OK – I have heard it for the last 25 years – Retail is about creating an experience. Then, in 2018’s Link Magazine article with Gifts and Dec’s Nancy Wolkow, she tells us it is the most important part of success in retail right now! But I’m are still confused about how to create an experience without spending millions of dollars on consultants and fancy buildings.
Almost 20 years ago, Paco Underhill, an environmental psychologist, showed us how to apply observations about human nature and our customers to the shopping experience. Mr. Underhill explains how we can increase sales by altering mood and atmosphere. You have been watching shoppers for years, let’s use that knowledge to create more sales.
One of my favorite observations that he had in the book was that when shoppers do not have room for more products, they tend to stop shopping. In one store, he increased the shopping cart size by 20% and sales increased 15%. Where I was working, we didn’t have money for new shopping carts but we could train our floor staff. So we created a dedicated shelf area by the register and whenever we saw customers with product in their hand, we offered to bring it to the front for them. This little change cost nothing, upped the retail experience, and increased sales instantly.
“Why We Buy” is a quick read and helps put you on the path to becoming a retail experience guru!
If you haven’t read it, I suggest you get it today! If you read it 20 years ago like me, it is time to reread it. It is well worth the time investment!
Why We Buy: The Science Of Shopping Paperback– June 2, 2000
Products that sell the idea of the beach have become incredibly prominent in our industry. Whether or not your store is actually near a beach is entirely irrelevant. Hats and t-shirts, like those from Katydid, boast sayings like “Beach Please” or “Life’s a Beach.” Your customer is one shirt away from feeling like they are about to take a vacation.
Magid is a brand filled with beachy straw bags and hats. Many of their straw purses are now using elements like metallic colorways and metal chain handles to elevate beachwear to a new level of fashion. Magid carries larger insulated totes that can be carried to the beach or lake, as well as slightly dressier bags to take to dinner during the summer months.
All retailers know that during the slow summer months, it takes a little more creativity to boost sales. Coco + Carmen provides a solution to this problem with fantastic sunglasses, which can be bought by the pair or as an assortment with a terrific display case. And everyone knows that flip flops, like those by Tidewater Sandals, are worn by people on and off the beach. Order them in prepacks of 12, or by the size to fill up your store with affordable and beachy options.
It is impossible not to notice how much growth the gift industry is seeing in the men’s gifts category. In addition to many established brands expanding their product lines to include items for men, entire brands are being established to feed the insatiable male buyers.
Duke Cannon is the perfect example of a masculine product line that appeals to every kind of man. Personal care has not previously been a big seller for guys, but now having fantastic grooming etiquette is no longer seen as emasculating. Duke Cannon’s packaging is humorous and simple, with clean colors and large, chunky bars of soap featuring military themes and sending money toward veterans. This brand makes men’s facial moisturizer look like something a guy should obviously use after working in a garage all day.
The Millennial male customer is a different type of guy. He is interested in shopping, much more so than his father or grandfather was in their youth. Home fragrances are recognizing this, and brands like Virginia Gift are carrying new product lines like Reserve candles that adopt a traditional masculine scent for a man’s space. Nebo, a division of Alliance Sports, sells flashlights and tools that are utilitarian gifts a younger man may shop for himself, or someone could give as a gift for an older gentlemen.
It is increasingly important to make a retail space appealing for couples. Men from the Baby Boomer generation are now taking day trips to shop with their wives and partners. A good example of product lines that can appeal to males and females simultaneously are tshirt brands like Straight Up Southern and Fripp and Folly. These labels have sister brands – Itsa Girl Thing and Lily Grace. Retailers are wise to carry shirts that accommodate both male and female interests to up potential buys.
While Athleisure is still popular, we’ve seen a shift to comfortable, relaxed fits in women’s apparel. Even the novelty t-shirt brands are offering larger sizes and different styling for their customers. As women will always be (and have always been) “on the go,” brands are finally realizing that ladies need to be comfortable and simultaneously stylish.
Our brand Coco + Carmen understands that comfy doesn’t mean sacrificing trends. Take a look at their spring/summer pieces; flowy sheet tunics come with a cami so that customers do not need to find a separate under piece and solving a known problem for retailers. Loose-fitting tunics in the line are perfect for the summer heat and feature trendy embroidery and tassels for some fun flair.
Hatley’s Resort collection for women has relaxed-fitting dresses that are excellent for spring and summer, with a ¾ length sleeve that can go from a warm outdoor climate to a chilly air conditioned indoor environment. Viv & Lou echoes this with gorgeous printed tunics and bathing suit cover-ups that provide some coverage in the sun (bye-bye sunburns!) or can be tossed on before grabbing a quick lunch.
Accent Accessories carries a truly magical item – Magic Pantz! These pants are designed specifically for comfort and fit. They fit pretty much everyone and look fantastic with longer tops and blouses, or even a tshirt for a more casual style.
Lastly, Galleria has a fantastic product to keep everyone comfortable in inclement, wet weather – Rain Capes! Unlike other more basic rain wear, Galleria has prints, like Monet’s Water Lilies and other fine art, and are reversible. If you don’t want the flashy print, simply turn it around and wear the solid side. Best part is – you’ll stay dry!
Easter is just around the corner. By the way, the last the holiday was on April 1st was 1956! It’s no joke to highlight religious based items for this incredibly important Christian Holiday. However, many products can be categorized as simply inspirational or uplifting. And, these items will satisfy any consumer shopping for words of encouragement to decorate, give as a gift, accessorize, read or study and enjoy. While bunnies, tulips, ducks, etc. are more prominent this time of year, we recommend keeping most of your inventory strong in items that sell all year.
Thomas Nelson is the leader in inspirational books and there is something for every reader in their tremendous offering. Books are a must for every retailer and this division of Harper Collins has celebrity biographies, hugely popular authors, intriguing fiction, deep dive devotionals, light-hearted comedy, coloring books, cook books, books for kids, teens, parents and more. And, Thomas Nelson has the largest collection of Bibles for the consumer.
Kitchen and entertaining pieces, home accents and functional goods are areas where Spring seasonal colors come into play for bright and cheerful store displays. And, while perfect for the store, they won’t need to disappear when Peter has hopped on down the trail. Brownlow covers all these areas with their array of functional goods, lively and creatively designed items. Their kitchen items and decorative signs are colorful, cheerful and they have an inspirational touch on many of their pieces. Brownlow has a nice assortment of journals that make perfect gifts. With Mother’s Day and graduation just around the corner, this company has plenty of kitchen themed giftables and home accents.
Custom Décor is the industry leader in flags and outdoor fun. Flags are a must for Spring. Flags and outdoor decorating is an assurance that winter is gone and stores should be enjoying their bright, vibrant colors on display. Custom Décor is perfectly in tune with what the shopper needs to decorate the outside of the home.
Jewelry never, ever goes out of fashion! Inspirational jewelry is perfect for Easter the Mother’s Day/graduation gifts. My Saint, My Hero delivers with beautiful faith based “wearable blessings.” The company is all about prayer and empowerment. Easter is no doubt affiliated with these two adjectives. My Saint, My Hero’s stackable bracelets and necklaces will help reinforce the foundation of belief for the wearer and do so with a fashionable flare. From the Heart Wholesale covers a wonderfully affordable niche for store owners. Their inexpensive charm bracelets, earrings and necklaces are perfect impulse buys for the shopper. Inspirational is covered nicely with dozens of designs featuring crosses in different mediums and layouts.
Lizzy James, the very successful supplier of wrapped bracelets, delivers with a selection of crosses and inspirational accessories. This Made in the USA artisan jewelry is perfect for the discerning buyer to create their own look for Easter. Stackable jewelry is still very popular at retail and shows no signs of slowing down. Periwinkle Jewelry is a mainstay for boutiques, gift shops, Hallmarks and Hospital Gift Shops with their highly effective rotating displayers of jewelry. Mixing in inspirational with everyday best sellers works well and makes for an easy shopping experience. Order accordingly for the Easter season with a nice supply of crosses and related pieces.
We’re excited for Easter (a most wonderful holiday!) and the beauty of Spring. Happy selling and Happy Easter!
The Philadelphia Gift Show is coming up on January 5 – 8 at the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center, and DonMar will once again be in attendance. DonMar has been an anchor at the Philadelphia show since it first took place over 25 years ago!
DonMar also represents a few brand new vendors. Swan Creek is a leading boutique candle maker that features traditional, festive, and glass candles. The Cat’s Meow, a brand since 1982, creates wooden villages and keepsakes that have become staples in home decor. Stop by and check out all of DonMar’s vendors during the Philadelphia Gift Show!
We recently partnered with Gifts and Dec to host a round table discussion with 12 amazing retailers to talk about where they look to learn about new products and trends. We learned that good reps are important but that “Instagram is the new runway.” Retailers no longer wait for fashion reports or trade shows. They see what their customers want through their Instagram feeds! Fads have become so short that they can start and end before you ever see the customer.
One retailer explained, “Instagram, is set up for my business. So, I can stand at the booth, take my notes in my phone, go back later through my pictures, and then directly, with a button, click and say which vendors to follow up with.”
With the changing economy, gift retailers are also focusing their efforts on enhancing the customer experience by finding ways to make shopping fun and enjoyable. Promoting the message of “supporting local” among customers is important for gift retailers. Many of the retailers stated that their customer base will pay higher prices at their store because they want to ensure their business continues to thrive.
But the user experience starts long before they walk into your business. With 52% of consumers researching purchases online before shopping, the retail experience starts with your website and social sites. Instagram, is easy and can quickly communicate to a shopper that you carry products that relate to their lifestyle. So, if you aren’t already on Instagram, go check it out and see why it’s being called the “new runway.”
Where do you learn about new fashion, accessory and gift trends? Leave us a comment and let us know! And, don’t forget to follow us on Instagram!
Habersham Candle Company – This great-selling Wax Pottery® collection redefines decorative fragrant accessories for the home without the need of an open flame.
Nebo – Innovative, consumer-friendly flashlights and tools make great gifts!
Farmhouse Fresh – Welcome to this amazing new vendor! They create skincare products grown and crafted with delicious epicurean flair chock full of fruits, vegetables, milks, and more from US farms! Find out how to receive Free Farmhouse Sacks (right) with your order!
If there ever was a year to give outdoor living spaces a fresh look, 2018 is it! With the economy on the upswing, consumers are feeling confident, and are already showing signs of spending more on entertaining at home, both indoors and out. Come next spring, if economic predictions are right, this spending will continue, and outdoor spaces are expected to become a priority for consumers.
The trend is to extend interior spaces outside with a smooth transition, not a jolt into another color palette. That being said, the minimalistic, Scandinavian, natural fiber look is expected to hang on as an expression of consumers feeling more carefree and unconcerned, as is the much loved, and still very-much-in-demand farmhouse decor with its tone on tone and soft hues of greys and taupes. However, with the excitement of brighter days ahead, consumers will be inclined to add reds, blues, and greens for pops of color, and as underlying symbols of celebration.
Millennials, with their penchant for travel and interest in other cultures, more than any other consumer group, will be on the hunt for global inspiration for their outdoor textiles and decorative items. So, artisan items from, or appearing to be from, other cultures will be flooding store shelves. Also, this group prefers hand-crafted items with stories or causes behind them. They will combine multi-colored fabrics and richly patterned textiles with clusters of pottery, plants and decorative items to recreate the feel of a favorite faraway destination.
Coastal decor is always big in outdoor spaces but, it will be enhanced in 2018 with more elaborate patterns and some handmade appeal with textiles and fabrics having a water-colored effect.
Consumers are expected to be more interested in decorative garden lights and statement-making statuary, like those above from Regal Art & Gift, placed around their outdoor living spaces and seasonal outdoor decor from Custom Decor. It’s going to be quite a year for the industry with all of these fun and unexpected design elements!