As with most products, the key to maximising walking stick sales is ensuring you have a wide enough variety to meet the needs of any of the diverse members of the public who walk through the shop door. It is very easy for the contents of a display to become unbalanced so that you might find you have sold all your ladies' sticks, or everything in a particular price bracket, for example. Also, the public tend to untidy stick stands in their enthusiasm to look at them all, and the resulting confusion can make it hard to see what is and isn't there.
Borne of over forty years' experience of running a critical eye over walking stick displays, this is our tried-and-tested method for checking their contents:
Firstly, a quick tidy is in order. Any stray butterfly nets, fishing rods etc should be removed and sent back to wherever they are supposed to be on display. Once the stand is tidy, it is usually the case that there turn out to be fewer sticks in it than there appeared when they were a bit untidy. This is also a good moment for a flick with the feather duster over both sticks and stands as well as replacing any hang-tag rubber bands in the process of perishing. It costs virtually nothing and only takes a few moments but can make a big difference to sales.
Then arrange your sticks by category:
- Crook handle sticks
- Wooden derbys, gent's
- Wooden derbys, ladies'
- Patterned canes, petite size
- Patterned canes, standard size
- Orthopaedic canes
- Country walking sticks and trekking poles
- Others, such as formal and collectors' canes
- Folding canes: these should ideally be displayed folded up in their display packaging on slatwall or hooks
- Rubber ferrules and wristloops
This is when it becomes obvious that there are inbalances that need to be rectified if sales are to be maintained.
Classic imbalances that occur all the time include:
- Not enough ladies' or not enough gent's sticks
- All crook or all derby handles
- All brown wooden sticks with no colour variety eg cherry-coloured, burgundy or olive green to relieve the brown-ness.
- All standard or all petite size ladies' canes
- All left-handed orthopaedic canes with no matching rights. Rights outsell lefts by about five to one.
- All brightly-coloured patterned canes and no 'core stock' models in the neutral patterned shades: black, dark blue, cream and grey.
- Long country sticks all of one kind (eg. all hiking staffs and no thumbsticks) or all of one colour of wood (eg. chestnut)
- All the less-expensive 'core stock' has gone, leaving only the higher price points, or vice versa.
This happens because retail is an art and not a science. However well-chosen your initial selection of sticks, the public will buy unevenly. One week you could sell lots of ladies' sticks, the next week it might be folding canes, and then perhaps you suddenly realise that all the gentlemen's brown beech derby canes have gone.
At this point, if you aren't sure what you need as a consequence of your stock check, you can do what many of our stockists do and take a photograph of your display stand and email it to us
. LOTS of buyers do this and there is no shame in it as it means we can use our expertise to rebalance the stock for you, leaving you with more time for other tasks. However, if you prefer to choose your stock yourself, you can now see where you should be concentrating your budget for the next order.
It is worth reiterating that buying is an art and not a science. However brilliant your computerised stock control system is, there is no substitute for a walkabout of the shop floor to see how the displays look in practice, or a chat with browsing customers to find out what they do and don't like. Many times we have known shopkeepers to be surprised to find that their customers thought the sticks on display were too cheap or too boring rather than too expensive and that was the reason they weren't buying.
Every retail business is different so please do contact us
for a chat if you think your range of sticks needs updating for the coming season. Over the years we have helped many thousands of retailers in many different countries to improve their walking stick sales through the range they carry and the way they are displayed. We look forward to assisting you!
Charlotte Gillan, Managing Director