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Seasonal Kiosk Businesses – How to Get Started
You see them all the time, especially at the mall. Kiosk businesses that are just around for a few months to provide goods or services that are specific to a certain season. You may have even considered looking into the idea yourself. But how hard - and expensive - is to set up a seasonal kiosk business?
What are You Going to Sell?
Before you even begin looking into kiosk sites, or the costs of running and maintaining a kiosk for a few months you have to determine just what it is that you want to sell. If you are extending your current business are the items you offer really going to draw in big seasonal sales? If you are thinking about extending your product line or branching out into a new area is there really a market for it in your area? And if so where is that market likely to be? The local mall? The craft fairs and flea markets that are usually held in abundance in the run up to the big holiday seasons?
Determining which products to sell will involve more than a little market research. There are companies that will undertake this for you but that is a prospect that is a little too expensive for many would-be kiosk owners.
If you already have a business presence in social media you may be at an advantage. Facebook polls can be a great way to discover just what your target market may or may not be interested in buying for an upcoming holiday season and the newer Pinterest is proving to be a good way to gauge audience reaction to certain products as well.
Your own social media audience is not the only one you should look to. Keyword searches in Pinterest - especially in the 'gifts' section - can be a great way to see just what people on a wider scale are interested in.
Facebook is another great source of information but the difficulty with Facebook is that it can be very hard to search effectively. The good news is that there are a handful of external services that can make searching Facebook far more effective for market research purposes. Cueup and SocialMention are both excellent free resources.
If you have an existing mailing list you can also make use of that to perform market research. Create a survey at a site like Surveymonkey (they have free options for those on a tight budget) and send it out as an email campaign.
Where are You Going to Sell?
Once you have determined what you are going to sell you need to decide just where you are going to sell it. The best place to sell may have been something that you have already figured out from your market research, at least in part. For example if your products are aimed at teenagers the obvious place to try to get a going probably is at a mall.
A big local mall is not the only option you should explore though. Outlet centers often offer seasonal kiosk space to certain kinds of (non-competing) retailers and indoor flea markets, which often do very good business at holiday times, are an option well worth exploring as well.
How Much Inventory to Carry?
A seasonal kiosk business can be hit and miss. A quiet week may be topped off by a very busy weekend and when extra traffic arrives you will need to have inventory on hand to meet the increased demand.
On the other hand purchasing too much inventory could leave you an excess of product on hand that might be much harder to sell after the holiday season you are targeting is over. In this case it can be helpful if you can find a supplier that will not only ship to you quickly but also does not put huge requirements on the amount of a certain product you have to order.
This kind of supplier offers another advantage in that for all your market research once a kiosk is open for business it is not unusual to find that a certain product turns out to be far more popular than expected. Word of mouth marketing is still a very powerful thing and once something catches someone's eye often all its takes is them telling a few of their friends where they got their 'stuff' from and a kiosk has a line of customers that the business itself never really advertised to. In this case being able to replenish inventory quickly is a must.
Dealing with the Unexpected
You have your kiosk stocked and up and running. You have reliable staff to man it. The business is starting to attract interest and everything is going well. There is one customer that many first time seasonal kiosk owners forget to account and plan for though - the one who has no intention of paying.
Shoplifting can be particularly hard for a kiosk owner to deal with because usually you are in an exposed position operating with a limited number of staff. You don't want to put anyone off by positioning a huge security guard in front of your kiosk and locking everything away is not always practical. So how can a seasonal kiosk owner deal with potential shoplifters?
Often simple customer service is the key. Chat with everyone who comes up to the kiosk. The one thing that most thieves do not want is to have attention drawn to them so by offering a simple 'can I help you' lets the person know that you are aware that they are there and that you are watching them so that simple act can be a great deterrent without appearing rude to people who turn out to be genuine interested, paying customers.
Starting and running a seasonal kiosk business is not easy and it will require more than a little hard work on your part. However if you can find the right products to sell in the right location it can be a great way to boost an existing business or even begin a new one.
Koehler Home Decor is a wholesaler of home decor accessories and unique gifts. Source quality wholesale merchandise at KoehlerHomeDecor.com and find tips for promoting your business on our blog.