Souvenir store visits seem to be a quick moment in time, but they add to customers’ destination experience make sure this experience lasts. Therefore, there’s a unique opportunity to make some strategic choices that increase souvenir store sales – and it could be simpler than you think.
#1: Make Your Store an Extension of the Travel Experience
When customers enter your souvenir store, give them the feeling that it’s part of the destination by choosing display design and décor that emphasizes the reasons they’ll want to remember their travels.
If you serve a ski resort area, make sure walking through your store feels like a winter wonderland. If you’re in fall foliage season, decorate with fall colors. If your customers just finished a visit at a space museum, make it feels like they’re walking among the stars.
This way, entering your store gets them excited about what they’re about to experience and/or it makes them never want to leave. For both cases, you can offer merchandise that helps them carry the experience with them back home.
If you’re at the space museum, offer books and wall art that helps them keep exploring. If you’re at a ski resort, offer snow globes. If some of your customers come from warmer climates, offer summer merchandise, like T-shirts, with winter reminders, or a large, pampering mug with your park’s slogan or a photo of a snow-capped mountain, to comfort them on those hot summer days. Yes, they’ll be drinking ice tea in those mugs, but they’ll be thinking of your destination, of your winter décor, and daydreaming about the next time they can visit.
#2: Understand Your Core Customer, But Cater to a Variety of Needs
Understanding your ideal customer’s needs is sales 101. The deeper you understand her desires and aspirations, the better you can serve her, and the easier it will be to increase your souvenir store sales.
That will always be good advice.
But as you probably know, there are multiple tourist types that could find themselves at your store, including business tourists and accidental tourists (got a free ticket to your destination, had to make a quick stop on a long, non-touristy commute, etc). Catering to their needs can help you increase souvenir store sales as well.
For example, while name-drop items, like products that say “Alaska,” serve people who had a special experience in your destination, consider adding merchandise that isn’t as destination-obvious. A way to do that could be featuring an inspirational quote that represents your destination – say, a mug that says “Aim for the moon. If you miss it, you may hit a star” could work for the gift shop of a space museum.
This way, you create emotional connections between these unlikely visitors and your destination, and therefore your store. This could end up leading to them following you online or coming back for an extra visit. Even if it doesn’t, you get a sale with a potential for enthusiastic word of mouth advocacy, and that customer’s friends could be the ones looking you up online or coming to see the exhibition… and getting their own inspirational mug.
When you choose products for these unexpected customers, do your best to align the message and the experience with what would delight your ideal customer. If your mug is lighthearted, but the museum’s exhibitions tend to be serious and thought provoking with the intention to inspire action, the lighthearted accidental tourist and her friends are less likely to enjoy what the museum offers, meaning they are less likely to shop beyond that mug.
The point is, whenever possible, to use these chance encounters with your store to start a longer term relationship, which you can tap into along the way.
#3: Leverage Trigger Moments
Destinations consistently market trigger moments to increase foot traffic. Souvenir stores can do the same to increase sales.
Some of it is about trigger moments that happen outside your destination, like a holiday or the national elections or “back to school” season. But consider looking for trigger moments that are specific to the experience your customers have in your destination.
If a bird migration started in the national park outside your store, and travelers are here to see it, sell merchandise that says “I believe I can fly.” If your souvenir store is at an art museum, and a new exhibition just opened about old Hollywood movies, sell merchandise that quotes the classics.
Alternatively, look for silly “national days” that relate to your destination, and see what you can offer customers to help them celebrate. If it’s National Swimming Pool Day, and your souvenir store is at a hotel or a waterpark, prioritize swimming clothing or gear. Similarly, if it’s National Doughnut Day, and your destination offers a pool, sell a doughnut swim ring.
Can’t find a trigger moment? Create one yourself.
#4: Bundle Products Together
A great way to increase souvenir store sales is to bundle products together. If a customer wants to buy a name-drop shirt, offer her a pair of pants or a scarf that goes with it, even if they don’t have your destination’s name on them. Get your team to be proactive about cross-selling items in real time, as the customer considers what to buy, but also strategize in advance what products to bundle together in special promotions.
That will help you find upsell opportunities as well.
For example, if a customer decides to buy a healthy snack as she heads out to hike your mountain, wouldn’t she benefit from a package of snacks to last her through the day, or the week? If she’s interested in space wall art, why not buy more than one piece to create her own mini-museum corner at home?
Package them together, so that the price per piece is smaller, but the lifetime value per customer is larger.
#5: Keep the Relationship with Your Audience Alive and Selling Online
It’s a lot harder to sell to a new customer than one that’s bought from you in the past. That’s why it’s important to prioritize ways to stay in touch with people who stop by your store.
The best way to stay in touch is via email, since that’s the online channel of which you have most control. See what benefit you can offer customers who are willing to get on your email list. Maybe you can share special promotions no one else will have access to, or give away a small souvenir every month to a lucky subscriber.
But since that won’t work for everyone, get involved with social media. Create a space in your store for customers to take Instagram photos with your products, and encourage them to tag your account. Or share behind the scenes of your store and your destination, with recommendations for nearby travel, on YouTube or Snapchat.
Either way, merging online and offline marketing can keep you at the top of the shopper’s mind, increase the emotional connection between your store and your customers, and keep the sales coming any day, any time, from anywhere in the world.
By Nicole Leinbach Reyhle