Baseball players have a name for this time of the season. They call it the "dog days," and the name doesn't just apply to their struggles. Everyone who runs the show at minor league ballparks across the country can feel that malaise creeping in. The GMs. The ticket sales people. The concessionaires. Even those running the team stores.
I can't help the players (drink more water, maybe?) or the front offices (drink more coffee?). But I do have a suggestion for retailers. Mix it up those displays. The next time the team hits the road for a few days, reorganize all the jerseys, T-shirts, golf shirts, foam fingers and other knick knacks, moving the merchandise to new locations and/or cross-merchandising it with different product.
Why move your product around?
It's psychological. For local fans who have been to several games -- and to the team store -- several times already, putting product in different places changes their perception of the entire store. Everything seems new again. Researchers have done studies showing product that isn't selling in a display at the back of a store suddenly sells when it's displayed elsewhere.
The psychological effect can be a boost for store managers and employees, too. Plus, the whole process of reorganizing the merchandise helps them get more familiar with the product and start thinking strategically about their work. Translation? They're more engaged in the business and capable of increasing sales.
How do you re-merchandise your store successfully?
Create a plan-o-gram, a map of the store showing where you have the categories displayed in your store. Bigger retailers use these to map out certain shelf spaces, but it can be scaled out to show an entire floor plan. Put your map on a big white board hung in the back room, where all your employees can see it. Over time, this plan-o-gram plus sales data from the register tells you where the hot and cold zones in the store are. You may find, for instance, that product moves briskly just to the left or right of the point of sale. You'll know to try slow-moving product there.
Harness the power of color. In my travels to ballpark team stores so far this summer, I have seen surprisingly few stores using a big color story to engage their customers. Color is a huge influence on retail sales, and all the crazy ways teams brand themselves with color plays right into your hands.
If your team is wearing special red jerseys this season, for instance, create a wall or section of red product, with like-colored sweatshirts, Ts, jerseys and other items grouped together. Look no further than the color-driven merchandising approach of most fashion retailers for inspiration. Heck, you can even get ideas from grocery shopping.
Another way of using team colors to freshen up your store is showing distinct groupings together, kind of like this. A section of red souvenirs by a section of white souvenirs by a section of blue souvenirs. It's impactful, and it makes customers see the product in a whole new light.
Every ballplayer and manager will tell you that the long season is a grind. Shake off the dog days by shaking up your store. Your customers will show their appreciation at the cash register.