Dust off those shelves. Coffee shops have a unique customer base that stands and waits patiently (we hope) for their lattes—and not selling merchandise is a lost business opportunity. Calculate the average length of time one coffee takes to make. Those minutes could be spent checking out your café’s merchandise instead of idly scrolling through Instagram feeds.

Many coffee shops do offer merchandise, but many don’t seem to be selling it well (dusty wares being the primary indicator). People have the right idea, yet the execution is incomplete. Done right, merchandise can do more than generate a steady stream of revenue; it can elevate your brand.

Below, we present how to merchandise your coffee shop in ways that sell and boost your image.

How to Merchandise a Café

Selling merchandise at your coffee house, and moving a lot of it, is contingent on a complete understanding of these three points:

  • Knowing your customer base.
  • Having a well-defined identity.
  • Coming up with a great plan.

What’s working for another coffee shop might not be right for yours, which is why the first two points are so important.

If your clientele is going to buy your merchandise, they must want it, and to know what they want, you must know your audience.

Sometimes, owners or managers are running a shop with an idyllic audience in mind, and miss the people standing right in front of them. Lifting the veil to see who your customers really are makes all the difference in sales. Once you know who is buying from you, you can pick out the right styles and objects to sell. In time, you will learn which merchandise works, and what needs to be discontinued. Use the sales reports generated by your coffee shop POS system to make sure you capitalize on popular pieces.

It’s not all about the customer—your brand is just as important. Customers are choosing your café over others, and any merchandise they buy should be a happy reminder of your coffee shop.

The perfect merchandise merges the audience with the brand’s identity in easy-to-shop product lines. Here are some ideas for coffee shop merchandise that are ever popular:

  • Bags of Branded Coffee
  • Travel Mugs
  • T-shirts
  • Hoodies
  • Decals

Make Money with Your Merchandise

Now you know what type of merch to sell—it’s time to put a money-generating plan into play. Here’s how:

1. Display small and cheap items as close to the register as possible. These grab-and-go sections are commonly found in big-box retailers like Sephora and Bed Bath & Beyond. The item is so inexpensive and so conveniently placed that customers purchase them out of impulse.

2. Save your pricier merchandise for the counter where customers pick up their coffees. They will need more time to mull over the product, and this location is the perfect spot for that.

3. Merchandise can be split into two categories: products with your name and those without, but which are still supporting your brand. The second category can be as important as the first.

For reference, think of Starbucks. Before 2015, all locations sold Starbucks’ products, and then there were the CDs. Today, the company has a partnership with Spotify, even though the brand image is a monster coffee shop company, not a music label.

Music is a savvy branding move. Starbucks uses music as a way to connect with their customers and bring something special to an ordinary coffee experience. The company even employs two in-house music curators.

Self-described “music nerd” Holly Hilton explains how she and her colleague David Legry make their selections, “It’s really personal. A lot of what we program is what we would consider those recommendations that we have for friends. We want our customers to walk in and have a ‘What’s that song?’ moment.”

With music, Starbucks builds a well-rounded experience for their audience. Products without your logo should also add value to your customer experience, as well as reinforce your company DNA.

4. Switch up merchandise that has your logo and offer limited supplies. Depending on the seasons, bring out different selections, like shirts for spring and summer, and hoodies for fall and winter. Don’t change your best-selling item; instead, offer varieties of the same product. If you launch different types of t-shirts or hats, keep things fresh by changing the design and color, and then throw in an older version periodically to keep your customers’ interest peaked.

5. Don’t buy in too much volume. You want to avoid selling the same merchandise year-round, and you definitely don’t want merchandise taking up valuable inventory space. Keep volumes low enough to keep profits high and high enough that you maintain good supply levels.

6. Remove all items collecting dust. Not only do they convince customers to not buy them, they’re not making you any money. Pull it off the shelf and try again later. If the item still doesn’t sell, cut your losses and replace it with merchandise that will.

7. Avoid having frequent or long-lasting sale periods. Your merchandise has value, and extended sales give customers the wrong impression.

8. Keep things fresh and new. Change the displays and the merchandise, and check sales reports for patterns. Certain items will sell more at certain periods of the year than others.

Use these eight tips to merchandise your coffee shop the right way; by boosting your sales and brand identity.

From giving a better customer service experience to managing sales reports, see how helpful a coffee shop point of sale can be.