Christian Retailing

Category Key: Gift books require the personal touch Print Email
Written by Jean Christen   
Tuesday, 11 September 2012 02:23 PM America/New_York

JeanChristen_Credit_JulieJohnsonUnlike most book formats and greeting cards, gift books are still being purchased the old-fashioned way—by direct contact with the customer. Here are a few tips I’ve seen work well:

If it ain’t broke … 

The past few years have been difficult for gift retailers, so if you’re still in business, know that you are doing a lot of things right. Always seek to improve, but don’t tamper unnecessarily with something that is working. If gift books are selling well from a floor display, for instance, continue to use it, but try mixing in a couple of titles with other displayed merchandise for added sales opportunities.

Location, location, location

Successful gift-book retailers offer their customers multiple opportunities to see the same book throughout the store. Use a book display, but also group gift books by theme with other gift products. Gift books are a great way to fill holes or freshen up existing displays. If a holiday or seasonal occasion is coming, display a book or two near the point of purchase.

Know thy customer

Find out what brings your customer to your store so you can stock accordingly. Is she looking for a book by a particular author/artist, or to celebrate an occasion or comfort a friend who’s struggling? As the majority of gift-book buyers are women, don’t be afraid to embrace and cater to the feminine side of your business through special events—perhaps a tea party focused on a tea-themed gift book. Offer signed copies when possible.

Try something new

If you’ve never sold gift books, know that not all with the word “God” or “prayer” in the title are biblically sound. Start with a publisher you know you can trust. Most major Christian publishers offer gift books. Look for the best deal—consider minimum opening and reorders, shipping costs, product and display specials, and 100% satisfaction guarantee so you can try certain titles risk free.

Agree in prayer

Many retailers have benefitted from answered prayer. Don’t be afraid to ask for prayer for your business and your customers. If you don’t already do this, take a few minutes while your store is closed each day to center on God and acknowledge Him while considering your customers.

Jean Christen is managing director, gift and children division at Harvest House Publishers.