You spend hours upon hours carefully hand-selecting wine bags or gift items for your wine shop, tasting room or liquor store. You carefully upload logo designs and choose the right colors for graphics and business names. You get the items in the mail, excited to start selling them to your customers. And then you realize … now what?
If you’re not quite sure how to begin promoting your branded merchandise, don’t worry. It’s natural to be a little intimidated by taking your business to the next level, but you can do it. Here are 10 ideas to get you started.
#1 Put It Somewhere Obvious
This might seem, well, obvious, but it’s surprising how many retail shop owners put merchandise in the back of a store or up on a high shelf and then expect it to sell. It won’t. Let’s face it: Branded merchandise is usually an extra purchase that customers make on top of what they’re already buying. They come into your store to get a bottle of wine (or four), but if they leave with a Field & Co. Cambridge Sherpa Blanket, it’s because you put it somewhere conspicuous.
#2 Use Color Well
Did you know that 84.7 percent of people say that color is the main reason they buy a product? That’s according to Shopify, which adds that 93 percent of people look at visual appearance before they decide to buy a product and 80 percent of people think color increases brand recognition.
What does this mean for you? First, that your products should be beautiful, so make sure to order from a reputable merchant that will do you proud. Second, that your products should fit a general color scheme, one that correlates well with your brand. And third, that you should arrange them by color in an attractive way. Keep these tips in mind and the overall visual appeal of your shop will shoot up.
#3 Host a Party
One of the best ways to get customers interested in your products is to throw a party. It doesn’t matter what the theme is – wine tasting and tequila sampling, food pairings and cocktail hour are all equally great themes for a shop or tasting room dedicated to libations.
Once you’ve got people there is the perfect time to introduce them to a variety of products, such as traditional wine glasses or glasses with colored stems. Need some tips on hosting a wine-centered fete? Check out this article by Real Simple, which will get you started.
#4 Don’t Underestimate Signage
Signage is important. People naturally gravitate toward large signs that contain words signaling things they’re looking for. We’re not just talking sale signs or price tags, either: use signs to indicate types of merchandise, ideas for how to use it and pairings with food or mixers.
#5 Sell Complementary Products
You know how on Amazon, when you put an item in your cart, the site suggests “People who bought this also bought _____” or “These three items frequently bought together”? That’s because Amazon knows what’s up: People are more likely to buy additional merchandise if they see a direct connection to what they’re already buying. Do this in your own store by grouping like items, such as everything you need for a wine picnic or all the necessities for a beery party.
#6 Arrange Displays Around One Central Idea
The Retail Doctor advises building your displays around a single interesting concept, such as wine tasting or mixing cocktails. Then every product in that display should relate somehow: thermometers and corkscrews in the case of wine tasting, mixers and glasses in the case of cocktails, and so on.
He also advises using an unexpected object to tie a display together. While it’s great to have a theme for your displays, people are drawn to the extraordinary. He cites stuffed pigs and tall stacks of old-fashioned glass bottles as display items that aren’t for sale but nevertheless significantly increase the overall impact. In a wine shop or tasting room, a giant bottle of wine or champagne can be an on-theme way to do the trick. In a liquor shop, consider something quirky, like a barrel or model ship.
#7 Make Price Obvious
Although this might sound counterintuitive, it works against you not to list the price of an item. People will usually assume it’s too expensive if they can’t find a price tag, and put it back. Even if some of your items are a little pricier, that’s okay. The quality makes them worth it, so just go ahead and share the cost with your shoppers.
For items that customers are most likely to buy individually, such as a novelty cutting board or corkscrew set, put the price directly on the item. For products they’re more likely to purchase in groups or that are all the same price anyway (think glassware), list it on one central sign so it’s easily seen.
#8 Discount It
Sometimes the best way to move a lot of product fast is to offer it at a discount. You don’t necessarily have to restrict your discounts to items you’ve had for a long time. As long as you’re still charging more than you paid, you’re getting a profit, so feel free to minimally mark down items after they’ve been in your store for a few weeks or months. People love a deal, and will often buy a product just to get it on sale.
Remember when you do this to use signage, and don’t always group all discounted items together. Scatter them throughout your other merchandise. Another way to do this is to offer a discount for bulk purchases. This works especially well for wine charms and 1 Bottle Tote Bags, which people often buy as gifts and will get in larger numbers if the price is good.
#9 Rotate Merchandise Frequently
People are attracted to the novel, so this tip works especially well for your regular customers. Use your best central display space only for your newest items, and move older merchandise to the edges of your store frequently. When you rotate your displays, make sure they look different enough from previous ones that your customers will notice; the whole point is to use novelty to attract attention.
#10 Promote Digitally
Don’t forget to put the word out online, too. The Internet hugely impacts people’s opinions. In fact, according to Search Engine Land, 72 percent of people trust online reviews just as much as a personal recommendation. Moreover, 52 percent of people said that online reviews made them more likely to use a business.
Why does this matter to you? Well, it’s true that you can’t force good online reviews, you can definitely encourage them by setting up places where people can leave them. Here’s a helpful discussion of directory marketing. For now, suffice it to say that you should at least be present on Yelp, Yahoo! Local, Bing Local, Google+ and YellowPages.com.
This tip might not seem like it’s really related to promoting products, but it is. In order for people to buy your merchandise, they’ve got to actually make it into your store, and if your competition is beating you out in the online space, you’re not likely to get many customers. Don’t let this happen; instead, set aside a day to put up a bunch of directory listings so that no matter where a prospective customer searches, they can find you.
Now that you know how to promote your products, what are you waiting for? Arrange your displays, let people know about them and throw a few events to generate interest once in a while. Soon enough your business will be booming, all thanks to your smart promotional schemes. Go get ‘em.