Behold the caveat that every small business owner in Malaysia faces: bringing the brand to a bazaar. Read on for our exclusive guide!
Raise a hand if you’re running a small business in Malaysia! Behold the caveat that every small business owner faces: bringing the brand to a bazaar. Far from being a sunken cost in investment, getting a foothold at bazaars and becoming a prominent face at the most popular ones can bring your business to new heights.
The Online vs Physical Conundrum For Small Businesses in Malaysia
Online shopping has never been easier than it is today. It can be tempting to rely solely on digital marketing to grow your brand. BUT, a physical presence is just as important! Malaysians love walking in bazaars, and this is advantageous for all small businesses!
- An offline presence complements online storefronts. Small business owners at bazaars can use the opportunity to talk to their customers, and learn about demographics that enjoy their products!
- A spot at a good bazaar can help small businesses in Malaysia generate instant sales. Vendors can communicate product information and answer questions directly, which means it’s that much easier to close a sale. This is particularly true if some of your product’s unique selling points are smell, texture, and taste!
- If you’re operating a small business in Malaysia, you know how important market research and customer feedback are! A presence at a physical bazaar will bridge you to the consumer, bringing you face-to-face. That way, you’ll be able to do some demographic research, as well as ask for tangible feedback that you can then use to improve upon your brand and product. Similarly, you’ll also be able to check out your competitors and their products!
Mawar of local modest wear fashion brand HOOR shares: “It’s also important to study what other vendors are selling at the same event. If, during an event, we notice other vendors aren’t selling a particular product, we focus on pushing it whether on mannequins or in product displays.”
- If you want to grow your social media or your newsletter subscriber list, a bazaar provides a perfect opportunity! Get to know your customers and get them interested in your brand and products, then let them know how they can stay in touch.
- A small business can also benefit from a spot at a Malaysian bazaar with personalised marketing! Visitors to the bazaar are already looking for products like yours, so they’ll be 100% more likely to make a purchase. Don’t let the opportunity slide!
What is good for goose may not be good for the gander! Determine your customer profile and location – then adjust the type and price of your products accordingly.Pik Dzee, Founder of Dzee’s Jewels
Why A Small Business in Malaysia Could Fail At Bazaars (It’s Not A Lack Of Passion Or Hard Work)
With bazaars and event spaces opening up again all throughout Malaysia, it’s no surprise that the internet is buzzing with news! Not all news that comes in is good, however; we very often hear news about small business owners stuck at dead-end locations and event spaces with no crowd to make back their rental costs. Despite their hard work and passion, these brand founders nonetheless fall prey to the feeble promises of certain unscrupulous event organisers. Here are some ways small business founders can mitigate that!
- Conduct research on the location, the event organiser, and past events that have been in the location.
- Go to lots of bazaars! This way, you’ll be able to get a feel of the crowd at different bazaars and locations, as well as how well certain products do.
- Speak to other vendors when you visit other bazaars! Not only will you get a thorough education on how the bazaar management handles their vendors, but you’ll also be able to get some information on the crowd size and potential sales. Mawar tells us: “During bazaars, we expand our network and learn from other vendors. We believe we can share and gain a lot of knowledge from other vendors and event organisers. I love talking to others to get the best bazaar experience we can have, and gain clarity for making future decisions.”
- Study your competitors’ products to see why they’re great (and how you can improve yours). Don’t be afraid to make a few purchases! It can be difficult to confront a great product that was made by your competitor, but remember that it should always be used as fuel for improvement on your end. It’s okay to be intimidated, but take that fear and turn it into something great. A rival isn’t meant to be disheartening; far from it, a healthy attitude toward rival brands can push you forward to greater heights.
In researching customer demographics across multiple locations, we’ve experienced bazaars that don’t jive well with our products. We experienced low sales in a prime location in Kuala Lumpur, as the visitor demographic was ill-matched for our products. At a separate event targeting the urban working lunch crowd, we observed that customers were rushing to eat, and had less time to shop.Mawar, Founder of HOOR
The Small Business Checklist For Bazaars In Malaysia
Eventually, every small business should dip its toes into the bazaar scene of Malaysia. Not only does it give exposure in a way online platforms cannot, but it’s also a great way to make direct, personalised sales. If you’ve come this far, we’ll assume you’re ready. Don’t worry if it’s your first time! Read on for our ultimate checklist to make sure you get your money and time’s worth at your next bazaar!
Before You Commit To An Event:
- Check if the booth pricing is within your budget. If yes, great! If not, check if there are discounts, or if you can work out a deal with the organiser somehow!
- Check if you have enough stocks to make back your investments. Beyond the actual price of your product, this also includes money, time, transportation, parking, and so on.
- Check with the bazaar organiser for all the pertinent details. Take a look at the bazaar location, its dates, its accessibility, visitor demographics, your booth spot, furniture and electricity provisions, and so on. Dzee of Dzee’s Jewels believes that payday weekends are preferred over other weekends, and shares also that public holiday weekends can be better, or as good as payday weekends.
- If possible, take a trip to the bazaar location to get a gauge of the traffic – both on weekdays and on weekends.
- Do some online research on the bazaar location. Google is not enough here; do a sound check on Twitter, Tiktok, and also Facebook to get in-depth information. You may get lucky and happen upon a storytime or summarised experience from another vendor who’s been to the event you’re considering!
- Do some online research on the bazaar organiser. This is especially important, as you want to make sure they’re credible with high approval ratings from vendors like yourself! If this is their first event, ask to speak to the person in charge. You can then get a good feel of their plans and let your gut feeling decide. Dzee of Dzee’s Jewels believes that you should always verify the identity and validity of the event with the venue management before you make your payment.
Once You’ve Committed…
- For marketing purposes, provide the organiser with good key visuals for your brand and products. This includes high-quality images (1 MB and above) as well as your logo in several formats (usually .png and .jpg). Also, check out other posts on the organiser’s social media to get a feel of how they’ve presented their ads and promotions in the past. This way, you’ll know what to submit!
- Be sure to do your own marketing on your brand’s social channels! Don’t leave it all up to the organizer; after all, if your customers know where to find you, they will!
- If it’s your first bazaar, experiment with visual merchandising for your booth beforehand. This will help you to save time on set up on the day of the event, and thus leave you with more time for selling!
- Be sure to prep for payment in advance! If you’re using cashless payment methods, ensure your payment QR codes are ready and printed, and that your payment terminals are usable. If you accept cash, don’t forget to prepare the change!
- Treat everything as a learning experience. Even if you end up making a loss, consider your participation an exercise in branding, marketing, and events. Take all your learnings and use them to build your future bazaar experiences.
Su of HealthySu Kitchen believes that it’s important to try a few bazaars to see which ones suit your products. “Sometimes, it’s hard to predict whether or not it is going to be a successful event. It may be successful for other vendors, but it may not be for you as your product may not suit the audience. Target audience is important!”
However you decide to proceed, do remember that the decision to join (or not!) a bazaar, is your own. If you’re uncomfortable with the arrangements, ask the organiser if they’ll be willing to meet up to chat. A responsible organiser wants the best for you and your business, so they’ll be happy to talk and share their knowledge and experiences. Thusly, you’ll be able to come away from the meeting learning a little bit about your own business – and maybe even create a thriving relationship with peers that will enhance your entrepreneurial experience in the long run!
Have you ever been to a local bazaar as a vendor? Share your experiences (good and bad) in the comments below! Don’t forget to follow us on our social channels for more fun content, tips, and stories on your favourite local brands!
Amazing read 🙏
Thanks for your feedback! We hope it helps many amazing brands and founders with their bazaars!