Women Wanted: Attract & Retain Female Customers This Holiday Season

By Callie Wolverton

As a retailer in the shooting and outdoor industries, you may be wondering what lottery you have to win to get female customers to come in, feel comfortable enough to browse through your inventory and confident to close those big holiday sales. Historically, women do the majority of Black Friday and Christmas shopping. The National Retail Federation reports American shoppers spent an average of $935.58 on holiday purchases in 2016. Therefore it is crucial firearms-related retailers are able to tap into this sector of shoppers. By implementing these four tips, you’ll be adequately prepared to increase your conversion rate with female customers.

For the sake of this article, we’re going to assume the legwork is already done to get female customers through the front door. If curb appeal is a struggle, consider the stores your wife or girlfriend chooses to shop. Most likely, they’re retailers boldly branded from a passerby’s view, with a clean, well-lit storefront, adequate (and safe) parking and a display of their wares. All of these things play into a woman’s sense of comfort when shopping.

1. Display Is King

If you’ve ever browsed through Pinterest, the viral digital corkboard for life inspiration, you probably noticed pins with an enticing color scheme and a decadent layout tend to get shared more than others. The same can be said for floor displays. Women are drawn to displays where pops of color and height variations highlight certain features. For example, to merchandise the Girls with Guns fall clothing line you might choose a three-tier shelf to display folded tees and lounge pants while a full body mannequin stands next to the shelf, showcasing the technical hunting system. Now engaging height variations and pops of color have been added to what could’ve been a subdued four-way hanging rack.

Another example of an eye-catching display: I walked into a gun store in Nevada and was pleasantly surprised by the owner’s arrangement of firearms fit for a woman. He dedicated a back corner of his display counter to his “Gun Slingin’ Mamas,” complete with a piece of black velvet cloth covering pedestals of different heights. A Tiffany Blue MSR with a lace handguard, engraved wooden stock over/under 20-gauge shotgun, lavender subcompact .380 and a beautiful .22 revolver with a pink grip were all on display.

While not all women are drawn to the “girly” colors, there was no denying his display was attention grabbing and easy to spot.

If you’re struggling to push high dollar items to female customers, perhaps try to focus on the “Stocking Stuffer” phenomenon. I know lots of women who spend more on stocking stuffers than on one single present, because they get caught up in the low price and fun factor. For example, a “Range Day” display could include a range box, a few types of popular ammunition, eye and ear protection, a magazine loader, a custom koozie or insulated tumbler, a handgun cleaning kit and shotshell lip balm. Not only is this a way to display unrelated items, it gives customers inspiration for gift pairings.

2. Inventory Is Queen

If your displays can catch their eye, having adequate inventory can seal the deal. One of the major draws to shopping with brick-and-mortar retailers is the ability for customers to try before they buy. Regardless of what you’re selling and which gender it is geared for, many women want an opportunity to test out fit, function and durability.

Making inventory easily accessible is important, but ensuring stock is on hand to fulfill the order is critical. Nothing is more frustrating than searching store after store for that one skinning knife or riflescope your husband has had his eye on, only to come home empty-handed because all of the stores were out of stock. This can also drive potential customers to online shopping, thanks to the seemingly endless inventory and quick holiday shipping.

If you’re worried about over-stocking, consider having your staff create some fun gift card bundles. No one likes to give a boring gift card in a little paper sleeve, even if it allows their loved ones to get exactly what they want. A creative gift card bundle at the register can save the sale. It can be something simple like a mug or insulated tumbler filled with candy, a gift card and an assortment of small accessories (like a mini tactical flashlight, pocketknife or travel-sized gun cleaning kit). The bundles don’t have to be intricate or expensive — look at it as a fun gift card holder and an opportunity to engage a future customer!

Varying height, pops of color and full-body mannequins create a visually appealing
display of Girls with Guns merchandise.

3. BOGO & FOMO

As a retailer, the acronym BOGO (Buy One, Get One) is surely recognizable. You may be less familiar with the term FOMO. This stands for Fear Of Missing Out. FOMO happens a lot during the holiday season; women are out, shopping for gifts for their friends and family, when they stumble across something they need or have wanted for a while, at an incredible price. Women are taught to be bargain shoppers. If the sale is well advertised and the discount is deep enough, there’s an opportunity to make a two-in-one sale.

A great way to take advantage of FOMO is through a BOGO sale, offering something useful and typically gender-neutral, where the “get one” is either free or deeply discounted. These “Once A Year” sales should be well advertised — digitally, in print and most importantly, in store. This ties back to the first tip: Display is king! A well-designed, well-stocked display with an obvious sale advertisement has the ability to call out to female customers from across the sales floor.
Additionally, reminding your customers of BOGO sales at the checkout counter offers a conversation starter, allowing employees to close the sale by providing personal recommendations, additional information and product suggestions.

4. Respect & Educate

I saved the most important tip for last. Working for Girls with Guns Clothing, I speak to many women gun owners, and those who are considering their first firearm. They’ll sometimes tell me about a negative experience they had at their local gun shop or shooting range. Most stories usually involve humiliation, strong-arming and being talked down to — a horrible thing for a potential customer looking to spend money to have to go through.

Most retailers I’ve spoken with cite a lack of knowledge and training on how to approach female customers and how to sell with sensitivity. For those who say sensitivity has no place in the firearms industry, it’s important to remember women are one of the fastest-growing segments of gun owners (and by default, buyers).

Moving Forward

If all of this has left you wondering where to begin attracting female customers, just remember: a secret weapon is at your disposal. Your mother, wife, daughter and many of their friends would be more than happy to come in and give their first impressions and unbiased opinions. Using these tips and their suggestions will go a long way toward increasing your retail sales this holiday season.

These are just loose guidelines; it’s business savvy to find solutions that still adhere to your core values and the mission of your company. With so many different purchasing options in this age of e-commerce, shoppers are looking for honesty and transparency, a relatable realness. By catering to female customers, you may inadvertently gain additional customers through positive, word-of-mouth referrals.

Cheers to a wildly successful Black Friday and Christmas!

Callie Wolverton is the PR and Corporate Partnerships Director for Girls with Guns Clothing.

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