New studies show that Millennial and Generation Z shoppers prioritize the value and great customer experience found in physical stores. Despite the fact that online sales have risen to 20 percent of total holiday sales over the past ten years, that growth might be stagnating. In general, back to school shopping patterns are predictors of holiday shopping trends. Historically, apparel retailers and department stores are top destinations for school shopping. This year, shoppers turned to mass merchant retailers, off-price destinations, and other value-priced and one-stop-shop retailers instead. For flea market and mini-mall vendors, this is great news. This holiday season, customers are shopping in-person and seeking out bargains.
According to a recent article by The Wall Street Journal, even though traditional national and chain retailers are having issues with traffic and real estate, “Flea markets, holiday markets, farmers markets, night bazaars and art fairs, however, continue to draw big crowds.” The article continues, “If it’s sold from a stall or a folding table, it seems, shoppers can’t get enough of it.” Artists & Fleas, a new market in New York City tells WSJ, “Artisan markets are thriving because shoppers are hungry for unique goods, not to mention connection.”
Though online shopping has provided convenience for many shoppers, and traditional brick and mortar retailers can provide consistency, flea markets are thriving because shoppers crave the unique products and strong interpersonal connections market shopping can provide. Markets also directly support local communities and small businesses. All of which appeals to today’s shopper. All in all, 2017 is poised to be a successful holiday season for vendors nationwide. Follow our ultimate guide to make sure your business is prepared for a successful selling season.
Investigate and Inquire
The first step for successful holiday sales is choosing the right venue. You likely have a regular weekly or monthly market where you sell. However, since pop-ups, night markets, fairs and festivals have become extremely popular over the past few years, new events are constantly cropping up. Take some time to scope out any new and existing markets and events in your surrounding area. When investigating new markets, in addition to their attendance numbers also pay attention to their vendor assortment and how they advertise. Your product selection should be cohesive with the rest of the market. For example, if you sell tools and household items, that might not be a good fit if all the other vendors sell jewelry. Likewise, you want to make sure your products differentiate from the competition. If you are a jewelry vendor at a jewelry market, how do your products stand out?
Markets also vary drastically when it comes to advertising. Before you sign a vendor contract, learn about their marketing strategy and how they plan on increasing shopper attendance.
Once you’ve pinned down where you’ll be selling, it’s time to finalize your product assortments. Your products need to be finalized after your location is chosen because different crowds will be looking for different products. Competition with other vendors will also change between markets. In the gift-giving season, customers are looking for unique and value priced items. Take note of what sells well year round and what your customers are asking for. Having a mix of your year-round sellers along with trendy and seasonal merchandise will help create excitement and draw in visitors. Look at historical tends from your past holiday seasons, as well as your year to date sales. Pay attention to sell through rates and week-to-week sales builds to give you an idea of what types of products are worth investing in and which ones will gain momentum. There is no one-size-fits-all product and no one knows your business better than you do.
The setup and layout of your booth are just as, if not more, important than what you are selling. Think of your booth as a mini store. You need to create an appealing and welcoming environment from top to bottom. Whether your market is outside or inside, lighting is key. Warm bright lights naturally draw attention and showcase your products. Within your space, there should be a variety of height dynamics to create visual interest. There should be a taller element to your display, such as floor lamps and mirrors, signs and displays in the middle along with your tables, and an interesting rug or flooring on the bottom. A range in height keeps the eyes moving and the attention in your booth. Your merchandise itself should also be a range of small accessories or knick-knacks, medium-sized goods, and larger interest pieces. If possible, arrange your tables into a “U” shape instead of straight line. This will invite shoppers to wander deeper into your store and create more open shopping space.
In addition to visually pleasing, your setup should also be practical. Most importantly, pricing on all objects should be very clear. If prices aren’t listed, shoppers might think your products are expensive or negotiable, both of which could be discouraging. If you do have negotiable pricing such as volume discounts, be sure to include that in signage as well.
Now that you have your booth set up, put some consideration into how you present yourself and your company. Customer service is always important, but it is especially important during the holiday season. Emotions are high this time of year, which means vendors have to go above and beyond to provide the level of service necessary for a smooth sale. At the very least, customer service should not hurt your business. At its best, great customer service will boost sales and earn word-of-mouth referrals. To ensure a positive experience for all shoppers, be present and engaged at all times. Never think of sales as being pushy. Rather, true salesmanship is being friendly and helpful. Give patrons your full attention. Whenever you can, stand to greet and talk to customers, smile, introduce yourself, and most importantly keep away the cellphone.
The gift and retail industry is always changing. As vendors, we need to keep up. A thoughtful strategy and careful presentation is more important now than ever as we head into the 2017 holiday season. This year, sales are expected to reach at least $678 billion. Luckily for market sellers, our venues are in vogue. Happy selling!