10 tips for a great market stall

Given my vast experience working at markets (11 at the time of writing this blog post) I thought I’d write about what I believe you need to do to be successful selling your product. Admittedly I’m a novice in this area, but it’s amazing how much you learn on the market circuit in a short period of time. So here are my top 10 tips:

1. Research your markets, there is no point paying to be involved in a market where your product doesn’t fit. Our very first market was for a dog charity and all of the stalls were for pet products. We had no idea, our friend ran the market and asked us to be part of it so we said yes. We make chocolate powder…we didn’t quite fit and as a result didn’t sell much product. In fact we had some people asking if we sold chocolate powder for pets!

2. Do I stay or do I go? At the moment we’re in a couple of markets that are slow for us. You need to do a cost-benefit analysis and work out if the market is really working for you. On the flip side you need to give it time to build a customer base for repeat sales as well as new sales. It’s a balancing act but there comes a point where you need to make a decision whether you stay or leave.

3. Make sure your stall looks great. I don’t think there’s anything worse than going to a market and it’s obvious when a stallholder hasn’t put any time into making their stall look good. It’s a reflection on you and your product, so spend a little extra and make it look great.

4. Make sure it’s obvious by your signage what you sell. We weren’t good at it at the start. Our stall looked great, but unless people took a close look at our products it was difficult to tell what we sold. So we had a sign made that runs across the top of our marquee that says who we are and what we do, and we’ve got a sign on our table that has some key points for why potential customers should buy our product.

5. Don’t just sit there and wait for customers to come to you. You’d be surprised how many stallholders read a book or surf the net on their iPhone or iPad while potential customers walk by. Stand up, interact with people, ask them questions. If people walk past my stall and even vaguely give me a sideways glance, I ask them “do you like hot chocolate”? If they say no I joking tell them they must be fibbing because everyone likes hot chocolate right? It breaks the ice and leads to sales.

6. Have a spiel ready when people are at your stall or walking by. You’ve got 30-60 seconds to sell your product. For us we push the benefits of our powder over commercially available alternatives – low in sugar, low in fat, gluten free and still tastes awesome. Make sure if the potential customer has a question you can answer it. It’s amazing how many times when I ask if they like hot chocolate their response is they are watching their weight. I need to very quickly assure them we sell a product that is a better choice than other commercial alternatives.

7. If you’re selling a food product have samples for people to try. It sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people don’t. If there’s two of you in your stall, then one of you should go out into the crowd and give away samples. If there’s only one of you, put some on the table and encourage people to try them. We have a lemon chocolate product, it doesn’t sound nice I know, but I push it hard at markets and 9 times out 10 when people try it, they buy it.

8. Have EFTPOS facilities available, whether it be through your bank or Pay Pal Here or whoever. People don’t carry as much cash around with them as they used to, even at markets, and when people say “sorry I’ve got no cash on me” you can say “that’s ok, we accept credit cards”. It leads to more sales.

9. Have some cards available for people to take away. Tourists don’t like to carry things home with them, but will buy online when they get home, as do people who have no money OR cards with them.

10. Have a sheet for people to sign up to your newsletter. We have one on our table but don’t push it hard enough. The bigger your distribution list, the more future sales you will make when you e-mail them information about your products. We need to be better at this, it’s important.

So there you have it, my top 10 tips for a great market stall. Click HERE to see the markets where you can find us.