Educating your staff can supercharge your smoke + vape accessories sales. Learn how to turn your employees into smoke product experts.
It’s no secret that the smoking and vape accessories industries are at a major take-off point -- it’s just a matter of time. It might be 5 years, it might be 10, but any store that makes sure to be ready will reap huge, life-changing business benefits. One place to start is with the people you hire.
Though still a nascent industry, many smoking accessory retailers in major cities are requiring previous industry experience from their new hires as a requisite for employment. In theory, prior experience is essential so that employees can offer instruction and demos to customers about the latest and greatest vaporizer (and other trending) products on the market.
Occasionally, the sophisticated design of new vape products makes the instruments appear to be more complicated than they really are --especially those who are used to the paper-and-pipe of tobacco and dispensaries.
Educate Your Employees Like the Big Retailers Do
Unless employees actively vape (or e-cig) on their own time with a variety of new vessels, it's hard to expect that they'll start the job with expert knowledge. If you’re an owner with smoke accessories sales experience from the pre-vape days, it’s also not always easy to stay on top of everything there is to know about the explosion of new products on the market – or how to care for advanced smoke accessories in a manner that extends their life and elicits the best pulls of mist.
While shop owners are the first line of defense regarding the education of their employees and subsequent customers, this can be a big time workload impediment to scaling up sales quickly. There are now training platforms and tactics that streamline the process for shop owners so employees can get up and running fast with on-trend product (and keep your sales humming). Here are four ways indie retailers can bring their employees up to speed quickly and provide their customers with smokes as well as smarts.
1. Training Videos
An iPhone recording is so last decade. Companies such as Grovo produce high-quality how-to internal training materials on commission. (Grovo has even had a dispensary as a client.) The simple video series’ reinforces employee knowledge with step-by-step guides that make learning essential tools of the trade effortless and simple. To supplement this, also request training and educational materials from the brands you intend to stock in your shop as a requisite for taking them on.
2. Up Your Collateral Game
As a low-cost traditional alternative to videos, instructional manuals are still the way to go -- as long as they’re not from 2001 (or even 2012). If you don’t have an in-house marketing team, farm this out to freelance copywriters and designers. Just visit elance.com or similar sites, collect freelancer’s portfolios, and you’ll be set. The other option is hiring a dedicated digital advertising agency that can take care of all facets of the project under one central umbrella. This also a great opportunity to modernize your visual aesthetic by going beyond your inner circle.
3. On-Site Product Demos
Taking a cue from the beer, liquor, and fashion industries, salespeople themselves can do a lot to provide onsite training of a particular product. Even better, ask the smoke accessories brands that you carry to do demos on-site at your shop (just like those tables of artisan cheese cubes with toothpicks all over Whole Foods). Promote and set these up whenever bringing in new product. Now that you’ve educated your salespeople, they can conduct on-premise trainings, present collateral, and offer on-call assistance not just to the customer but the shop owner, and entire staff of the owner’s business.
4. A Concierge Approach to Recurring Sales
Customers with large orders or specific tastes should have their very own salesperson or ‘personal shopper’ assigned to their account. Want to increase your smoke shop sales? This type of consultative, educational approach leads to longer-term client relationships and more frequent purchases.
In addition to boosting sales and large subsequent stock re-orders, this all strengthens the relationship between the shop, wholesaler, and your customers - ensuring longstanding partnerships over time. Everyone’s happy. All you have to do now is make sure you’re stocked deep enough with the right products – a.k.a. a good problem to have.
Want more expert advice like this? Meet hundreds of vendors and sit in on dozens of free retail strategy sessions at the next Culture+ at ASD, the largest wholesale smoking accessories trade show in the U.S., in Las Vegas. Get your free ticket here.
Article By Lauren Cannon