE Magazine, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Previous to his publishing efforts, Peter was a political consultant to dozens of congressional and state campaigns, as well as several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella. Follow Peter on Twitter @PeterSchorschFL.


  • Earl Pitts "Earl Loves Small Business" American

    November 24, 2023 at 7:59 am

    Good Morn’ting my Patriots,
    Is it too soon after Thanksgiving to discuss what the dastardly effects of 8idenomics has done to “The Backbone” of American’s Economy our beloved Family Owned Small Business?
    Yes I, Earl Pitts American, think it may be too soon for any of our 💩 4 🧠’s Lefty readership.
    So let’s just keep it up-beat and try to set aside a little coin we may be lucky enough to have after the ravages of 8idenomics and spend our coins one of our local small business.
    Remember: keep it up-beat and try to not blow it all on-line or at the mall. Let’s all save as much coin as possible for tomorrow’s Small Business Saturday!!!!!
    Maybe I will see you on Saturday down at The Asian Massage Parlor. I, Earl Pitts American, have a few serious kinks only the Asian Massage Parlor can work out.
    Thank you America,
    Earl Pitts “Earl Loves Small Business” American

    • Ron Emanuel, Community Organizer

      November 24, 2023 at 8:26 am

      Thanks Buddy for that small business pep talk. If your shopping for me on Saturday I would love find a couple of gift cards from the Asian Massage in my Holiday Stocking.
      Thanks Buddy, R

      • Julia

        November 24, 2023 at 4:52 pm

        For a time, earn at least $928 every day working online. The $29,000 anecdote from my best friend helps me figure out what to do. But since it’s so genuine, as opposed to the following life that I lead, I don’t think bs04 it’s worth it.
        A l­o­o­k a­t i­t———————————>>> paymoney35.blogspot.com

    • JD

      November 25, 2023 at 8:03 am

      Seems like most things about Biden economics are boding better for the small businesses and DeSantis and the FLGOP policies harken their doom.

      If people think their homeowner’s insurance has them on the rails in Florida, ask any small business owner what their insurance premiums are at currently. Patronis should be ran out on the rails.

      Deflection and blame EarL, it’s the GOP way. And everybody knows your a paid shill for the DeSantis and the FLGOP to “try and balance” this forum. Sentiment shows you all are LOSING. But keep up the deparate attempts. It’s pathetic. Groomer.

  • JD

    November 25, 2023 at 8:11 am

    On the digital front, small businesses have to content with ADA accessibility of the website, GDPR compliance, privacy statements, etc. All of those significantly add costs to their sites and unlike their large scale counterpart’s isn’t usually in their markeing budgets.

    Then couple that with the “hermit economy” still hanging on, foot traffic isn’t what is once was. No matter what people try to portray “free Florida” as being.

    However, as Peter has written, the use of AI, leveraging online distribution / sales channels, and the technology marketing channels can push a small business beyond surviving to thriving. However, these companies will need to employee a degree of digital transformation of their policies and processes in order to use those tools and government needs to be smart about theirs. Please please please policy makers do not allow these issues to become a culture war issue like ESG/DEI or a donor class benefit only least we all be screwed.

Comments are closed.


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