Pop-ups and stalls at exhibitions are a great vehicle for entrepreneurs to showcase their products…
As an entrepreneur, whether you are an online or offline business, you will constantly be looking for ways to expand your market. More so if you don’t have an outlet where you can meet customers personally and where they can get a feel of your product firsthand. And if you are a startup, chances are people really don’t know much about your business. So why would they buy from you? You can advertise, have an Insta page and Facebook page and even a website. You may have some loyal customers (who could also be mainly friends and family!) but is your business growing?
This is where events play a role. Exhibitions, pop-ups, weekend markets, bazaars…all these are great ways to showcase your product and get to meet customers face to face. Across the globe, pop-ups have become a hot trend not just for retailers but also for entrepreneurs and online businesses and seem to be popping up everywhere!
Don’t we all love going for exhibitions? Some are industry or product specific – like a furniture exhibition, art display or a clothing bonanza. Others embrace a variety of products from food stalls to jewelry to clothes, art, etc. As an entrepreneur, you should establish your presence at both industry specific and general exhibitions to reach out to a wider crowd.
What do you need to keep in mind when you decide to participate in an exhibition, event or pop-up?
1. Does it reach your target market? If you are selling premium skincare products or lux handbags, then showcasing them at a flea market or a small local fair held in the grounds of a school or the local YMCA will be a pointless exercise. But if you are a home baker or sell homemade snacks, even small events can help you sell your products.
2. Keep samples of your products: Many consumers are hesitant to buy without checking out a sample. The other day, a friend who had a stall at a fair, lost a few customers because she didn’t have samples of the lip balm she was selling. A stall close by was selling these delicious vegan mayos in different variants and she got us to taste the stuff; we loved it and bought it. How do you buy a product you have no idea about without sampling it?
3. Be organized: Yes, this is very important because at most exhibitions, you will have limited space. You need a couple of helpers so that you can concentrate on selling your product and inviting people to your store, while your helpers can handle packing and billing for you. If you are going to do everything singlehandedly, especially at a crowded event, people may get tired of waiting, and they will just leave. And there goes a potential customer!
4. Pay attention to your appearance: Exhibitions and pop-ups are very personal because customers interact with the sellers, ask them questions, wander around, come back, check out stuff, ask more questions. If you are sloppy, look unwashed, have dirty nails, etc, you will put off potential customers. Also, try to dress to suit your brand or product. If you are selling boho chic clothing, don’t come dressed in formal wear. If you are selling jewelry, accessorize yourself. If you’re selling saris, wear one of your beautiful creations. You get where I’m going, right?
5. Pay attention to cleanliness: This is an extension of the point above. Make sure your stall is neat and clean. If you are handling food, no one is going to come to your stall if you look unkempt. If you are selling brownies, buns, Chinese food, salads, sandwiches…whatever…handle everything with gloves and keep all the food items covered. No one is going to be tempted to buy food that has flies buzzing around it!
6. Lay out the products attractively: It’s all about what we see. If we find it appealing, we will make a beeline to the store. If you’re selling clothes, prominently display your best creations. If you’re selling pastries, display them in a way to entice buyers. If everything is in a higgledy-piggledy mess, how do potential buyers even see the stuff you’re selling?
7. Pay attention to branding: If you are a newbie or a startup, you want people to know about your brand. So have posters and displays with your brand prominently flaunted. It goes without saying that your products should be clearly branded. This may not work with clothing, but if you’re selling soaps, lotions, jams, pickles…anything that is packaged…ensure that the branding is visible and memorable. For other items, create bags with your branding and other information on it. Don’t stuff the clothes or footwear or table linen into generic clothe or plastic bags. Those attractive bags you give along with the purchase, which have your branding clearly stamped on them, will be reused and will serve as a reminder for the customers. If you’re selling paintings or photographs, attach a pretty visiting card behind the picture.
8. Stock up on visiting cards and pamphlets or brochures: This is a great way to get customers to get to know you. Irrespective of whether someone buys something from your pop-up store, hand out a visiting card and a pamphlet or brochure that tells them about your brand and what all you have on offer. It makes sense to invest in a professionally done brochure with eye-catching photographs of your products.
9. Be patient and courteous: Sounds like a no-brainer, right? But I’ve seen sellers get impatient or rude with customers who ask too many questions. Remember, you want to grow your business. You are the face of your business. Answer all the questions, however silly they may seem to you. Smile – that always wins hearts! If people like you, chances are they will sample your product just to please you. And if you are smiling, courteous and helpful, they will remember you. It helps in building long-term relationships with your customers. And helps in educating customers about your brand.
Pop-up stores at exhibitions and events are great ways to turn clicks to bricks! Since you are assured of footfalls, especially when you have a store at a popular exhibition, you are guaranteed of spreading awareness about your brand. You will get some new customers and others who are interested. It’s not a cakewalk, and you may not make great profits; you may not even break even. It’s also physically and mentally exhausting. Nevertheless, it’s still worth it. With pop-ups becoming such a hot trend, it makes sense for entrepreneurs to leverage them to their advantage.