Increase Your Inventory And Knowledge For Year-Round Profits.
Are you overlooking a major profit center in your store, one that could easily add thousands of dollars to your bottom line? Here it is: Optics are the one-two punch of firearms sales.
While ammunition and accessory sales are extremely important to firearms retailers, the potential for higher profits on primary and secondary sales lies in riflescopes — and to a lesser but appreciable degree — handgun scopes, binoculars, spotting scopes and other similar products.
Of course, storefront dealers face challenges in selling optics beyond just the technical aspects of the product category. According to a recent research study by IBISWorld, the number of brick-and-mortar gun stores has grown considerably.
“In fact, over the five years to 2014, the number of industry [gun dealer] establishments grew at an average annual rate of 7 percent to 9,464. This is despite the heavy competition the industry faces from other gun and ammunition retailers, especially sporting goods and outdoor stores such as Cabela’s and Gander Mountain, as well as online retailers, gun shows and pawn shops,” IBISWorld reports.
As competition continues to grow, it’s important for storefront dealers to expand their sales in other areas besides guns and ammo. Fortunately, you have the excellent competitive benefit of allowing your customers to handle optics firsthand, and provide onsite service — something web stores can’t offer.
Offering a free riflescope-mounting service to complement sales will
enable dealers to provide the added bonus of good customer service.
Full Range Of Prices
There’s an old saying among shooters: “I’d rather have a cheap rifle and an expensive scope than the other way around.” While this may not hold true for all your customers, it captures the importance many gun owners place on high-end optics. At the same time, it’s important to offer a full range of optics at various price points to ensure you cover all the opportunities for an extra hit with your rifle sales. You certainly want to carry scopes commensurate with the price range of rifles you carry, but it’s a good idea to carry higher and lower price points in addition to your standard stock.
To increase sales, consider offering package deals on rifle and scope combos. By offering the pair at a discount, you’ll have the opportunity to increase total sales. There are several ways you can do this. First, you can offer the pair at an attractive sale price. If you want to broaden the customer’s selection, offer the optic at a percentage discount with the purchase of a regular-priced rifle.
The combo you choose can be regular inventory or closeouts to make room for new stock. Advertise the combo or simply offer an in-store promotion. The goal is to increase traffic and move stock.
Nikon PROSTAFF 5
Call In The Wingman
It’s nearly impossible for each member of your sales staff to have master-grade knowledge of every category of firearms and accessories in your store. However, chances are each staff member has a special area of interest or can develop one. Use your sales force to its optimum advantage by training and utilizing each member as a knowledgeable backup to the rest of the team. Your optics “wingman” can join in the sales presentation when extra knowledge is needed to help close the sale.
This “resident expert” concept works well for all categories of product in your store, since one of the key advantages you have is direct interaction with your customer.
Dealers can also utilize this expertise after the sale. If you’re not already mounting your customers’ riflescopes, now is the time to start. If you’re already providing this service, now is a good time to promote it more heavily.
With growing Internet and local competition, customer service has never been more important. Dealers should consider offering free scope mounting with the purchase of new riflescopes, or combo sales.
Consider a special optics buy from the manufacturers or distributors on closeouts and put a special promotion together with free mounting. This gives you the opportunity to send your customer out the door with a smile on his or her face — and chances are they’ll tell their friends and relatives, resulting in additional sales for your store.
Meopta MeoStar S2 82 HD Angled
Not Just Seasonal
Selling optics is a year-round profit generator. Yes, you’ll typically sell more scopes prior to hunting season and in warmer months when weather conditions are better for time at the range, but there are optics sales to be made the rest of the year.
Many hunters “scope out” their hunting areas year-round. These consumers use binoculars and spotting scopes to constantly monitor game activity to plan for the opening of hunting season. These dedicated hunters present a bonus sales opportunity — display your optics in a prominent area in your store 365 days a year and include them in your advertising and in-store promotions.
Leupold RX1000i TBR
Keeping up with changes in the optics industry can be a real challenge. Many technological advances in scopes and sighting systems are due to our military’s involvement in recent conflicts. Virtually every facet of the outdoor and tactical/law enforcement markets has seen advancements — creating a rapidly changing market.
Today’s gun-store owner is expected to be knowledgeable about riflescopes, binoculars, spotting scopes, handgun scopes, monoculars and other optical and sighting systems, including rangefinders.
Many of the major optics manufacturers provide educational information for consumers. These educational centers are invaluable for dealers and their sales staff. Of course, dealer and other trade shows, such as the SHOT Show, provide excellent opportunities for added optics education.
Throughout the year, you can stay updated with Shooting Industry and our consumer publications.
By Pat Covert
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