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Shooting Industry December 2011 Digital Edition - Page 30

Arms Arms and the woman Lisa Parsons-Wraith New Breed Of Female Shopper Will Change Your Sales Game T his is the informaguns picked out and say, tion age — and that ‘Will you guide me on what is never more evident is the best one?’” than in the way people shop. These women know what In the past, the majorthey want, and Whitlock says ity of gun enthusiasts came it is important to listen to them. from a rural background, Many women have exwhere going hunting and pressed frustration about gofishing was a way of life. ing into a store with a parToday, rural traditions are ticular gun in mind and the fading, and a new breed of staff trying to talk them into shooters is emerging from a gun the salesperson thinks cities and suburbs. is best. Not every woman Many new shooters have who walks into your store is absolutely no intention of a novice shooter. If it’s clear a harvesting game. They view woman has done her research shooting as a fun and difand wants a particular gun, ferent pastime, not a means The Internet is a major source of information for today’s shooter. “There’s been a by all means sell it to her, and of putting food on the table. tremendous increase in the knowledge customers have,” said Mark Whitlock of respect her decision just like They’re interested in shooting Mark’s Outdoor Sports in Birmingham, Ala. you would a man’s. simulation, target shooting Customer service is key, and gun games for the sheer fun of the sport. Whitlock says he encourages his em- according to Whitlock. The Internet is the main source of in- ployees to use the Internet as a research tool. “If you give a woman a bad experience in formation for this type of shooter. Before “I tell them if they’re not sure about your store, she will tell her husband he’s not they even walk into your store, they’ve something, it’s better to look it up,” he said. allowed to shop there anymore. So you’re spent hours on websites reading about guns Many new shooters still come to losing more than just one customer,” he said. they’re interested in and comparing prices. Mark’s Outdoor Sports unsure of exactly Women will also tell their friends “There’s been a tremendous increase what to buy and looking for advice, but how they were treated in a particular in the knowledge customers have,” said Whitlock says several of his female rec- store, so you want to do everything you Mark Whitlock of Mark’s Outdoor Sports reational shooters come in knowing ex- can to get a positive review from your in Birmingham, Ala. “They almost have actly what they want. customers. The key, Whitlock says, is a more access to research than we do be“They’ve been on the Internet do- friendly environment women feel comcause they can spend hours on a product.” ing research,” he said. “They have three fortable in. The website,, lists the types of guns Mark’s carries, and offers links to the manufacturers Web pages for information and specs. There are also photos of Mark’s Outdoor Sports events and staff. Whitlock says your Internet customer service is as important as in-store customer service. “You need to offer good customer service,” he said. “If you offer your email address to your customers, then answer them. Cut it off if you have no intention of answering.” This is an excellent point. If you offer an email address or phone number, then you need to provide the best customer service possible. Nothing is more frustrating to a customer than hearing a phone ring endlessly or writing an email that is never answered. If Your Web Statement hat does your website say about your store? Your website is often the first impression a potential customer will have of your business. Is it cluttered and disorganized? Can people find the information they need easily? Are you using it for sales or as an informational tool? If you haven’t looked at your website recently, go online and check it out. You may find it needs to be updated or redesigned to truly reflect your business. Mark’s Outdoor Sports used to operate a sales-based website, according to Whitlock. He says they shut it down because it was more time-consuming than profitable. “Now it’s not a sales tool, but an informational tool,” Whitlock said. W “ Internet customer service is as important as in-store customer service. If you offer your email address to your customers, then answer them. Read SI DIGITAL 30 • NEW BUSINESS YEAR SUPER ISSUE 2012 ” Continued on page 32

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