I love visiting markets on the weekend: Farmers markets to buy real, organic food or handcraft markets to find beautiful, hand-made candles, clothes or earrings. It doesn’t matter which one I go to, I just love the atmosphere of these markets, walking around, sipping freshly made green juice and chatting to people.
You may be aware that I am living in Brisbane these days, and here, we are particularly spoiled with all sorts of markets that you can find any day of the week. Not sure you are aware tho, that many years ago my entrepreneurial journey started at the Sydney markets, where I (unsuccessfully) tried to sell a children’s product we had developed and designed with my hubby. It was a failed, but fun experience and we have learned a lot.
This Saturday, I visited my local Farmers Market and I started to notice things that had never really occurred to me before. A realised that a market is like a perfect (mini) representation of what we call “marketplace” in business. There are sellers and buyers, the only difference probably is that it is a fairly controlled marketplace. Every seller pays the same fee to have the same size of stall, and everybody has the same chance and opportunity to sell at these markets, there’s relatively low barrier of entry.
The interesting thing is that although everyone seems to have the same conditions to make money, some retailers make many times over the profit than others. Why is that? I have given the topic some thinking, and below I collected 4 important things we can learn about business at the market. I hope it makes you think too, and you’ll share with us your thoughts in the comment section below.
4 important things we can learn about business at the market:
1. Product/Market fit
Have you noticed that food and coffee always sells better than anything else at the markets? I go ever further, it is the familiar food stalls that do really well, such as sausage rolls and stake sandwiches. Interestingly, there are always people who either believe their unique product will beat the food stalls, or who bring their goods to the markets because they love making and selling them. I LOVE this. It is again the same thing in business. There are always entrepreneurs, innovators entering the market and popping up, but in order stay in the game, the product/market fit needs to be good. Trying to sell your product at the market is a fun, low risk and cost efficient way to test your product and the viability of your business.
Efficiency is key at the market! One can lose potential customers easily if not efficient. The other day, I bought a delicious cake at one of the stalls, and – as it always happens – as I was openly enjoying eating the cake, other people started to gather around me considering to buy one too. (‘social proof‘) The seller was going on about her business slowly chopping up a piece of cake for a taster plate and didn’t realise that she should stop for a second and ask the people if they wanted to place an order or wait for a taster. By the time she was finished, everyone left and I finished my cake too leaving her stall by itself. Good lesson to learn about being efficient and acting quickly, always responding to the actual market needs.
Hiring help and delegating work can really pay off at the markets. If there is a high need for your product at the market and you are unable to service the crowd on your own, you can multiply your profit by either opening up a second stall or hiring people. By doing so, you can gain valuable experience in how to be a better leader, work in a team under pressure and how to motivate people.
4. Customer Service
I have also noticed that those sellers who engage with their customers more, who talk to people more about their products and get feedback, and the ones that offer some sort of incentives to returning customers or those who by more of their products are more popular and sell more. I admire the lady who sells freshly made juice and smoothies at my local market. It is probably the most profitable business there, the decoration instantly grabs the eyes from a distance, she smiles all the time as she takes the orders. That is all she does, while the well trained staff is working hard in the background following a strict and amazingly efficient process she had build based on years of experience.