Christian Retailing

Independent Thoughts October 2014: Merchandising for Christmas Print Email
Written by Dave Sheets   
Wednesday, 03 September 2014 08:53 AM America/New_York

Be prepared to meet the needs of new and loyal customers coming to your store for unique gifts during the holidays

DaveSheetsChristian retailers who sell independently published books offer customers the opportunity to purchase unique gifts—and a huge reason for them to shop at Christian retail for Christmas. As such a retailer, you may feel you need some help with your sales plan, so here are 10 tips for merchandising indie books this special time of year.

1. Front and center

Don’t hide your indie books. Place them front and center in your store to draw attention to new authors and subjects. Play up the indie aspect with signage that not only identifies the books as independently published titles, but also as unique cutting-edge books.

2. Gift with purchase

Offer a gift with the purchase of a particular indie title—or a few. People love to get a little something extra with a purchase—whether they keep it for themselves, give it to the book recipient or use it as a separate gift. It doesn’t have to be big—maybe a special bookmark or a small plaque.

3. Gift baskets

Indie books are naturals for gift baskets—and shoppers love gift baskets around Christmastime. Having a pre-organized basket of goodies (including gift and food items) prettied up takes the pressure off and makes the shopper look like an artistic hero. If you’re not particularly creatively inclined, utilize the talents of a team member to organize baskets for men, women, teens, children, teachers, caregivers and anyone else appropriate. Make sure to label the type of basket for easy selection.

4. Hard-to-shop-for

Everyone has at least one person on their Christmas list who is difficult to shop for. These people are perfect candidates for receiving indie books for Christmas. Create an endcap or a table set aside for the hard-to-shop-for individual. Create your own shelftalkers to help match these people with book topics and authors.

5. Point of purchase

Obviously, you’re still going to have customers looking for a specific book or gift they know you carry, so introduce them to some eye-grabbing indie books at the cash wrap. Set up a small display of the books, with a thought-provoking shelftalker. You might also consider offering such a book at a discount.

6. Pre-wrapped

In your indie book section, pre-wrap a few of each title, leaving one copy out for customers to peruse. Don’t forget to label the wrapped books!

7. Signed, sealed and delivered

For the most part, indie authors are trying to create recognition, a buzz, for themselves and their books. As a result, they may be quite amenable to working out an arrangement whereby customers can “special order” a personalized, signed copy of an indie book for a friend or family member. This will require you to train your team to take the customer’s information, have them pre-pay for the book, send the book to the author for personalization and signing, and mail the book to the customer who purchased it. It’s a unique service not many big-box stores will offer!

8. Read and meet

Arrange with an author to have a book discussion/signing after Christmas, and sell copies of the author’s books beforehand, providing a certificate inviting the recipient to attend a special evening at your bookstore meeting the author and discussing the book—two gifts in one!

9. Gift certificate

For the shopper who can’t decide—and the recipient who likes to choose their own books—offer a gift certificate for use on indie titles. Be creative in its design, emphasizing the uniqueness of the indie authors and books you carry.

10. Like that, try this

Match up indie authors and book subjects with established, traditionally published authors and topics. Help your customers by creating signage that takes the guesswork out of which indie books to buy for gift recipients who enjoy traditional authors and books of a similar nature. This makes finding just the right gift easier.

These are just a few ways to help you merchandise indie books for Christmas gift-giving. Customers look to your specialty store to offer unique gifts and services. Use these ideas as a launching pad, and you’re sure to help your customers fly through their shopping lists this season.