By Jennifer Shaheen.
With the fall season fully underway, so too are farmer’s markets taking place all over the country. The goods they offer—delicious pies and cakes, hand-knit scarves and gloves, and beautiful artwork—are so different than anything purchased in a store. Yet, even these artisanal items can’t escape technology. Vendors at most farmer’s markets are able to process mobile payments via their smartphones. Where they fall short? Offering a website where customers can buy their products online all year long.
Growth in online sales
According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, online sales grew by 14.6 percent last year and now account for 10 percent of all sales in the U.S. This continues a trend that has already lasted more than five years. Being able to sell products online exponentially increases a small business owner’s opportunities to connect with their customers. While a farmer’s market may be open on a seasonal basis, the Internet is available 24/7. In addition to facilitating off-season sales, a website can be the ideal way to showcase and sell items that can’t be displayed at a farmer’s market. If a customer wants to know if your product is available in another size, color, or flavor, being able to direct them to where they can immediately order it online from you will generate additional sales and give your small business greater visibility.
If you’re a small retailer doing business at a farmer’s market, you might not want to enter the online market because you offer perishable products or feel that your customers strongly prefer to buy your products in a farmer’s market setting. Other vendors may want to sell online, but aren’t sure what they need to do to add e-commerce to their existing website.
E-Commerce platforms are an easy route
While it is entirely possible to build an online store from scratch, or to select and combine various digital tools to create a store, for most small business owners the most efficient way to get started is to take advantage of the tools offered by the payment processing service you’re already using.
Almost every company that offers mobile payment processing also offer fairly robust premade e-commerce websites to their customers. These websites are built using a template that small business owners can easily customize with their logo and images in order to reflect their unique branding and appeal. Best of all for the busy small business owner, these comprehensive e-commerce platforms handle all of the necessary functions of online sales, including accounting, POS, inventory and order management, marketing, merchandising, customer service, and financials. Combine these tools with the high-touch experience of a farmer’s market, and you’ll have a successful small business all year long.
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