Thursday, September 21, 2017

Why serious flea market businesses should also go online, and online business should go physical.

Our good friend Jack Ma, founder of Alibaba has opened their first brick and mortar shopping mall in China.

For those of you who do not know what is about, this is the Asian mother of all e-commerce platforms. It started off linking buyers directly to manufacturers, and later on it created Taobao and Tmall to link consumers to sellers.

Since then we've heard the likes of shopping web/app sites such Lazada (now owned by Alibaba), Qoo10, Rakuten (out of Singapore market), Carousell, Shopee, Etsy etc etc, some of which have closed their operations.

Their western equivalent is Amazon, who set up their Asia HQ in Singapore. They haven't set up a physical store as well, but we think eventually they would.

If you recall we already professed that every business that sells direct to consumers must have both online and offline presence - we call it O & O whilst the others are still calling it O2O. (Why we weren't quoted by the big name media is simply because, we're not Jack Ma. heh).

We've learnt that as long as a person is famous and rich, all his words would be taken as holy scriptures by many.

So we'll explain why.

ONLINE - it's the trend. Almost every mother father son daughter in the urbanised world has a mobile device that's connected to the internet. We can assume the same for laptops and computers. So going online is going with the trend. 

It's where you reach out to more potential customers. It's where you portray your brand personality. It's where people can buy from you even at 2 am in the morning when you're asleep. It's where people from another time zone with internet connectivity and where freight forwarders and delivery guys service can place their orders, and pay you when you're just about to wake up.

So that your flea market business can have a global reach.  The possibilities are LIMITED by what you have to offer for sales, especially if you are a trader type (buy stuff to sell).   If you are a producer type (make or UPCYCLE things to sell), the global reach would benefit you more.

Sometimes these folks pay so much money to SEO agencies that whatever you google or search it comes up in your first page - IRRITATING isn't it?  

And when your eyesight begins failing when you reach a certain age, you decide that going to the mall would be more relaxing for you - and you get some exercise walking. heh

Then there's social media advertising.

OFFLINE - this is where you set up your flea market booths and sell to the people who are physically there.  You get a chance to showcase your products to real life people - let them touch feel, try, taste, smell your products out before they make their purchase. It's where you let your brand personality shine by behaving the way you say your brand does.

You reach out to a group of skeptical shoppers who insist on seeing the real thing before they buy.
And you get to shake your customers' hands and thank them with a smile.  If you already have an online business you can invite them to view your products at the flea markets.

You reach out to a group of potential customers who are customers of complementary sellers, or even competitors.

That's what markets, flea or otherwise are about - gathering of sellers who offer lots of stuff, sometimes similar or identical for sale. Which is also why larger markets, with wider offerings and superior experiences will attract more shoppers. 

(Retail mall landlords who use flea markets to draw footfall - take note : you will have to lift your curation requirements if you really want flea markets to contribute footfall to your malls).


If you analyse this, it's really about the experiences shoppers get at flea markets.  And loads of shoppers buy on impulse.

If you expect to do well at a flea market using the same method running an online business (i.e. sit back relax and hope that SEO will do its job), well you're wrong.    Bringing your offline business into flea markets requires you to adopt new tactics.  

Because you're facing a different set of human psychology altogether. You've got to create moments where you can captivate, capture or engage your customers.  Like how the uncles and and aunties would gather around the morning market stalls.  

There is a 'show and tell' element involved.  How can you have a 'Show and tell' element that engages or captivates your customers?

It is our conviction that for any flea market, or retail business to be successful, it must be present both Online AND Offline.

If you're serious about profiting from this model, it's not too late to start.  

Come chat with us at the Sentosa Boardwalk Bazaar where we are every weekend.