QNM 2018 Serving and Developing Your Customer Base
Serving and Developing your Customer Base at the Queens Night Market
Market Testing and Finding your Niche
The QNM is an unusual scenario. It is a continuously growing customer base that returns every week that has been built atop of takoyaki balls, paella, beer, soap and collectible items. These customers come back every Saturday because they are looking for that familiar feeling of fun and community from the week before.
It is the perfect opportunity for you to market-test your ideas.
Grab the opportunity. As you already have the platform in front of you, do experiment on new items and see how customers react to it. Ask for feedback. Listen to what the buyer says. Sometimes they would hands-down love your item but there are times that a brilliant idea gets lost in translation. Never fall in love with your first idea - as first loves go, they are ideal in your head but may need a little more growth to be perfect.
Taking from the Efficiency-Thoroughness Trade-Off (ETTO) concept where the left side of the spectrum at 0% is high thoroughness and slow movement and the right side of the spectrum is low thoroughness and fast movement at 100%, you have to find the perfect spot that will work for you when you manufacture a product.
Ideally, you come to the market with a product that is theoretically 70% done. This way, you can see how the market will react to it, tweak it, test again, until it is perfect.
70% done does not mean that your product is missing an arm or a leg. It means that you put 70% effort into production and are willing to revamp 30%, if your customer calls for it.
This is a win-win situation for you and your customer. You create a product that is made especially for your client and in-turn, you get a very loyal customer that will help drive your business.
You do see that a crucial part of this scenario is your communication with your customers. Keep the conversation going. Have them sign up on a mailing list so that you can let them know when you have new products, or asking for feedback. Remember - out-of-sight, out-of-mind. So remind them what your products look like.
Easy Payments for your Customers
Have an efficient payment system so your customers do not have to wait long. Make it easy for them to pay you so you do not lose the sale. Adding PAYPAL / VENMO to methods of payment you accept will help convert a sale.
Paypal - It is easy to sign up for an account at paypal.com. Just follow the prompts and request for a card reader.
Venmo - You can sign up on Venmo by downloading their app on your phone and following the prompts.
Shopify - Shopify is a great platform because it has the capability to grow with you. If you are just starting your business, you can integrate the Shopify platform with your Facebook Page and accept cash and credit card sales instantly in person and online. As you grow, you can move on to setting up your own webstore with an active inventory. Their website templates are very intuitive so it will be fairly easy to set up a beautiful website without knowing how to code. There is a 14-day trial for you to see if it is the right one for you. shopify.com
Have a sturdy, efficient cash box. If you have 5 customers in front of you and you have to rummage through a fanny pack, chances are, you will lose 2 of them because they wouldn’t want to wait too long. AMAZON has reasonably-priced cash boxes.
You do get a sea of people coming to the QNM but there is also roughly a hundred vendors. How do you stand out? How do your customers remember you? A strong brand will help your customers recognize you.
Have a good strong logo. Think McDonalds. Think Dove. Think Nike. You want your customers to recognize you easily. They won’t flock to you if you’re like that rom-com movie from the 90s that you can’t really remember because they’re sort of all the same.
Signages - STAPLES COPY & PRINT
Business Cards / Flyers - STAPLES COPY & PRINT, PSPRINT.COM, VISTAPRINT.COM
Stickers - PSPRINT.COM
Stamps - ETSY.COM, STAPLES COPY & PRINT
Shopping Bags - NASHVILLEWRAPS.COM, PAPERMART.COM (Remember to choose paper and not plastic!)
Tent Essentials Checklist
Make sure to give the same attention to your setup as you would your product development. You do need the customers to come to your tent to see your magnificent products, yes? You need a setup that is sturdy and stable (regardless of the outdoor elements) and attractive. Then they will fly to you. Like moths to a flame.
Survive a rainy day. Clear shower curtain liners and aluminum hooks is an easy and cost-effective solution. BED BATH & BEYOND have really good ones.
Make sure nothing flies away. Clamp down everything. Spring clamps are your best friend. HOME DEPOT has them in different sizes. We recommend HDX clamps. You would need about 10 each of the 2” ones and the 1” ones.
Light your tent! The QNM is well-lighted but do remember that you are outdoors from 6 to midnight. Fairy lights are pretty but they are not enough. People will buy if they see the item. Ambience will just make them want to go drinking. You would need these things for a bright setup: clamp lamps, LED light bulbs and 50-ft. extension cord. They are all reasonably priced at the HOME DEPOT.
Protect your merchandise from the elements. Ensure that your customers get your product in pristine condition. Keep them in clear and waterproof containers for easy access and maximum protection. Large Sterilite clearview containers are available at TARGET. If your items are pretty heavy, it is best to keep them in smaller containers. We find the sweater boxes from THE CONTAINER STORE very helpful.
Customers prefer communicating with vendors who are eye-level. Always be standing up with a smile. If standing up for a long time is not for you, a folding bar chair will help. IKEA’s Franklin folding bar stool with backrest is the most reasonably priced that we could find.