Running a coffee shop isn’t your typical retail business. Everyone involved in owning or managing their own cafe knows the struggles of inventory, marketing, staff, overhead… the list goes on. Merchandising isn’t a core part of the cafe business, but it can really add some revenue to your balance sheet if done the right way. We’ve discovered a few secrets along the way that we wanted to share with you, the aspiring or current cafe owner/manager!
Know your Customer Base
This is arguably the most important part of the entire equation. Coffee shops can sell a lot of different merchandise, but what will your specific customers want to buy? Will it be CDs near the register, Starbucks-style? Perhaps some custom mugs with your brand on them? You need to know what your customers are interested in purchasing before you can narrow down which merchandise to sell.
Define Your Identify
Every coffee shop has a bit of local flavor that ends up influencing the vibe that customers perceive. Defining this unique identify and owning it is the next step towards taking your merchandising efforts to the next level. At Derby Joe, we love music. Our customers love music. Random passerby love music. So we set up a record shop in store for guests to browse an amazing selection of vinyls while enjoying their coffee or cold brew. You have to know who you are before you can sell yourself to someone else.
Come Up With a Plan
Making money selling merchandise is not something that happens overnight. You need to have a plan and know the basics before you even start stocking product. Do your research, come up with your business plan, pick out your first products to sell, estimate your costs/revenue/profits, and only then can you really move forward successfully.
Small and Cheap Up Front
Take a hint from all the retail and big box stores and display small items like candy, mints, cookies, cds, books, etc. up front on the counter. Guests love to pick up these small items and they usually are a cheap/easy way to make a few extra bucks!
Variety is the Spice of Life
Don’t be afraid to try out different products during your merchandising journey. There are so many to test out, including bags of branded coffee, t-shirts, hoodies, decals, travel mugs, ceramic mugs, etc. You never know what might become a hit with your loyal fan base.
Watch Out For the Sales
Some companies try to make money by constantly advertising sales. But that usually just makes customers wait to buy until the price is even lower. Don’t have extended sale periods or gimmicky price schemes. Set a price that you can make revenue from and stick to it.
Keep Things Fresh
Customers get used to seeing the same thing when they come into your cafe. Vary the display/positioning of your merchandise in order to slip past their blind spots and back into their minds! If you are selling high-quality merchandise, your customers won’t mind seeing it displayed prominently.
What tips do you have for other cafe owners or managers? Share with the rest of us in the comments!