Any Way You Slice It

3 Steps To Boost Knife Sales

By Pat Covert

In a highly competitive firearms market savvy brick-and-mortar retailers know the value of
secondary sales, and many turn to cutlery to give their bottom line an added boost.

You’d be hard pressed to find a firearms user who doesn’t use a knife or tool to get them through a day at the range (or while exercising their right to carry). The burgeoning cutlery industry stands ready to oblige the needs of these customers.

Like firearms, knives and tools should fit the user’s preferences, and many cutlery users prefer to shop in a store (vs. online) because they can actually handle the product and get the “tactile feel” before buying — plus they can walk out with their chosen product immediately following the purchase.
Are you earning your slice of this lucrative market? This month, we enlisted three experienced industry professionals to help explain how they help retail storeowners make the secondary sale of a knife or tool both easier and quicker.

CRKT/Ruger knife display

Step 1: Get Knives Noticed

Quite simply, if your customer can’t find your store’s cutlery products the chance of a secondary sale decreases drastically. Tiffany Hopp, trade marketing manager for Gerber Gear suggests displaying your knives in close proximity to firearms.

“We know firearms are a main driver for consumers’ in-store visits, so merchandising knives near these high-traffic areas is key,” she shared. “Each retailer is different — providing solutions for all scenarios gives a manufacturer an advantage over competitors who do not provide these solutions. Making it simple to acquire is also key: At Gerber it’s as simple as requesting the display.”

Hopp advises dealers should look for solutions that provide merchandising in all locations of a store. (Gerber provides under glass, on the wall and freestanding options.)

Andrew Yates, senior director of sales and marketing for Ontario Knife Company, outlines an aggressive strategy.

“Knife sales may be largely secondary for firearms retailers, but retailers have the opportunity to bring in more traffic by advertising to knife buyers separately from gun buyers. Identify and pursue both markets to expand reach.”

In other words, make your store a destination for knife buyers as well as firearms. Compared to the number of firearms retailers, brick-and-mortar cutlery outlets are few and far between. Make your retail store the place to buy knives in you area.

Matt Griffey, Bear & Son Cutlery VP adds, “Knives represent a great item to be stocked in all firearm stores, as these tools are used for personal protection and are margin items that can bring 40–50 percent profit. Knives take up a very small footprint in the store, leaving more space for other accessories or firearms without sacrificing loss of profits.”

Böker Plus urban trapper tanto

Step 2: Knowledge Creates Sales

Just as you expect your sales staff to have knowledge of the firearms you sell, take the time to educate them on your knife and tool offerings.
“Selling knives might feel overwhelming, but it is not complicated,” Griffey explained. “Our sales force is well trained, and committed to educate dealers on knife terminology, the different types of steel and their benefits and to help you understand the general task each knife was designed to perform.”

Most manufacturers will be glad to have a representative visit your store for sales training and also offer videos online for individual training if you prefer. Some even have a section of their catalog and website devoted to educating their customers about a variety of subjects such as blade styles, varieties of steel and locking mechanisms

Ontario’s Yates lends, “A retailer’s personal knowledge of their customers is what sets them apart from major national or online retailers. End users tend to be knowledgeable about knives ahead of their purchase.”

As a growing number of consumers conduct research online at home, it’s crucial retailers stay attuned to their customers’ needs and interests. Maintaining a relationship with manufacturers and area reps affords retailers the opportunity to capture sales with products and marketing geared specifically toward the local market and consumer.

Emerson balisong

Cold Steel Bush Ranger

Step 3: View Manufacturers As Partners

Every manufacturer worth their salt has a multitude of ways to partner with retail customers to help them increase their sales. The more ways they can partner with your store the better chance you both will profit from cutlery sales. There are many ways a manufacturer can assist you in spicing up your sales.

“Absolutely; assisting our retailers helps,” Kopp shared. “It’s the simple things from ad templates, collateral and digital assets, to the work we do internally to create the demand for the brand. Our goal is to push consumers into our retail partners and request product. Also, each market is different — and we work directly with each partner to provide assets specific to his or her needs. Gerber provides custom sales programs on a quarterly basis along with buy-in packages for all levels of dealers across all channels. Entry is made simple, support is offered through physical and digital assets.” Kopp also informed Gerber maintains a field team available for training and in-store support.

Ontario’s Yates adds, “When available, we have participated in events and giveaways with retailers. In addition we offer posters, stickers and stands for in-store display. Retailers are going to promote the items where they have higher sales and margins — it’s our job as manufacturers to make sure our products fit that description. We do it with a MAP policy to protect margins and with high quality products attractive to a variety of customers.”

Bear & Sons’ Griffey details their company program. “Knives should be displayed where the consumer can clearly find them, and an area with good lighting. Manufacturer display cases, countertops and shelves are a few ways to store and organize your knife inventory. We offer two styles of packaging to accommodate different display demands — one is a clamshell packaging allowing the knives to be stored from a hook on the walls, and the other is in boxes for easy storage and inventory. Bear & Son Cutlery also offers displays to our dealers. We also advertise nationally in most popular firearm and hunting magazines and recommend store owners use flyers, lawn signs, social media posts and radio spots to promote their shop and any sales.”

As you can see here from our panel, there are many resources at your disposal to help you add spice to your bottom line. Take the time to see what fits you and your staff best to become better equipped at making knife and tool sales quicker and easier.

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