Recently, we wrote a series of posts discussing how small business owners can prepare for success at a bazaar. In this post, we look at things from the other point of view — the organisers. We asked 4 organisers — Jane, Masayo, YuKiat and Adeline to join us for a virtual teh tarik session to share what makes a good bazaar, the challenges faced and their thoughts on rental and entry fees.
Shoppertise: It’s not easy to organise a bazaar. What inspired you to do it?
Jane / Markets: Jaya One has always wanted to provide a platform for budding entrepreneurs to showcase their products and services. We also want to encourage more people to discover new talents or businesses, hence Markets by Jaya One was born. It allows brands to build awareness within a niche community.
Masayo / HIBANA: I couldn’t find any nice bazaars that had unique merchandise. Wherever I go, I see the same vendors and merchandise. So I decided to organise my own bazaar.
Shoppertise: What do you think differentiates a good bazaar from an average one?
Jane / Markets: A good bazaar will have unique or interesting products and services that suit the latest trends. Activities like contests, performances, workshops and demonstrations also contribute to a more complete shopping experience.
Masayo / HIBANA: Atmosphere of the venue, selection of vendors, interesting displays.
Adeline / RylDesigns: Good crowd for vendors, variety of products for shoppers, comfortable shopping environment for everyone.
Shoppertise: With so many bazaar venues for vendors to choose from, how do you attract vendors to sign up with you?
Jane / Markets & Masayo / HIBANA: We provide publicity via social media, blogs, marketing and PR initiatives. Occasionally we engage social media influencers to give vendors more exposure.
YuKiat / BOK TJUV: We organise bazaars based on a theme which attracts a very specific audience. We also offer vendors the option of including food in their package so they don’t have to worry about grabbing a bite while manning their stalls. We also help to improve the vendors’ product display by providing display racks and spotlights. Lastly, we are very open to vendors’ feedback and work on improving the next bazaar accordingly.
Adeline / RylDesigns: We allow flexibility where vendors do not necessary need to rent for a long duration with us but they get to try out different venues by just joining for a day. I believe brand accountability is also very important.
Shoppertise: That’s great. But how do you decide whether a vendor is right for your bazaar?
Jane / Markets: We look out for new local businesses that appeal to our target audience and fit well with our brand positioning so that visitors can always find something fresh and interesting.
YuKiat / BOK TJUV: We choose vendors based on the theme of the bazaar. Once we have a good selection, we work with the vendors to pull in the right crowd.
Masayo / HIBANA: I usually pick vendors that suit the concept of the bazaar venue.
Adeline / RylDesigns: It depends. We curate our vendors to a certain extent, but we try not to shut out newcomers as we want to give them a chance to showcase their products and learn from experienced vendors senior vendors. We are also mindful that we may not share the same preferences as our shoppers. So apart from a first-come-first-served basis, there’s really no fixed rule on vendor selection.
Shoppertise: Booth space at a bazaar could be a big cost to small businesses. Why do you think it is necessary to charge a fee?
Jane / Markets: We think it will spur the business owners to be more creative and work harder to recoup their expenses. They will be driven to think of various strategies to sell their products or services in order to earn more profit. The fee is also put towards marketing activities prior to the bazaar.
YuKiat / BOK TJUV: We charge a fee to cover the rental of the space and facilities, as well as our marketing and promotion services eg. design fee, FB ads etc. The fee also covers our time and effort in planning and setting up the bazaar, getting the right crowd… It’s almost as if we are setting up a 1-day pop up shop as a platform for vendors to showcase their products.
Masayo / HIBANA: A fee makes the vendors more responsible and they tend to pay more attention to the display and the customers.
Adeline / RylDesigns: The main reason would be to cover hefty venue rental costs, rental of equipment (tables, chairs, etc), marketing cost, license application etc. Having said that, we do try to keep the fees low so that small businesses can participate. Vendors also tend to be more accountable when they have to pay a fee. We have encountered no-show vendors in the past, when we gave out free booth space.
Shoppertise: That sounds fair. What about charging visitors an entry fee? Do you think that’s a good strategy?
Jane / Markets: No, because we want more people to experience the atmosphere of the Markets at Jaya One. Charging a fee will deter shoppers from coming and experiencing what we have to offer.
YuKiat / BOK TJUV: Most of the visitors just want to look around. If there’s an entry fee, they will think twice about coming to the bazaar. They might have higher expectations as well. At the end of the day, a bazaar is just a place to shop and you don’t pay entry fee at a shopping mall, do you? The only reason I can think of that justifies an entry fee is if there is a special performance of exhibition happening at the bazaar.
Masayo / HIBANA: I thought about this before… so I tried charging an entry fee at my previous bazar (on 26th August). Surprisingly, there was a big crowd and they were serious about buying nice products! It shows that as long as merchandise is attractive or special, shoppers won’t mind paying a fee. Giving potential customers a sneak peek of the merchandise before the bazaar also creates a sense of anticipation and excitement, and they become more willing to pay to shop.
Adeline / RylDesigns: It’s probably not a good idea unless the bazaar is held in conjunction with another event, like a concert. It would definitely deter shoppers from coming. Nowadays, there are many free things to do, like playing Pokemon Go.
Shoppertise: That’s quite a range of opinions. It sure takes a lot of effort to plan a bazaar. So how long in advance do you plan ahead? How do you choose the dates and what channels do you use for promotion?
Jane / Markets: Normally we will set the dates at the start of the year and run Markets every quarter. Each edition of Markets takes about 3–4 months from planning to execution. Promotions are mainly done through digital advertising and BTL channels.
YuKiat / BOK TJUV: We plan 2 months in advance and we tend to have bazaars at month end. Our usual promotion channels are Facebook, Instagram; online media like Juice online, TAPAU TV, Timeout KL, Masses, Malay Mail Online and Poskod.my
Masayo / HIBANA: The earlier the better of course. It takes time to invite and select quality vendors.
Adeline / RylDesigns: A minimum of 2 months is required for proper planning and execution. Holding bazaars on salary dates tend to work out very well :). As for promotions, we use popular social media platforms ie. Facebook and Instagram; as well as traditional marketing tools like printed banners and flyers.
Shoppertise: Last question, what is your biggest challenge when organising a bazaar?
Jane / Markets: Scouting for new and interesting vendors to join the bazaar.
YuKiat / BOK TJUV: Setting the right theme, getting the vendors we want, and crowd control. Oops, that’s 3 challenges!
Masayo / HIBANA: Coping with the pressure!
Adeline / RylDesigns: Making everyone happy — Shoppers, vendors and the management/client.
Jane Tung / Markets
Next Bazaar: 15th and 16th October
YuKiat / BOK TJUV
Next Bazaar: 29th October 2016
Masayo Kobayashi / HIBANA
Next Bazaar: End of September
Adeline / RylDesigns
Next Bazaar: End of September
Originally published at www.pocketbook.io on September 20, 2016.
Joanne Chow is a freelance content strategist for Shoppertise. She spent a good 8 years as a full-time advertising slave before calling it quits to spend more time with her bubbly little boy. Organic food, natural skincare products and socially sound business practices keep her inspired to do more good with her words. Although Joanne resides in a different timezone and works mostly when the rest of us are asleep, she finds great satisfaction in being a part of a team that is determined to have fun while chasing dreams.