Look for Your Monthly Data Statements

Look for Your Monthly Data Statements

Erik Ernstrom

If you’re one of the hundreds of stores transferring your data into CROSS:SCAN, the industry’s free data service, you received a Data Statement from us in your inbox last week. These monthly reports are designed to give you some encouragement (number of people you’ve served, how many Bibles you’ve sold, etc.), plus a few quick “to-do’s.”

As an example, one store might see that their employees are doing a great job adding new customers to their mailing list. This report would enable them to praise their staff for their hard work. However, this same store could also see room for improvement because less than 10% of those new customers supplied an email address. What a great teaching moment: “You’re doing a fantastic job increasing the size of our mailing list. This will enable us to stay in contact with all these customers with future mailings. However, we also need to be capturing their email addresses, so we can communicate with them more often than just once a month. And some people prefer emails. So, considering it’s the easiest time to get this information, let’s make sure to ask for their email address when adding them to the mailing list.”

Meanwhile, another store might take the list of top customers from the last 10 weeks and drop a note in the mail thanking them for supporting their store. I know of one store who makes it a point to call as many of these customers as they can to thank them and ask if there’s anything their staff can pray for. That’s something a big box won’t do!

Each one of you will probably take something different from these reports, including clicking through to ParableConnect to dive even deeper. We’d love to hear from you about how these reports are helping you, and how we might be able to serve you even better.

And as a reminder, there are three different reports that we send on a rolling three-month schedule: one focused on Marketing, one on Merchandising, and one for Operations. We rotate them, so you can learn about different aspects of your business each month. We know there’s a lot to do on a daily basis in your store, and we hope these reports and ParableConnect are giving you the tools you need to accomplish some of those things more easily.

If you need another copy of your report, or would like add additional employees to our distribution list, please contact me.


400 Stores Now Using The Parable Group Services

Serving independent retailers nationwide, The Parable Group, the leading data-driven marketing agency for the Christian products industry, recently reached 400 store-fronts participating in a variety of their tools, programs and services.

“We’re honored to serve a diverse group of retailers with personalized solutions—helping them boost traffic, increase turns, grow profits, and expand their local ministries,” said Erik Ernstrom, Manager of Business Intelligence for The Parable Group. “We’re called to use our gifts, talents and time to advance His kingdom and we all win when we link arms to propel this incredible industry forward.”

To celebrate the milestone, The Parable Group is hosting a store meeting on Sunday, July 8th during UNITE 2018 which is open to every store they serve, whether enrolled in data programs, print marketing, email solutions, Get It Local Today or more. The store meeting, hosted by four industry leaders with over 125 years of collective Christian retailing experience, will take place at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center and is centered on traffic-driving services, training on the powerful ParableConnect 24/7 data hub, retailer-focused education, and fellowship.

Currently serving Covenant, Munce, Logos and Parable stores, church stores, Catholic stores, and unaffiliated stores across the US and Canada, The Parable Group aims to help all those in Christian retail thrive.

Get It Local Today! Help Customers Shop Your Store, Not Online Competitors

Get It Local Today! Help Customers Shop Your Store, Not Online Competitors

Erik Ernstrom

We’re very enthusiastic about Get It Local Today!—the industry-wide program designed to drive customer traffic to Christian stores like yours. Publishers, marketing groups, and the industry trade association are working together to drive business for your benefit. This is a cooperative effort that costs you nothing—plus, you keep all proceeds from sales through your store.

CBA, The Covenant Group, and the people here at The Parable Group are making this work with endorsement from the Logos Group, Innovative/Signature Websites and Bookstore Manager. It’s a united effort to build traffic and much-needed sales to Christian stores.

“The goal of this program is to drive traffic and sales to Christian stores,” CBA President Curtis Riskey said. “You don’t have to be a CBA member to be listed on the store locator, you just have to be a Christian store.”

Here’s how Get It Local Today works:

  1. Customers who are already searching for a product on a vendor website or who click a link from a vendor marketing effort, choose our Get It Local Today buy link as their first option to purchase products.
  2. The link sends the customer to a product page on with a list of local Christian stores and shows which stores have the product in stock.
  3. The customer reserves the product with the store of their choice, and then visits the store to pick it up—where they are likely to discover additional products!

Better yet…dozens of the industry’s top Christian publishers have verbally committed to participating! All we need now is a critical mass of retailers to officially launch—and we are almost there. Will you consider enrolling too?

Sign up now at:

Signing up only takes a few minutes for retailers to approve their store listing information and posting inventory data via CROSS:SCAN, the industry’s data gathering and best-seller tool. Most all industry POS systems can automate the information-collection process.

As one retailer said, “It’s a no-brainer, win-win. Why not do it?”


6 Tips for Boosting Sales by Managing Inventory

6 Tips for Boosting Sales by Managing Inventory

Jeff Bruenning

Last year over 57,000 unique books were sold in our industry. Plus, almost 16,000 different Kids Books and 8,000 unique Bibles skus. But, it’s also likely that you have some inventory that simply isn’t selling. Very few retailers escape this, and while regularly-scheduled returns are part of maintaining a healthy inventory, let’s explore what else you can do to control inventory.

For starters, never let managing your inventory fall behind on your to-do-list. Between employee relations, merchandising, promotional marketing, social media and more, we know you have a lot to do. But balancing your inventory to sell should always stay top of mind.

  1. Place new product in high-visibility feature areas.

Merchandising new product in high visibility feature areas will help your customers notice it easily and highlight products that are ideal for immediate sales. This is particularly important for high-volume, time-specific selling periods such as holidays or sale events. Rotate and re-merchandise your feature areas monthly to ensure customers see something new each time they visit your store.

  1. If a new product line isn’t selling – move it to a new location.

Ideally, a new product line should see sales activity in the first 30 days. If it isn’t selling, move it to a new location as sometimes that’s all it takes. Consider what props or staging of the product might increase its visibility and remerchandise.

  1. Rely on re-orders.

Working with vendors and distributors that have immediate availability allows you to replenish goods on an as-needed basis. Once the product starts to sell, the ability to replenish quickly allows for the opportunity to react to demand and create higher turns.

  1. Use online tools to manage potential overstock.

By having the right balance of products on the shelf, making sure you’re not missing any bestsellers, and never running out of promoted products you can ensure your store is better suited to sell itself. The tools necessary to make those inventory improvements are built into ParableConnect. In addition to helping you identify titles that you’re missing, ParableConnect also has a potential overstock tool that will help you find excess inventory, so you can free up space and cash. This will allow you to bring in promoted products, bestsellers and new releases that your customers want.

  1. Plan events for increased sales.

Creating special events, promotions or parties to elevate sales on specific items—especially seasonal goods—helps to create buzz and increase sell-through; thus, alleviating mark-downs. Most vendors are open to creative options to generate sales, including greater discount on product promoted for an event, and some may even send sales support to help educate customers and staff (think VBS workshops and Bible journaling).

  1. Strengthen core customer relationships.

Developing store loyalty with customers is integral in creating interest in your store’s product. Being aware of key customers who support specific authors or artists in your store allows for targeted selling and can even result in sales before product hits the floor. The ability to special order products from your store can allow for a strong customer following that appreciates their ability to order goods specific to their needs. Encourage this extra TLC among your sales team and ultimately, your customers.

Bonus tip! Be sure to stay dedicated to your store reputation. Many people shop at one place versus another simply due to the reputation a store has. Take pride in your store and the people who work for you. Set high expectations of your customer service, store merchandising, in-store events, community involvement and product assortment. It’s your responsibility to deliver the best you can and make changes when things are not working. Customers take notice of this, and in return they keep returning to your store.

Finally, remember to utilize the handy tools on ParableConnect to manage, review and analyze data again and again and again to help keep your inventory clean and your sales moving.

Jeff Bruenning - The Parable Group


Impact Your 2018 By Looking Back

Impact Your 2018 By Looking Back

Randy Ross

At the beginning of every new year, we are inundated with bestsellers and critic’s lists reflecting on the previous year. Rather than add another list of our group’s bestsellers, we thought we’d offer some insights gleaned from our Top 100 Bestsellers of 2017. Here are seven takeaways that could impact your 2018.

  1. Christian consumers are buying for others.
    Studies have shown that a large portion of the products sold in Christian stores are going to be given to a friend or family member. The sheer number of greeting cards sold through our Parable partner retailers fully supports this statistic. Knowing what a title is about is only half the information your customers need. Help them understand who a title is for, as well.
  2. 2. Church gatekeepers are shopping Christian retail.
    It’s easy to dismiss the Christian consumer as a casual person in the pew, but the number of professional and lay leaders who visit Christian retail stores cannot be overlooked. The amount of church supplies, Sunday School curriculum, VBS material, and lesson commentaries that populated our Top 100 Bestsellers in 2017 shows a consumer base engaged with the local church. The purchase of communion cups and VBS kits is the opening to a huge doorway of possibilities. Too often, we settle for the sale when there is a relationship awaiting.
  3. Major author brands and product extensions dominate the bestselling books.
    Sure, we expected to see a lot of Sarah Young on the list, but other brands have similar impact on the list of bestsellers, with repeated SKUs from the likes of Max Lucado, Chip and Joanna Gaines, Chris Tomlin and more. Overlooking the familiar may be understandable, but these are the authors that build the foundation for the rest of your offerings. Keep them visible in your store.
  4. Backlist is foundational to the product mix.
    In the Top 100 Bestsellers of 2017, approximately one third of the titles were released in 2017, with backlist dominating nearly three-to-one. Keeping on top of tried-and-true backlist is foundational to your bottom line! Make sure you have ample budget to support the key new titles as well as the key backlist titles.
  5. Consumers are responding to felt-needs that address the times.
    Whether it was a book that addressed a felt-need, or a Christian perspective on a popular topic, consumers gravitated towards books with an eye on culture in 2017. Respond to TV appearances and current events by repositioning titles in your store. Doing so may require you to look beyond the “Christian bubble” and anticipate felt-needs and popularity.
  6. In an age of streaming and downloading, physical media still matters.
    20% of our Top 50 Bestsellers in 2017 were on disc (CD or DVD). Perhaps your music and movie selection has been scaled back too much? Sure, CD and DVD sales have dipped over the last decade; but they have not vanished as quickly as the shelf space has.
  7. Legacy drives Christian consumers.
    The vast number and variety of children’s products on the Top 100 Bestsellers list illustrates a consumer desire to pass the faith along to future generations. Invest in your future consumers! It’s important to hook new parents with the life-changing content offered in your selection. New kids are born every day, giving you an opportunity to shape the life of a child each day as well.

Many other observations could be gleaned from last year’s bestsellers, but these are the ones that we found most important and actionable. We are dedicated to driving consumers to your store to discover content that will help them grow in their relationship with Christ—and are delighted to serve you as we keep these life-changing materials in front of your customers.

Randy Ross - The Parable Group