How Christian retailers can sell more Bibles Print
Written by Scott Etheridge   
Monday, 23 March 2015 11:00 AM America/New_York

Scott-EtheridgeBibles (for adults and children) are the backbone of any Christian retail store. On average, they represent the largest sales items and are great gifts. So how can you, as a Christian retailer, sell more of them?

Here are four key principles for selling Bibles:

• Position products appropriately
• Gain product insight
• Offer ancillary products
• Become a community resource

Whether a customer is looking to purchase a Bible as a gift or for personal use, product positioning should be the retailer’s first concern. Oftentimes customers purchase based on price point; some may decide to purchase a Bible based on translation, and others will buy a Bible based on a target demographic. All factors should be considered in product positioning.

Creating product endcaps and tabletop displays are a great way to offer Bible suggestions. These types of product displays are also great ways to showcase seasonal, occasional and holiday featured gift Bibles.

Product displays provide an initial course of direction for your customers, helping them in their selection process. Consider displaying multiple types of translations, sale price points and related products in order to increase the success of endcaps and tabletop displays. Remember, most publishers and distributors offer Bible deals at discounted prices from time to time. Take advantage of them and pass along the extra discount to your customers.

Next, understanding your customers is imperative to selling Bibles. Customers enter a store with a goal in mind—to meet a need. Are they looking for a child’s first Bible or something to use while teaching a small group? Do they prefer single-column or double-column editions? Do they prefer a study Bible or a reference Bible? Do they have a specific translation that they want to buy, or are they introducing someone else to God’s Word for the first time?

Asking questions that gain additional insight will help your store service its customers with better quality. It can also increase the probability that customers will become repeat customers.

By offering appropriate product training, you and your employees also will gain better customer insight. Knowing which questions to ask will help your team members become Bible-selling experts. HarperCollins Christian Publishing offers in-store training in addition to a new Bible-training portal (

The Bible Training portal offers different courses to educate the trainee on the different facets of Bible publishing, translation and customer selection. This has proven to be a positive experience for those who have participated, and we have received feedback that this additional training has translated into confident customer purchases.

Once a store’s staff has been properly trained and has gathered the needed customer insight, promoting ancillary Bible products is a great way to boost sales. For example, commentaries, topical indexes and Bible dictionaries are useful suggestions to a customer who is interested in a study Bible. Oftentimes customized products also can be useful add-on purchases, especially when they are targeted toward helping a church’s ministry work.

Consider hanging a translation guide in the Bible section or near your Bible displays for a quick “value add” to your customer’s shopping experience. This can help customers who say, “No thanks,” when you or another employee ask if they need help, turning them into customers who actually find what they are looking for in the Bible section. Sometimes a simple step like this can enhance the shopping experience  for the customer and help make the sale for your store.

Finally, after product is properly placed, consumer insight is gained and a customer is properly aligned with appropriate ancillary products, you and your staff are on your way to becoming a well-known resource in your community. You will be able to better serve your churches, ministries, youth, civic centers and individuals with biblical products that can fulfill their needs.

How does your mission statement align with your business? At HarperCollins Christian Publishing, our mission is to “inspire the world by meeting the needs of people with content that promotes biblical principles and honors Jesus Christ.” We align our business around this mission, and it is our retailers’ work that allows us to fulfill our mission each day.

With more than 30 years of experience and numerous awards, Scott Etheridge is an expert in sales and development, including inside and outside sales.  A 16-year veteran of the Christian retail industry, Etheridge has produced top sales accolades, including 14.8K Twitter followers and a Klout score of 61. He serves as manager of sales development at HarperCollins Christian Publishing, and is responsible for promotions and sales analysis. Connect with him on Twitter at @scottetheridge.