I know that I predominantly talk about how to sell online on my blog, but I came across an interesting article in the New York Times last week called Tiny Mall Kiosks Make a Surprisingly Big Impact.
Kiosks or carts are those stand-alone structures you see in the corridors of any major shopping mall. They can sell everything from cell phones to jewelry to cupcakes, and they have numerous advantages for the small business owner.
- Lost Cost – Unlike having a store in the mall, you can rent a cart for about a quarter of the price (kiosks are a little more), due to a substantially lower overhead. You also don’t need staff as you can work the cart yourself.
- Major Foot Traffic – You don’t have to lure customers into your shop. They see what you are selling simply by walking by. Your products are out there front and center and not buried in the back of a store.
- You Can More Easily Upsell Other Products – Because all of your products are on display in a condensed area of vision, it is easier for a customer to see everything you sell and, allows you to upsell more products to one customer.
- You Can Appeal to the Senses – The great thing about a cart or kiosk, is you can deploy other tactics to get people to stop, such as smell. If you are selling cupcakes for example, customers can much more easily smell them by walking by a cart, then having to physically go into a store. Same goes for selling scented candles, perfumes, etc.
So how do you know if this could be a successful venture for you? Do some research. Let’s say the cart costs $2,000 a month to rent. Go to the mall you are considering and see what types of products are being sold and if you have any competition. Then, on a Saturday, one of the busiest shopping days, sit in front of a cart for an hour and watch how many sales get made. If the vendor is making 20 sales an hour, and their prices average $20, that $400 in just one hour on just one Saturday.
Do the same thing on a slower day, like a Monday. Obviously you have to weigh out the busy days with the slow days to determine if you will make more than the $2,000 rent.
You also have to weigh out the benefits of the holiday season. Your cart may make so much money in November and December that it more than makes up for the rest of the year being slow. For example, your total rent for the year is $24,000, but if you made $50,000 for November and December , you’re still ahead of the game even if you sell nothing else the rest of the year.
Plus, it can help your online business. Give all visitors your business card to shop at your online store as well.
Consider what else is involved. Do you have to remove inventory every night or is a form of security offered to protect items after stores close. A lot of these carts and kiosks have electrical outlets and lighting. Does the rent include utilities? Is there a special business license or permit involved? What method of payment does the kiosk provide for and is that included in the rent? Can you keep up with the supply and demand? Working all day at a cart means you have to make your products at night.
If the mall allows it, you could consider sharing a cart with another vendor. You run your cart Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays, they do Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, and then you alternate.
FINAL WORD: Carts and kiosks are typically short-term leases, so it may be worth looking into, and could be a step stone to really expanding your market.
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