How to Increase Your Business
Smart flea market vendors are gearing up for sales by formulating a fluid business plan. Now is the time to assess your previous strategies, and determine what worked for you and what did not. Start by evaluating your products and services, suppliers and merchandising tactics, and consider changes you can make to increase sales. Be sure you are taking full advantage of free resources such as PROVENDOR, the Professional Vendor Association. There is no cost to join, and members regularly receive offers for merchandise discounts as well as informative articles on trends and business strategies. PROVENDOR brings you the following keys to increasing your business this year.
Expand your product line
PROVENDOR’S research shows that in 2013, many vendors were very careful when making decisions on new products. As the economy continues to improve this year, it is time to branch out and profit from new products. Pay attention to what is popular in your market and in the local mall to determine trends. Personalized products such as stampable rings and pendants, licensed sports products, and tech accessories all promise to be big sellers in the upcoming seasons.
To spot trends, check out The New York Times, USA Today, Time and Newsweek for reports on lifestyle and business trends. Most industries have trade magazines and journals as well. Importantly, Merchandiser Group Magazines highlight top products in every issue— watch for our “10 Hot Products for Spring” feature in March—as does FleaMarketZone.com throughout the year. Other indicators of new product crazes are hot TV programs and blockbuster movies. Many free websites offer trend updates. Two of the best are www.pantone.com, the website for Pantone Colors, and www.trendwatching.com. In addition, check out some trade shows and ask your suppliers for their input.
Evaluate new suppliers
Many merchants use the same suppliers year after year. There is nothing wrong with this practice, but we always encourage vendors to seek out new suppliers. A deal from a new source can add to your profits. Prior to placing an order, make sure you are completely informed about company policies. Have a list of questions ready: ask about their return policy if an item does not sell or is defective; find out shipping costs and times; ask how long they have been in business; and learn if they have a showroom nearby where you can see products. Do a Google search on the supplier’s name to see if there are any comments or reviews online, and ask other vendors you trust for their opinions. Remember to compare prices. Many suppliers offer tiered pricing and free shipping.
Merchandise, merchandise, merchandise
Color plays an important role in your décor, and a well thought out color scheme can do wonders to enhance sales.
Having the right products is a great start. Now you must drive traffic to your booth. Color plays an important role in your décor, and a well thought out color scheme can do wonders to enhance sales. Visualize the type of atmosphere that would attract your desired buyer and choose colors that would appeal to them. If you are selling an edgy product, think red-orange, black and royal blue. If you carry children’s products and your appeal is to parents, try using blue, which conveys trust, and yellow, which is associated with happiness. Appeal to shoppers’ sense of smell; a vanilla or pine fragrance oil and burner attracts customers with its aroma and can sell both items. Another great way to encourage traffic to your booth is to offer aromatic snacks such as roasted peanuts or popcorn. Easy and inexpensive, treats drive traffic and create an emotional bond between you and your customers. Music is another way you can draw customers and you can also sell the CDs you are playing. Additionally, ask your suppliers if they have a DVD you can loop, signage, or display cases to create interest. Now that you have their attention, make shopping easier for your buyers, and consider creating gift baskets and bundling items. This can be a strong cross-selling tool and help move a larger volume of merchandise. It is essential that you continually update your space to keep customers coming back as well as to attract new business. Even when you do not add new merchandise, rotate your products to keep the look of your space fresh.
Seek out new venues
Several new markets opened in 2013 and many more are opening this year. If you are looking into new markets, consider whether or not they sponsor events and advertise to attract shoppers. In addition, try setting up shop at the one-day fairs and festivals that pop up throughout the year. They often get a great deal of publicity and can be a lucrative addition to your business. Check out our new Fair and Festival listing page in the Merchandiser Magazines. Festivalnet.com and festivals.com are also good sources to help you locate these types of events. In addition, you can do online research by entering your preferred location and the words “festival,” “fair” and “holiday bazaar” into a search engine.
Tap into technology
Technology continues to progress and small investments in business operations can provide big returns in sales. Invest in a smartphone and payment apps to give your customers the option to pay with a debit or credit card. Numerous mobile payment apps are available at low cost, such as Square, PayAnywhere and PayPal, and it is easier and more cost effective than ever for vendors to accept credit cards.
Create a Facebook business page and/or a website to connect with shoppers. They are an important way to promote your business. Through social media or your website, you can offer coupons and specials, promote new products, and share helpful information. Post about topics you know well. Maybe you sell fishing gear and you are a skilled fisherman. Post a tip about the best time of day to catch trout, or the best lure or bait for bass. Always respond positively to questions and comments people post, and keep them engaged. By catering to customers with expanded payment options and connecting through social media, you form personal relationships and inspire loyalty.
Power sales with personality
Do not underestimate the power of a friendly smile and casual approach; be active and engaging. Let customers look through and handle your merchandise, when appropriate, and stay just near enough to answer any questions or offer help as needed.
Finally, be a PROVENDOR—it is free to join. The association offers a steady stream of business strategies and merchandise deals from top suppliers, as well as a complimentary one-year digital subscription to the Merchandiser Group magazine of your choice—East Coast, Midwest or Western. There is absolutely no cost to join or be a member.