How To Grow Sales of Indoor Merchandise

by : 

Megy Karydes

February 22, 2016
Marketing Mondays - How To Grow Sales of Indoor Merchandise

For many of us, winter is not over. Yet, the days are getting longer and the bitter cold days are fewer and far between. Spring is around the corner, and there is no better time for independent retailers to think about how your indoor products can do double duty as outdoor décor through merchandising and subtle suggestions.

Consumers stuck indoors are suffering cabin fever and already plotting their escape. Baby Boomers with more time on their hands are scheduling play dates with friends. Casual entertaining has become so popular that there are entire television shows and books on how to entertain in a pinch—which is why products that can do double duty are in great demand.

Scan your merchandise to see which can withstand the outdoor elements. Items need not need to be completely rain- or wind-proof if they’re not going to be outside 24/7, but do an inventory of what indoor merchandise can spruce up the outdoors. For the longest time I had a beautiful lamp indoors that used a candle for light (it was decorative), so I hung it outside during the summer months and it brought me joy to see it in a new light (pun intended). It made me appreciate my lamp even more knowing it could make me happy year round.

Outdoor living has become more popular as many people try to extend the living space of their home and turn their back to screen time, seeking the solace and tranquility only nature can offer. For those with smaller footprints, it allows them to cater parties they wouldn’t be able to do indoors.

How can retailers seize the outdoors?

Consider which indoor items will not only withstand the elements but also colors that will pop outdoors—from pillows and tablecloths to serving pieces.

Another way to consider your options is to think about items that are typically outdoors that can be brought indoors once the season ends, such as wind chimes and outdoor artwork or garden accessories, small garden statues, and even planters.

In terms of merchandising, set the stage. Help your customers visualize the idea of using the same items in side-by-side merchandising displays. Showcase a wind chime alongside a tabletop water fountain and potted plant at the front of your store and use that same wind chime in another area next to items that show it being used in a nook inside a home.

Add to the suggestive selling by asking leading questions when your customers come in: “Planning any parties outdoors once the weather improves?” Or, ask them how they make indoor items work outdoors—not only will you be engaging your customers in conversation but you might get some good display ideas!

How to market your indoor products as outdoor merchandise

Make indoor/outdoor merchandising a fun experience for you and your customers. Invite customers to come to the shop on a Saturday morning and play “merchandising manager.” Give them free reign of the store to grab items and create their own outdoor display using items typically used indoors. Take pictures of all the displays and post them on a social media platform like Facebook and ask your customers to choose the winner. A possible prize for the winner with the most likes is a $10 gift certificate to be used toward one of the items in their display. This will get people excited about entertaining outdoors and give them great ideas, too!

Outdoor entertaining isn’t about pushing product. It’s really about promoting a lifestyle. Be a resource for your customers, and let them know you’re there for more than just a unique gift. Retailers can share ideas of great ways to enjoy the outdoors using marketing resources like media outreach (offer to do a segment on the air on how to change your indoor products into a fun outdoor party), email newsletters (share tips and ideas on how to host a fun outdoor party), and social media (post photos of beautiful settings).

Megy Karydes helps small businesses harness their marketing power. She’s also a freelance writer whose work has appeared in The Atlantic’s CityLab, Midwest Living magazine and Chicago Tribune, among others. Find her at