What makes a customer decide that a specific product is the perfect souvenir to commemorate their trip or vacation? This question is probably on your mind a lot if you run a retail store that carries souvenirs or gifts. After all, the souvenir industry is a growing retail category, with Statista forecasting that souvenir sales will peak in 2019 at $17.86 billion dollars next year. Since a lot of the customers that shop tourism-based retailers are only in town for a limited time, it can be difficult to create a loyal base of regular customers. This means you need to focus on inspiring impulse purchasing in your souvenir or gift shop to exceed your profit goals, instead of trying to build loyalty through traditional retail methods.

So, let’s talk about how to create an in-store experience where your products sell themselves, and some of the often-overlooked tactics to help you stand out from the competition.


#1. Make Curb Appeal Your First Priority

 First of all, if it’s not interesting; they aren’t buying. Tourism-based retailers need to have displays that can capture customer attention from down the street… or the hotel hallway. Curb appeal is essential to attract and convert potential customers, and this means anchoring your retail display with large, colorful, eye-catching items that express your company’s personality, and the vibe of the atmosphere where your shop is located. Don’t be afraid to use props to help get your message across – whether it be a royal purple handmade zebra sculpture, or some large name-drop plush toys visible from your window.


#2. Offer a Diverse Array of Products

 As you know, different shoppers are attracted to different things and as a retailer who caters to a wide variety of tourists, you want to have something for everyone’s tastes. There are different types of souvenir shoppers. In fact, a recent article in the New York Times reports that, “Scholars group these souvenirs into different buckets, including ‘markers’ (location branded items like T-shirts and teacups); ‘pictorial images’ (postcards and posters), and ‘symbolic shorthand’ (for example, Statue of Liberty key chains).” By carrying products from each of these souvenir subcategories, you’ll be able to gain sales from the widest pool of possible customers and increase sales for your store or gift shop.


#3. Create a Store That’s Anything but Basic

 When your shop caters to tourists and travelers, the in-store experience should be worth writing home about. Create an in-store experience that customers will remember for years to come by offering customized apparel with the name of the state or tourist destination that makes your location a hot-spot for travelers. Also, think of your in-store experience as a brand in itself, and every detail of your retail store should represent this branding. From the scented candles or room spray used in your gift shop, to the colors of the merchandise you source for your store, by creating an ambience that enhances your customers’ traveling experience you are increasing the likelihood that customers will purchase part of that experience (a souvenir) to take home.


#4. Sell Handmade Goods that Can’t be Replicated

 Nothing makes a gift or souvenir feel as special as knowing that nobody else on earth has the exact same thing. According to Etsy CEO Josh Silverman, this is because, “We’re living in the sea of sameness. People are buying more and more of the same mass-produced goods from the same few logistics companies, and the world wants an antidote to that.” Handmade and artisan-crafted products such as jewelry, cosmetics, artwork, etc. are able to appeal to customers’ desire for uniqueness, which translates into one-of-a-kind merchandise that your customers won’t be able to get enough of! Attend IGES for access to unique, handmade souvenirs, gifts and jewelry for your store or gift shop to give your inventory a leg-up on the competition that you simply can’t get online.


#5. Be the Trendsetter in Your Neighborhood

You can make your store or gift shop can’t-miss experience for tourists by implementing the latest experiential retail trends in your store. There are many ways to create a one-of-a-kind in-store souvenir shopping experience for your customers, but the in-store events and experiences that are the most successful are on-trend and authentic. To learn more about the latest trends and retailing techniques to help your store or gift shop get ahead, visit IGES for free educational seminars from retail experts ­­– so you can give your customers a souvenir shopping experience that’s truly one-of-a-kind.


In closing, if you want to increase retail traffic and build sales for your souvenir store or gift shop, you need to “wow” customers with an out-of-the-box shopping experience time and time again. Attend IGES held Nov. 3-6 and 4-7 in Sevierville and Pigeon Forge, Tennessee to source a diverse array of unique merchandise and to learn the essentials on how to create a competitive souvenir store or gift shop.


By Jasmine Glasheen


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