As you may already know, there's more that goes into selling merch than just lugging a bin of t-shirts into your show. You went through all of the effort to get merchandise printed, so why not make the most of it? Here are some tips to help you sell merchandise, keep it organized, and give your fans an experience while you do it.
1. Create a cool and unique way to display your merch
Think of your merch table as a storefront window. While it's not the absolute most important aspect of merchandise (if someone just wants to buy a t-shirt from you, they may do it regardless), it does set you apart from other bands. So get creative! Some of my favorite merch table displays have included t-shirts hung up inside of guitar cases, display screens with live footage or other creative material, even stringing Christmas lights and other decorations around the table. That table is yours to use, so take a bit of time to plan how to best utilize your space. Everyone at the show will stop by just to see what the hell is going on over there!
2. Stay organized
This part is important for saving both time and sanity. With different t-shirt designs, styles, colors, and sizes, if you don't have a system set up you could spend 20 minutes fulfilling each order. Different systems work for different bands, but there are a few efficient ideas I've seen over the years. One is to roll up each individual shirt and put a piece of masking tape around it. On the piece of tape, write the shirt design and the size. You could even separate each design by bin, so you only need to write the size. This makes it easy to grab the size you need, plus you can also store tons of shirts this way (time and space efficient!). Another idea is to get plastic stackable drawers, each one designated for a different size. When a size-medium fan asks what shirts you have available, you just open the drawer and the options are right in front of you! As long as everything has a place, it'll be easy to find what you're looking for, especially when you're pressed for time.
It's a great thing when a fan wants to give you money to wear a piece of merchandise with your band name on it. So what's worse than running out of merchandise at a show when fans are eager and willing to make a purchase? In order to prevent this from happening, you have to be sure to keep track of inventory. We've put together an inventory sheet for you to print and use behind the table! When you see that a certain design, size, or color is getting low, do a re-order with us. (Did you know that when you re-order shirts, since we already have the screens, you don't have to pay a set-up fee or worry about resending us artwork?) On this sheet, you'll see what you came to the show with, what you left with, and how much money you should have in the cash box. Download your inventory sheet here: Click Here
4.Build your mailing list
You want to allow the fans you make at shows to keep in touch with you; this is how you build up a following. However, you can't grow your fan base if you have no way to contact your new fans about upcoming shows, releases, or news. Take advantage of your merch table and the people that visit it by building up your mailing list. Even a simple clipboard with a form for collecting contact info will do the trick! I've seen bands that have traded the clipboard for a laptop, leaving it on their table with a page open for fans to input their info. Regardless of your means for collecting the information, the most important aspect is to make sure you're pro-active with your list. Go around the room asking people to sign up for your mailing list. Before you know it, you'll have an entire audience waiting for your updates!
5.Keep it personal
Use your merch table as a home base for your fans to interact with you. The more band members you have present, the better! When you take the time to be personal, building a relationship with the audience at a show, you're more likely to make a lasting impression on potential fans. Who wouldn't rather buy a t-shirt from a band they support, not only musically, but because you're great people? Stay connected with your fans and use your merch table as a resource to do it.