In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, all in-person events and markets inevitably ceased. To adapt to the crisis, markets and their stallholders have turned online— Pedddle included! Although we were already online as a market and stallholder directory, we decided to host regular online markets to enable our members to continue trading and have had incredible turn-out from both merchants and customers.
An online market is an event hosted online through social media or a single website page with the specific focus to increase brand awareness and sales. Their length varies from a few hours within a day to a weekend or even a week. The concept is to increase awareness of small creative businesses; particularly those that have been displaced from their usual ‘in-person’ markets, helping customers to shop consciously during the pandemic. In the UK, online events have been important within the community, keeping creatives focused and more importantly—in business!
Lots of makers and markets are turning online during the pandemic, so although this is a great sales avenue, it’s also highly competitive. If you’re considering taking part in an online market, we have some top tips for how to best be prepared.
Virtual markets are so different from in-person events - it’s no secret that it can be harder to get a sale when shoppers can’t physically experience your product. To help combat this, be sure you are creating as much buzz as you can around the event, as well as best representing your brand, through awesome imagery and copy.
Working actively with your event organizer is a really positive way to make the event a success and learn the best way to be present and at the forefront of people’s minds.
Here are our 5 top tips to maximizing the outcome of your online market.
1. BE STRATEGIC WITH YOUR PRODUCT
If you are invited or apply to participate in a themed online market, be strategic about which products you offer - be sure that you have relevant products that will appeal to attendees.
For instance, Pedddle hosted a Random Acts of Kindness Market, where we publicised just one product from each maker, with the idea being that you could buy a gift for someone you love as a ‘random act of kindness’. The vendors would then gift-wrap it (some using noissue tissue!) and ship directly to the recipient with a hand-written note, helping spread a little joy in these turbulent times! This market was a great fit for vendors with unique items that could be easily shipped and enjoyed at home.
Cactus Parlour was our most successful stallholder on this market as these super cute cat, panda and fox ‘pot your own’ kits made an ideal gift and well priced. These were bought in bulk for gifts. You could choose between the pot and a cactus or succulent. Such a fab gift and very well received.
2. MARKET THE MARKET!
Once you decide to participate in a market, be diligent about sharing the details on all your social channels and to your email list! Most market planners will provide graphics for the participants to share - so definitely utilize those and post multiple reminders about the event. Tagging other vendors will also encourage additional sharing, as well as alert your audience to the other participants!
As always, double check that details are correct and that the links you share work.
3. GIVE YOUR TIME
A ‘normal’ market would see you out of your house door-to-door for usually around 7-9 hours a day. So, with this in mind, give your time on the day to the online market. Don’t ‘post and ghost’ as this will not increase your engagement as you would wish. Spend time commenting on posts by other vendors and also the organizers. Share a list of your products with links on how to buy them and the prices with a call to action for the customer e.g. ‘comment below for more details’. Once they reply you can send them a direct link to your product to purchase, this works best on Instagram.
4. GET YOUR ASSETS UP TO SCRATCH
Ensure you are sharing great images of your products, as well as compelling copy! Quality product images and enticing descriptions are vital at the best of times, but are especially essential for an online market. Consider sharing the story behind each product or it’s unique value add. Remember, customers are likely to be browsing through dozens of other options, so do anything you can to make your brand/product stand-out.
5. CHECKOUT YOUR CHECKOUT
Dropped carts are really common online, so think about how you can minimise this. Ensure your website is working quickly and efficiently. It is usually oversized images that can slow a site down. If you are using discount codes, double check they are functioning correctly at checkout.
Remember, taking part in these events is great exposure for your small businesses and makers. Since online events have no attendee cap, it’s an opportunity to reach new audiences and provide them with a great escape from their quarantine reality!
As a creative business you are also learning about how your product sells online. Use every online market in the same way you would a physical market— as a learning experience. With each event take something away from it; what worked well and what you might change next time. You are hoping the market will bring new customers but take advantage of the fact you can shout about your products for the day on social media and try to mobilize your own audience to make a purchase from you.
This is a guest post by Nicki, founder of Pedddle. Pedddle is a UK-based online platform where anyone can search for independent, creative markets and their stallholders.