I started this train of thought with a post on our Facebook page when I asked the question. “What kind of shopper are you? Are you a browser/window shopper who scans around for items that grab your attention or a rummager that picks up and looks at everything?” Are you an impulse buyer or someone who needs to take their time making purchases?
I admit, I am one of the worst shoppers as I’m a browser and I have to justify to myself everything I buy, unless I know it will match, where it will go, who I am buying it for etc. I won’t buy anything.
I think this answered my own question of why some people struggle to sell their products at Craft Fairs, especially if they have to try to attract customers like me to their stalls.
Like many, I for one have stood behind my stall at a craft fair and watched people as they glance over but carry on walking past and this can be very disheartening and I have to admit I’ve done the same when I’m looking around fairs, I only stop if something grabs my attention from afar and draws me near. If people are not looking for something in particular and just browsing then they have to be tempted to come over and take a look, shops do it all the time with their Window displays, if you see something you like in the window you are more likely to go inside. This is why it is so important that you have a good display and have at least one item that grabs people’s attention and becomes a talking point. Look at your stall from a shoppers point of view. What grabs your attention? Is it clear what you sell? Is your stall well laid out, not too cluttered but also not bare? Ask yourself would I buy from this stall?
Also, not everyone are impulse buyers and many need to justify to themselves and sometimes their friends and partners why they want to buy something, especially now that money can be tight. I’ve seen it so often, they pick something up and say they like it and then they ask whoever they are with what do they think, either for themselves or as a gift for someone else and unless the reaction from the other person is positive they will put the item down and walk away, usually saying they will have a look around and they might be back. Occasionally they will return, but most don’t.
In situations like this you can either stand back and lose the sale, or you can try joining in. Ask them to pick up the item if they haven’t already, taste, smell, try it on etc. depending on what it is you sell, engage them in conversation and paint a picture for them, say what it will match, where it would go, where they can wear it, tell them more about the item, how it was made etc. If the person is thinking of buying it as a gift for someone offer to gift wrap it or show them a gift box you could put it in for them. This could make all the difference between someone buying the item and walking away, but don’t be too pushy this can also put purchasers off, know when to back off and allow them time to consider what you have told them. You could try putting yourself in their shoes and see if you could justify the purchase to yourself.
Many crafters worry about their prices, are they too high or too low. Especially if they are not selling anything. Most of the time the price of the item sometimes doesn’t even feature into it, although if it’s too cheap people will question if it’s really handmade and if the quality is good enough and will it last. If it’s too expensive then the purchaser has to be able to visualise and justify the purchase to themselves and maybe their partner (how many things have you bought when alone and not told your partner about?) This is where your own belief in yourself and your products has to be strong, others may know or have an idea how much the raw materials cost, but only you know how much time, creativity, blood, sweat and tears went into making your products, this is what your prices should reflect.
I saw a sign and posted it on our Facebook page a week or so ago, but I’m going to post it here again as I think it says what I’m trying to say.
There is one piece of advice though I can easily give regarding your prices and that is they should always be clearly visible, if you don’t display your prices, this can have a bad effect on sales. I witnessed this just last week at an event I was attending. The stallholder next me didn’t have prices on any of her items and after the first couple of hours she hadn’t sold anything even though her products should have been flying off her stall. Being unable to stand by and watch someone struggle, I advised her to write her prices down next to the items and once she did this, her items started to sell. As a shopper it does put me off buying something if I can’t see the price, I will only ask if I really want something.
Another thing I have noticed is that people who sell cakes, sweets, perishable items etc. always seem to do well at fairs. I think this is because people always find it easier to justify buying food, ie. it’s an impulse buy, a nice treat for me, you or the family etc. spending £2.00 for one cupcake is OK, buying a cup of £2.50 coffee is OK but spending £3.00 on a pair of earrings needs thought and justification and buying something over £10/£20/£30 cannot be bought on impulse when money is short!
They also don’t have to worry about returning the cake/coffee if there is a problem, if they don’t like it, it can get thrown away or easily given to someone else. But when they buy something more tangible, they have to think about if it will match their decor/outfit, what if it breaks, or the person they are thinking of buying it for doesn’t like it. They have to consider what do they do if they want to change it or get their money back, how do they do that if they bought from a craft fair? Is there a returns policy and how do I contact the seller again? All these things/thoughts can make someone not buy your item, so you have to change this perception, offer them your business card, show them that you are just as easy to deal with as a shop, if you can be contacted on-line or have an on-line store tell them this.
I have also noticed that stallholders who know other people, ie have friends who visit or are a regular at an event always seem to do better than the ‘newbie’ or the person who does it as a one-off. There appears to be a certain amount of ‘trust’ involved with these stallholders, if they buy from them, they know that they will be at the next event, whether its next week, next month or the next event, they will be back. The purchaser knows if the item they buy is not right or breaks they can return it or contact the seller more easily. I’ve had many repeat sales from people who say I bought from you last time and its so nice when they stand at your stall and recommend you to others.
Remember to think like a shopper, you can forget this sometimes when you’ve been standing behind your stall for hours, tired, bored and cold. Your shop window is your stall so show them something worth stopping for, encourage them to look and touch and not just browse, be there for them if they have a question or you can see they are undecided about an item. Some people are happy to engage in conversation with you, whilst others prefer to just look, always Smile and be friendly but never ever too pushy. Times are hard at the moment and everyone has to think more about their purchases, even you and me, you just have to give them a little more encouragement to spend their money with you.
Let me know what you think of this article, I would love to hear your comments.