Selling Accessories To Women


Noemi Skok says, in general, women are more willing to look at different categories of accessories than men.

With the increase in women purchasing firearms comes a corresponding increase in women wanting to buy accessories. Whether you define “accessories” as only things you hang on a gun or as anything a customer purchases associated with shooting, sales to women can represent significant income.

Recognize Key Differences In How Women Shop

“Women look at details,” said Sarah Parkhurst, director of business operations at Ann Arbor Arms in Ann Arbor, Mich. “They want to do more than just window shop. They want to try things on, find out how they fit and know how they feel. They’re very detail- oriented.”

Obviously, this applies to more than just things you attach to a gun; this applies to anything shooting-related women purchase.

Men, on the other hand, may have done a lot more research before they walk into the store to buy. They often walk in, say, “This is what I want,” and go straight to the register.

Certainly, these differences apply to shopping for accessories as well as shopping for guns.

“When it comes to accessories, women want to feel the difference between, say, several holsters or other items,” Parkhurst said.

When Parkhurst shops at her favorite (non-gun) stores, she tends to make a lot of impulse purchases.

“I go in thinking I’m looking for one thing, and then I impulse buy a lot of other things because it’s a good deal, or it’s the only one,” she explained. “I’m very impulsive with that sort of thing. But in the shooting sports world, men are more impulsive than women. Women think through what they need, how something is going to help them the most, how it’s going to make them feel the safest or how it’s going to make them the most responsible gun owner.”

Men are more inclined to make impulse purchases for other reasons, Parkhurst said.

“They might look at an optic and think they need it because it’s a bad-to-the-bone optic and it’s cool, new and shiny,” she suggested.

Men and women approach the entire process of purchasing accessories differently from one another, Parkhurst said. Men do a lot of research beforehand, so they have a good idea what they’re looking for and at. Women would rather discuss a product with someone. But there’s a caveat.

”Women look at details, they want to do more than just window shop. They want to try things on, find out how they fit and know how they feel. They’re very detail oriented.”

Sarah Parkhurst, Director of Business Operations Ann Arbor Arms, Ann Arbor, Mich.

“Women don’t want to be ‘man-splained,’” Parkhurst said. “They want to know the ins and outs of everything, but they don’t want things explained differently because they’re women and they definitely don’t want to be talked down to. Women want to relate to other women, and they want to talk about what their experience has been and what brought them here, which most of the time is self-defense.”

Noemi Skok and her husband own Gun Shack in Helotes, Texas. She noted two types of female customers come into their store.

“I have two types of female customers,” Skok said. “One is the woman who, for some reason, feels the need to arm herself suddenly. The other is the one who does a lot of research before she comes in, so she knows what she wants. So, they either come in with no knowledge, and we guide them through their purchase, or they come with a very specific idea of what they want.”

According to Skok, women also tend to be more conservative than men when it comes to spending money on firearms and accessories.

“With some men, the sky is the limit,” she noted. “Women are a little more budget-minded.”

Skok likes color, so she has started bringing in more guns and accessories in pink, purple and turquoise.

“If some customers don’t want that, it’s okay, but I know there are women out there who like those colors,” she said. “It gives them the option. If they want a GLOCK in black, they can get it, but if they want a GLOCK in purple we have as well.”

Do These TWO Things To Sell Effectively

Taking the above into consideration, Parkhurst maintains retailers need to do two things to sell accessories to women more effectively.

First, they need to invest in visual merchandising.

“Visual merchandising is the key to selling accessories to women,” she said. “Visual merchandising has to make sense and be appealing to the eye. Humans, in general, have an eight-second attention span, so visual merchandising has eight seconds to grab someone’s attention.”

Products must be clean and displayed in a way that makes people want to pick them up and learn more about them.

And second, if your frontliners are men, educate them as to how to interact with women.

“Talk to them and let them talk to you like you have known each other forever,” Parkhurst instructed. “We make a point of treating everyone like family. When they come in, we want to know what their name is, what their story is — especially if they’re a first-time gun owner — and what has brought them in. I think the reason women are so comfortable in our store is they know no matter what walk of life they’re from, we make everybody feel like family. They come back for that experience.”

“Products must be clean and displayed in a way that makes people want to pick them up and learn more about them.”

“She Wants To See Herself”

Miles Hall, senior advisor for Hall-N-Hall, said retailers need to fully understand the environment in which they’re operating to make the most of selling accessories — or anything else — to women.

“Retailers need to completely understand the clientele they’re selling to,” he said. “Demographically, you need to find out what your area is. Look at the ratio of men to women, and the ethnicity of the people who are there. Some retailers have no idea how diverse some of their areas are, and the only people they have working in the store are white men. That can be intimidating to other groups.”

Women want to talk to other women when they’re buying anything in a gun store, Hall added.

“When a woman walks in the door, she wants to see herself,” he said. “When a petite lady with four children comes in, she wants to see the exact same person in the store.”

In short: know your area and hire representative employees.

Value In Cross-Selling

Skok believes women are more willing to look at different categories of accessories than men are.

“We can cross-sell more easily to women than to men,” she said. “Sometimes it’s because men already have a specific idea of what they’re looking for, and sometimes it’s because they already have thousands of rounds of ammo in the caliber that they’re purchasing, so they don’t need to purchase any more.”

In general, Skok said it’s easier to accessorize female customers because they don’t tend to have all the items men have been purchasing for years.

“Men already have what they need; they just want the gun,” she said. “Women don’t have the specific knowledge of items that men do.”

Unfortunately, this also makes women more susceptible to unscrupulous sellers, Skok noted.

For Skok, selling accessories to women is more about taking a personalized approach to each customer than merchandising or displaying something particularly for the female shooter.

“We take a customized approach to every customer who comes in,” she said. “We greet them as soon as they come in the door. We ask them how we can help them and go from there. Every person is unique and has unique needs. It’s a very individual thing.”

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