by Sanne Kure-Jensen
As days grow shorter and nights grow cooler, many growers see their largest harvests of the year. Be sure to sell that bountiful harvest at its freshest. UVM Extension’s Mary Peabody, Director of the Women’s Agricultural Network and UVM Extension Specialist in Community Resources and Economic Development offers growers these useful tools to liven up their market booths, draw in customers and boost sales.
Creating a customer-friendly sales space is key and it starts with you. Stand out and be friendly! Shoppers go to farmers markets to build relationships, so stay engaged and smile. Wear your farm logo in a visible place, so customers can easily identify you. If you have staff, impress upon them your farm story and the importance of excellent customer service skills.
Remember the wow factor, eye-catching displays attract customers and customers attract more customers. Full baskets are more appealing, so refill stock throughout the day and switch to smaller baskets when you get close to running out. Use shallow baskets or fill basket bottoms with a shallow box to promote the idea of abundance — use it as a selling tool.
Unless you are trying to sell baskets, focus your display on produce or value added products. Reduce clutter too; use simple boxes or baskets and a streamlined booth layout. Place your cash register and scale at the side of your booth so that a queue to pay will not block your next group of shoppers. Leave space next to the register for people to put down their purse or write a check. Moving customers is important too, so a speedy checkout process will increase sales. Have a helper bag purchase; this will help the sales and control customer flow.
Keep your best selling items between waist height and eye level, people don’t like to bend over and they may miss lower items. Simple, durable wooden racks can display multiple product sizes. Be sure your upright displays are stable at windy outdoor markets.
Clear labeling will also increase sales. Invest in waterproof name labels for every item you plan to sell. Print the produce or product name in a simple, clear font; do not include a price. Label every basket or container. Signs should be readable from a few feet away.
Have some bundled packages ready and waiting for those shoppers who are in a hurry. Try offering kits with recipes, produce and herbs; cut-up veggies for a stir-fry, chopped soup veggies or a salsa package. If you offer flowers, try having a few pre-made bouquets.
Learn about local health codes concerning samples at farmers markets. If allowed, offer produce samples to boost sales. Remember, building a customer base is about building relationships, so try keeping a folder of great seasonal recipes on hand to share with market customers. Creating produce care tips is also an idea. Storage temperatures, preparation tips and cooking times will help your customer enjoy your products after the sale.
Treat every customer graciously, no matter how tired you may be at the end of the day.
There is always room for improvement, so think back over the season and remember what display elements brought in the most sales and which ones didn’t turn the result you we looking for.
Boost sales at fall farmers markets
by Sanne Kure-Jensen