Dear Event Doctor: Selling merchandise at our events has been hit or miss. Sometimes we’re left with a significant inventory at the end, other times we’ve run out. What advice do you have on how to manage our merchandise? Just as important, how should we select a vendor when we don’t have a track record with them? —Worn Out
Dear Worn: The first question is why your merchandising results seem to vary. If it’s because your attendance varies widely from event to event, the answer is obvious. What will reveal the most is whether your per capita spend (the gross amount of revenue generated by merchandise divided by the number of attendees) is variable as well. It is important that the available products match the buying interests of the attendees. If your selection and price points meet the needs of the audience, it is likely that you will sell through most of your merchandise. Event organizers and their merchandising partners often set prices on the high side to cover the costs of unsold goods, logo licenses, outfitting points of sale and covering commissions. After all, once an event is over, there is little opportunity to sell remaining inventory. For this reason, products sold at events are often offered at prices well beyond those of a typical T-shirt, polo or windbreaker.
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The Event Doctor is sports-event veteran Frank Supovitz, president and chief experience officer of Fast Traffic Events & Entertainment, an event management and consulting firm. From 1992 to 2014, Supovitz served as the senior event executive for the National Football League and National Hockey League. He is also the author of “The Sports Event Management and Marketing Playbook.” Questions for The Event Doctor can be emailed to Frank Supovitz at firstname.lastname@example.org.