With the advent of digital platforms such as YouTube and Instagram, getting in the merchandizing game is easier than ever. Whether you’re selling your secret sauce or branded clothing, restaurant merchandise offers the chance to generate brand and revenue. But, there is a lot to consider when deciding if selling merch is right for your restaurant.
Is Merchandizing right for you?
There are three factors to consider when deciding whether or not to merchandise your restaurant.
First, is selling merchandise right for your brand? Merchandizing needs to be a way for you to build community and value for your restaurant, without taking away from the authority of your brand. If you can manage that, then merchandizing is absolutely something you should consider.
Second, does merchandizing make sense for your location? People buy merchandise a lot of times as a means to remember their experience. So if your business is supported in large part by tourism, merchandizing can be an easy way to further capitalize on that demographic. If you’re mostly doing local business, however, it will be important for your restaurant to have a strong identity and community to make merchandizing worth the effort.
Lastly, do you have the means to sell merchandise? Creating and selling merchandise is a business of it’s own. And you need be sure to have the resources to manage another big project on top of your restaurant to consider taking it on.
What should you sell?
Above all else, your merchandise should be reflective of your restaurant’s culture, brand and values. More formal restaurants should be thinking along the lines of your restaurant’s cookbooks and wine, maintaining tact and sophistication. Whereas sandwich shops or BBQ pits will do much better with novelty items such as trucker hats and proprietary sauces. In both cases, value and utility go a long way in the merch game, so give your customers what they want AND need.
Tips and Tricks
Put your merchandise up front. Showcasing your merchandise in the front of house will maximize visibility and increase chances of spontaneous purchases!
Support local businesses by sourcing goods locally. Shipping costs of your merchandise can destroy margins, and finding local resources for your goods is a great way to make headway in the merch hustle.
Display your prices. Clearly labeling prices greatly reduces friction in the buying process and critical to merchandise sales numbers. Like stated earlier, you are targeting spontaneous buyers, and the easier you can make this process the better.
Think different in your merchandise creative. Instead of the standard key-chain or T-shirt, try thinking more nostalgically. So if your restaurant is host to live music, selling something like guitar picks, records, or the like more deeply depict your customer experience and will most certainly outperform more traditional merchandise.
Collaborate with like-minded brands. Like minded brands share demographics, and cross promotional collaborations are great resources for each company’s ideal customers. Building the right relationships in this way can create massive win-wins that are not be ignored.