The following is a guest post. Enjoy!
While a good chunk of eCommerce happens online, you can’t ignore the opportunities that conventions, fairs, farmers markets and festivals can offer your business. While you may only get to one or two of these a year, it’s still important to present a professional and organized appearance so you can turn the impulse shoppers you meet on the road into regular customers at your online shop. It doesn’t matter if you are vending at a major convention or setting up a table at a local church craft show, there are few things you need to have to make sure you are successful.
A large part of marketing at events comes from how you set up your display. You don’t always know what you’ll have available at a given site. You might be provided with a table and wall space, or you might just have a designated section of grass. Do your best to find out beforehand, but always bring a few essentials with you. While you can expand on this depending on the type of products you sell, the absolute minimum you must have are a solid colored tablecloth, blanket or length of fabric, a basket, string and tacks, and a folding table. You will eventually want to invest in a professional banner or sign that can easily be set up.
The vast majority of customers, even at events that are traditionally cash-only, prefer to use credit or debit cards. Some venues require all vendors to provide electronic sales option. For example, the Portland Farmers Market requires all vendors to accept not only debit and credit cards, but also EBT payments for programs like the Farm Direct Nutrition Program and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Even it isn’t required by the venue, it’s a good idea to have a mobile credit card reader and a credit card receipt printer with you. This way you will be sell to more customers, and assure them of the professionalism of your business.
The Back-up Plan
No matter how well you plan ahead, you cannot rely on having Internet access or functional devices. Even if the WiFi signal or your cell service is good, the website you are relying on to process transactions may go down or become impossibly slow. Similarly, you may run out of power halfway through the day and be unable to recharge your device. Or, worse, it might be damaged, stolen or misplaced. You should always bring along what you need to complete any transactions manually. This means having a ledger to record transactions, a receipt pad and plenty of pens. Fortunately, most of these items can be stored in the bottom of your cash box against the eventual need.
Taking your online business out of your house is a great way to drum up new business. By participating in local fairs and events, you can connect your small business with the community at large. By presenting a professional and competent appearance at these events, you can strengthen your businesses presence and reputation.