Helping small businesses do more business

In 2010, American Express founded Small Business Saturday (SBS) to help small business owners with their most pressing need – getting more customers. Today, communities around the nation have embraced the day as part of their holiday shopping conventions. Traditionally has served as a utility product for small business owners and neighborhood champions, providing them with the resources to prepare for Small Business Saturday, with minimal attention to shoppers. Approaching the campaign’s 10th year, we proposed a plan that elevates the website’s role within the SBS ecosystem as an evergreen visual, local discovery tool, helping users Shop Small in their community and celebrate the businesses they love.


Transforming Shop Small from a social moment into social momentum

Since it’s founding Shop Small movement has gained traction across an entire ecosystem of participants, with endorsement from consumers, business owners, neighborhood champions, and governments alike – including the oval office. An important function of the new is to serve as a relevant destination “speaking” to all these constituents throughout the campaign; a strategic departure from past years where communicated with only one audience at a time on a rotating basis throughout the year. This approach, while ensuring the targeted audience is engaged, has the downside of confusing and alienating those outside of the targeted group, who may be interested to learn more about the Shop Small movement. My team was tasked with creating an evergreen Shop Small digital experience across multiple touch points, that would enrich connection with all audiences & transform their relationship with SBS & Shop Small.


What we did 

Connecting shoppers with small businesses online is a local discovery challenge. Visual exploration is a fundamental part of social media: but local discovery tools are not highly visual yet. With the new we wanted to create a platform that would bridge this gap.

We envisioned the front door as a modular system targeting shoppers with a mix of user generated and curated small business content. This would include featured products, store events, promotions, and neighborhood guides, as well as more editorial sections like interviews with local business owners. The platform surfaces location specific and timely content relevant for the user, demonstrating the ease of shopping small. User can heart featured items, saving them to their profile, and is given the option to post their selection as a favorites list on social media.

In every community there are places that become a part of our daily lives. Whether it is the coffee shop where they know you as well as your order, or the ice cream parlor with the flavor you can’t find anywhere else, we all have our go-to places that belong to us. With we wanted to build a space where users can share this sense of belonging, and give a boost to the small businesses that are meaningful to them. A series of small business support badges were created, which users can customize and publish on social media to show their love for the places they frequent, and claim their status as a regular.

For small business owners and neighborhood champions, who make up the other part of the Shop Small ecosystem, the new site provides a set of tools that make it easy for them to engage with more customers in their town, and connect with their community. Through an analytics dashboard small business owners can receive weekly insights from American Express tailored to their business, as well as analytics on their store profile and traffic it generated to their business site. They also have the ability to create online communities, and message other small businesses or neighborhood champions in their area to get together for various event organizations and keep in touch.


Iterative development

The new  will be rolled out in stages, and is expected to be fully launched in 2019, to correspond with the Small Business Saturday campaign’s 10th anniversary.