Museum Bookshop

Museum Merchandising: no more posters and postcards but let’s think about innovation

By now, every museum has a bookshop within the structure; museum bookshop managers must make the right decisions to achieve important goals, such as making the experience of the visit and the name of the museum unforgettable and generating a turnover. In this article you will discover how to set up museum bookshop management in an innovative way.

Which gadgets to choose

Before choosing the items and gadgets to be displayed in a bookshop, it is important to know what the target audience of visitors to the museum is and what are the motivations that lead a visitor to buy an object. Much also depends on the type of experience the visitor has had, if it was positive it is very likely that he or she will choose to buy a gadget that will remind him or her of it. In the past, cups and t-shirts branded with the museum’s logo, postcards and posters depicting the most significant works of the exhibition could have been fine, but today this is no longer the case. The most beautiful museum bookshops have innovative merchandising. Visitors are people who mostly surf the Internet with smartphones, tablets and laptops and are familiar with digital technology. They probably want to buy digital images that can be purchased in special sessions, which they can then print in the format they want: poster, postcard, t-shirt, mug, cloth bag.

The museum gadget must also be durable, because the aim of the museum bookshop is to remember for a long time the brand, the museum experience. A design object, which becomes part of the home or office furnishings, is an excellent idea because it will resist fashions and technological innovation, which could make a gadget that today is brand new old. The advice, therefore, is to focus both on innovation, i.e. on technological gadgets, and on the “evergreen” article, that tomorrow may become a cult object for enthusiasts. For this reason, a good idea is to create a “limited edition”, i.e. a section that exposes gadgets in limited numbers, which points to the urgency of the visitor not to miss the opportunity, but also invests on the future fate of the object, on the prospect of its rarity, which will make it a real cult object sought after by collectors.

Objectives of museum merchandising

One of the objectives of the additional services of the museum bookshop is surely to make people remember the name of the museum and the experience related to the visit. The brand must be taken away by the visitor, so that he can talk about it and maybe come back to visit the museum. The additional services, introduced by the Ronchey law, are museum bookshops but also cafeterias, audio guides, guided tours and ticket pre-sale. The number of bookshops is increasing and the turnover of additional services in Italy in 2017 was 37.8%.

The museum bookshop displays must take into account the innovation of merchandising, which in turn will target the smaller ones. The advice is to set up a corner of the bookshop for children, who visit the museum with their parents; it is in fact an item that has a great weight in the turnover of museum bookshops; it is also a way for parents to leave a good memory of the experience, which may not be easy, especially the first time. So interactive items that can’t be found anywhere else are welcome, which will intrigue the children and convince their parents to buy them a souvenir of the museum.

How to use the bookshop spaces

Previously we talked about a corner of the bookshop to be dedicated to children; in the same way you can decide to create a corner of the shop where to exhibit the “limited editions”, perhaps issued for a particular event or for a temporary exhibition. In museum bookshops it is also important to use special lights as well as a multimedia area: allowing to buy merchandising, directly from the official website, can be an interesting option for those who want to browse the entire catalogue of gadgets. The online shop must be the virtual projection of the physical space: it allows to increase exponentially the sales of gadgets, even those created ad hoc for past events and no longer present in the bookshop.