Stock Your Gun Shop for Higher Sales

The simple secret to success is having the items shooters need on display when they need them.

Stock Your Gun Shop for Higher Sales

For sales of products for the field and range, consider that every sale of a durable item like a firearm should be accompanied with added sales of accessories to go with that item or to be used alongside that item in the field or on the range.

This is the most active time of the year for both hunters and shooters. That means it is prime time to supply them with the equipment they need to pursue their passions. Most retailers who have been in business any amount of time already know at least the basics and have a good handle on what works in their individual stores. But regardless how well some strategy works, there always is room for improvement.

The focus here is not to suggest changing what works but keeping eyes open for opportunities to improve and then acting on those opportunities. Instead of massive overhauls, think in terms of tweaks – changes in everything from inventory to product placement.

The idea is not to try to meet previous sales levels, but to improve on them.

All hunting seasons for everything from small game and birds to big game are in full swing during the fall. This opens the door for sales into every hunting-related category.

To be blunt, this is the time of heavy traffic in the store when some of the clientele will want to get one or a few specific things quickly and get on with their lives, while others will want to ponder at least a bit, deciding not only whether to get some kind of item, but which model of a type of item can work best for them.

Creating a traffic flow that serves the drive-by shoppers on the one hand and the thoughtful ones on the other can pay big dividends. It is important to avoid layouts where the two different kinds of customers trip over each other’s toes because that can result in neither being happy. And unhappy shoppers don’t spend as much as happy ones.

Since shops and their customers are different from one location to another, there is not a one size fits all approach to this. Rather, it is important to look at the overall situation in the location at hand and then engineer the layout so that it achieves several objectives simultaneously and smoothly.

Although customer interest in durable goods like guns is heightened now and it’s a logical time to focus on them and sell them, there are many other potential sales elsewhere. In fact, there is every reason to help customers by upselling whenever they show interest in the durable items.

For example, expect to sell ammunition with every gun that goes out the door. If it’s a rifle, add a scope to the deal. Those are obvious combinations, and they involve merchandise that delivers relatively low profit margins.

For higher margins, think accessories. Often, the profit margin is high, and the customers’ needs are top of mind for them. Many accessories are the kinds of things that are needed on any shooting outing and are the kinds of things that need to be replaced every year or even during the year.

Here, we’re talking about everything from socks and gloves to batteries or headlamps. It doesn’t take much imagination to realize that the potential in the accessories category is huge – perhaps even larger overall than the potential in the durable goods arena.

How the shop focuses on accessories can determine the volume and velocity of those sales. This can include everything from strategic placement in the store to advertising “deals” that bring more traffic through the front door – as well as everything and anything in between.

But not all customers are hunters. Some are shooters and others are both. Hence, another thing to consider is what kinds of accessories are used by both groups (include in the shooter group those whose primary or only interest in shooting is for personal and/or home defense).

Looking at the overall picture in such a way, there are some obvious types of crossover gear that can be as appealing to hunters as to shooters. Knives come to mind immediately.

It doesn’t matter what one does in the field or on the range, it is good to have a knife handy. A good selection of different kinds of knives that is located conspicuously can make the cash register ring more often.

Depending on the space and philosophy of the individual store, it can be profitable to offer knife sharpening. Most hunters and shooters can’t sharpen their own knives well, if at all. Hence, if they come to the store to get their knife or knives sharpened, they are there to see all the other goodies and hopefully buy some of them.

None of this is rocket science. To pursue their hunting and shooting passions, customers need all kinds of gear and shooting sports retailers are where they can find the right stuff. The secret is to have the right stuff at the right time in the right place.

For maximum effect, it is good to group items that both hunters and shooters need and use. These can include items like targets (shooters use them all the time and hunters use them to verify a rifle’s zero or to do some last-minute tweaking before going on the hunt).

Small, portable tool kits with the kinds of bits used commonly in the shooting sports are considered essential for both hunters and shooters.

For customers going to the field or the range, the list of gadgets, goodies and gear that is handy for them to have is almost endless. The secret to success is to have as many of those items as conspicuous and handy as possible. 

That will trigger the buying impulse while it also serves as a true customer service since it helps them have the right stuff at hand while they pursue their passions. It is a total win-win.


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