CLICK: Ramping Up Revenue Online
With an online shop, attractions can expand their merchandise selection and go full tilt with marketing to entice guests and fans to purchase souvenirs, gifts, and unique branded products after their visit (or even before).
Funworld shares how several facilities found new profits by adopting and revisiting existing e-commerce to expand retail.
National Comedy Center
Jamestown, New York, United States
Although the National Comedy Center has had online retail since 2018, the pandemic spurred the museum to relaunch and rename its e-commerce entity as The Comedy Shop. The new shop has a broader assortment of merchandise and is a much more robust version of what the National Comedy Center had before. All the sales garnered from The Comedy Shop support the nonprofit museum.
“Shopping with us lets individuals support our mission and sustain a cultural institution that celebrates the art form of comedy,” says Journey Gunderson, executive director of the National Comedy Center.
Gunderson hopes the online shop will lead first-time customers to learn more about the museum and inspire a future visit.
“Beyond the actual dollars and cents we take in, The Comedy Shop acts like a marketing tool for our museums,” says Gunderson. (The National Comedy Center also operates the Lucille Ball Desi Arnaz Museum, which is a couple blocks away.)
Polka-dotted “I Love Lucy” masks, a puzzle of “The Golden Girls,” or a mug from “The Office” can all serve as great conversation starters and word-of-mouth marketing.
See how the National Comedy Center markets seasonal merchandise selections at comedyshop.com.
Knock Knock Children’s Museum
Baton Rouge, Louisiana, United States
At just three years old, Knock Knock Children’s Museum features a retail section in its lobby and an online shop. While the attraction remained closed at the start of 2021 out of an abundance of caution, the online store continues to generate excitement, according to Jimmy Frederick, director of marketing and communications.
The museum is composed of 18 learning centers, including the “Go Go Garage,” where children can channel their inner mechanic; simulate a day on the lake fishing at “Fish Tales”; operate a grocery store inside the “Pelican Pantry”; and create a masterpiece with clay or paint in the “Art Garden.” Items sold in the museum’s online store correlate with several of the learning centers. Each item must also provide some educational value. To keep inventory simple, products found on the e-commerce site match what’s sold in the retail section.
“Marrying the learning zones with signage and digital advertising is our next step,” Frederick says. “We want to show people how the zones and the items in the shops help with learning.”
Since the museum has stood closed for almost a year (at press time) because of the pandemic, Knock Knock Children’s Museum opted to market what it has for sale through social media. Frederick tells Funworld the museum didn’t want to spend money on advertising just yet, but that may change in the future. He says the attraction also benefits from a robust email list of 15,000 people that can be used for marketing purposes, while another list contains the mobile numbers of 500 people who have opted in to receive text messages from the attraction.
See an example of how Knock Knock Children’s Museum stays true to its brand by grouping merchandise in learning zone clusters at shop.knockknockmuseum.org.
Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari
Santa Claus, Indiana, United States
Matthew Blumhardt, vice president and chief operating officer of Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari, says the online assortment of the online HoliShop and Holiday World’s traditional brick-and-mortar store is a reflection of the park’s bestsellers during the summer season.
“We like to offer the highlights, but not so may items that our visitors get overwhelmed,” he says.
Blumhardt explains shoppers go to the park’s e-commerce store for one of three reasons: to buy a tangible item to include with the gift of a season pass, reconnect with the park when unable to visit the Santa Claus, Indiana, park, or pick up a souvenir or replacement of their favorite merchandise.
Recently, the park commissioned Made to Thrill—a fan-based merchandise developer—to craft artistic posters and T-shirts based on Holiday World’s roller coasters. Made to Thrill traditionally offers merchandise only on its own e-commerce platform, yet the Holiday World prints are only available in the HoliShop, thus generating traffic to the park’s own website.
Marketing for the HoliShop is fueled mostly by social media and a slider on the home page of the park’s website.
Although the retail revenues aren’t a significant portion of Holiday World’s overall business, Blumhardt says, the HoliShop is a great convenience for guests and gives them a taste of the attraction until summer returns.
Look over the exclusive merchandise created for Holiday World at holidayworld.com/holishop.
The online gift shop at the Rijksmuseum, a national museum of the Netherlands dedicated to history and art, is coordinated by a single person who works four days a week.
“The revenue generated is still a small percentage of the entire museum’s income, but it has grown significantly this year,” says Nanet Beumer, head of digital for Rijksmuseum. “Because of the increase in orders this year, fulfillment had to be outsourced.”
Many of the shop’s photographs come from the product suppliers, but for themed photos or items placed in a group or a collage, the museum hires a specialty photographer.
Discover how Rijksmuseum turns its museum collection into consumer products by visiting rijksmuseumshop.nl.
In the era of coronavirus, product sales in Europa-Park’s online shop increased at quite a high level, says Ralf Stumpf, director of shopping and games.
“On average, three staff members work six days a week to take care of the phone calls, mail, payments, customer service, keeping an assortment of items in the store, writing product descriptions, bookkeeping, shipping, and more,” Stumpf says.
The payment software connects to the shop’s system, which is supported by the park’s bank and is comfortable to use, he says. Payments can be made by PayDirect, Giropay, PayPal, PayZen, or credit card.
Europa-Park staff members package the purchases and then ship them through DHL.
See how Europa-Park displays its products online at shop.europapark.de.
Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa
Wellington, New Zealand
Esme Chiverton, promotions manager at Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, says her staff spends two to four hours each day maintaining and promoting the museum’s e-commerce shop.
The stock controller and the licensing manager write the online product descriptions. The museum’s payment software goes through the Shopify platform, which Chiverton says makes the process very easy.
Chiverton believes the effort needed to run the online store is worth the revenue generated, adding “perhaps not in direct sales, but we have seen more people visit the physical store as a result of the online shop. That generates traffic independently of the museum, which has been great.”
Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa created an online shopping experience that feels more like a department store. For an example, visit tepapastore.co.nz.
Attractions can take a page from these facilities when creating or relaunching an e-commerce store. Marketing the online store to regular visitors and potential guests through social media, websites, and newsletters can help keep them engaged with the brand.
Heather Larson is a freelance writer in Tacoma, Washington, who frequently writes about small-business issues.