Article contributed by David Madden from ExchangerHub
Once, the only way to buy fresh produce was directly through the farmer at your local farmers market. But, with the development of supermarkets and large-scale commercial farms, the tradition of finding locally sourced products took a back seat. In recent years, the farmers market has seen renewed popularity as sustainable living and environmental awareness increases.
One of the biggest benefits for farmers selling at farmers markets is ready access to customers. In fact, the more farmers selling at the market, the higher the concentration of customers. However, the flip side to this is that with more farmers comes more competition. Fortunately, a little competition can be a good motivator to improve your sales tactics, so to help you stand out at your first farmers market, here are a few handy tips.
Deciding what to sell at a farmers market can be half the battle. The most popular produce items at the farmer’s markets are usually vegetables and small fruits, which means there is generally a lot of competition between vendors for customers.
To stand out among the crowd, emphasize your primary selling points: locally-grown, community-based products. If your farm is organic, be sure to display this fact prominently in your stall. Customers are drawn to more sustainable farming practices.
Another effective way to create a unique niche is to diversify your selection of products. In addition to farmers market staples, try cultivating something more exotic to give yourself an edge, or sell a niche homemade product like dog treats or soap.
Finally, if diversifying your products isn’t an option, try value-adding to your product. A great way to add value to your products is to use them in baked goods, jams, or preserves to sell at your stall. This idea gives the customers an opportunity to see how they can use your products. You can also provide other ideas for how to prepare your products with some informative pamphlets.
Provide samples to entice customers to your stall. Customers are more likely to purchase your product if they know what to expect from your product. Consider selling individual items for customers to eat while they shop. This food will also encourage repeated visits and encourage them to spend more time at the market.
Create an Appealing Product Display
Customers are visually attracted to a stall before they even consider purchasing a product. This visibility means the most important factor for a successful market stall is an attractive product display.
You want your display to effectively communicate the ethos of your business, change with the seasons, and show off your produce at its best. Your display should give off a wholesome, natural image and emphasize your locally grown sustainable ideals.
A great way to display your produce is by using natural display storage materials, such as wood, burlap, and even items such as steel bins and buckets that convey the rustic, home-grown appeal of your product.
Displaying your produce in overflowing baskets creates a sense of abundance. Just be sure to avoid cluttering your space too much, as a chaotic display can be off-putting for customers. Using height can be an effective way to organize your display. Used racks and shelving systems are an affordable way to utilize vertical space and can add to the weathered look of your stall.
Use Signs Effectively
You should avoid displaying similar-looking items next to each other to avoid confusion, and you can boost your sales by displaying complementary items next to each other. Make sure your items are within easy reach for customers to feel and select their produce.
Never underestimate the power of signage. You should have a sign that promotes the name and aesthetic of your farm or business, as well as signs that communicate what each item is and its price. You can also use other smaller signs to give information about your farm, or recipes or ways to use the products, as well as promoting your farming practices, such as “organic” or “hand-crafted.”
Make sure you prepare sturdy professional-looking signs that can stand up to itinerant weather conditions, and keep the design of the signs consistent and easily readable.
Often, the way that you present yourself to your customers can be the difference between making a sale or not. There is no need to dress fashionably but a clean shirt with the name or logo from your farm or business will give the customers a sense of your professionalism.
Regarding cleanliness, gloves are a good idea, especially for vendors selling ready-to-eat products. You should also keep your hair tied back or groomed neatly to avoid any stray hairs falling into the produce.
Build Customer Relationships
Essentially, what you are doing by forming relationships with your customers is building “brand loyalty.” When you get to know your customers, you can provide a better level of service and, in return, they come to trust you and your products more.
Consequently, when a customer trusts your product, they are more likely to continue to buy it and, often, more of it. They also feel more comfortable telling other potential customers about their positive experience, which translates into free advertising for you.
An effective way to build customer relationships at your first farmer’s market is to simply be social. Strike up a conversation about things you may have in common, give them a little information about your farm and its farming practices, or engage them with a few questions about their experience at the market.
Set Reasonable Prices
Be sure to give your customers your full attention. Maintain eye contact and be ready to help them with whatever they need, whether they need information about how the produce is grown or prepared and the nutritional information or they simply need help selecting the best of the items you offer. It is this level of attentive customer service that will keep customers coming back again and again.
One of the most attractive aspects of the farmers market is that the prices are generally lower than the big supermarket chains. By cutting out the middleman, farmers can take home a larger percentage of the profits. This cutting out should translate into how you price your items, as customers are expecting a slight discount when compared to purchasing the products at the store.
Before you begin selling at the market, conduct some field research. Go to the market and have a look at how similar vendors are pricing their items and figure out how that can factor into your calculations. Remember, you need to consider not only the labor and energy needed to grow and harvest your products but, also, site fees and overhead costs of running your stall.
The farmer’s market is a fantastic place to connect with customers and get your products moving. However, with the recent rise in popularity of farmer’s markets, the competition between vendors can be fierce. Stand out from the rest by using these few handy tips and watch your products fly off the shelves week after week.
David Madden is an efficiency expert, as well as being the Founder and President of Container Exchanger and ExchangerHub. These companies help manufacturing and distribution companies buy and sell used industrial packing such as plastic and metal bulk containers, gaylord boxes, bulk bags, pallets, and ibc totes and industrial racks such as pallet racking, flow racks, and drive-in racks. These companies have served thousands of buyers and sellers through USA, Canada, and Mexico.