Christian Retailing

Retail Successentials-Easter Needs January 2015: Finding the best ways to serve your customers’ needs this Easter PDF Print E-mail
Written by Bill Nielsen   
Friday, 05 December 2014 01:59 PM EST

It’s time to get ready practically and spiritually for the season

BillNielsenInChairMany Christian retailers have heard someone say, “I’d so love to open a bookstore. It must be wonderful just working with books all day.” Truth is, though, retailers work with people all day, and books and other Scripture-based solutions are a means to meeting their customers’ needs.

Of course, before retailers can meet those needs, they must anticipate what they are, proactively plan product assortments and train staff so that they can best help each customer. This issue, let’s look at the Easter season as an opportunity to explore how we can best help our customers on their faith walk by making sure we’re ready to meet their known, or felt, needs—and even their unknown needs.

KNOWN NEEDS

Spiritual need—the desire to connect with Christ—often is allowed to lie dormant in the heart, but at Easter, this heart tug makes the season a prime time for you to reach out beyond your regular customers to the wider community. In fact, Easter is the second-best time of year to attract new customers via newspaper inserts and other forms of mass media, second only to Thanksgiving.

Spend a few years in Christian retail, and you will soon discover the known needs or common demands for product that are apparent to your customers. Take the children’s product category, for example. Other than Christmas, Easter is the next best sales window for all things kids. Gift baskets that feature fun products—graphic novels, coloring books and DVDs, for example—are a common request.

The demand for fashion-driven Bibles also spikes at Easter.  And because of the season itself or the increase in baptisms and confirmations, you can count on more requests for related gifts and greeting cards.

The same holds true for church supplies, as you are sure to see the demand for certificates, bulletins and communion items increase. Evangelism tools such as EvangeCube and other modern products are a must-have this time of year too.

Last but not least, don’t forget that best-selling Easter cantatas will certainly drive CD and accompaniment-track sales.

UNKNOWN NEEDS

How can we help our customers find products they did not come in looking for, but that we know will help them in their faith journey this Easter? Consider the following examples as product possibilities for your suggestive-sell list this season.

One great example of this is The Easter Experience (City on a Hill/Thomas Nelson), a DVD set that takes the viewer through six 20-minute dramatic vignettes that teach biblical truths and help him or her experience the Easter story from a fresh perspective. Run this on a TV near a display in your store and watch customers discover an exciting product they did not plan to buy.

One of my personal favorites is Quest for the Nail Prints (Nail Prints Press/Anchor Distributors), a novel by Don Furr, in which the reader experiences the wonder of walking with Christ in Jerusalem in the days leading up to the crucifixion, only it comes with a modern-day twist and plenty of life application. Read the book and then hand-sell it, or use the unique cross display on which books are shown with a hole drilled through them.

While not a new release, Easter Bunny, Are You for Real? by Harold Myra (Thomas Nelson) is a great suggestive sell to mothers and grandmothers looking to help the young ones in their life understand the meaning of Easter.

WIDER REACH

Once you have planned your seasonal assortments and taken time to train your staff on the upcoming opportunities, it is time to get the word out. No budget? No worries. Work to get your local paper to do a story about how you are a local retailer that helps to meet the needs of the community at Easter. Another low-cost option is to coordinate with local churches or Christian schools to set up book tables.

Have a budget? Spend it wisely. Radio is no longer as effective as it once was, but newspaper inserts or some other form of a “shared mailing”—think  Valpak—can help you reach the masses during this time of the year in which they might be inclined to pick up an Easter-themed item for someone they know.

In summary, see the opportunity, own it by preparing for it and then execute well. It will pay off with an increase in sales and ministry potential this coming Easter.


Bill Nielsen is a 25-year Christian retail veteran, having served in C-level positions with Family Christian Stores, LifeWay Christian Stores and Berean Christian Stores. Nielsen is now president of The Equation Team, a consulting firm that specializes in retail and publishing.

 
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