It seems like everyone has a side hustle these days. While it is easier than ever to run a business exclusively online, there is just something about having a storefront where customers can go see your items in person, and really fall in love with your products. Vendor Based Businesses (vendor booth businesses) are the perfect solution for small business owners who don’t have the ability – or possibly desire – to manage a brick-and-mortar storefront.
In a storefront that you share with anywhere from 10 – 100 other businesses, how do you stand out as a crowd favorite and become the owner’s favorite vendor in the process? Here are the three most important things to remember.
Vendor Booth Secret #1 – Stock Well and Restock Often
Imagine you are out exploring and you see two retail complexes on either side of the road. One is empty except for one storefront, a box store where you know what to expect. The other complex is full of stores you’ve never seen before. Which one will you turn into first?
Having plenty of products for your customers to explore is critical when you want them to spend more time in your booth space than in the one beside you. Staying well-stocked at all times is a must. Even during those times of the year when sales might be slower, restocking with new items and changing your displays are probably the most important things you can do in a vendor space. Here’s why;
While it’s true that most of your customers won’t be in your space every week, most community-based businesses have a fairly high volume of regulars who are in the store every few weeks at a minimum. If your space looks different every time that regular customer comes in, they will likely check out your space every time to see what’s new. Continued exposure creates familiarity and that often leads to trust. Customers do business with people they know, like & trust. By simply keeping your space stocked and looking new every few weeks, you can build trust with customers without having to meet them in person.
Everyone is marketing on social media, and while you can (and should) post multiple pictures of the same product, you don’t want to use the same photo every time. Changing your space regularly gives you (and the store owner) more photo options to use to entice customers to come into the store. New layouts and new products mean new and different photos to attract a customer’s attention and build recognition with your audience.
Get extra exposure on the store’s channels! Store owners get repeat customers in their stores by showing them that they have new and different products. If your space is changing regularly, guess whose products will show up more frequently? Also, restocking and refreshing regularly means your space is clean and neat, so it’s easy for them to take pictures. Speaking from experience, if I have to clean or merchandise your space in order to take a pretty picture, I’m moving on to the next booth.
Secret #2 – Be Recognizable
Branding is more than logos and colors. It’s important to use the same style in your merchandising as you do in your flat lays and photos. Pull the same colors into your graphics online as you do with your in-person tags and display pieces. Different storefronts will have different rules about how you can market your business and brand within your space. Always be respectful of the agreement you sign and any rules are given by management. As much as possible, connect your brand and business to that booth display. After all, this IS your physical location. So make it count. How?
Put up a nice sign if allowed, and make it proportionate to the size of your space. Make sure it is branded in a way that matches your online presence so that when your online customer walks into the store they immediately recognize you. That works both ways! If a customer looks you up online after finding your booth, will they recognize your online channels based on what they saw in the store? Keeping your aesthetic consistent across all platforms will allow you to build a relationship with your customers, even if you can’t meet them in person. You can accomplish this even if your storefront doesn’t allow signs, simply by ensuring that the photos you take, the colors you use and the products you offer are consistent.
Take plenty of pictures and videos in your booth space to use online. This further helps customers make the connection when you pop up in their social media feeds!
Anytime you are talking about your business, mention that you can be found inside (insert store name here). Customers are not always ready to buy when they first encounter you, whether that is at a craft fair, through social media, or just out and about. When you consistently tell people that you sell your products through a specific storefront, then they always know where they can find you. If they can’t remember your name, then maybe they’ll remember the store name or visa-versa. Both scenarios will help them find what they are looking for when they go to locate ‘that artist they met’.
Bonus: When a customer comes into the store and asks where they can find your space, or mentions at check-out that they met you at a craft fair and came in because you told them about the store…. You will score brownie points with the owner. Brownie points are never a bad thing.
Secret #3 – Be a Good Partner
When you open a vendor booth in a local storefront, you are creating a partnership with the owners and managers of that store. Be a good partner. If you expect them to work harder for your business than you do when it comes to sales, marketing, display, etc., then you will both be disappointed in the relationship. So how do you make sure you’re a good partner?
Read all correspondence from management. If they are taking the time to communicate with you, the very least you can do is make sure you are informed. If they are offering opportunities for you to get involved and increase sales, then step in when you can and be a part of it! No one wants to see their hard work go to waste. When owners/managers see you working hard, they want to help you.
Make it easy for the store to sell your products! Ensure every single item is priced. If you have an updated inventory sheet you can keep in your space as a backup for those times when tags fall off, even better. If the store has specific guidelines for tags and pricing, follow them precisely! If you offer custom work, personalized options, or other services that require more than a point-of-sale transaction, make sure there are clear instructions easily accessible. If it’s a handout, then stop by regularly to keep them stocked. If it’s a QR code for online forms, make sure it’s easy to find. Vendor-based stores are only successful when their vendors are successful. They want to help you sell, so make it easy for them to help you!
Owners/Managers rely on feedback from their community, so when you see something that needs to be addressed, bring it to them. However, if you have the skills or resources to help, then offer possible solutions, or even help spearhead the project. Often it is just one or two hardworking people running these collective storefronts and they can always use the help! Local collectives rely on the efforts of the vendor community to truly succeed. Show management that you want to be a part of that success and you will be amazed at the opportunities that may be afforded to you!
Was this helpful? If you’re all in with creating an amazing vendor space, sign-up for my 10-Day Booth Camp Workshop! This will give you even more guidance on making your booth a huge success.
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Danielle Kaminski is a multi-passionate artist from Duncan, SC. She has been crafting and creating since she was in grade school, learning to sew with her grandmothers. Her brick-and-mortar store, Reinvintage Warehouse, is home to more than 60 different artists and curators. The MADE by Danielle brand encompasses jewelry design, candle making, and canvas & fiber art as well as the occasional furniture makeover! View Danielle’s Full Bio