The Latest Developments & Best Practices in Non-Profit Retail
Sarah (Jones) Schuetz has served Las Vegas Market for 9+ years, currently as senior retail relations manager. In this role, she collaborates with trade associations for mutually beneficial strategic partnerships. She develops initiatives to nurture retail store prosperity and enrich buyers’ professional development. She ultimately works to connect buyers to product that engages their customers. Sarah has a special affinity for nonprofit retailers, and admires how passionately they serve their missions!
Non-profit retail takes the global stage at Las Vegas Market! Museum Store Association and Zoo & Aquarium Buyers' Group collaborated for the fourth year in a row, to serve buyers and vendors, members and non-members alike. Here are key takeaways from the brightest hospital gift shops, museum stores, zoos and more:
General Retail Trends
Buyers report that consumables are what's driving traffic to their stores. Particularly popular? Gourmet marshmallows, bath bomb fizzles, BBQ and food. Pet also remains a hot category where consumers are spending. There are 115+ pet resources represented at #LVMkt, for buyers to fill this important product category.
Retailers are pulled in every direction. So time doesn’t get away on you, & to keep customers engaged throughout the year, consider a yearlong calendar of themed promotions. For example: 25% discount, first 25 guests receive a gift, an item specially priced $25, open 25 minutes sooner and/or close 25 minutes late.
Common Retail Challenges
We've heard it before, and realize it is a pressing issue. However it was sure a common comment: how do retailers combat Amazon and the Internet? Since independent stores can’t compete on price, consider where one can compete. Your expertise and experience are an important edge why consumers shop local. Exploit that angle. Host an in-store event where “everybody’s a Prime member!”
It has also been reported that sometimes, store management is unfortunately woefully equipped for routine, professional strategic assessments. As stores condense and merge (especially hospital gift shops), there are not clearly defined plans. Across all retail, as retail superstars retire, thorough succession plans are lacking. Seek a mentor to coach you through these major business milestones.
Experiential Retail Rules
Give customers interesting reasons to visit your store. A place to connect with friends or make new ones. Actively service the customer with demonstrations, tastings, how-to-use tutorials. It gets the guest in your store. (Be sure to utilize your vendors for racks and displays to host in-store events!) "Make and take" is also extremely popular. Consider "cash and carry" events such as:
- Host a craft project or design class in your store, including materials
- Beads, strands & pearls for makers to string a bracelet (little girl jewelry!)
- Florist teaches techniques to design own arrangement or fairy terrarium
It's a big concept, but consider ways you can extend the customer's experience past the store doors to your wider community. Make yours the very first place they stop!
Improve Store Layout
As weather and safety permit, always keep your store doors wide open. It's the most simple way for customers to feel welcome, and removes the physical barrier from them entering. Dedicate a high-profile area of your store to highlight the most recent arrivals. Move best sellers to the back of your store, so your entire store is shopped.
Run the numbers with existing product categories and dollars per square foot. After you make the layout adjustments, compare the latest sales results and make adjustments as needed. Keep up the good, great work of serving your institution’s mission. Capitalize on your competitive advantages to not just survive, but thrive!