Participating in craft markets and pop-up shops is one of Delmora's objectives in 2022. This post aims to describe our pop-up shop and craft market experience showing other small businesses some learning tips and suggestions. Although every company is different, there could be some tips that could improve their experiences. This post also intends to portray Delmora's journey to our customers.
Every craft market is an opportunity to be closer to our customers. Receiving feedback, talking about their jewellery preferences, telling them about our relationship with charities and our recyclable packaging and, more importantly, listening to their stories. Those should inspire you when developing new products and deciding how to implement marketing strategies to achieve your business goals. But being ready to give an excellent experience is a tiring process as the preparation includes:
- Listing the stock to be offered on the day.
- Calculating the packaging supplies and marketing materials for that specific event (banners, business cards etc)
- Pricing every product according to current marketing needs. This will depend on your marketing strategy, which could be to penetrate your market with competitive prices, market development, brand recognition, market research etc.
- Does the event require product labels on each piece? (This is related to their refund policy). If so, check availability and label all the products.
- Get funding if required to buy all material, covering market costs such as market fees, petrol, lunch etc.
- Clean and sanitise all the products (sterling silver and emeralds, for example, require special treatment).
- Clean all displays and tools to be used on the day.
- On the day, be at the place at least 2 hours prior to starting to check the parking situation and have enough time to organise your stand correctly.
- During the day, take someone with you who can help you and stay on your stand when you need to use the facilities.
- On the day, start packing an hour and a half before you leave. Packing up jewellery takes a lot of time as it requires separating each piece into small bags to avoid rubbing them, protecting the metal and the stones.
- After the market is finished:
- Clean the remaining pieces for the following market
- Clean all the displays
- Conciliate stock and check:
- Sales (value and volume)
- Listing stock remaining for the following market
- Update online stock (website, Amazon, Etsy).
Sometimes sales don't cover your expenses, and you must be prepared for that. On the bright side, these events have numerous learning points (described earlier). For example, customer feedback will help you frame your pricing policy and adapt your product to your customers' needs.
In my opinion, I don't think a business can grow just by attending craft markets. It is required to combine them with other options to get more sales. Craft markets' sales could vary between £0 - £250 (these figures are based on Delmora's data and other small businesses attending craft markets). I have spoken to other small businesses, and the average sales figure is approximately £100 per event.
Let's do some quick maths. If you sell £100, you must cover:
- Market/event fees = normally between £30 - £50
- Lunch and snacks = normally £10 /per person.
- Petrol or any transport = £10-20 approx. (it depends on the distance)
- The cost of your product (including packaging) = depends on your markup. For example, if your markup is x2, the cost of your sold products of £100 would be £50.
- Any other costs involved in producing and selling your product (accountant fees, card reader, bank account fees, insurance etc.) This would be approximately 5% of sales. In this case, £5.
- Finance commission on sales (SumUp charges 1.69% out of payments with credit card) = £60 (if 60% of total sales are paid using credit card) x 1.69% = £1
- Your time and the person that is helping you
The figures don't up, right? It is difficult for small businesses to survive due to high costs (as we usually don't have access to scales of economy). It will also take some time before our brands can be recognised/preferred by our customers, affecting our sales for a while.
The British economic situation also affects small business results. Brexit, inflation, political issues, and other external risks can make it difficult to find new competitive suppliers. Entrepreneurs' creativity is often challenged as new ways to get customers must be implemented. Different channels must be used until the right one(s) is found and perfected.
Delmora has 3 e-stores, but it wasn't enough because sales were growing very slowly. Craft markets helped, and the direct contact with our customers helped our brand recognition. After several craft markets attendance, we decided our next step would be to have a short-term pop-up shop.
It took us almost 4 months since we decided to have a pop-up until we could get one. Location was the critical point in selecting the right pop-up for us. But if you want something, you must pay for it and getting a good location is very expensive in the world of retail.
"Before this experience, I thought I could complete the task alone. It looked like a small area I needed to keep attractive to anyone passing by. But it is much more difficult than that" Delmora's founder.
One of the most challenging requirements is the time schedule. We were open from 8am to 7pm. A well-located pop-up shop is a terrific opportunity for any business. Our objective was to avoid leaving our stand unattended. We wanted to show full availability but also to deter shoplifters who are increasingly common in England these days. Jewellery can be attractive for shoplifters as it is easy to steal.
When a small business starts, its founder wears all the hats that make saving money possible while sales can support the extra costs of having an employee. Delmora is not the exception; during the pop-up shop, I was the salesperson, and it wasn't possible to hire any help. As a result, I couldn't take any breaks during the day apart from at midday when my husband helped me and for an hour while I had my lunch.
Some hidden costs are sometimes underestimated, such as lunch, parking, and your time. I advise you to consider all of those when estimating your real profits.
"First day I had a £3,75 lunch, but after 1 hour I was hungry again, so I decided to have healthier and nicer lunch breaks. My lunch was between £9-£16." Delmora's founder.
It was challenging, and you really need to enjoy what you do. We had a clear idea of what we wanted to achieve so; we could measure our success. Here is what we learnt:
- I will need 2 people in a pop-up store: breaks are necessary to use the toilets, have lunch, make more products, and run your company.
- Parking expenses are more important than you think and can make a big difference to the profits (this is especially valid for long-term pop-ups).
- Jewellery sales are highly sensitive to price changes, especially costume jewellery.
- More product variety = More sales. (As simple as that)
- A welcoming smile and a positive attitude are the best to attract people to your stand.
- People don't like hard selling
- Location is everything
- When you are serving a customer, finish with them, don't try to please everyone.
- In general, people want to touch/feel the product
- Packaging is essential
- The more you forget about your sales targets, the better. You need to be present when speaking with your clients, if you have the pressure of sales, that conversation could be less genuine, and your customer will notice it
For Delmora, this experience really showed its vast potential. Although this deal wasn't great financially, it reflected what could be achieved when the right opportunity comes up.
It is possible that after paying rent, commission, and other fees, what remains is so tiny that it is almost demotivating. But if you think of this experience as an opportunity, you will see the benefits. It is an opportunity to know your business's potential, speak to more customers, and receive feedback about your product. If you want to achieve that, success is guaranteed.