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Buy one, get one free and the baker's dozen are technically both examples of lagniappe. But I would consider these to be promotions rather than a true lagniappe (pronounced LAN yap), which is defined as a small gift at the time of purchase. We get the term from New Orleans, where the Louisiana French adapted a Quechua word which the Spanish Creoles in turn had brought from South America. La yapa literally means a little extra item added in at no charge.
Many Etsy vendors make use of the concept of lagniappe and include a little notecard or magnet with each purchase. But it's not a common practice for those of us with brick and mortar stores, unless you count offering a box or gift bag as an extra.
We do know that everyone loves to receive a gift, no matter how small. So lagniappe is a great way to surprise and delight your customers. How can you adapt this concept to your store?
1. Keep in mind that a lagniappe has to be unexpected. Try adding a little seasonal gift to purchases over a certain size amount off and on throughout the year, perhaps an ornament or seasonal treat.
2. Customers need to know that they're receiving something special. If you just put an extra item in their bag without saying anything, they may think they received it by mistake and bring it back.
3. You can tie the lagniappe in to specific items, for example adding in a replacement battery for an electronic device, or a book of fancy matches with a candle.
4. Make sure that your staff knows the nature of lagniappe and gives the little gift with a smile. You don't want them to assume "comes with extra batteries".
5. When looking for a lagniappe item, remember that candy is universally popular, and consider mints or chocolates with a thank you message on them.
6. You might want to order pens, calendars or other useful little items with your store's name on them to give away. It's especially fun to gift wrap these items so that there is some mystery as to what they are.
When you ship an item to an online customer, it is a great idea to include a little lagniappe gift along with a "thank you for shopping with us" note. You won't be there to see how delighted the recipient is, but you will know that you have done a little bit extra to make the shopper happy that they purchased something from your store.
Carol "Orange" Schroeder