This is the information age — and that is never more evident than in the way people shop.
In the past, the majority of gun enthusiasts came from a rural background, where going hunting and fishing was a way of life. Today, rural traditions are fading, and a new breed of shooters is emerging from cities and suburbs.
Many new shooters have absolutely no intention of harvesting game. They view shooting as a fun and different pastime, not a means of putting food on the table. They’re interested in shooting simulation, target shooting and gun games for the sheer fun of the sport.
The Internet is the main source of information for this type of shooter. Before they even walk into your store, they’ve spent hours on websites reading about guns they’re interested in and comparing prices.
“There’s been a tremendous increase in the knowledge customers have,” said Mark Whitlock of Mark’s Outdoor Sports in Birmingham, Ala. “They almost have more access to research than we do because they can spend hours on a product.”
Whitlock says he encourages his employees to use the Internet as a research tool.
“I tell them if they’re not sure about something, it’s better to look it up,” he said.
Many new shooters still come to Mark’s Outdoor Sports unsure of exactly what to buy and looking for advice, but Whitlock says several of his female recreational shooters come in knowing exactly what they want.
“They’ve been on the Internet doing research,” he said. “They have three guns picked out and say, ‘Will you guide me on what is the best one?’”
These women know what they want, and Whitlock says it is important to listen to them.
Many women have expressed frustration about going into a store with a particular gun in mind and the staff trying to talk them into a gun the salesperson thinks is best. Not every woman who walks into your store is a novice shooter. If it’s clear a woman has done her research and wants a particular gun, by all means sell it to her, and respect her decision just like you would a man’s.
Customer service is key, according to Whitlock.
“If you give a woman a bad experience in your store, she will tell her husband he’s not allowed to shop there anymore. So you’re losing more than just one customer,” he said.
Women will also tell their friends how they were treated in a particular store, so you want to do everything you can to get a positive review from your customers. The key, Whitlock says, is a friendly environment women feel comfortable in.
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