Sell Fewer Guns.

This is how you get analysis paralysis.

I honestly think no one in firearms retail has ever heard of this study or what it means for their business.

In a now famous supermarket study only 3% of shoppers purchased jam when confronted with 24 varieties, while 30% purchased when given only 6. Although the 10 fold increase is interesting what fascinates me are the people not exposed by the raw data.

A good number of those 27% approached the jam section with a particular jam in mind. They knew what they wanted and went to purchase. However, the range of alternatives actually placed doubt in their mind. Was their normal choice of jam the best option available? Should they try something new? These questions created enough anxiety to actually stop them purchasing.

“Am I buying the right gun?” freezes up more first-time gun buyers than anything else. They know they don’t know exactly what makes a good first gun, and when faced with dozens and dozens of choices (and probably some really bad advice from gun store clerks), they go into vapor lock, succumb to analysis paralysis and then require extensive hand-holding and guidance in order to make a purchase.

This presents a problem because the margins on guns are so small that if your salesperson has to spend three hours (or more) over the course of a week or more explaining why Gun X is better than Gun Z, bam, there goes your profit margin. Also, as Tam says, you could toss a Gen5 Glock, an M&P, a P320, an FN 509, a Berretta APX, a CZ P10C and any one of a half-dozen or so other guns into a bag, randomly pull one out, and that gun will work just peachy for your typical gun store customer. The fact is, unless you’re talking aftermarket accessories, they’re really isn’t enough feature differentiation these days to make an influence the customer’s buying decision in any meaningful way.

Sell Glocks. Sell 2-3 “not Glocks,” a value brand (Taurus, etc) and maybe a higher-end brand “cachet” brand like the better SIGs and CZs. Repeat this idea up and down the caliber selection ladder and then turn the money you save on inventory (both guns AND accessories) and employee man-hours into making your store more friendly for today’s consumer.

This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. I think your tie-in from jams to striker fired pistols is apt. When I go to the store and look at the 37 jams, all I see is 37 versions of berry, grape, strawberry and orange. If I’m lucky apple and mint around the holidays. Like Tam said, you could put them all in a sack. Hard to say if any is “best”, except for personal taste.

  2. Also, wanna cut the analysis paralysis time in half?

    Don’t sell anything in .40 S&W, or if you do, keep it far, far away from the rest of your compact striker guns.

    Getting people into a G19-sized gun is bad enough, let’s not complicate things with talking them out of .40.

    1. Somehow, when my son went to purchase his first EDC pistol, he did not follow my sage and learned advice to buy a 9mm Parabellum pistol. He purchased a S&W Shield in .40 S&W. He is very happy with his choice and so am I.

  3. I’m not certain if the point of this short essay relates to minimizing man/hours (is that sexist) and maximizing profits in gun sales, or helping customers make a wise choice when selecting a first purchase of a handgun for every day carry. They are quite different.

    If you are a big-box store, then you probably want to carry them all, hundred of the various striker fired plastic pistols (most of them are good and some are excellent), and a few dozen steel pistols with exposed hammers. And you will also have one or two knowledgeable sales clerks, and a few dozen who have a little knowledge about firearms. You will make a lot of sales and some of your customers will be satisfied, but many will be unsatisfied and turn away from shooting and practice. They will stick that handgun in a drawer, along with a half-box of ammo and maybe never darken your door again. If they had made an informed decision with good guidance they might have made a purchase with which they are satisfied. Then they will shoot and practice and return for more ammo, accessories, and more handguns or long guns.

    If you are a mom and pop type store then I would recommend that you stock handguns with which you are familiar and would not hesitate to recommend to your friends and neighbors. You know what your customers want and you know what you get complaints about. You also know what you get good reports about. You remember when a customer or two tells you that he killed a coyote or a wild hog with that rifle you sold him a month ago. When another tells you that she killed a rattle snake in the yard with that .38 you sold her and that you can recommend it to her neighbor. Stock and sell the products that you would use. Also, please try to stock a wide variety of ammo. That’s one thing that folks in small towns and rural areas really need. Especially try to keep shotshells in handgun calibers.

    For those who are considering a first purchase of an edc handgun, I have other thoughts. Would anyone care to read them? If so, then I may write about them tomorrow. If not I may do so anyway.

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