With Black Friday and Cyber Monday just ahead and Christmas looming less than a month away, it’s officially the holiday shopping season. For retailers, that means holiday shoppers. However, despite the lingering pandemic, this holiday shopping season is shaping up to be different than that of 2020.
With much of the nation still shut down due to COVID-10, consumers turned away from brick-and-mortar retailers last holiday season as they flocked online to do their shopping, spending over $188 billion in November and December – a 32% increase in over the same period in 2019. Online spending is expected to increase another 5–15% this year, surpassing $200 billion in revenue, but it’s not all bad news for physical retailers, who should also expect an influx of in-person customers this holiday season.
According to a recent QuickBooks Commerce Small Business Shopping Report, 93% of consumers said supporting small businesses this holiday season is more important than ever because of the pandemic. Further, 48% reported they are more likely to try new businesses than they were pre-pandemic. A Deloitte holiday retail survey also found consumers expect to spend more of their holiday budget in-store than last year and anxiety associated with in-store shopping is down 11% year-over-year.
Like jingle bells to the ears of retailers, data seems to point to the return of in-store customers, but more shoppers also means more competition. To best attract local firearm consumers this holiday season, consider these five suggestions for retail FFLs.
Evaluate Product Mix
Preparing for holiday shoppers begins with evaluating your product mix. While supply chain struggles continue, firearm, ammunition and accessory inventory has generally come back. If you haven’t already, now is the time to place orders for popular products to stock up before the holidays – starting with guns.
In November and December 2020, combined NSSF-adjusted NICS background checks totaled 3.8 million, making the holiday season two of the highest months of the year. Whether purchased as gifts or taking advantage of seasonal discounts, dealers should stock up on common handguns, rifles and shotguns to meet increased holiday demands. And with consumers expecting to spend more this season, don’t be afraid to order a few higher-priced or unique firearms, too.
Special consideration should also be given to items targeting new gun owners, as the holidays are a popular time for introducing shooters to the industry. Products such as ear and eye protection, range bags, firearm cases, magazines, speedloaders, cleaning supplies and optics are great stocking stuffers and add-on sales for first-time buyers.
When in doubt, gift cards always make great buys as they can be used on any product, service, class or range time.
While margins can be razor thin for firearm dealers, discount programs are crucial to not only attract local customers, but also get them to buy once they walk through your doors. Deloitte survey respondents agree, with 60% saying “getting a great deal” is the top attribute for retailer selection.
Blanket product discounting works, but ‘tis the season to get creative with savings opportunities for customers. Consider staggering discounts by day to attract repeat customers, such as a “12 Days of Savings” concept, or bundling related products for greater customer savings and retailer profits. Think about product combinations shooters typically purchase together or need, like firearms and gun cases, magazines and ammunition, or range bags and personal protection equipment.
Discounts can also be applied to new or renewing memberships, range time and firearms training courses if your FFL has such offerings.
Marketing, Marketing, Marketing
As location is to real estate, marketing is to retail. Whether by word of mouth, signage, social media or local radio ads, back your holiday efforts with effective marketing. Once your FFL has established what products are in stock, discounts it will have or events it will host, develop a strategy of how to promote your efforts and execute to the fullest.
Social media is a big driver for consumers, with 28% reporting their intended use of social media for holiday shopping. The use of Facebook and Instagram in the firearm industry may be challenging at times, but if your FFL has a sizeable audience on either platform – or others – use them to your benefit. Post photos, videos and stories regularly of in-stock products, discounts and happenings to keep followers updated – and don’t forget to check your DMs for customer inquiries.
Preach Customer Service
As a firearms retailer, customer service is paramount to the shopping experience. From walking a customer through the features of different firearms to explaining everything a gun owner needs to clean and care for their firearm, in-store shoppers require and demand quality customer service.
However, good customer service isn’t necessarily fast customer service. With more customers expected in-store throughout the holiday season, finding a balance between McDonald’s efficiency and Chick-fil-A attention will best serve both your eager customers and your busy sales associates. And when customers have a good customer service experience, they’re more likely to come back and buy from you again.
Good customer experiences can also lead to positive Google reviews, which help local businesses better compete and attract more customers.
Launch A Website
According to QuickBooks, 61% of holiday shoppers use online resources to find local small businesses to shop at. While social media is a start, firearm dealers can benefit two-fold from taking their FFL online with a website and an omnichannel retail approach.
First, having a website allows your retail business to be more competitive. Not only does a well-optimized site create an opportunity for consumers to find your business online, but it allows your business to be more visible compared to other dealers in the area without an online presence. A website can also host important information about your FFL, including brands and products carried, training classes available, and other facility offerings, to attract shoppers to visit your store.
Second, a website enables your retail FFL to sell firearms, ammunition and accessories online with an effective ecommerce integration – like Orchid eCommerce™. Sell on-hand products or those from live distributor catalogs (with an AmmoReady upgrade) to both local and national customers, allowing your business to extend its customer base while also better serving regulars. Ship firearms to other FFLs or simply have customers pay online and pick up in store, giving you additional upsell opportunities.
The holidays are a busy time of year for businesses and consumers, but efforts made to attract more local shoppers can turn a jolly retail season into a profitable retail season.
Contact Orchid today to learn how you can take your brick-and-mortar retail FFL online with Orchid eCommerce™, optimize operations with Orchid POS™ and Orchid eBound™, and ditch anti-gun banks with firearm-friendly Orchid Pay™ for in-store and online transactions.