Whether in retail or wholesale, there is no question that you will use email to get much of your business done. However, because many of us are very familiar with email and use it in our everyday lives with little thought to grammar, punctuation, proper language and more, business email etiquette has become a bit “sloppy” as a result. Recognizing this and reacting to it can help you gain more professional respect, improve email communication response times and much more.
Protecting Yourself and Your Business
The first thing to recognize is that if you have other people working for you, it’s important that they understand what you expect from them in their email communications. By making your guidelines clear for all employees, you can avoid possible problems, including potential liability issues and even lawsuits. While some of the below points may seem clear to you, it is beneficial to make your points known to everyone:
1. Avoid any comments or language that are racist, sexist, defamatory, offensive or obscene. This includes forwarding anything that includes these details.
2. Keep your language gender neutral.
3. Do not use email to discuss confidential information, such as social security numbers or personal issues that have been identified as such.
4. Use disclaimers on all emails sent both internally and externally that highlight specifics to your company and protects you from possible problems due to unprofessional emails.
Becoming Efficient Through Your Choice of Words
Time is of essence to everyone these days, so there is no point in wasting anyone’s time—particularly in the busy world of retail. The goal should be to get to the point in your email communication while remaining polite and clear. A few tips on how to do this include:
5. Be direct and clear with a polite, respectful tone.
6. Answer any questions that have been directed to you with respect and direct questions you may have in a clear, professional matter. Often people get frustrated when they think their time is being wasted answering what they believe should already be known, so you want to avoid giving the impression of “frustration” or “annoyance” in your emails.
7. Use proper paragraph structures and professional layouts for your reader to easily read through your email. Avoid one long email that all blends together.
8. Do not write in all capital letters. This gives the impression you are screaming. In addition, do not write in all lower case letters. This gives the impression you are lazy.
9. Read and edit your email prior to hitting send. It’s amazing what reading it can often point out to you. Take the time to make necessary changes.
10. Avoid abbreviations even if you think they are obvious. What is obvious to you may not be to someone else.
11. Do not request delivery and read receipts. This takes time away from your audience since they likely have to approve this request. In addition, it’s often perceived as annoying and not necessary in most situations.
12. Don’t forget to include a concise, meaningful subject in your subject line. It should identify what the email is about without being too long in length.
Be Professional and Get Treated Professionally
Fingers get pointed whether we like it or not. He said/she said is unfortunately part of most businesses, so make sure that what he or she is saying about you is not that you are unprofessional. A few additional points can help portray your business as the professional leaders you want to be:
13. Always respond quickly to emails. Don’t let emails sit in your inbox without at least a short, efficient and professional reply to the sender notifying them of when you can get back to them with additional emails. This puts your audience at peace for a bit and allows you to gain professional respect along the way.
14. Do not overuse the high priority option unless you truly, 110% believe your email is of high priority. Late shipments would fall into this category so a retailer could plan accordingly. However, letting your retailers know about a new product would not be considered high priority in regards to email notifications.
15. Don’t let your emotions get in the way of your professional words. Feeling pissed? That’s human. But think about how your emotions may come across in your choice of words in an email that can ultimately result in your business success—or failures.
16. Be careful who you copy (cc) and blind copy (bcc) on your emails. In addition, only hit “Reply All” when necessary and keep those not necessary in the email correspondence off the email thread.
Finally, enforcing an email policy for your museum store or business can help ensure professional communication and results. Identifying what is important to your business through a written policy is the best way to do this. Make sure to communicate these details to all necessary employees and have them sign an acknowledgement that they have read and understand it. By enforcing this, you protect yourself and your company. In addition, you gain respect from clients, customers, potential accounts and more! A better possible result? Increased sales! So make sure you are putting in place an email policy today!
What are your email pet peeves and what do you do to avoid them?
It's our annual tradition! We're a day late, but we still wanted to reflect on all the positive aspects of the season. Here's what each MSA staff member is thankful for this year:
Jama: "I am thankful for the relationships I have found since joining MSA, including a talented and forward-looking national office team. I have wonderful friends and a loving and giving family. (My husband says I should be sure to mention him especially.) I am healthy, active and, oh my goodness, I live in beautiful Colorado where I ski, hike, bike and play in the Rockies. I am thankful for a challenging and fulfilling year."
Andrea: "I’m thankful to be a part of a dedicated team of professionals at MSA—staff, members and vendors. My life-long passion for museums continues as I see the many ways our members communicate the mission of their institutions through the store. I’m also thankful to have a wonderful family. My husband and two children are supportive, caring and a lot of fun. The Miller family loves to have spontaneous dance parties. It’s often the best part of my day!"
Leigh: "I am thankful for having friends who are there in good times and bad, laughter, the time I spend with my mom, and my two sweet, affectionate cats."
Candra: "I am thankful that I now have my husband’s last name, despite the many hours spent at the social security office and DMV. I am also thankful that now that I’m married I can get fat(ter)."
Kathy: "I am so grateful to have a big family (even bigger when you add my husband’s!) that even though we live far apart, we still manage to get together at least once a year to laugh and tell stories (usually about each other!) and truly enjoy each other’s company."
Adriana: "I’m thankful for my family and friends and good health and happiness. Also, Thanksgiving dinner. :-)"
Jennifer: "I am thankful for my kids, as they provide me with a constant source of entertainment and keep me active. If you are a parent and are ever bored or have a minute to spare...please tell me how you did it!"
To give thanks in solitude is enough. Thanksgiving has wings and goes where it must go. Your prayer knows much more about it than you do.—Victor Hugo
We hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving (and that you can still fit into your pants)!
What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving holiday?
When was the last time you closed your eyes and listened to your selling floor for a few minutes? Have you brushed your hand against the front of your service counter recently? What about offering your customers a sample of a delicious exotic treat, made by a local artisan food manufacturer?
Too often we get so caught up in the whirlwind of how a store or a display looks that we forget to appreciate how a store and its displays feel, smell, taste and sound.
Here are five senses to keep in mind. (Yes, that’d be all of them!)
1. Sound—Sounds, or lack of sound, can greatly affect a customer’s mood, pace and overall perception of your store. Annoying sound (noise) can be a quick turnoff, as can a space so quiet that you can hear a pin drop. It can be disturbing or unsettling, making your customers feel conspicuous. Eliminate noise by installing carpet or hanging banners. A bigger issue can be addressed with ceiling tiles with a minimum Noise Reduction Coefficient (NRC) rating of 65 or higher. This means 65 percent of the sound in the space will be absorbed into the tiles. Conversely, if your space is too quiet, add background sounds such as mood music, white noise or crickets (or other outdoor sounds) to support a special event or exhibit, or to appeal to a specific target market.
2. Sight—The colors you use, items you stock, the way you structure your displays and your lighting all affect your customers optical perceptions. Your senses send electrical impulses to the brain where information received can alter a person's state of emotion, mood and decision-making process. Primary colors attract children and the elderly, greens and teals have calming effects. We’re naturally attracted to the brightest area of a room. What visual qualities best enhance your product mix and portray your desired image?
3. Taste—Though many museum stores have a no food and drink policy, are there times during events, or around the holidays that you can offer one-bite snacks, or offer a hot or cold beverage, depending on your climate? Encouraging people to linger by engaging their sense of taste can produce positive results, producing endorphins (sweets) or providing energy (proteins and carbs).
4. Smell—We all know how smells can affect us…like the aroma of coffee brewing or an apple pie in the oven. The smell of apple spices and lavender are known to have calming effects. Citrus and florals activate energy. Studies have shown that shoppers will not only buy more, but pay more, for items in lightly scented rooms. This doesn’t mean “plug-in” synthetic atomizers…they are a no-no. It’s important that the scents are subtle and all-natural. This holiday season place some apples and cinnamon in a small crock pot and let them simmer for an hour in the morning. Then shut it off. The nice aroma will linger throughout the day. Try orange peels in the summer.
5. Feel—We all know how kids like to touch everything. Adults can also be engaged by the sense of feel. Rough textures provide a more rugged atmosphere, while softer, silkier textures are more feminine. In addition to getting customers engaged with products, think how the interesting finishes in your store can be attention-getting and help to support your overall “brand.” We’ve all had to stop and touch a fabric, a textured wall covering, a unique laminate, or shiny countertop and say to someone, “you have to feel this!”
Take steps to actively engage your customers’ senses and feel the love at the cash register!
How are you engaging your customers senses this holiday season?
Today's article is by Caron Beesley, a small business owner, writer and marketing communications consultant, on behalf of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).
When we think of holiday marketing—which can be critical to your business success—we often think only of promotions and discounts. But you don’t have to cut your margins or break the bank to stand out from the crowd any more. Here are seven budget-friendly steps you should consider to promote your small business while meeting the needs of your customers this holiday season.
Host an “Open House”
If you operate a retail business or any gift-oriented business, why not plan an open house event in mid-November? Use it to showcase holiday season gifts and merchandise. Offer up a glass of warm cider or mulled wine, and really get people into the spirit of the holidays. This will give customers an opportunity to check out your merchandise or other holiday events in advance. You could throw in a special offer or coupon that customers can redeem anytime up until December 24.
Work the Holiday Magic for Your Faithful Customers
Think of ways to generate repeat holiday business from your existing customers. Special offers, sneak previews, free shipping, or secret sales are all great ways to make your faithful customers feel special without breaking the bank.
Feature Product/Services of the Day or Week
I love this low-cost marketing idea from Ivana Taylor at SmallBizTrends: why not create 12 days of “your product” or a product of the month? Feature and market a product every day or every week during the holidays. Think about focusing on high margin products or items your customers don’t know about. “Companies in the food business use this strategy a lot,” explains Ivana. “Think beer of the month, cheesecake of the month, or coffee of the month.”
And don’t forget to communicate this themed promotion on your website, social media, email, posters and fliers.
Offer Gift Certificates
Whatever your business, selling gift certificates, gift cards and e-certificates is a great way to give your customers a convenient gift option. They also help you generate sales well into the New Year, with recipients often spending more than the value of the certificate.
Partner With Other Businesses
It’s likely that many of the businesses in your community also rely heavily on the holidays for a good chunk of their income. Is there a way you can partner with complementary stores or restaurants to cross-promote each other’s businesses? SBA guest blogger Rieva Lesonsky offers tips in her blog: Forget Competition It’s Time for Co-Opetition.
Get Involved in Community and Charitable Events
Getting out there and supporting charities or sponsoring or getting involved in community events is a great way to generate awareness for your business during the holidays. Even if you don’t have the budget to donate large sums of money, think of other ways to get involved, such as offering volunteer services, equipment or even space.
Use Your Website and Social Media to Promote Your Holiday Activities
Your online presence, email marketing, and social media networks are a great way to target and connect with local consumers through timely updates and compelling calls-to-action. Develop holiday themes for your email templates and update your website and Facebook profile picture with a festive look.
Then be sure to channel any offers or promotions through social media. You can even offer deals or events exclusively to your social media fans to help drive foot traffic and generate leads. And don’t forget to engage in two-way dialogues. Ask your fans about their holiday activities.
What lost-cost holiday marketing tips and tricks have worked for your store?
Julie Steiner, Retail Operations Manager at The Barnes Foundation and chair of the MSA Memorial Scholarship Award Committee, talks with past scholarship recipient, Carrie Santell.
Carrie Santell, the Ship’s Store Manager at the USS Hornet Museum in Alameda, Calif., was one of eight recipients of an MSA scholarship in 2012. Carrie attended the MSA Conference & Expo held in New Orleans and shares her experience as a scholarship recipient and first-time MSA Conference attendee.
Q: First, to give us a feeling for the flavor of your store, if you had to run your whole business out of a street cart, what three items from your present store would you choose first to sell in your cart?
A: The top three items include our USS Hornet athletic t-shirt, the book “USS Hornet Pictorial History,” and our USS Hornet CVS-12 hat. The fourth item is our main magnet—it’s small and will fit on the cart too.
Q: When you first thought about attending the MSA Conference & Expo, what issues and questions were you facing as a nonprofit retailer?
A: I was really just hoping that I’d come away with new nuggets on how other institutions operate their business. Good ideas come from anywhere so I was content to see what came out of the experience.
Q: What were you most hopeful of finding, from either the educational sessions, the networking opportunities or the product expo?
A: I was at least lucky enough to be able to attend a number of chapter meetings before I was able to make it to the BIG conference. So in that way, I was really looking forward to finally having the full experience of all three. It’s the full package!
Q: In what ways did the conference provide answers or resources for these issues?
A: It was great to finally meet some of the “movers and shakers” that I would see writing articles in the magazine, people who frequently commented on ShopTalk with some really insightful information, and generally putting an actual face and voice to other members of the MSA community.
The other best part is the MSA Expo. We’re working in a niche market and all the vendors better understand our needs (low minimums, extending terms!) and are willing to work us—not make demands on us. And, the product selection was better than what I could find at my closest gift show for an even tighter niche market in terms of product appropriate for our store.
Q: Was there anything that surprised you about MSA?
A: Actually, not surprised—but just enthused that there are so many others working in the unique museum retail world that can commiserate, understand and provide encouragement. Although it sounds trite, everyone is very friendly, supportive and welcoming.
Q: Did you shop the MSA Expo, and if so, tell us about something (product or vendor) you brought back to your store that’s worked out well for you.
A: Unfortunately, I’m not allowed to actually buy anything right then and there. So I use it for the sake of sourcing new product; taking whatever the vendor offers to remind me and their contact information while leaving mine. However, we now have numerous products that are from vendors I met at the MSA Expo. We’re carrying both “stock” merchandise and custom developed product too.
Q: What was one resource or idea that you brought back from the MSA Conference sessions and implemented in your store?
A: I came away with a better understanding of the formulas our accounting department uses to calculate our monthly open-to-buy (OTB) budget. Although, of course, from my perspective it’s never enough! But, I don’t let them off the hook either; being accountants, they frequently forget that to have special product, we have to plan and order ahead, which means needing “extra” money. Not to mention that I can’t increase our sales/revenue if we run out of a good selling product because the budget wasn’t big enough to cover the lag time. So I’ve come away with a better set of arguments for getting larger and larger budgets.
Q: Do you have any suggestions for MSA members who have never attended conference?
A: Make sure to bring a good supply of business cards, of course—but more important, pack a duffle bag that you can use as an extra piece of luggage to take home all the fun freebies, samples, etc.!
Never attended the MSA Retail Conference & Expo? Apply for a scholarship!
The new breed of volunteers—those very busy, cyber-connected, multi-tasked 21st century volunteers—are not afraid of commitment. In fact, today's volunteers almost demand a high level of commitment because they don't want to give time to an organization filled with lazy loafers.
But to create a high-commitment culture, we must tap into the "what's in it for me" drive that motivates today's volunteer. To understand this culture, look at the Master Gardner program, and then test your volunteer culture with the three "what's in it for me" questions.
WHAT'S IN IT FOR ME #1: Do you offer a "payoff" for your volunteers?
I am not speaking of salary or money. We all know that volunteers don't get paid. However, there is often a "payoff" for volunteer service. A very popular volunteer program is the Master Gardner program offered by many communities. Why would a busy person commit to contribute 50 hours of community volunteer work during the first year and an additional 25 hours of volunteer service every year after? Easy. The payoff is the prestigious distinction of earning a "Master Gardner” designation. To earn that distinction, the volunteer must spend 50 hours taking horticulture classes in addition to a volunteer service requirement.
Volunteers are willing to make the commitment to programs like Master Gardner because there is a payoff. When the payoff is worthwhile for volunteers, they will commit to training, study, dues and even long-term obligations.
WHAT'S IN IT FOR ME #2: Is there a "feel-good" factor for the volunteer?
A primary reason that people volunteer is that it makes them feel good. I know that this sounds somewhat "narcissistic," but it is a reality of life. In America so many of us are blessed, and we are doing so very well compared to the rest of the world that we want to give back.
Case in point: The Master Gardeners program is not just about learning horticulture, it is about serving the community. The program was developed in the late 1970s by an extension professional in Washington who wanted to train volunteers to handle telephone inquiries. In urban centers, Master Gardeners are also helping communities feed neighbors in need.
WHAT'S IN IT FOR ME #3: Are your taking advantage of the slash phenomenon?
Being a volunteer is not about multi-tasking. It's about managing the slash. What is a slash?
You probably are a slash. If you are a businesswoman/Girl Scout leader/board member/mother or a businessman/Little League coach/committee member/father, then you are like millions of other Americans who need more than one label to define themselves.
Marci Alboher, author of "One Person/Multiple Careers: How the Slash Effect Can Work for You," says, "The slash is a phenomenon that's sweeping the work force today. It's about people wanting to lead more multifaceted lives."
Some think that the Master Gardner program is for the retired, but in actuality about 50 percent of the volunteer Master Gardeners are people who work at home or have flexible schedules to meet the training and volunteer requirements. People want to be active in giving. It is part of life and volunteering is a growing popular way to provide that opportunity.
So what? What does this mean?
I have several conclusions:
1. People don't mind making commitments. Don't be afraid to require training and a commitment volunteer period, but…
2. Look at your mission. Do you have a mission that will excite certain people to make a difference? Your mission should offer a payoff that feels good. People don't want to make a contribution, they want to make a difference.
3. Are you flexible? Flexible scheduling is key.
4. Be sure to lay out the requirements in the beginning. Never use the four words that the today's new breed of volunteer hates—"Oh, by the way..."
What kind of culture does your store and your institution offer to volunteers?
...and how I put an MSA conference session to work.
By Julie Steiner, Retail Operations Manager at The Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia, Penn.
The primary difference between museum retailing and commercial retailing is that in museums, our products carry the burden (and the blessing) of each respective institution’s grand educational mission. When I came to the Barnes, stepping in from the world of commercial retail, the first thing I wanted to do was to label each product with a story card, linking it inextricably to the collection our visitor had just experienced.
Accomplishing this goal ended up being a project that would take much longer than I thought—product selections change quickly, and as a relatively small shop with little staff, the practical needs of designing, writing and printing weren’t easy, in between the basics of just ordering, receiving and selling the goods themselves. We also had many changes in a quick time—a new logo and new branded design for the institution, new editorial processes for written materials and communications, even changes in curatorial staff. One of the recurring questions was, “Whose voice and perspective does the shop represent?” And that question was followed by others. Was it enough to talk only about the product, or should we have a more curatorial perspective on the collection? How detailed should we be? Where was the right balance between “didactic” and “marketing”? In this, as in so many other aspects, I was reminded of how a museum store requires much more care and attentiveness than retail done purely for profit.
One thing that helped the process was a session at the annual MSA Conference & Expo. At the Austin conference, Susan DeLand presented a workshop called “Write it Right!” She offered practical suggestions on how to write for curatorial product cards, complete with examples which we worked out as teams in the session. She shared great samples of cards she’d produced successfully at the Getty. Later on, at home, I had something tangible to show our designers as examples, which they could build into our own branded identity package.
Because individual product selection varies seasonally, in the end I decided to produce general “topic tags” that link not just individual items, but entire product categories to our collections and mission. That way I could keep up with the fluctuations of our merchandise mix and print large enough quantities of each tag to make them high-quality, full-color, and still affordable to produce. I started with 13 tags on such topics as “Metalwork,” “Woodwork and Furniture” and “Textiles.” Each tag shows a color photograph of an example of that category from our collection. On the inside is a full view of the object with its “tombstone” data, and a paragraph that explains the importance of that subject within our institution. The back of the tag has our logo, website URL, “All proceeds benefit the Barnes Foundation” and “Printed in the USA.” We made sure to leave room on the back for a price sticker, if needed. Some items are tagged on display, and some (like jewelry) only get a tag at checkout—we keep a file of tags at each register.
I think the tags bring a real elegance to the shop, and serve a wide variety of purposes:
- In shop displays, they remind our visitors while they shop of the artwork they’ve just discovered, and also of the value of their support to the institution, through the retail store.
- Accompanying each item sold, they also extend our educational mission to anyone who receives a gift from the shop—they may not have visited personally, but each card gives them a little taste of what to expect when they do visit.
- The tags can also be a tool to help and support our sales staff, as it enforces the conversations they have with the visitors, repeating and validating what they say to the customers in person.
Adding an educational component to each purchase in the form of a product tag lends weight and significance to each purchase that our customers really appreciate; we even have visitors asking for extra copies of them to take along. I am adding more to this collection of tags to build a large “library” to choose from. I’m really grateful to have had the examples from other museums in my conference session group to bring this project from idea to reality.
What ideas have you taken away from the MSA Retail Conference & Expo that you’ve implemented in your store?
Displays drive shoppers through your shop. Having eye-catching props is imperative to bring life to your window or table displays. The more unexpected the better! Below are five tips to help you get the most out of them.
1. The hunt
Potential props are everywhere, and sometimes where you least expect them. Of course your favorite retail stores, discounters, craft stores, online sites and the like are a good place to start. But don’t neglect high-end stores where a splurge could really pack a punch. Or, ask to “borrow” the props with the understanding that you will put a sign next to them, acknowledging the retailer’s name and website. And don’t forget garage sales and estate sales—they can reveal real treasures if you are up for the hunt.
2. Think outside of the box
The props we recently saw in a small specialty store caught our attention. The theme of the displays throughout the store was a workroom. Old metal tool drawers held small items and saw horses were used to hold tabletops housing displays. We loved it! Another store attached a bed to a wall. Unexpected? Yes! Working in even one unexpected item can be the focal point that draws people in. Gotcha!
3. Conversation piece
Do you love that large red rooster but don’t know quite what to do with it? If something really speaks to you when you are out foraging for props and you find yourself circling back to look at it over and over—buy it, if it is in the budget. Inspiration is sure to follow!
4. Think 2D
Paper is an inexpensive and versatile foundation to make all sorts of props. Curl long strings of paper; make snowflakes or origami shapes; weave strips of different colors, or patterns; wrap large boxes to create fun risers. Hang a roll of wrapping paper off of a decorative curtain rod and pull the paper down to the floor. It makes a great backdrop! Make masks by wetting paper and forming to a mold, and then coat with white glue. Let dry, pop off, paint and voila!
5. Take a hike
Nature not only inspires but also provides free props! Think dried flowers, tree branches, pinecones, stones, seashells and fresh flowers. Just stay away from the neighbor’s rose bushes and you should be fine!
Do you have some unusual props in your store? Let us know what they are!
Let’s get straight to the point, because quite frankly, there is no time to spare! Help chase your museum guests and customers into your store this fourth quarter by implementing the below strategies:
1. Implement a marketing calendar
If you run a retail store, you need a marketing calendar—plain and simple. As a retailer, this is so critical since much of what you deliver is customer service and customer experiences. Beyond store inventory and store ambiance, how your customers feel in your store and what they experience can make a huge impact on their decision to spend their hard earned dollars with you—or not. One way to help increase your odds of gaining store sales? Increasing your in-store events.
During the fourth quarter, it’s ideal to plan a variety of both “big” events and “mini” events. Hosting no less than two and up to four big events should be your goal, while eight mini events are realistic. But before you get scared, consider what’s big and what’s mini. A co-hosted evening of VIP shopping with your favorite local charity could count as a big event, assuming you jazz it up in pre-event marketing, media outreach, community press and customer communication. A mini event could mean hosting an open house for customers on a random Wednesday with warm cider and doughnuts, offering everyone 20% off during that specific time only. No matter what you do, however, be sure to market your event in advance! Don’t forget to schedule your events in coordination with your institution’s events, as well.
2. Get rid of tired inventory
Are you wasting store shelf space with inventory that just isn’t selling? There’s no time to spare here—you simply have to get a markdown strategy in place!
The fourth quarter is a bold reminder that the end of the year is approaching, and that means your numbers need to increase and your inventory needs to sell through. If you have an inventory management system that helps you track this, perfect. Use it. Implement your markdowns. Open up more buying dollars as a result and move on. If you are balancing your books and inventory the old-school way still (hey, it happens more than you may think) take a good, hard look at what’s been in your store too long. Eight weeks in and no sell through? Mark it down 20%. Twelve weeks in and no sell through? Mark it down 40% or possibly even 50%. Nine months in and it still hasn’t sold? Redline it, slash the price and get it sold at 70% off or more!
Okay, okay, there are exceptions. We get it. Based on your store sector, price points and general sell through history, these harsh markdowns may not be for you. However, those of you sitting on lower ticket items, we’re talking to you. Below $100 retail? $50 retail? $20 retail? Yep, that’s you.
3. Train your staff…again
The fourth quarter demands full employee attention in all aspects of your business. And likewise, customers expect full attention from employees this time of year. Consider having a fourth quarter employee kickoff that gets your team in the busy-season spirit and ready to embrace the full speed of the season. Deliver product knowledge tips, vendor updates, event announcements, customer service updates, store expectations, opening and closing procedures and more. The list is endless, so not doing this isn’t really a choice. There is always something to learn and always something to teach. You may want to also consider inviting a local police officer to give tips on preventing store theft, as this time of year also sees an increase in this, as well.
Feeling overwhelmed yet? The fourth quarter may be a busy time of year, but it can also be a profitable time of year. Get prepared and dive in full force. Your end of year numbers will thank you.
How are you planning to get ready for the fourth quarter in your store? Share your ideas!
Many of you have only one person working in the store the majority of the time, with much of your staff filling in part-time or as volunteers. Because of this, among many other reasons, it’s important to think about how you can communicate with your customers despite being spread thin.
The most obvious way to do this is to use signage. The question becomes, however, how can you best maximize the signage you use?
Use these five tips to help you maximize signage in your museum store:
1. Hang a bulletin board or other promotional board. Have it in an area of your store that isn’t filled with inventory, but rather offers a resting spot for customers to learn and engage with your store in other ways. Post museum announcements as well as store announcements. Include a list or calendar of upcoming events, store sales, upcoming product arrivals and other important store news. You can even get creative and have a “get to know us” section featuring store employees that you rotate weekly or monthly. But don’t stop at just hanging it up and updating it, make sure you tell your customers to check it out, as well.
2. Frame press received about your store and/or products or artists represented in your museum store. If you or a vendor you sell has received some press, take the time to neatly and professionally frame it. Incorporate these frames into your merchandising so that customers will see them as they shop. It’s not necessary to spend big dollars here—you can likely get an 8 x 10 frame for less than $10 that will do the trick. But the key is doing it. This is a great way to get more momentum from the press you’ve received. Plus, it’s a great conversation starter for customers to ask more and encourage conversation.
3. Use signage to support products, pricing and other relevant details. The catch? Be consistent! Customers should be able to easily identify signage that “speaks” to them regarding products and pricing. In other words, don’t hand write a sale sign and push pin it to a wall over a hang bar. Instead, invest the time to have crisp, clear, professional signage that consistently repeats itself throughout the store. While there is signage software available, you can also make your own signs. Be aware of the size of what you print, however, so that it is large enough to be easily viewed yet not overpowering. A good example would be an 8 x 10 sign that says SALE in large font on a shelf with discontinued items. It will stand out without being too overpowering. Another tip? Use a color that pops in your store. Be sure to blend your signage in with your overall store aesthetics, as well.
4. Keep an upbeat, positive voice in your signage communication. Even though you may want to scream “WE DO NOT TAKE RETURNS” it’s better to simply say “All sales are final. Thank you for your understanding.” Whatever policies or notifications you want to share, remember to always keep your tone positive and friendly.
5. Avoid overusing signage. Some stores have no signage, some stores have too much. Try and find a nice balance that complements your store size, store inventory and store merchandising. If you put too many signs in your museum store, it will be overpowering, yet not enough will lack effective communication with your customer. It’s impossible to tell you exactly what is right for your unique store, but if you take the time to walk your store as a customer would, you can begin to determine this. Put yourself in your customer’s shoes. Do you gain knowledge from the signs? Are you able to navigate the store more easily through signage? Does the bulletin board give you more news you would not have known otherwise as a result of the signs? You get the idea.
Finally, don’t settle. Signage needs to be updated and routinely replaced and enhanced as seasons pass, your store evolves and customer influences take place.
Have your own signage tips to share? Let us know! Please comment below.