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Merchandising - How can restaurants increase their visibility and reach

Akshay Shetty
06/02/2020

You walk into a restaurant, the attendant comes in, and you can’t help but notice the graphic t-shirt he is wearing. You have ordered the food, but all this time you are more interested in buying that t-shirt. That’s precisely what merchandising is about. So what exactly is merchandising?

In simple words, it’s everything you do to promote and sell your products once the potential customer is in your establishment. Merchandising can be with a wide range of products from t-shirts to keychains. The higher the visibility, the better it is for your brand. But how can your restaurant benefit from merchandising?

How can your restaurant benefit from merchandising?

Merchandising is a tricky business, but if done correctly can work wonders for any brand. With limited time and space to attract a customer, merchandising can be a means to attract more customers to your restaurant. You can also use merchandising for your loyalty program. Keeping items only accessible to loyalty cardholders can be a great way to increase sales while ensuring you have a long list of regulars. Restaurant with outstanding merchandise stand out and can drastically improve their brand visibility. However, it’s important to note that you shouldn’t rely on merchandise as a steady source of income.

Things to keep in mind when it comes to merchandise?

Branding:

Strong branding is essential to establish any restaurant. So, before you start merchandising focus your efforts on creating durable brand design. The logo, menu and the decor of your restaurant should reflect a consistent theme that will connect with your target audience. Be it a high-end dining restaurant or a go-to cafe for youngsters; consistency is the key. Creating a brand guideline is one way to ensure that the colour scheme, font size and logo size are consistent throughout all channels of communication.

Your merchandise be it a t-shirt or a coffee mug should reflect the same brand design. In simple terms, customers should be able to identify your merchandise by just looking at it. Focusing on consistent branding will help create a strong brand identity, both online and offline.

Product:

Once you have a strong brand design in place, it’s time to decide on products you want to merchandise. Merchandise doesn’t always have to be t-shirts and coffee mugs. You can choose your product depending on the type of restaurant and the target audience you are catering to.

For instance, if your restaurant’s theme is music items like guitar pins and posters work well. A coffee shop may benefit by selling travel mugs that can directly relate to their end product. The goal is to maximize your brand visibility to attract new customers. It’s recommended you find local suppliers for all your merchandise as its cheaper and reliable. If you have the budget and resources, you can also have strategic partnerships with some brands.

Placement:

Now that you have decided on your product, it’s time to focus on their placement for maximizing sales. Selling merchandise is all about getting more eyes on the product. It’s always advised to place the cheaper items next to the cash counter as people won’t think twice before purchasing it. The more expensive items should be placed close to the door or where the visibility is maximum.

While placing your product, keep in mind that the customer should be able to touch and feel them. People love to be able to pick things up and feel it in their hands before they decide to purchase it. Your displays should be neat and must be changed occasionally. Ensure all your products have clear price tags on it. Merchandise without price specifics discourages customers from buying them. Lastly, keep track of items which don’t get sold often. This way, you can either discard them in the future or try cross-selling those items by pairing them with your popular products.

Promotion:

Now for the most crucial part of selling your products, promote it the right way. Use social media to your advantage. Millennials and Gen Z are highly active on social media platforms. Your communication should be consistent and precise on all platforms. Encourage your customers to post pictures with your merchandise online. This way your customers can turn into your digital brand ambassadors, and you will save huge cost on marketing. Such images also provide a level of authenticity for your target audience. However, note that merchandising is not the primary source of income, and hence your social media shouldn’t be filled with posts of your merchandise. You also need to focus on the end product you are selling.

Merchandising is a long-term process. It’s also essential that your end product is as good as your merchandise. A loyal customer base is the key to any successful restaurant and merchandising is one way to achieve it.


Akshay Shetty
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