Why Sell Branded Merchandise?
Selling merchandise that showcases your coffee shop branding can drive extra income for your business in two key ways.
First, you receive a profit from the sale of each branded item you offer.
Second, those branded items provide automatic advertising for your coffee shop when customers use or wear your merchandise out in the world where other potential customers will see them.
The result is a moving billboard with your business name that can travel to places you may never have thought to advertise.
PRO TIP: If you haven’t done so already, create a recognizable, wearable logo for your coffee shop. For example, customers immediately associate the Starbucks® mermaid and the Blue Bottle Coffee bottle logo with those brands.
Whichs Items Should You Offer?
General merchandise ideas include items on which you can find branding from any business, not necessarily a coffee-related company. The main benefit of these items is that they can appeal to customers seeking a simple, distinct item to purchase rather than a coffee-centric item.
Some examples of popular general merchandise items include:
- Hats: You can easily add your logo to the many varieties of this item — from trucker hats and baseball caps to wool beanies.
- T-Shirts: Adding your logo or business name to a T-shirt can provide an effective marketing tool — especially well-designed versions.
- Tote Bags: These items make great options because people can use them everyday vs. a T-shirt they may wear once a week at most.
- Stickers: From bumper stickers to stickers people can place on a water bottle or computer, these long-lasting logos make popular impulse buys.
PRO TIP: The design of your merchandise matters because customers are more likely to buy a T-shirt or bag with an interesting decal or logo than just a business name. If you have any creatively inclined employees, consider holding a logo competition and let them develop a design that represents your business and its people.
For coffee businesses, any merchandise customers can use to make or consume your coffee also make ideal choices. Here are several coffee-related items to consider:
- Manual Brew Equipment: Consider a collaboration with the manufacturer of your favorite manual brew method. If it’s not possible to add your logo or business name to their product, selling their items in your shop can still help you drive additional profits with coffee-centric offerings.
- Instant Coffee: Instant coffee recently made a comeback in third-wave coffee circles. If you roast your own coffee, developing an instant version can provide a fun and popular merchandise idea. Alternatively, consider collaborating with your coffee roaster to create your own branded, instant coffee product.
- Koozies: One of the cheapest merchandise ideas, these insulated sleeves can help you cut down on disposable java jackets while still promoting your brand.
- Thermoses and Water Bottles: Both offer an easy way to increase your brand presence while reducing the use of disposable cups.
- Mugs: One of the most popular merchandise ideas for coffee shops, mugs of any type usually sell well. These inexpensive vessels make an ideal choice for customers seeking a gift or souvenir.
PRO TIP: Offering customers a discount for the purchase and use of a thermos can give them an incentive to buy your merchandise and keep coming back.
More creative merchandise options can entice customers looking for gift ideas or an unusual memento from your shop. Here are a few ideas to consider:
- Playing Cards: Several brands in and out of the coffee world offer playing cards adorned with their logo, creating another customer favorite.
- Enamel Pins: Never Coffee Lab in Portland, Ore., features these inexpensive pins in its bags of coffee as a freebie.
- Postcards: A creative spin on the traditional business card, branded postcards make an aesthetically pleasing item that encourages customers to use them for mailing purposes or home decoration.
Best Ordering Practices
Now that you have some merchandise ideas for your shop, keep these tips in mind before you start ordering:
- Do your (online) homework. Shopping around online is a good first step. Unless you want to keep your sourcing local, you can usually find the best deals online.
- Plan for repeat orders. Find a screen printer that will save your design and logo for your next merchandise order. This will save you time and money in future.
- Start small. Carefully review vendors’ order minimums as you place your first round of merchandise orders because you don’t know the volume you will sell. Purchase a smaller amount of each item until you know your bestsellers.
- Sizes matter. When ordering any type of clothing, do a little research on how many different sizes of each item you should offer. That information will help you determine how many items of each different size to include in your order.
Best Pricing Practices
Your location will impact the cost you pay for your merchandise as well as the price you should charge customers to make a profit. When calculating your cost to order each item, be sure to factor in screen printing and shipping fees to reach the correct total. When pricing your merchandise for sale, multiplying your total cost for each item by 2.5 should provide a reasonable, yet profitable price point.
In addition, be sure to explore the merchandise offered by other coffee shops and restaurants in your area to compare pricing. This should not only give you an idea of which items sell well locally but also how much customers will pay for them.
Merchandising your business offers a fun, creative way to encourage customers to carry your brand into the world. With these ideas and best practices, you can start the process of developing branded products your customers will love.