Flea market vendors, like other small business owners, must incorporate deliberate merchandising strategies into their marketing plans to be successful. Here are 10 tips you can easily adopt that will help you bolster your business.
1. Choose what to sell. The best way to see what items are in demand is to visit the flea market at which you want to sell. Walk the aisles, see which vendors are attracting customers, find out what is selling and make note of what purchases customers are carrying around.
2. Find a reputable liquidator. Make sure wholesale pricing allows for a healthy profit margin and find out what their return/exchange policy is. Choosing a well-established wholesaler who has been in business a decade or longer helps minimize risk. Most reputable liquidators will allow vendors to make appointments and physically inspect goods prior to purchasing them.
3. Rotate merchandise. Sumner Communications 2012 State of the Flea Market Industry survey found that the number one strategy vendors use to make their booths appealing is to rotate merchandise. While it’s tempting to continue to display the same merchandise, vendors should make sure they have enough inventory to change up product offerings and keep displays fresh.
4. Get flashy. A flash sale, which makes deep discounts available for limited periods of time, is one of the top trends in marketing. The added pressure of a time constraint can nudge customers who are on the fence about an item so that they are more inclined to purchase.
5. Interact with shoppers. The State of the Flea Market Industry survey also found that showmanship pays off. Several vendors state that demonstrating products, “having fun with customers,” and “hands on customer service,” lead shoppers to trust, and buy from, sellers. Vendors need to engage customers in conversation. They may be looking for an item that isn’t displayed, but can be accessed in current inventory. When shoppers feels they are tended to as individuals, they are more likely to make a purchase.
6. Employ lighting. Where an outlet is available, vendors can decorate the edges of booths, tables and shelves with colored light ropes. Even a strand of rope lights around a sign can make a booth stand out. Gallery bulbs, track lighting and warmer toned lights can make merchandise appear more luxurious. A slightly pink light will make skin and any accessories or apparel being worn, look fresh and vibrant, whereas a more yellow light will make furniture, bedding and housewares look cozy.
7. Get social. Having a social media presence requires less effort than you might think. Register with a group of social media sites for free, and add images and descriptions to make these pages more personal. The more closely a page resembles the business as a whole, the easier it is for shoppers to associate the social media site with the store.
By choosing a few products to highlight through Twitter tweets or Facebook posts, products become more visible both to search engines and potential customers. It’s easy for flea market professionals to boost business with one product- or market-related post every other day. Coordinate all social media pages to relay the same message and market shoppers will find you in no time.
8. Offer snacks. The aroma of free popcorn or roasted peanuts may be just the lure you need to draw shoppers to your booth. If it’s a hot day, cups of water can do the trick. Everybody loves a treat.
9. Don’t overdo it. The best way to alienate customers is to overcrowd your booth. While it can be beneficial to have a variety of products, properly displaying those products is also crucial. If a booth doesn’t have aisles big enough for even one person to walk in, it’s likely that people won’t enter to browse.
10. Be flexible. If merchandise isn’t selling, try a different price point or offer items as a package deal. Some wholesalers will let vendors exchange merchandise if it isn’t moving.
The flea market business is a worthwhile endeavor and can be financially lucrative provided vendors approach it with creativity and enthusiasm. With the right merchandise, properly displayed, and the use of a few marketing strategies, flea market vendors can entice shoppers to stop and look, the first step in getting sales.