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Increase your Restaurant’s Profits by Selling Retail Merchandise

Diane Chiasson
by Diane Chiasson November 29, 2012
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With the holiday season fast approaching, now is the perfect time to start selling additional retail merchandise at your restaurant or foodservice operation, which would make ideal holiday gifts. This is also a great opportunity to show your creativity and your fun side. Selling retail and promotional items will also help you strengthen and enhance your brand and name, and of course, add to your sales.

Retail merchandise can also add to the visual merchandising elements in your operation, and it gives your customers an added dimension of service and something interesting to look at when they walk into your restaurant.

Make sure all the retail products you sell are prominently displayed in the front entrance area of your operation, are available for sale on your website, and that the prices are reasonable and affordable. Set up a display case, use tent cards, proper signage and POP materials to market your products. If you have a database of customers, use an email marketing campaign and send your customers a 10% coupon for the purchase of merchandise. Or give all your customers a 10% coupon to spend on your retail merchandise when you present them with their bill after their meal.

There is virtually no downside to selling retail products from your restaurant operation. Aside from the additional income it generates, each branded product you sell acts as free advertising for your restaurant, and if nobody buys anything, use the products as promotional gifts for upcoming specials and events.

Here are some ideas of different retail products that would be appropriate for a restaurant or foodservice operation:


1. Clothing/hats


T-shirts are a no-brainer. They are inexpensive to print and produce, and you can have a lot of fun designing them. Sell good quality colored T-shirts that simply feature your logo, or come up with funny slogans, images or characters. Be sure to include fitted T-shirts for women, as well as sizes for kids. If sales of T-shirts are successful, consider adding polo shirts, sweatshirts, hoodies, shorts and other clothing to your lineup. Hats are the best free advertising you can get for your restaurant operation. T-shirts can often be covered by jackets, but hats are on full display. They are an excellent marketing tool and also very inexpensive to produce.

2. Cookbooks

If your restaurant sells signature dishes or cocktails, or your chef is well known in the area, put together a cookbook with recipes that your customers would be able to replicate at home. Include lots of great photos of your food, and an interesting and informative history of your operation. Also include photos of yourself and your staff so that your faces become familiar to your customers. Familiarity breeds additional business, as your customers will feel more inclined to visit your restaurant repeatedly because they feel that they know you.

3. Mobile phone cases

Mobile phone cases are a huge fashion accessory, and people change them daily to match their outfits. Consider selling mobile phone cases emblazoned with your brand. Make them fun, colorful and youthful, as the targeted age market for these items would be the under 40 set.

4. Candy/Chocolates

Kids have great influence on deciding where the family will eat when they dine out. Selling candies and chocolates are a great way to lure kids into your restaurant. Once kids see that you sell candy, they are sure to declare to their parents that your restaurant is their favorite, and want to return again and again. Purchase a variety of candies and chocolates in bulk, and repackage in small bags. Get a label maker, and print fun and colorful labels with your brand/logo on it. Alternatively, set up a candy bar by selling fun and colorful candies out of large cookie jars and other vessels, and sell the candy by weight.

5. Your own food products

If your restaurant is famous for its desserts, consider setting up a small display case at the entrance of your restaurant and selling whole versions of your cakes or pies. You can also bottle your signature sauces or salad dressings, or flash freeze meals to sell as home-meal solutions.


© 2012 Chiasson Consultants Inc. All rights reserved.

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