Market Success Stories: Pipcorn

Pipcorn, a name made popular from its appearance on the TV show Shark Tank, has taken the healthy food market by storm. Using a special husk-less piece of corn, when popped it makes a smaller, tasty version of popcorn. But did you know, this grocery store juggernaught started from a simple New York outdoor food market?

Welcome to Market Success Stories. An individual look at a successful company or entrepreneur that started from a simple market and made it big. 

Pipcorn market stand
Source: http://bit.ly/2pPsDRO

Pipcorn was started from the brother and sister team of Jen and Jeff Martin. A farmer gave Jen some special corn that he grew, and she asked Jeff to try and make popcorn out of it. He did and they tasted a great new type of popcorn that has a special super thin hull that won’t get stuck in your teeth, and is about half the size of regular popcorn pieces.

Soon after they started packaging and selling the first product of Pipsnacks, Pipcorn at a local outdoor food market in New York. This was a great place to get exposure for their produce and have many new people try it. Turns out that was a great choice and helped them get to where they are today.

Not long after launching, they appear on Shark Tank, seeking $200,000 for 20%. Barbara and Robert both gave them offers, but her close proximity to their office and her experience with food helped seal the deal as their ideal partner.

Since their early days appearing in farmers markets, they’ve been named one of Oprah’s favorite things twice, revisited on Shark Tank, gotten into numerous brick and mortar stores, as well as selling strongly online.

In fact, by embracing technology, they have been able to increase their operations nationally, and hugely increased their online sales both on their website, as well as Amazon.

Pipcorn is just another example of a company that got their start from a simple farmers or flea market. What started with some random corn kernels, took 2 years to be the Pipcorn people now know and love.

How to Make Vendors Happy and Keep Them Coming Back

Vendors are the lifeblood of any market. Whether a flea market, farmers market, or swap meet. They keep you in business, and shoppers coming back week after week (or month after month). So one of the most important things you can do to keep your market running smoothly, is to take care of those vendors. Here are three ways to keep vendors happy, ensuring they keep coming back.

Keep Vendors Engaged

A lot of times we focus on how to make things easy for shoppers. But we need to spend time on the vendors as well. They are your customers! So think of ways to keep them engaged and happy.

You could try a vendor loyalty program. Where the more frequently they exhibit at your market, the different benefits they accrue. It could be as simple as food at the food court, though feel free to have fun with it. Maybe discounts on rent, or entered into regular drawings for prizes.

Using a tool like BoothBooks can help by seamlessly tracking who rented a booth that month, and how many times. If you are awarding a “cash” prize as a form of account credit, that can be handled as well which encourages them to stay with you in order to redeem it.

In the end, rewarding vendors for staying loyal to your market keeps them happy and coming back time after time.

Make Things Easy

Why make things overly complicated? Especially for vendors who constantly return, it doesn’t need to be a drawn out process. BoothBooks keeps a running history of each vendor, and with saved payment info, you can make the checkout process a breeze.

Its important to make things easy for new vendors as well. That first impression will help shape the opinion of your market and you want it to be a good one. If they require something specific like electricity or a covered booth, you want to make finding any acceptable booth locations or dates quick and easy. The easier it is to rent a booth, the more likely they will be willing to do so in the future.

Give them Options

Instead of just a carte blanche option of a flat fee for every booth, make pricing more dynamic and have vendors more engaged in choosing the perfect booth for them. BoothBooks offers a powerful rules engine that allows each booth to have a flat rate, but certain attributes will affect the price higher or lower.

This gives vendors more choices. If they want the bare minimum, you have now a cheaper option for them. But if they want that covered, corner booth by the food court that includes electricity, each of those attributes can increase the cost. That helps out vendors, but also can increase your bottom line.

You also want to offer options for payments and checkouts. Whether check, cash, or card, It is more accommodating to potential lessees, but you need to be able to track that intake clearly and report on it in the future.

Making the checkout process quick is also key. It allows you to process more transactions and lower wait times (which keeps vendors happy). You can even look at allowing vendors to check themselves out. An online vendor portal that allows them to choose the booth of their dreams from home makes it easier and thus increases the likelihood of getting them into your market.

Roundup

They key to a great market, is great vendors. Giving them options, making exhibiting easier, and rewarding them for coming back can help grow your vendor base, and in turn, your market.

4 Tips to Help Flea Markets Embrace Technology

Utilize technology to get the most out of your market.

boothbooks-user
Flea Markets, while not alone in their intricacies, are still very much like other businesses. Large and small. Yet, many swap meet proprietors shun standards in technology that they really shouldn’t.
Technology has become an essential part of all businesses and it is important to break through the swell of companies fighting for your attention. So lets go back to basics and take a look at four tips every business should be aware of when considering technology.

1) Mobile is Important

It is crucial not to underestimate this tip. These days mobile is king and you have to be sure your business is ready to handle that. I don’t mean you need to rush out and have a mobile app created especially for your market, but there are easy and cheap ways to cater to todays consumer.
For instance, your website (you have a website, right?) should be responsive. That means it adjusts automatically based on the device people have. That way it fits on small phones, big phones, tablets, or computers. If you don’t have a mobile friendly site, users can’t access the information they need which can lead to frustration, the inability find your market, and a negative perception of your brand.
This isn’t a huge endeavor as a lot of the web design companies like GoDaddy, WIX, and others all now support responsive designs right out of the gate and are quite affordable.
With a mobile-optimized site your customers can find your market higher in search rankings, find operating hours and vendor information quickly and easily, or get directions. Alongside your website, take a look at your social media accounts, your Google Maps listing, and Yelp page.  These are crucial to improve your web presence.

2) Know your Data

Analytics are imperative and can help you really understand your flea market. You can get as fancy and sophisticated as you’d like. Want to know how many visitors you have each operating day? How many vendors you have? Which days are bringing in the most revenue? Which food items and your concessions are proving to be most popular? All can be tracked and reported on to help you make informed decisions and run your business more efficiently. Its important when looking at your software it isn’t just about functionality, but what data, insights, or reports you can glean from the system.

3) You don’t have to Break the Bank, but don’t be Cheap

It may be appealing to cheap out on technology, but in the long run, it isn’t worth it. Technology can really drive your flea market. Not just from the consumer side (where they can learn about your market, find hours, reviews, and directions), but from the vendor side as well. You are trying to attract two different groups of people and you want to remove any frustration for either of them.
For instance, without technology, when a vendor would like to reserve a booth for the weekend, it requires an employee to find available booths on those specific days, adjust the cost based on location and amenities, have the proper paperwork and contracts signed, all of which is cumbersome, time consuming, and error-prone. In today’s world, reservations can be made in advance online. Reducing mistakes, decreasing signup time, and freeing your employees to focus on other pressing matters.
If you choose cheap tech, that process won’t be smooth. Customers or vendors will be met with errors, long loading times, and often can cause more frustration than they are alleviating. Some good software, an iPad, and a few apps can be affordable and change the way you do business.

4) Its a Bird! Its a Plane! Its the Cloud!

Do you keep your data stored locally? Do you have a recent backup? Do you have an offsite backup? Data storage can be one of the most expensive and important parts of your markets tech arsenal. You need more than just an external hard drive, you need multiple backups on an offsite in case the worst should happen.
There is s bevy of information you should be retaining like transaction history, agreements/contracts, orders, and vendor rental history. An ideal solution would keep these all together, encrypted, and backed up.
Cloud solutions like BoothBooks help make that process easier, and more secure. All data is securely encrypted over SSL and backed up regularly. Ensuring if your hardware ever fails, the only thing you need to be back up and running is your closest web browser.

Get Going!

Embracing this list of technology basics for your flea market or swap meet can really modernize your business. Shoppers have a better experience, vendors have more customers and a speedier registration process, you are protecting your customers and vendors data, and you have new data insights to make informed decisions to help run your business. Combined, you will have a flourishing market and increasing profits while not having to break the bank.
BoothBooks is an affordable way to get started with technology. A clean and easy to use interface works across a variety of platforms like computers, tablets, and phones. Sign up to learn more and get started for free to see how easy you can integrate cutting edge technology into your flea market.