Maximising Merchandise Sales through your Event

16 Oct, 2018 08:24 By: Matt Trevett


When participants enter your event, they are not just buying into the ‘on the day’ experience, they are also buying into your brand ethos and the community that you build around it. This point of entry can be a great opportunity to maximise revenue over and above your standard entry fee by making additional merchandising sales. It makes good sense to offer your entrants variable ways to be associated with your event, thus increasing their loyalty to your brand.

The eventrac platform makes it easy to showcase all your merchandise. You can position this as a storefront or as part of the entry flow to your event. The eventrac platform can help you makes sales and increase your revenue streams. You are also able to quickly update images, stock levels, variations and report on sales so that you can easily manage your orders or ‘on the day’ pickups. For multiple events you can easily tick or untick merchandise to appear on each event simultaneously, saving you time without having to add the same item to each individual event, provided, of course that all your events sell some of the same merchandise.

So how can you maximise the merchandise tool and start selling more straight away? Firstly, don’t forget, we are here to help!


Decide what you want to sell and consider a wide range:

Yes! You may just be thinking of Race T-shirts… but there are plenty of other opportunities you can take advantage of by using the merchandise tool to add value to your event.

Here are some popular options and how to make the most of them:

  • Race T-Shirts – The obvious traditional best seller. T-shirts can be themed around your company logo or the specific event and even personalised to the runner. Shop around to get the best price and consider whether you want quality at a higher price point or just a basic cotton tee. Is it to be wrapped or unwrapped etc and what type of printing method – all these things affect the price. 
  • Other Clothing – Headscarf’s, wristbands, socks, or whatever you can think of, if branded, will be an opportunity to showcase your brand. Consider is the item in trend or unusual, could it be a must have accessory or a talking point? It may be of use to the entrant at your event or the day or something displayed that would prompt them to think ‘ah I could do with one of those!’
  • Partner Brand Merchandise – Try speaking to brands about selling their stock through your event – you may find that the smaller brands will be trying to increase business and may be receptive to a bit of negotiation in exchange for some exposure.
  • Customised Plaques and Medals. Consider offering customised medals to create a lasting memory. There are a host of companies which can help in this regard and some will even handle all the fulfilment such as the established and well-reviewed itab (
  • Additional Race Essentials – These could be things such as reusable cups or plastic free water-bags. A lot of events are now encouraging entrants to bring refillable bottles. If it’s a swimming event, perhaps you could offer a Tow Float). If what you offer is a crucial item for the entrant to have on the day you should make this clear they need this so that, ideally, they make the purchase at the same time as paying for the entry.
  • Parking – Are you permitted to sell parking tickets? If so, then doing this in advance can help you allocate spaces to those that need them the most and can generate income. It also means you can manage the flow of traffic on event day and have an idea of how many cars to expect. Once you have sold your parking spaces you can either post or email a parking voucher. This will enable you to manage logistics more effectively on the day.
  • Photography – If you have some photographers at your race why not allow entrants to pre-buy their race photo. 
  • Gift Voucher – This can be a quick win if you have lots of events and doesn’t have to cost you anything as you can provide the vouchers as an ‘E-voucher’ with a discount code, this is a great way to allow entrants to encourage people they know to also take part in your events
  • and…. anything else you can think of!


Optimise the merchandise and set stock Levels

Just like any E-commerce store you will want to optimise your content and product images to give offer the best possible chance of selling the items you are promoting. Maintaining adequate stock levels is also crucial to make sure you don’t under or over sell. Good stock management is essential to maintain an overview of your run rates on sales and work with your suppliers. Clear information is key so that you can give a good service and keep the customer satisfied. When displaying items and their descriptions pay attention to the following: -

  • Product Title – Give the item a clear and meaningful title
  • Product Description – Create a detailed summary of the product and any crucial information the entrant needs to know about it
  • Product Image – The best possible hi-res image for your product
  • Product price – Set as reasonable and competitive price as possible without promising your margins. If you are registered for VAT, then be clear if VAT is being charged.
  • Fulfilment – Will this be a third party. You should state how the product will be despatched and by whom ie item despatched by Royal Mail standard delivery etc etc
  • Delivery Ts & Cs – will the item/s be delivered? Be clear on an approximate delivery timeline. Are you charging postage – if so state how much – will you deliver outside of the UK – can the item or voucher be collected and if so when and where (ie registration tent on the day of event)
  • Variations (Sizes, Flavours etc.) – Add in the different sizes, or options per product, for example a T-Shirt may have Small, Medium and Large options. Collecting size requirements in advance may be particularly key for collection on the day in the case of clothing. 
  • Stock Management – Allocate how much stock the item needs, this may be restricted or unlimited or require you to update later, if your product hits 0 stock no one will be able to purchase, and you may not know straight away that this has happened and miss potential sales
  • Charity Donation element – if you are adopting a cause related approach ie giving some of the profit to a charity then do consult with the charity in advance. They should be able to give you advice on this type of relationship. You will need permissions to use their name and logo and may also need have commercial participator agreement or in place. If some part of the revenue is going to the charity be clear exactly what the charity will receive ie 50p for every product sold is going to XXX Charity.


Adding merchandise to your Event(s) listings

Make sure the relevant merchandise is added to the relevant events so that when entrants are signing up to your race they are prompted to also purchase your merchandise. Cross marketing from the point of entry can give high conversion. Offering event linked elements, such as parking, also prompts the entrant to consider the event logistics in advance ie how they are going to get to the event on the day. This insight will also help you as an Events Planner to advance account for all possible logistical scenarios.

Eventrac makes it easy to quickly assign merchandise to your entry forms, view sales statistics and stay onto of your inventory. Whilst merchandise can be a powerful means of expanding your brand and creating a new revenue stream, don’t overwhelm your entrants. Be wary of adding too much merchandise to the entry form at the point of sign up as this could drive them away from entering your event altogether. It is a fine balance!


Other Places to make sales

Your own website - Your eventrac entry page isn’t the only place you can sell your merchandise. We encourage you to discuss this with us as we can create special links that go to your own website or even offer “white labelled” sites that have the look and feel of your own branding but benefit from all the Eventrac back-end technologies.

On Event Day – Bring some stock down to your event hub set up a pop-up outlet. Make sure you have enough staff to man it and have facilities in place to accept and store cash securely or capability to accept credit card payments. Recording sales on the ground can be harder so make sure you have relevant record keeping systems in place that are user friendly in busy times. Keeping records on the day will help you to keep on top of your stock levels. You will have a very short window of opportunity at the beginning of the event, but many participants will bring supporters who will need something to occupy them whilst the event is going on so before, during and post the event finish is an opportunity to create the ‘buzz’ to boost sales.

In a Local Shop – You may be able to collaborate with local businesses ie contact your local sports shop to see if they would be prepared to stock your products in return for being a named sponsor of your event. Co-promotion may help drive footfall to their business and in turn, leverage entries and sales for you. You may want to put some clear terms and conditions around this in any participation agreements you may set up with sponsors.


Manage Orders and Run Rates

Retailing is a skill. The key is developing good relationships with your suppliers and understanding their terms, conditions, delivery times and ordering processes. It is important for you to maintain clear records for stock control. This is something you will want to get right from the start, for example, if you are selling race t-shirts then you should have a rough idea of how many you plan to sell, how much these cost you and when you need to place your orders so that you can have them to your customers in time. If you are fortunate to find a good supplier then you may be able to start selling your products before commit to an order, this allows you to calculate on average which % of entrants are purchasing – over a period of time this will give you a run rate figure that you can use to predict how much stock you need to buy.

For items such as parking, you will want to limit the stock level to the amount of spaces you have to allocate, you may wish to under allocate spaces to allow for some unexpected traffic on race day and more flexibility with your logistics.

Any items that don’t require limited stock you can leave as unlimited (eventrac makes this easy to do), ideal for things such as gift vouchers, meaning you don’t have to spend admin time closely monitoring these products you can just focus on fulling the orders.


Storing, Ordering, and fulfilling your Merchandise Sales

There may be other on-costs to consider that you will need to factor into your budget which you should consider in advance to ensure that you remain in profit.

  • Physical Products – unless you are going to draw down from your supplier or use a third-party fulfilment company you are going to need adequate space to store your items. Goes without saying that this needs to be somewhere easily accessible and where the right storage conditions can be maintained (particularly important if perishables)
  • Drawing down from your supplier – read the small print of any agreement and make sure you understand the draw down procedures and timelines, so you are not left without product in times of high demand.
  • Despatch - You need to work out despatch timelines and how this is done and will have set this out already in your product description. 
  • Using a third party – if using delivery companies make sure you do some due diligence in advance to satisfy yourself that they are reliable and efficient. Your customer will come to you if they are unhappy and the despatch service they receive will reflect on your brand. Companies that offer tracking services are useful to keep the customer informed.
  • Despatching items yourself - Are you going to be posting items out as soon as the customer buys them, or do you plan to have a despatch window and send out multiple orders in one go closer to your event day. Do you have enough manpower and time to do this? Does your customer know when they can expect the delivery? 
  • Packaging – do you need any special packaging to send the item out in ie boxes, brown paper, plastic bags, bubble wrap etc and do you have enough supplies of these? Will you include fliers or information about the relevant or future events? Pack appropriately but don’t over package to keep the postage fees to a minimum and avoid using plastic.
  • Services (Parking, Photography etc.) – Vouchers for parking can be sent out as an E-Ticket by email, saving you time and money. If you use the report tool in eventrac and have maintained the right marcoms records, you can easily export a GDPR compliant list of addresses, email contacts so that you can contact everyone in bulk to provide them of details on how to redeem the service they have bought.
  • Partner Merchandise – Work closely with any partner brands to make sure they are aware of orders coming in so that they can fulfil them, consider updating them once a week with a list of the latest orders so that they can stay on top of these and won’t let you down.


Driving repeat Business

Re-Marketing your merchandise is important if you want to increase your sales. Don’t assume everyone is going to buy when they enter or happen to come across your storefront. You can also use your social channels, the inbuilt eventrac email marketing tool and local marketing methods to reminder entrants of the merchandise you offer. Remember under the new data protection rules you must hold and record permissions to cross market so ask the right questions at the point of entry. Don’t break the rules on this. It’s a topic that may have gone quiet but hasn’t gone away!

If you are particularly retail savvy you may want to be more targeted in how you approach nurturing customer loyalty. Why not analyse and report on the sales you have made and work out which of your entrants haven’t purchased anything from you yet and what barriers there may be preventing you from engaging with them. This allows you to be smarter in how you contact your entrants, for example – reminding those that haven’t purchased parking there is still time to buy, prompting those that haven’t ordered their race t-shirt yet or contact could be via a promotional email highlighting a brand/sponsor.

If you are selling the same items each year, for example clothing pieces then why not print the date of the event on the item branding. Your entrants who come back each year may want to purchase the ‘latest design’ rather than be seen in last year’s model! However, this approach will rely heavily upon your efficiencies and effectiveness of stock management. The advantage of not printing the date is you can reuse your stock every year! Oh yes, and don’t forget to check “sell by” or “best by” dates if the items are perishable. Consider clearing old stocks items by introducing terminology like “stock clearance sale” or “end of season sale” etc. Everyone loves a bargain! 


We’re here to help 

If you have any questions or would like some help and advice around improving your merchandise sales, you can contact

*ITab is a third-party company and Eventrac Limited has no commercial business ties with this company and therefore cannot be held liable for, or accountable for, or intervene in, any dispute with this company as a result of any business, formal or informal arrangement between an event organiser and that company which is outside of Eventrac Limited’s control and remit.

**From 28 May 2018 all marketing emails needed to be compliant with the new GDPR regulations ie you will need opt in permissions to contact. If you are unsure about the implications of this Eventrac can offer some guidance on this.

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