How to Take Your Market Stall Business Online
For many market stall holders, the hustle and bustle of the markets is a comforting environment. You see your regulars, chat with the other stall holders, and you know what to expect each week.
Many market stall holders haven’t made the leap to online sales as it can seem like more trouble than it’s worth. Setting up an online store does pose some difficulties, like photographing and uploading products, keeping up to date on inventory and the added stress of shipping your wares, but with 75% of people shopping online you can’t afford to miss out on the e-commerce market.
In this article we are going to cover everything you need to know to take your market stall online!
Why should you go online?
Diversifying your sales avenues can make all the difference. Over 75% of people are shopping online at least once a month. Having an online store means reaching a sustainable market of potential customers that you just can’t get through your market stall, even with a rotating roster of stall spots all over the city.
Which platform is best?
There is a lot of conjuncture in the community about which platform is the best for e-commerce. We have a whole blog that breaks down each platform and their pros and cons that you check out here. The most popular choices are Shopify, Big Commerce and Squarespace.
Once you have picked which e-commerce site you will use to build your online store the next step is to get all your content together for the site and choose your brand visuals and website theme.
This is where you will make the decision if you are doing it alone or getting some professional help.
Going it alone
If you are going it alone, don’t fret, there are so many great resources out there to help you execute a professional website.
Let’s start with the website theme. With Shopify, Squarespace and Big Commerce there are professional themes for the website set up that you can customise to suit you. When choosing the theme think about your brand colours, font and branding story. Look for clean aesthetics that will lend themselves to lead generating actions without visually overloading the customer.
As an existing business owner, you will already have a logo and selected brand colours and style including fonts that you use for your business cards, product packaging and signage. So, the good news is you’re not starting from scratch when it comes to selecting your website content. Build off of the base you already have and keep branding consistent.
To start with create visual assets, such as hero banners and images. You can set up a Canva account to do this. This nifty platform has a free version and a paid subscription version, and it is basically like a graphic design platform but with templates, pre-sets for different sizes such as social media posts or website assets. It is incredibly intuitive with easy to use tools for resizing, removing backgrounds on photos and overlaying elements such as text, illustrations and even animations. There are stock photos and videos on the platform as well giving you plenty of options for creating visual content for your website and your social media channels.
Going it alone you are going to need to do your own product photography. But here’s the good news, a Lightbox and a decent camera will make your life so easy. For most types of products, a good light box will be all you need to get consistent professional photos. You can get one online and they are easy to use, and perfect for producing professional clean images.
Depending on the size of your business, you may already have product descriptions ready to go, but if you don’t here’s a failsafe way to write your product description. Consider these three questions and try to answer them in your product description.
- What problems does the product solve?
- What do customers gain from the product?
- What is your point of difference; why your product and not the competition’s?
Product descriptions are a great place to target keywords for your site’s SEO and to tell a story about your product, make the customer the hero and your product the quest!
If you decide that doing all that work on your own is going to be too much, you can hire professionals to help you outfit the site with everything you need. At a basic level, you’ll want a graphic designer to assist with the website theme / layout and visual assets. A copywriter to help you nail the website copy on the home page and product pages and you’ll need a product photographer to get the perfect images to sell your products. There are lots of different options. You can find companies that will often do all these things in their firm, or you can look for individuals to assist, either through their own sites or on Fivver and Upwork.
Help your customers find you
Now that you’ve got your site all ready to go, it’s time to bring some customers into the mix. This can be through email marketing, social media or SEO.
If you’ve been trading for a while at the markets, you will probably have an email list of people who have bought from you previously. You can add these people to your email marketing system. If your website doesn’t have one built in, you can use Mailchimp or Hubspot. At your market stall make sure you offer people an emailed receipt. This will get you their email so you can add them to marketing list.
Begin with an introductory offer / opening sale that runs for a month giving your customers plenty of time to see the offer and convert over the month.
Leverage your audiences on social media. These are warm leads, they already follow you and like what you do, so they are easier conversions to get. In the lead up to the launch of the website do a countdown, include an introductory offer and offer a 5% discount for signing up to the mailing list. Social media can be precarious. It can go down or you can lose your account so converting these followers to email subscribers will help you to retain them no matter what happens with social media.
Google My Business
Set up and verify your google my business account, link it up to the website and ensure that you have everything in place for when you want to start running targeted key word ads. This can be helpful even if you don’t want to spend on google ads, as it gives you more chance to be found in search results.
SEO is one of the most powerful, organic traffic channels to cultivate in your business. On average most e-commerce stores have a conversion rate of 2.7 to 3.2%. This means for every 100 visitors you’ll get an average of 2 – 3 sales. This means the more traffic to the site, the more sales for you, so traffic generating activities are key in your sales strategy.
Most website hosting platforms have their own built in SEO optimisation systems, so make sure you research the platform you’re working on. But additional SEO strategy beyond technical SEO, involves content strategy. Create a blog and write articles that will appeal to your ideal customer and target keywords they might be searching that will relate to your product. You can find keywords, by accessing your google ad word accounts and seeing suggestions for ad spends on keywords.
For example, if you sell scented candles, some key words you might target are best scented candles and candle types. And the blogs you could write are things like; the best scented candles for Christmas vibes, What’s the difference between soy and beeswax candles, candle subscription boxes are the ultimate gift for candle lovers. Etc.
One of the biggest things that will help conversion on your website is building authority and appearing as a trustworthy brand. You can do this by getting customer reviews, asking your current customers to write up a review of your products to be used on the website and social media.
Get your website listed elsewhere, find business directories and get your website listed on there. It can lead more customers to your site and the back links will help build your domain authority, which helps your SEO.
Get into PR activities, send promo packs to PR companies, small news and lifestyle media outlets and influencers. Write up a press release explaining your product and pitch it to these places for a shot at getting the media coverage and bringing more people to your site.
Maximise your sales
Maximise your sales by including call to actions such as ‘buy now’, ‘join the mailing for a 5% discount’ or ‘learn more’ links. You should have a call to action on your landing page and remove as many barriers and steps to purchase for the customer as you can. Set up re-marketing activities. This is when someone looks at a product but doesn’t buy it and then it appears in their social media feeds, or they receive emails offering a discount on this product. And leverage your existing customer base and audiences, these are warm leads, and they will produce a higher conversion rate which makes them an easier demographic to sell to.
Leveling up your market stall business to an online store opens the door to your business’s earning potential and provides a manageable path to expansion.
You can start small and build it over time and online sales take a lot of the manual labour out of selling, leaving you to focus on your products.
It can be intimidating to take the next steps in your business but well worth the effort and you don’t have to do it all alone. Getting started with the basics of micro business management will be helpful. You can learn about these when you complete a Certificate III in Entrepreneurship and New Business. This course is designed for those who are running a small business and looking to grow it. It will give you the base knowledge you need to succeed in expanding your business.
If you’d like know more about the course you can check it out here or you can arrange to have a chat with one of our course advisors. They’ll be able to help you figure out the right course to take your business to the next level.