Use Point-Of-Sale Connection For Additional Profits.
Competition among firearms dealers is fierce, especially with the well-documented “race to the bottom” pricing technique to move inventory — pinching profit margins and forcing retailers to look elsewhere to make up for the deficit. The accessory end of the handgun market presents a stable revenue stream for dealers, and it’s here where savvy retailers can make up for decreasing margins on firearms and add handsome profits to their bottom line.
Brick-and-mortar storeowners have the unique, overwhelming advantage of personal contact with their customers. Are you using this incredible benefit to its full potential? Beyond the realm of ammo sales, you have an excellent opportunity to enhance profits off a huge selection of accessories — including holsters and gun cases, magazines and loaders, aftermarket sights and lasers, plus range bags and concealment purses.
Thanks to an increase in women’s concealed carry, holster manufacturers have
responded with women-specific models. CrossBreed’s Women’s Appendix Holster
is designed for compact handguns, like the SIG P938, and has no cant.
Hogue Inc. recently announced a line of automatic retention carry holsters
for a variety of semiautos and revolvers. Most models can be configured for
straight, FBI angle or cross draw positioning and all feature a contoured,
low print profile.
The “In-Store” Advantage
In-store customer contact is your ace in the hole for added profits, but only if you use it to your best advantage: at the point of a firearms sale. This is when your handgun customers are in a buying frame of mind, but they may be so enamored with a new firearm they forget the ancillary items they’ll need so it meets their demands.
“By far our best opportunity to sell handgun accessories is at the point of sale,” said Clay Simmons, president of Simmons Sporting Goods in Bessemer, Ala. “Handgun accessory sales make up approximately 25 percent of our overall accessory transactions, so they’re extremely important to our bottom line.”
To capture your in-store advantage, it’s important to train your sales staff to ask questions pertinent to their purchase at the point of sale. If it’s for personal protection, will they need a concealed-carry holster or a safe for home storage? What about grips and lasers? For your women handgun owners, are they in need of a purse to carry their new gun safely? These are questions your sales staff can ask to get customers to think about their needs and how you can help them. Once they leave your store, you risk losing out on the opportunity to fulfill their accessory needs.
Another way to grow handgun accessory sales is to make sure you stock what your customers need. Facing tighter margins, it’s important for dealers to carry products to fit their customer demographic and in proper quantities. The fast pace in new product releases adds additional pressure for dealers to get their inventory right. A recent case in point: When the GLOCK 43 was introduced, a host of aftermarket manufacturers’ offerings — including holsters and lasers — were released simultaneously. In cases like this, Simmons listens to what customers are saying and observes what’s selling in his store.
“When new products come to market, we watch everything closely and, in order to respond to the needs of a customer quickly, we rely on purchasing from a distributor for a rapid turnaround,” Simmons said.
(Above) Select Smith & Wesson J-Frame models are now available with a
factory-installed LaserMax CenterFire laser. (below) Ideal for new handgun
customers, Birchwood Casey’s Shoot-N-C 12-inch handgun trainer target provides
instant feedback with each shot.
What Sells Best?
Simmons serves a large segment of tactical shooters, which impacts the offerings at his store.
“The biggest single selling accessory for us is a concealed-carry holster. Our top-selling styles include IWB, paddle, belt slide and push button polymer holsters,” he added. “We adjust our stock selection by looking at the most popular styles and factor in the best value for the money. Holster sizes are determined by what fits the most popular handguns. The brands we sell best are BLACKHAWK!, Tagua and Uncle Mike’s.”
Simmons notes extra magazines are still near the top of handgun accessory best sellers.
“Extra magazines are very important to handgun customers. However, many guns now come with two magazines so we’ve noticed there are fewer magazines sold at the point of sale. The few guns with one magazine present the best opportunity for add-on magazine sales, compared to guns with two or more. The best selling magazines for us are models for GLOCK, Smith & Wesson, Ruger, Springfield Armory and SIG SAUER handguns,” he said.
According to Simmons, advances in technology have prompted customers to purchase aftermarket optics, flashlights and lasers for their handgun.
“Optics and flashlights/lasers are important to a small but steadily growing group of handgun customers. Our biggest selling item in this category at the point of sale is a laser grip,” he added.
If you’re a Class 3 dealer, you’ll be encouraged by the growth of the suppressor market for additional handgun accessory sales. Handguns with threaded barrels are becoming more and more popular, with Springfield and S&W recently adding threaded barrels to the XD and M&P lines respectively. In addition, SilencerCo has partnered with XS Sights to produce suppressor sights on handguns.
At Simmons Sporting Goods, handgun accessory sales are frequently made at
the point of a firearms sale — where the customer is in a buying mood.
Create Your Business Plan
An overall game plan is critical to maximize your handgun accessories program. There are several reasons Simmons Sporting Goods has created a sizeable chunk of their accessory sales centered around their handguns.
“To optimize handgun accessory sales, the following factors are important: A sales staff that promotes the sale at the point of purchase, stocking the right products and keeping them in inventory, taking advantage of any special promotions being offered by a manufacturer and providing your customers with good selection, friendly service and fair pricing at all times,” Simmons said.
Profit margins are much more comfortable on handgun accessories than they are on firearms themselves. You can expect anywhere from 25 to 50 percent markups on the majority of accessories. Take a hard look at your handgun accessory line-up and make sure you’ve got all your bases covered. Is your stock current with the rapidly evolving trends in the industry? If not it may be time to blow out the old stock and bring in the new. With measured adjustments here and there, you may be surprised at how easily you can grow this segment of your business.
By Pat Covert