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Selling the Season.jpg

3 Holiday Merchandising Tips to Put Your Customers in the Buying Spirit

Words by Holly Wiese

While most retail sectors count on surging holiday sales to put them in the black, IBDs tend to look at the winter months—often including December and even parts of November—as the “offseason.” If you’re not seeing significant sales increases leading up to the holidays, you’re missing out. We asked Holly Wiese, the founder and “visual visionary” behind retail design and visual merchandising company 3 Dots Design, for three quick tips to give you an edge on holiday selling.

Come up with a few really great bikes—one new/hot/attractively priced model from each of your main categories, or whatever you have space for—to feature for the holidays, and display each one with all of the accessories that are perfect add-on gift sales. “Let’s say you put a town bike up front, then you might also feature a basket, a bell, a lock, a cute helmet, a casual riding short—whatever makes sense to you,” Wiese says. “Maybe a customer doesn’t want to gift someone a bike, but they may be willing to buy all of the accessories to go with it.”

In order to make each featured bike look good and stand out, put it on an elevated display with a nice sign that calls out that these are great holiday gifts. (Bonus tip: Keep it professional by working with a local graphic designer—or even FASTSIGNS—to turn your text into a really nice, inexpensive feature sign in one day.) “You’re not selling the bike, you’re selling the vision of cycling,” Wiese says. “So put a little thought and effort into it, and tell a story with each display.” Soon you’ll have something that looks special for the holidays and drives sales. “So many shops don’t do anything like that,” Wiese adds, “and it’s a great way to get tons of add-on and impulse sales.”

Where holiday decorations are concerned, less is often more. “So often, I walk into bike shops where somebody has taken wrapping paper or ribbon and just thrown it everywhere, all over the store,” Wiese says. “They’ve just gone over the top with the Christmas stuff.” She advises a more focused, strategic approach to maximize impact. Pick a few props—presents, trees, ornaments, or whatever you like—then pick a few areas in the store to make eye-catching, impactful focal points. “These offer much more bang for your buck than randomly spraying them all over the whole store, because that approach just creates more clutter and adds to the confusion of the displays” (something bike shops are already famous for).

Set up an attractive impulse/gift display near the checkout. “If a customer’s coming in to buy their own thing or get a tune-up, he might think of some holiday gifts,” Wiese says. To be clear, that doesn’t mean piling a bunch of gear on a rickety folding table. Instead, she recommends consolidating a couple of floor fixtures, and using the extra for an attractive gift display that won’t look overly handmade. “You can use a table, if you keep it clean,” Wiese adds. “The key is you don’t want it to look like a sale table, with a bunch of hodgepodge products.” (Bonus tip: Try showcasing higher-margin impulse items around Thanksgiving, then gradually shift that real estate over to stocking stuffers that’ll appeal to last-minute shoppers in the days leading up to Christmas.)

Holly Wiese is the founder and “visual visionary” behind Boulder, Colorado-based retail design and visual merchandising company 3 Dots Design.