Article & Guides

Creating the Perfect In-Store Experience for Tourist Customers

The World Travel & Tourism Council states that one out of three jobs is related to tourism in top North American cities – but that may not come as a surprise to you. Retailers based in tourist towns or within tourist attractions know firsthand the value of tourism. The catch? Despite being positioned in a prime destination, it still takes some tender loving care to capture tourist dollars. To help, consider the below tips.

Incorporate Name-Drop Inventory into Your Merchandising Strategy

Stocking up on name-drop merchandise is among the best ways to capture customer dollars while also enhancing your store experience. Unlike traditional inventory, name-drop merchandise highlights your unique tourist attraction – whether it’s a destination city, amusement park, hotel name, museum or festival that is taking place. Retailers benefit from introducing name-drop items into their merchandise mix because it not only attaches sentiment to customers exploring their inventory, but it also enhances the overall feeling of store experiences and connects consumers to the tourist appeal of your specific location. This is particularly valuable when you factor in that customers who shop in tourist towns are often doing so as an extension of a thoughtfully planned vacation or getaway that they want to remember – hence, buying products that have name-drop appeal to them increases the chance for customers to want to purchase them. Discover an extensive variety of name-drop merchandise at the upcoming IGES Show in Tennessee, an annual trade event for retailers that specifically caters to tourist-based businesses, to help give your store a stronger customer experience… while also helping to increase sales.

Create a Store Environment That Expands on Tourist Experiences

From selfie stations strategically positioned within your store to interactive displays that encourage customer engagement to hands-on merchandising strategies that have customers unable to resist engaging with your inventory, the idea of making your store a destination should top your to-do-list. After all, tourists want experiences they can both enjoy and remember – to aim high. Collectively, these efforts will help to shape an in-store experience that customers will want to share stories of with friends, post about on Facebook and Yelp and of course, remember thanks to their purchase. Having merchandising strategies in place that highlight name-drop items, customer favorites, and strong-selling products will not only help to increase your overall sell-thru but will also help to enhance your entire store experience. And as a result, your tourists will appreciate it, as well!

Offer a Variety in Product Assortment & Price Points

Tourists come in all shapes and sizes… figuratively and physically. So to ensure you are capturing dollars from every tourist that walks through your door, offer a variety of inventory that speaks to every potential customer that may visit your business. This may include magnets, coffee mugs, plush goods and of course, a range of apparel and accessories in a variety of sizes and price points. From $1 trinkets to $75 sweatshirts and everything in between – or beyond – it’s important to think about your entire reach of customers to guarantee you will have something for everyone. To help do this, explore IGES in Tennessee where you can discover over 1,200 booths of name drop items for souvenirs, coastal gifts, children’s toys & plush, resort apparel and Made in the USA collectibles & keepsakes to stock your retail and online stores.

Finally, remember that tourists often make purchases in response to impulsive decisions – such as finding a name-drop accessory they suddenly “have to have” – while other tourists buy things based on an immediate need, such as having forgotten to pack a sweatshirt and realizing they need one. Keep both of these realities in mind as you identify the right mix of inventory for your store – as well as how you merchandise your retail environment. It’s about creating a welcoming environment for customers to shop – whether they need something or simply want to enjoy a casual stroll through stores… which will hopefully lead to a purchase. Combined with your efforts of making your store a memorable destination that is worthy of bragging to friends about, you will be on your way to creating an in-store experience designed specifically for tourist experiences.

Author: Nicole Leinbach Reyhle, Retail Minded

The Power of a Name: Why Customers Love Buying Monogrammed Apparel

Monogrammed apparel captures consumer attention in a way nothing else can. Retailers can use this to their advantage by introducing products to their inventory assortment that has their logo, resort name or favorite saying more easily than ever before thanks to the wide assortment of products available with customization. From t-shirts to sweatshirts to baby onesies and more, monogrammed apparel and accessories are all the rage.

Whether you opt to brand clothing with the name of your business, your locale, or you let your customers decide what to embroider on their sneaks and sweaters, offering apparel personalization can be the competitive advantage you need for your store or gift shop to thrive. Expanding on this, let’s explore how to determine what type of monogramming is right for your business – as well as how to give your customers personalization they’ll appreciate for both the product and the price.

Find the Right Image & Copy for Your Store

What makes your store or gift shop brand unique? If you’re anchoring a resort park or located in a tourist town, this is easy to identify. Beyond these obvious points, what else can you introduce in terms of monogramming that can help push sales?

Talk to your customers and associates to pinpoint what branding slogan or imagery is special about your particular store and then customize apparel to play on that theme. Your store’s unique appeal might be your location, your company slogan, or an icon or graphic that imparts your store’s vibe. If your gift shop is at a hotel in a luxurious locale, for instance, then your customers might want to purchase a product embroidered with the name of the hotel and the location to let people know where they’ve been without speaking a word. On the other hand, if you’re a feisty local gift shop with an awesome graphic that people always recognize, increase the perceived value of your keystone products by emblazoning them with your logo.

The goal is to give your give customers a first-hand brand experience that they can take home and discuss with their friends for years to come. As Racked explains, “as ‘personal brand’ becomes a thing that’s less and less embarrassing to say out loud, our own names and initials have become the ultimate status symbol.”

Sell Your Merchandise at the Perfect Price Point

Here’s the deal: Embroidered apparel typically costs more than screen printing, so you should choose which method to use for your store (or what products to monogram with which method) based on what price point will enable you to sell the completed product to your customers while still making margins. For reference’s sake, Lawson reports that the average cost of 1-color screen-printing falls somewhere between $5.50 and $9.00, while Thumbtack says their average embroidery fee falls between $10 to $20. Keeping this in mind, review what items traditionally sell well in your store and identify how you can leverage stronger sales through monogrammed apparel based on this sales history. To further support you in your efforts, attend the International Gift Exposition in the Smokies where you can explore a variety of vendors that offer monogrammed products – as well as explore various price points based on your unique store needs.

Finally, remember that trends change quickly – but what doesn’t change is the love affair customers have in wanting products that remind them of experiences they have had. Through monogrammed apparel, you can keep up with this customer preference while also incorporating trend styles into your monogrammed mix of inventory. As a result, your resort or gift shop can remain competitive by staying ahead of trends and by also giving shoppers access to customized merchandise that they have historically loved.

Author: Jasmine Glasheen, Retail Minded

Selling Strategies to Help Tourists Want to Spend

Tourism is big business. In fact, the World Travel & Tourism Council recently identified that one out of three jobs is related to tourism in top North American cities. Keeping this in mind, it’s easy to understand that tourism and spending go hand-in-hand. The catch, however, is identifying how you can capture tourist dollars despite the competition that is undoubtedly trying to do the same. To help? Consider the below tips.

Incorporate Name-Drop Merchandise into Your Inventory Strategy

Tourists aim to create memories and likewise, want to remember those moments once they have returned home and are back to reality. To help support them in these goals, merchants situated in tourist areas can benefit from stocking name-drop merchandise in their inventory assortment. As recently explained in an article from Retail Minded, “when customers visit your store, they are often doing so as part of an experience that has been thoughtfully planned and often budgeted for over quite some time. By offering them customized products with names incorporated into these items, buyers feel a stronger connection to want to make a purchase while also gaining a stronger sense of attachment to your unique destination. This is a winning combination for retailers looking to increase their daily sales.”

By choosing to invest in name-drop items, you are investing in your chance for stronger tourism sales success. To discover what name-drop items may be right for your unique business, explore the IGES Show, an annual trade event for retailers that cater specifically to tourist-based businesses.

Strengthen In-Store Merchandising to Trigger Tourist Sentiment

Shopping should be entertaining for customers, particularly when they are on vacation or visiting somewhere new as a tourist. To help accomplish a stronger experience of shopper-tainment for your consumers, consider how merchandising can help.

Through merchandising, retailers can deliver memorable, enjoyable experiences that help lead them to make a purchase. Having merchandising strategies in place that highlight name-drop items, new deliveries, customer favorites and strong-selling items will help to increase your overall sell-thru while also helping to strengthen the customer experience. Using signage strategically placed by these key areas and incorporating an easy-to-navigate store layout are among the best ways merchandising can help lead your customers to want to make a purchase. Strong displays that are engaging, informative and encourage interaction among the inventory and customers are also helpful when it comes to creating memorable store experiences through merchandising. Collectively, these efforts can support you in strengthening your tourism sales and overall store success.

Offer a Range of Price Points & Inventory Options

Understanding your customer is never an easy task, however, it becomes even more difficult when you factor in tourist shoppers. Since no two consumers are the same, it’s important to offer a variety of price points and inventory options when trying to cater to your tourist consumers. Offering items that are affordable and allow for quick, impulsive purchases is ideal, yet also offering items that may take more consideration yet have a higher markup and margin is also healthy for your business. The key here is offering assortment in price and inventory – helping to capture consumer dollars from all customers that may walk into your store.

Finally, as you consider how to best support your tourist customer, also consider where the best inventory can be discovered to create the right assortment for your store. The IGES Show – held annually in Tennessee – is a leader in the souvenir and gift category and has supported retailers in their buying journeys since 2001.

Author: Nicole Leinbach Reyhle, Retail Minded

3 Ways to Help Gift Stores Strengthen Their Merchandising

When it comes to brick and mortar stores, nothing is more powerful than the visual appeal your store can offer. From the curb appeal of your storefront to what customers see when they first walk into your retail space, there are countless ways to entice consumers through displays and merchandising. To help? Consider the three tips below when it comes to merchandising your gift store.

  1. Incorporate the Power of Sentiment Through Your Display
    Shopping is an experience and as a result, should be treated as one. To help strengthen the experience your store offers, consider how incorporating emotions into your displays can help strengthen your store sales. For example, if you have inventory ideal to be purchased as gifts for new babies or growing families, use signage in your display to remind customers this may make the perfect gift. A simple framed caption of “Make This a Gift They’ll Cherish Forever” strategically positioned near this inventory can help remind customers they need to purchase something – even if this particular something wasn’t on their immediate shopping list. Another idea would be to use window displays to not only highlight store inventory, but also to trigger memories. Nostalgia is a great way to capture customer attention, so consider how using this theme in your displays can also help you capture customer sales.
  2. Highlight Staple & Statement Items Through Merchandising
    For every retailer there are essentially two categories of inventory – staples and statements. Staples consist of must-have items that merchants depend on to help keep their sales steady and their customers happy, such as milk is to a grocery store. Statements, on the other hand, are items that are more seasonal, trendy or meant to be a one-time buy with the intent to sell fast. Keeping this in mind, consider how merchandising your statements and staples together can help you capture customer attention. Staples should gain some responsiveness, but it’s statements that ultimately keep customers engaged and curious. Using both in your own merchandising strategy, overlap staples and statements in the same displays so that customers will not only be captivated by what they may need but also by items they will want to impulsively buy. Favorite vendors to consider merchandising in your own store include souvenir and novelty items from Squire Boone, plush toys from Petting Zoo and apparel items from Exist – all of whom will be exhibiting at the upcoming IGES Show in Tennessee from October 31 – November 4, 2017.
  3. Educate & Share Product & Vendor News Through Displays
    Among the many advantages a brick and mortar store has compared to an online business is that it can offer hands-on opportunities for consumers to engage with inventory. Through merchandising, stores can share product news via signage, encourage customers to interact with inventory and strengthen the overall engagement between consumers and brands thanks to the physical connection storefronts can bring them. To help do this, use signage to encourage customers to try-on, pick-up or simply touch your inventory – particularly inventory that lends itself to hands-on engagement such as fidget spinners do. Additionally, ask your vendors what they may have to help support you in these efforts and incorporate their display pieces, vendor signage or other tactics into your merchandising strategy. Another tip? Rotate new items into more featured display areas and identify them as “new” or “just arrived” so that your customers won’t miss them.

Finally, remember that when merchandising your gift store, also consider how your customers interact in your store space. Are they frequent customers or does your store cater to out-of-town guests more often? Is your store located in a destination area or are you located in a high traffic part of town with many walk-in customers?

When you look at all the factors that influence your customer base, this will also help you in your merchandising strategies – particularly when identifying if your customers are frequent visitors to your store or not. Consider how signage hung from the ceiling to better direct your customers to what they may be looking for, for example, can offer value to your merchandising strategy, as well as make sure to use good old fashioned customer service to support your display efforts. Collectively, these efforts and those mentioned above will help you get on track to strengthening not only your store merchandising goals but also your store sales.

Author: Nicole Leinbach Reyhle, Retail Minded

Supporting Today’s Souvenir Shopper: 3 Realities You Need to Know

‘Retailers, listen up.

Gone are the days of marketing your store and inventory to one niche audience of consumers. Instead, customers nowadays vary tremendously and demand the attention they each want and – quite frankly – deserve. After all, there are a lot of choices when it comes to shopping, so why should a customer choose to shop with you versus your competitor?

We know… a thousand reasons… and we agree. The catch? You need to communicate these reasons effectively with both your existing customers and potential customers so that they are as excited to shop with you as you are excited to welcome them to shop at your store. To help? Consider the below tips when helping to support the ever-growing, always evolving consumer demands of today’s modern consumers.

Tip #1: Offer your customers personalization.
‘Me, me, me.” Get the idea?

Customers love the idea of personalized attention that they believe speaks uniquely to them. To help, consider how name-drop items can add value to your store inventory and ultimately your store sales, as well. Since name-drop items – which are essentially items with either their names or the name of your demographic area, destination location, etc. are identified – can help customers connect themselves more individually to your store inventory, this is always a good idea. Beyond that, however, consider how above and beyond customer service can help support today’s modern customer. At the very least, this should include store standards identified among all your employees on how to greet your customers, support them during their shopping experience, provide them top-notch service during the check-out process and retain them as long-term customers through specific marketing strategies identified by your unique store. When customers feel that they are being pampered and taken care of from stores they support, they are more likely to maintain loyalty to those businesses. Keep this top of mind as you plan your store marketing and selling strategies to help keep customers keep you top of mind, as well.

Tip #2: Consider how your customers’ research items they want to buy.

It used to be that consumers would visit stores and research products along the way. Nowadays, however, customers navigate many roads – both physically and digitally – before ever making a purchase. Keeping this in mind, how are you currently supporting your customers when it comes to their product navigation?

As a retailer, it’s critical to consider where your customers can find you as part of their inventory research. This may include social media, Yelp, your own website, conversations from friends, your physical storefront and more. Among the top considerations, however, will ultimately be whether you carry the inventory today’s consumers want to purchase. To help, be sure you are staying up to date with industry trends and relevant vendors within your unique niche market. Tradeshows, such as the International Gift & Expositions Show (IGES) in Tennessee, are among the best ways to do this. By attending tradeshows, you are gaining on-point industry news on the latest trends and market insight while also connecting with vendors – both new and existing – and experiencing industry networking and educational events, as well, such as IGES offers. Factoring in tradeshows as part of your customer management is an essential part of your overall store strategy – and one you need to prioritize right away.

Tip #3: Train your employees to understand the various consumer demographics.

Want to know one of the best kept secrets in retail? It’s simple really, yet very effective.

‘Learn to read your customers.

Consumers – just like books – have a lot of details attached to them. It’s important that employees aim to understand the variations among consumers – just as books offer, as well – so that they can better support them in their customer service efforts. This doesn’t happen overnight, but the constant nurture and care of good employee training can help strengthen your store efforts in supporting customers and how they want to shop. Millennials, for example, may respond better to interactive displays and the encouragement to take a selfie in your store (something signage can easily remind them to do) while Baby Boomers would prefer good old fashioned customer service with knowledgeable sales staff and the understanding that sometimes, these customers just want to be left alone.

When you factor in the variations among consumers and how you support them, these details add up to the success – or failure – of your store. Making sure your business understands your consumers is among the top ways in strengthening your store success, so be sure to factor in tradeshow attendance, customer service and understanding the variations among consumers as part of your priorities in helping to support your store.

Author: Nicole Leinbach Reyhle, Retail Minded

Gift Industry Trends that will Boost Your Bottom Line

From the shores of Malibu to the sandy white beaches of Marco Island to the snow-capped mountaintops of the Rockies and all destinations in between, the latest souvenir trends from the industry’s #1 resort gift show experts are all featured right here. Capitalize on the insider knowledge with these downloadable guides available to you, compliments of the International Gift Exposition of the Smokies®.

The Resort Gift Show in the Know

Powered by Emerald Expositions’ and in partnership with our media partners, Souvenir, Gifts & Novelties, Retail Minded, Museums & More, Gift Shop Magazine, & Independent Retailer, discover souvenir trends, best business practices, money-saving resources, merchandising tips and so much more with our seasonal trend guides and monthly articles. Read about vendors and retailers keeping the spirit of resort gift shows in America alive while uniting this treasured community.

The International Gift Expo of the Smokies® offers year-round product guides and key exhibitor showcases to help buyers find the best products in every category: name drop items, wholesale resort apparel, plush, keepsakes, collectibles, souvenirs, games, toys, customizable gift items, personal care products, licensed items, novelties, kiosk items, promotional, gourmet, personalized jewelry and accessories, Made-in-America products, Handcrafted goods and more. View and download our interactive guides to shop IGES® vendors year round.

Hear from experts in the Souvenir & Travel industry on economic outlooks for resort gift shops, National Parks, Zoos & Aquariums, Museums, Amusement Parks, Waterparks, and discover new trends emerging in destination travel.

Come to IGES for the opportunity to connect with thousands of attendees and vendors