Wish Lists: You Know They Want It

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Wish lists are a simple—and smart—strategy for driving holiday sales

Words by Peter Koch

The end of the year is holiday season, which, for our industry, should mean gift sales. Wish lists, or guest registries, are one simple way to help prime holiday sales (as well as year-round birthday and anniversary sales), forge closer relationships with your most loyal customers and, while you’re at it, maybe even earn a few new shoppers.

“‘Wish lists’ have been popular in the jewelry industry for decades,” says Karen Barry, a senior retail consultant at The Friedman Group. “A woman walks into the store and chooses her favorite pieces, then the jeweler calls the husband on every anniversary, birthday and holiday to invite him to buy. It’s a win-win-win—she gets what she wants, the husband is a hero for giving her something she loves with zero effort on his part, and the jeweler rakes in the cash.”

It sounds so simple, right? So why shouldn’t you get a piece of the action, and help your customers to boot? Our want-based industry, with its highly specialized parts and accessories, is readymade for wish lists. Our shop regulars covet all sorts of ride-enhancing upgrades and accessories that they can’t always justify buying for themselves, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t get them, especially during the gift-giving season. The problem is, their non-cyclist friends and family (and even some who do ride) probably don’t know what they want, and are hesitant to buy a store gift card for fear it’s too impersonal. That means we’re missing out on holiday gift sales because our customers’ loved ones don’t know what to buy from us. It’s time to remedy that.

 “Using a wish list allows loved ones to choose something that feels personal, and is a guaranteed hit,” Barry says. Plus, it brings the gift-giver into your store, helps them feel more comfortable, and gives them an opportunity to get to know your staff. That’s an opportunity to bring yet another cyclist into the fold, and perhaps earn a customer. So how do you get started? Once you’ve built a strong enough relationship with the customer to earn the right to ask for it, do the following:

1)  Get their wish list, and store it somewhere—either a protected Excel spreadsheet, an index card tickler file or, if you can do it, your POS—and get their permission to share it.

2)  When you collect their customer data in your POS, add a few fields, including Customer Birthday and the Spouse/Significant Other's Name, Phone Number and Email.

3)  Add a reminder to contact that spouse or significant other three to four weeks before the occasion, and then do it by phone or email. “It’s usually just a phone call,” says Barry, “but why not an email with the subject line “I know what ____ wants for Christmas,” that’s a 'Dear Santa’-style list with the rider’s name signature-font signed at the bottom (and your company info/contact below, of course)?”

4)  To further get the word out/distribute the list to more friends and family, retail sales trainer and consultant Sam Dantzler of Powersports Garage suggests a couple of strategies: The first, and most obvious, is to simply have your customer tell his loved ones that you have the list; a second option is print off items from the wish list onto store-branded place cards that your customer can leave around the house for family to find or distribute to friends. "As long as you have the list, and it’s easily accessible,” Dantzler says, “you’re going to have people come in, ask to see it, and buy off of it.”