In today’s world of e-commerce, many entrepreneurs are understandably highly focused on promoting and marketing their products online. Sites such as Etsy, Amazon, and Ebay are just some of the big names in e-commerce, places where small business people can sell their wares, from taxidermy and homemade preserves to bespoke jewelry and high end craftsman furniture. No matter what it is that you sell, if your product is interesting and well made you are sure to find willing buyers for your unique products in many places on the World Wide Web.
With that said, many small business owners are overlooking traditionally lucrative offline markets in favour of solely focusing on internet shopping. This is a mistake – there are still plenty of very beneficial ‘brick and mortar’ solutions that can help you to reach your sales targets for the quarter and the year. Here is a list of ten fantastic places where you can sell your products offline.
- Create a Buzz with a Pop Up Shop – Pop Up Shops are a huge trend in cities around the world, popular for their ability to create a buzz and a sense of excitement around your product and your brand. You can create a shop within a shop, open your own kiosk or even make a mobile pop up, a’ la the food truck. Pop up shoppers are looking for a unique experience, so make sure that your temporary shop truly represents your brand story. As the Economist recently pointed out, “the pop-up industry has grown to approximately $10 billion in sales,” proving that this is no fleeting trend.
- Take advantage of events and festivals – Large scale events, such as festivals, concerts, festive celebrations, and street parties can be the perfect place to setup a booth and sell your wares. People are usually in a fun and lighthearted mood at these events, and are often looking to purchase a special souvenir or keepsake to remember their experience. If you plan to sell your products at a festival or event, make sure that your brand is aligned with the demographic who will be present.
- Hire a Stall at a Market – Many retail success stories have started with a stall in a market – even the retail giant Marks and Spencer began as a wee booth at a Leeds market! This environment offers you a small table that you can call your own at which you can sell your products and interact with your clientele on a one to one basis. There are markets of all kinds across the entirety of the UK – here is a valuable list that will help you locate all of the markets in your vicinity and across the country.
- Be available for home parties – There is a reason why the phrase “Tupperware party “ has entered into the common lexicon! Selling your products at dedicated parties (or even alongside other traders) can be a hugely successful strategy. Parties offer you a captive clientele, and you can build relationships and customer loyalty by offering demonstrations and discounts. This will obviously work better with some products more than others, but if you think that your goods are suited to a party environment, here is a handy link to help you get started.
- Take part in Etsy ‘Made Local’ events – Online arts and crafts giant Etsy knows the value of offline sales; that is why they regularly host large craft events and “Made Local” sales featuring the vendors who sell goods on their site. If you are already an Etsy trader, make sure you snag a table at their next craft market or event.
- Do not underestimate the allure of a Carboot sale – Ah, the humble carboot. While you may write this off as an inappropriate or non glamourous place to sell your products, just remember: people are gathering each week in locales across the country, and they are looking for new, unique and well priced items. While this will be better suited to some sellers more than others, if your product has a vintage or antiques feel, you will find buyers at a carboot.
- Give Mail Order a try – While you may view this method of reaching your customers as antiquated or irrelevant, this is simply not the case. Millions of people continue to shop via mail order catalogue, and even those who elect to place their orders online are more likely to spend more per transaction after leafing through a physical catalogue. Here are some great tips on how you can start your own mail order catalogue business in order to sell your product.
- Secure a place at a trade show – Depending on your industry, a trade show can be the perfect place to reach new buyers, especially those with clout and power. If your product has an environmental spin, make sure you sign up to Eco-Fairs or Green Home Events; if your product can be considered useful for the home, make sure you have a presence at every ‘home and garden show’ that occurs in your area each year.
- Give samples and free products to events for swag bags and prizes – If you are a small business owner, you undoubtedly have a target demographic in mind. Consider the types of events, awards shows and parties that these people will be attending, and contact the organisers with an offer of free goods to fill swag bags and give away as prizes. This will get your products into the hands of the people who you want to reach the most, and will hopefully lead to repeat sales.
- Sponsor a local team – By sponsoring a local team, event or charitable engagement, you can get your name out there in a very meaningful and tangible way. Those who you sponsor will be very likely to reach out to you when they need to make a purchase, rather than hopping online or going to a competitor.