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Farmers' Markets offer a unique experience for food shoppers. Here are some tips for enhancing the shopping experience and making your products stand out at market.
Freshness, flavor, from a local farm, supporting the local economy, friendly atmosphere. Emphasize these factors.
The Herding effect is important
Don't say, "Do you want a sample?" It's easy to say no. Instead, say, "Have you ever tried-?" This will slow customers down. You want people to slow down at the stall. The bigger your stall, the easier it is to get customers to stop.
Sample your best-tasting, ripe produce.
Do a comparative tasting at your own stall.
Rather than leaving samples out, give out one slice at a time so that you can tell the customer 3 things about your product (where it is grown, how it is grown, cooking suggestions, etc.)
Put something unusual at your stall - kohlrabi (looks cool), a huge pumpkin, etc. It gives you something to talk about and makes people slow down when passing your stall.
Talk to your customers! Example: Does anyone know how to- (e.g., blanching corn in the dishwasher). Do some internet research for tips and information about your products that customers can use. End sales with, "See you next week!"
2. Provide Great Customer Service
Educate customers about the varieties, how they are grown, etc.
Have tips on how to cook or or preserve (can, dry, or freeze) your produce.
Explain how to make items store/last longer. This will encourage customers to buy more.
Make sure to have enough help so that customers do not have to wait too long. Devise a system that helps you identify the order customers have arrived in and serve them accordingly.
Memorize your regular customers' names and greet them with a smile. Try memorizing two new names per week.
Educate yourself about what the other vendors at the market have so that you can be of help when customers are looking for certain items. It will also give you ideas for your future production.
3. Increase Dollar-Per-Customer Purchasing
Put up signs: "Next week-xxx-will be in."
Offer new varieties
Try having some selections pre-packaged in family sized portions
At busy markets you need to reduce transaction time. Have some items pre-weighed, pre-packaged.
Mix and match techniques (Bakers dozens, give them the 13th free); some already measured out in pints or 1-pound baskets; bulk sells more.
Salsa pack: tomatoes, onions, cilantro, peppers, etc. (Value added-already packaged - include a recipe)
Mixed pepper pack (pretty, eye-catching)
Try creative packaging: Nuts packaged in plastic that is in the shape of a carrot ("Easter gift")
Soup mix: Pre-package everything the customer will need for the soup, including the recipe
4. The Key to Direct Marketing is Repeat Buying
Know your market. Know your Customers. Are people browsing or are they there to quickly get things they need?
Think from the customers' point of view.
Maintain consistent freshness, supply and quality (only bring stuff you are proud of).
Farm identity: Use farm name and logo so they know who to come back to. Use as much labeling as possible.
Consider frequent buyer programs (works well for things like flowers).
Give them a punch card, and after spending $100, they get $10 worth of product for free (or something similar).
5. Merchandise Your Stall
Make a focal point to draw people in.
Pile produce up. Tilt the containers. Have it artfully "spill over" from nice containers. Get produce out of tubs and boxes. Use bi-level merchandising.
Think in terms of colors, shapes and textures. Balance aesthetics with practicality by using contrasting tablecloths. Display items that go well together visually, such as red tomatoes with green basil.
Show prices! Tell varieties. Laminate your signs so you can write write/change prices, etc.
Use big signs for branding. Include a picture of your farm. Put the name of your farm on the sign. Laminate. Put on paint stir sticks to attach to your display.
Keep greens, cucumbers, herbs, and other foods that are prone to wilting cool and out of direct sun.
Highlight uncommon and heirloom varieties that customers may not be aware of.
Consolidate items as they are sold to give the appearance of abundance, even when there is not abundance.
Keep things well organized.
Use product props like farm equipment, an old wheelbarrow, etc.
Make an investment to have a nice display.