Original article published in November 2017 ASTRA’s Toy Times Magazine.
C & A Scientific is the maker and supplier of lab products to medical, science education, and retail customers around the world. Their children’s educational product line, My First Lab®, delivers real microscopes, science kits, experiment sets, and more to help kids discover, learn, and grow.
Matt Swain from C & A Scientific, manufacturer member of ASTRA, offer insights to retailers on how they can generate more revenue from science products and get customers excited about the fun of scientific discovery!
1. Host a STEM or a Hands-On Science Night at Your Store! Customers love getting involved and parents are always looking for something fun for the whole family. Plan monthly science nights where they can participate in hands-on experiments, look through microscopes, and experience the fun of scientific discovery with products you carry. Make sure you offer discounts and promotions on the products you showcase, and advertise the event in flyers, bag inserts, in your emails, social media, and more! Need ideas? Ask your science product sales rep.
2. Use Colorful Point of Purchase Displays that Grab Attention and Move Product from Your Sales Floor and Out the Door. Science is fun – and your merchandise displays should be too! Ask your manufacturers or vendors if they have a display program available and be specific about your store requirements on space, plan-o-grams, and high traffic areas. The more we know, the better we can help supply displays to fit your needs.
3. Go Beyond the Box with Product Signs and Flyers. Manufacturers typically have marketing materials from trade shows, sales meetings, etc., so take advantage of any promotional materials we have! Placing a well-designed product flyer or sign on an aisle or end cap will not only draw attention, but better help the customer understand what’s included with the science kit and best product features.
4. Buy Extra Demo Product. Seeing is believing. Always purchase an extra experiment kit, microscope, or science toy and display it proudly next to the product. Create a demo station next to the register so you can see how kids and parents interact with the product (and so you can keep an eye on open product). Some manufacturers have promotions on demo product, or have refurbished items available to help you save on cost.
5. Better Together: Buy and Sell in Bundles. Not only can you sometimes work out a better deal when you buy higher product volume, manufacturers often have pre-made kits and package discounts they can offer, giving you and your customers a wider variety of science products. Don’t forget to pass the savings along to your customers for added value!
6. Use Lifestyle Photos, Videos, and Descriptions. Ask the manufacturer for product information, descriptions, and lifestyle product photos they can share with you. Use these on your website, in your catalogs, in emails, and social media to help promote.
7. Invite Your Supplier to Your Store, Trade show, or Event to Help Demo Product. They know the product best, and chances are, they can help teach you better ways to talk about, show, and sell the product. Plus, we love seeing our science products in the hands of kids, the excitement on their faces, and how they interact with it.
8. Have Science Products for All Ages. It’s easy to only focus on elementary school age when considering science products or toys. Don’t forget about the value of offering REAL scientific products used by the pros that are designed for kids in elementary through high school. Having experiment kits, microscopes, and science sets targeted for every age range will help you cast a wider net and reach more customers.
9. Partner with Local Schools, Science Clubs, and Youth Groups. Go where your customers are. Meet with teachers, principals, club sponsors, youth leaders – anyone who will listen – to learn how you can help support their efforts and lesson plans. If a science fair is coming up or you know a grade is focusing on a specific science lesson, offer the school discounts (and buy in bulk to save even more from your supplier) on lab supplies and accessories. Youth groups are always looking for ways for their kids to learn beyond the classroom, plus it’s a great way for you get coupons in front of your target audience. Reports show that 8 out of 10 teens are interested in science, but lack the right engaging opportunities, guidance, and mentors to learn more.
10. Stay Connected to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math). Schools, manufacturers, large retailers, educators, and even the US Government are all focused on STEM. Retail sales reports show that STEM product sales are growing – $576 million has been reported in the US. In February 2017, the Federal Government signed two laws focused on science programs. Plus, schools are adopting Next-Generation Science Standards that focus on interactive scientific discovery through hands-on student learning. Some schools have dedicated labs and educators focused solely on STEM-based education and programs. Let them know you can be a product resource for them.
11. BONUS TIP: Focus on High-Quality, STEM-Inspired Products, and Accept Nothing Less. Ask your suppliers how their products support science. Too often, vendors slap a STEM label on a product that hasn’t been vetted or doesn’t really apply to a true scientific method or learning. Be the store that only offers real science products. Parents are serious about buying real STEM products – and you should be serious about selling them.