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The holiday season is well underway, but it’s not too late to come up with a plan to get people in your shop and spending money with you instead of a big box store or a website. You have great customer service and can provide much more attention than a website. Put that human element to work. Jeanine Pesce, founder of creative agency RANGE and an experienced trend forecaster, Blogs for Brands President Yoon Kim and Robin Enright, founder of Merchandising Matters Now, have 10 simple ways you can move merchandise quickly and get customers thinking about new gift ideas as the procrastinator buyers start flooding in.
- Appeal to different price points. People have all different kind of budgets, so group gift sets accordingly. “A cycling oriented table might have folded jerseys, helmets in matching colors and socks, or tools,” Enright said. “The idea is to create a table that has gifts that make sense either individually or all together.”
- Get people in the store in an organic way. Host an event in your store that combines fun with shopping. Bring a local athlete for a clinic, host a panel discussion on an important community issue or teach a class on how to prepare for summiting the biggest mountain nearby. To get new products into the mix, have a family fun evening where parents can bring their kids along to roast marshmallows over camp stoves and drink hot chocolate made in a JetBoil. “You’re going to get people into your store that way, by engaging them,” Pesce said. “They’re likely to buy something in your store while they’re there.”
- Organize a used gear sale or trade event. It may seem counterintuitive, Kim says, but it gets people in the store and shopping. If they’re going to sell their old gear anyway, they might as well do it in your parking lot: “With that money, they go buy new gear,” Kim said. They’ll have extra cash for holiday shopping, and for something nice for themselves, too. Stores he has worked with that have held trades or sales have found them to be very successful.
- If you host an in-store event, offer a discount for attendees. As Pesce said, they’re already there; now encourage them to shop. Use your store’s Facebook, Twitter and website to get out the word, and send invitations via email newsletters. Even better, get a local outdoors group in on the fun and have them invite their enthusiastic members, too.
- Spotlight add-ons and make them easily accessible from the checkout line. Organize checkout counters and shelves by the line with stocking stuffers and items that can be last-minute gifts in a pinch. “People constantly suddenly ‘remember’ another gift they need to buy when they are already in line,” Enright said.
- Encourage customers to shop for a set rather than a single item by creating stories with products, pairing items that complement each other. “Mix categories together to tell fun stories,” Pesce said. Maybe that means dressing a mannequin family for a day on the slopes, or building an in-store campsite with all the accessories. Set a camp table with dishes, utensils and backpacking coffee mugs. Pair a dehydrated dinner with a freeze-dried dessert, and put in a lantern or string up lights inside the tent. Make pairings like these for your customers so they can see what obviously goes well together, and make them easy to find and grab quickly.
- Think of items that aren’t normally considered gifts… People might come in for one thing, and change their mind to a more expensive item once they see it in action.
- …and put them where they’ll be spotted easily. Placement can make a huge difference. People are shopping for others right now, so think about your store’s “hot spots,” where merchandise seems to grab attention and sell no matter what it is. “Use those spaces for items that might not immediately be considered a gift item,” Enright said.
- Keep the gift ideas coming by changing your display tables regularly. Study those tables to see where your store’s hot spots are, and use them to your advantage, Enright said.
- Tell your story. You’re not a big box store; you have personality. Remind customers who you are, Enright said, and use that story to attract your ideal consumer. “People really want to connect with the brand,” Pesce said, “and what the brand stands for.” Share your company history on your website and engage with customers by hosting in-store events that showcase what you’re all about. The human element is becoming increasingly important to consumers sick of being on their phones and computers all day, Pesce said, and bringing thoughtfulness and personality to what you do will help craft a great in-store experience that will keep your customers loyal..