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< Selling more successfully

Selling more successfully

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Selling more successfully

Getting your stall and your products noticed is called 'merchandising' in the retail trade and there are a number of ways you can do this cheaply and efficiently. Try to think what grabs your attention when you are out shopping, and whether you or your staff can improve on your current set-up. Here are some areas to perhaps pay attention to:

Signage - make sure your stall is clearly signed with your company or trading name and logo. Display a nicely branded logo above head level; and a secondary sign at the front of the stall (but remember that this one will easily be hidden by queues of customers, hopefully!)

Branding - whatever your company name, make sure you keep repeating your message at every opportunity. Stick to one logo style and select colours that are synonymous with your product. You can add humour with your name for example, The Giant Pickled Onion Company, or Unearthed, but whatever you choose, make sure it is memorable! Any visuals should be simple and relate to the products or the name of the company for example, a large onion, or a gardener's fork. Try to get your logo professionally designed (even if it's a friend who is a graphic designer). Aim for a typeface that can be read from a distance. Repeat telephone numbers and websites at every opportunity and if you don't have your own website you can use the Associations web address - Consider producing simple cards to give to customers, detailing your contact numbers, website, your range of products and services and which farmers' markets you go to.

Dressing your stall - you do not have to spend a fortune to dress your stall. If you are operating from a table, cover the table to the ground with an appropriate cover. This will look visually attractive and give you storage space under the table, without lots of unsightly boxes showing. Think of your company colours and what messages you want to portray to the public about your products. If you want to achieve a rural look opt for hessian material or green material and for a country look - gingham works well. But no matter how rustic you want to be, always make sure your stall looks clean and hygienic.

Get some props - the best way to stop shoppers in their tracks is to do the unexpected visually. So for example if you are selling sausages, why not hang a Punch and Judy crocodile puppet up with toy sausages in his mouth, or if you are selling fresh produce how about a small wheelbarrow filled with an attractive central display, or several funky wellies (unworn) interspersed into a display of root vegetables. Upturned open umbrellas, filled with lightweight produce are fun and then there's all manner of retro items such as kitchen scales and old tin pots, vessels and baskets that can add interest to a display.

Layering - Always create the tallest display at the back of the stall and work your way down to table level at the front of the table. try not to just lay your produce out at the same level, like a church bazaar, it looks very unprofessional and visually boring. You can invest in different shelving systems - wood and wicker look nice - but you can also create your own levels using bales of hay, wooden crates, wooden pallets, bricks with planks of wood. All these create a wholesome, rustic look to your display.

Group produce together - group your produce together in logical sections - almost like your own your own mini shop. Use containers to create grouped themes. Again think of your colour scheme and doing something out of the ordinary. If you use flat, rectangular baskets, tilt the back up so that the display slopes towards the customer - this looks really attractive as a "front row' on your stall.

Themed displays - just like any retailer on the high street, be aware of the seasons and special calendar celebrations . So if it's close to Valentine's Day consider decorating your stall in red with hearts - make sure you go for the professional craft look rather than the value high street look, with shiny paper and glitter! Put any themed Valentine's ranges such as home-made chocolates, or Valentine's cup cakes to the fore for that week. Even if you don't think your products naturally fit a particular celebration, be creative and suggest an association - maybe with a display of red-coloured produce or a display of products with a reputed "aphrodisiac' quality - be it honey or oysters.

Pricing - clearly price your produce so that customers don't constantly have to ask the prices. Think about the presentation of the price tags and have something that looks uniform and fits the display. For a rustic look, parcel tags look great, as do small uniform cards with nice handwriting in ink pen in photo clips. More ornate photo frames are another option and you could display any special offers or new product announcements on an art easel/chalk board behind you. Again use labels as an opportunity to repeat contact numbers and web-sites.

Money handling - if you are not quick with the figures have a calculator, pad and pencil to hand. Try to organise your money, so that you don't pull out large wads of notes, or have to scurry to the bottom of a deep pocket or bag to find the right change. Keep your money handling slick and professional, with different sections for each denomination of money. If you accept cheque payments have an attractive board handy with a pen attached to speed the transaction and to maximise the convenience for the customer.

Selling yourself ! - always try to stand behind your stall and if you must sit make sure it's a bar stool that you perch on rather than a low chair. Try to avoid reading the newspaper or spending time on your mobile phone during quieter times - tempting as it is. Be part of the stall theme by wearing the right coloured apron, or themed hat. Ladies (and gents!) hair should always be tied back if it's long and use tongs and plastic gloves if handling exposed food. Perhaps invest in branded sweatshirts for you and your colleagues. Maintain eye contact with your customers and open the transaction with a smile and 'good morning/good afternoon”. An open question such as 'How can I help make your day on this miserable morning!” or 'Looking for anything special on this sunny afternoon”. Try not to cross your arms, yawn, or bring a bad mood to the market! Remember you are offering your customers a unique, quality and "feel good' shopping experience and you are an important part of the experience!

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