Sunday, 22 October 2017

Heard Under The Sheds – 21/10/2017

Stress and Strain – one trader pointed out this week that nothing is more guaranteed to test stress levels than a prolonged period of poor business like we are currently experiencing.

On a similar vein, we understand that the abuse referred to by our CEO at Tuesday’s briefing involved physical abuse to one of our security staff who was attempting to control vehicle placement.

Trading Hours – the announcement of Christmas Trading hours has been criticised for lack of foresight and lack of enterprise causing one trader to ask where were our trader representatives during discussions?

Trader Awards Night – a number of traders have pointed out that last year’s inaugural awards night was a great event and roundly praised by all participants but no news for this year. Was that to be the first and the last?

CEO Replacement – interim CEO, Paul Guerra, says interviews for a new CEO are progressing well. Looking at the merry go-round in other retail entities, the question was asked who would be game enough to take on retail leadership right now? Then again market traders are such a lovable bunch, who wouldn’t want to lead us?

Queen Street Traders - one of our traders has asked what all the fuss is about. The need to move is a cause for some anxiety but this is a renewal and we know what we are in for. "There will be many adjustments made by many traders before this is all over."

 22/10/2017 23:21:43     Queen st trader      "Hi Greg, - great to see that you found one trader out of 18 in Queen Street with that outlook. There are still 17 trader you did not get an opinion or comment from. So maybe it's not the one that we need to worry about. 17 others who maybe not happy, and maybe need to be shown some understanding and empathy. After all we are talking about trader’s livelihood. Cheers John"          - John
Hi John - Thanks for the input. The trader wasn't actually a Queen St trader but before you dismiss his view, I think he was saying that there will be many instances over coming months that will challenge traders. And you are correct, understanding and empathy are essential. His point is that this is a renewal and disruption is inevitable if we want a better outcome at the end. Let's get on with it in a co-operative way that considers the needs of all traders. It is a fair point. We may all need to make some sacrifices to get the best result for the trader community. - Ed

CEO’s Monthly Briefing

Tuesday’s CEO’s briefing by CEO, Paul Guerra, included a presentation by John Turnbull from Pike Place Market. Other matters raised by the CEO were –
1.     All Queen St traders have been allocated alternative spots prior to construction of the New Pavilion. Placement may include Therry St. Alternative or better options will be considered as they become available.
2.     Upper market placements – a series of open and one on one consultations will be conducted to determine locations for displaced traders before construction starts under A,B,C and D Sheds.
3.     Abuse – following a couple of recent instances the CEO has warned that any abuse of management staff or contractors will not be tolerated and may involve termination of a trader’s license.
4.     Communication commitment – as part of the ongoing service to traders the CEO has guaranteed that management will respond to trader matters within 48 hours of a query being raised.
5.     Trading Hours – traders who have not received a survey seeking trader feedback on new trading hours should ask their Trader Representatives.
6.     Homework – at last month’s briefing the CEO agreed to find out some costs of advertising and reports the following-
-         Fifty 30 second TV advertisements (not necessarily prime time) and twenty cinema advertisements in December would cost $350,000.
-         Two full-page advertisements in the Herald Sun would cost $25,000 each.
-         The market is currently engaged in bus and tram stop advertising as well as radio.

The CEO concluded by saying –“The next 5 years is going to be tough. We happen to be trading at a point in history when a difficult renewal is happening”.

Have Your Say – click here.

The Importance Of Effective Customer Communication - The Two Ronnies

This skit by the two Ronnies is a timeless representation of how misunderstandings can occur when communicating with customers and how relationships can become strained.

Interesting Comments From Pike Place Market Executive

John Turnbull may not be your typical market executive. For starters he was a Traders Advocate before he became a Management Executive. The transition from the trader side to the management side is unusual, although equally, Pike Place Market may not be a typical market.

Mr. Turnbull made a presentation to traders during the CEO’s monthly briefing at the Engagement Hub on Tuesday and he said a few things that caught the attention of traders. Pike Place Market is in Seattle, Washington and one of America’s oldest public farmers markets. It conducts a variety of activities and has shops, restaurants, day stalls for produce and craft goods, and supports nearly 500 residents in mostly low-cost accommodation. Pike Place has an interesting history and an online wiki gives plenty of detail.

The market recently went through a major renewal which gave rise to a public plaza with views to the adjoining waterfront so there are particular points of relevance for QVM’s upcoming renewal.

Some of the points he raised were –
1.     During their construction phases, traders were given the option of closing down if directly affected. From 2008-2012 85 businesses closed down for 6-8 months and 45 moved location. Business actually improved during that period.
2.     During construction they promoted the fact that navigation through the market was going to be difficult and that seemed to attract visitation.
3.     In some cases rents are based on sales and there are a variety of lease options. Most new traders come in a 1-2 year lease with a 3 year option. Others have 5-8 year leases.
4.     40% of their rental income is related to fresh food, 40% to hospitality (restaurants etc.) and around 20% to general merchandise although that category is losing ground to Ebay, Etsy, Pinterest, and Amazon.
5.     Pike Place is a major Seattle tourist attraction although tourists are viewed as a nuisance.
6.     Competition from online and supermarkets is a reality at Pike Place. Fishmongers do millions of dollars of business online.
7.     Relocation assistance for traders involves lots of different strategies.
8.     Continuity of tenancy is very important to the market. Even poorer traders are allowed to continue trading as long as they pay rent and tick most boxes for customer relevance.
9.     Trader positions are determined in part by their profitability and capacity to pay rent.
9.   The market changed the content of its management back in the 70's and replaced outside professionals (architects and property developers) with managers experienced in business and markets.

Have Your Say - click here.

Some Great Quotes In Retailing This Week

The punchline is important in any article and these quotes from this week’s retail newsfeeds say a lot.

From a Sydney Morning Herald article on Solomen Lew’s dissatisfaction with Myer’s performance –
“The point is McClintock might have stood down but the problems at Myer remain: a board lacking in strong retail experience and a management team that doesn't understand customer service and sells products that customers don't want to buy.

From the Huffington Post on how retailers can compete with Amazon - "There’s an old saying: The more things change, the more they stay the same. Physical presence has always been, and will always be, a department store’s advantage. The challenge is how to make an outlet come alive; to make it worthy of the time and effort it takes for people to go there and amuse themselves."

From Inside Retailers report on the Shoptalk Fest in Europe last week - “Stores have to be better, it has to be like going to the Great Exhibition in the 19th century for people to see the latest and greatest,” - Hudson Bay CEO Gerald Storch.

Latest Retail News – 22/10/2017

Latest Retail News – 22/10/2017
1. Myer introduces Android and Apple Pay on its new credit card.
2. Jaguar Land Rover brings car showroom to Westfield Bondi Junction.
3. Restaurants are embracing food delivery apps.
4. Myer beats David Jones in customer satisfaction ratings.
5. Male shoppers are twice as likely to look for discounts as female shoppers.
6. Online retailer, Hunting For George, opens physical store.
7. New Myer Chairman looks for turnaround.
8. Oroton attempts to fix poor sales with digital investment.
9. Federal Court upholds penalty rate cuts for weekend work.
10. Woolworths finally completes its exit from Masters.
11. Luxury retailer, Coach, rebrands itself as Tapestry.
12. Vegemite launches new Blend 17 premium brand at double the price.
13. Gucci bans fur.
14. Freedom moves away from permanent sale pricing structure.
15. Kmart leads discount department store satisfaction rating.
16. ACCC sues Coles over breach of contract with beef supplier.
17. Coles increases market share.
18. Chemist Warehouse tests drone delivery.
19. Australian consumers spending more online with overseas retailers.
20. Specialty Fashion Group cuts expectations.
21. Aldi takes market share at expense of IGA and Foodland.
22. Gravox and Fountain brands sold to Kraft.

Retail News Briefs – Freezing Dressing Rooms, Mobile Pizza Shops, Amazon.........

Come Into My Freezer Room - A clothing store in Colombus, Ohio has installed a freezer room to enable customers to try on ski gear in the height of summer and just to make the most of their innovation they have installed a glass frontage enabling public viewing of the process.
Columbus has become a bit of a consumer laboratory for the US as a host of retailers experiment with ways to engage customers in an online age.

A Pizza Shop That Moves – A pizza company in California has just received $48m funding to develop pizza trucks that contain ovens and robot pizza making equipment. The idea is to get more responsive to customer demand.

Amazon Continues to Disrupt – the latest move by Amazon is to engage a supplier to Uniqlo, Kohl, and The Gap to manufacture private label athletic wear. Shares of athleisure brand Lululemon closed down more than 2% on the announcement.

Tesco Innovates - the giant UK supermarket business is working on the basis that, for bricks'n'mortar to survive, they need to expand their service offerings. Tesco are currently experimenting with things like meal kits, and checkout free stores.

The Declining Number Of Traditional Market Shoppers

Around the globe retailers are falling over themselves and each other as they innovate, and later in this article we give a link that will assist traders to introduce an important element of innovation themselves.

Retailers are addressing a retail revolution in which online shopping has impacted dramatically on customer expectations. “Going shopping” isn’t just about walking down a main street or through a shopping centre or retail market. Essentially shoppers have a lot more tools to do their shopping – they can research online before they even go out the door – they can check prices and ranges – they can actually make some choices before they step into a store – or even avoid the store entirely and purchase from a computer, tablet, or mobile. Online adds a whole new level of service and convenience.

So what are the essential elements of this convenience?
1.     Customers can shop, or at least research, pretty much anytime they want, and wherever they want.
2.     Customers can ease the decision making burden through this process.
3.     Customers can find what they want quickly and save time for more important things in life. (Is there anything more important than shopping?)
4.     Customers can organise delivery if their best purchasing option is too far away or they just don’t have time.
5.     Customers can track what is happening.
6.     Customers can reduce time wastage.

In a mad scramble to address the retail revolution, all major retailers are essentially doing one thing – they are looking for ways to add levels of service and convenience to bricks’n’mortar shopping.

But what are we doing at QVM? And “we” refers to traders and management. There are some glaring shortfalls from both.

Way-finding at QVM is woeful. For those customers who are prepared to wander for three hours that is no problem, but we know that wandering is becoming less and less part of shopping. Customers are less likely to go shopping with just a hope that they will find what they want. More and more shoppers are looking for convenience and a result. Other retail outlets offer tools that make the process easier for customers.

Detached engagement by traders is woeful. In a retail world where engagement can happen almost anywhere at any time, too many traders continue to rely on the 6 or so core hours when they are at their stall - no website, no business cards, no mobile phone numbers.

The bottom line is that traders who are relying on wanderers and non-tech engagers are faced with an ever declining supply of customers.

There are many methods being used by the world’s retailers to capture the hearts and minds of shoppers. A lot of it is experimentation with a high degree of risk but there are clearly some measures that are working and becoming mainstream. Some of those are listed below -  
1.     We need a much better way-finding process at QVM that incorporates better directory assistance along with accessible online trader data.
2.     Every trader needs a website – no excuses. It doesn’t matter if you just sell smaller items, or you feel you have too many products, or you are not familiar with technology, or you don’t have time, - the only thing that matters is that customers expect you to have a website. And you will find, like a number of market traders, that integrating a website with your stall pays dividends. It is easier than you think and it generates business. Here is a link to a QVM Co-operative Marketing Program. Scroll down to the section marked “3. Digital Package” to start the ball rolling.
3.     Hours of trade – we don’t line up with customer expectations and we know that. Many of us were attracted to market trading initially because it fitted in with business and life style. Convenience hungry consumers have changed that dynamic. The only concession is that getting the website convenience right, may give us some leeway with stall trading hours. Being available doesn't have to mean standing behind your stall 12 hours a day. But if you only trade 6 hours you need to be available in other ways like through your website.
4.     Delivery service – the core to online transactions is a timely, convenient delivery service. Tourists in particular are luggage-space poor and there are a number of solutions for getting goods to their hotel or home. Traders need to develop strategies and perhaps there are opportunities here for a business operation similar to what operates at some European markets where goods are delivered at a cost shared by trader and customer.

These are just starting points for QVM becoming more attuned to customer needs as we compete in a very competitive retail world. It is not good enough for QVM just to attract traditional market shoppers. There are simply not enough of them. We need to maximise our relevance to every consumer group if we are to survive.

By Greg Smith

PS - an article worth reading for more on the online/bricks'n'mortar debate -

Have Your Say - click here.

The Best Free Advertising For Traders Right Now

The best free advertising for traders at the moment comes from a member of the QVM Board, David Mann. Traders can apply for their 30 seconds of fame on a high rating radio show.

In a tie up with 3AW, QVM has arranged live crosses during the Neil Mitchell radio show to promote individual traders. Mann about town, David Mann, is exceptionally good at his craft and selected traders can be sure that their stall and produce will be strongly promoted to thousands of listeners.

All traders need to do is submit details to the following link -

A trader will be randomly selected from applicants for each radio livecross.

Sunday, 15 October 2017

Heard Under The Sheds – 15/10/2017

Summer Night Market – emails to successful day traders have gone out for this year’s Summer Night Market and there are some happy new participants. The Night Market organisers appear to have made every effort to accommodate suitable day traders into the mix. As traders look for alternative sources of income opportunities like the night market become more important.

Alternative Sources Of Income – speaking of alternative sources of income, one of our Trader Representatives has emphasised the need for traders to think outside the square when it comes to surviving the current retail recession. She points out that traders need to use their inherent entrepreneurial skills and the advantages of small business flexibility to survive these tough times.

Theft – reports of stock theft from a trader’s storage box this week. The trader wasn’t quite sure how to address the issue but has been advised to always contact their Category Manager for any serious matter.

Aussie Made Videos – apparently the video about trader, David Kiper, and his Catcher Coats business, has over 20,000 views on social media.

Sameness – a young professional couple who hadn’t visited the day market for many years commented to a trader that they found every aisle in the top end to be very similar.

Best Wishes To Fabian – Fabian, who is well known to traders from delivering food and drinks from Josies Café has ended up in hospital after an industrial accident but is progressing well. Plenty of traders want to pass on their best wishes to Fabian.

Guru Pete Does It Again – Pete’s weekly racing tip came up trumps this week when he picked the winner of the world’s richest turf race, The Everest,  in Sydney on Saturday. Expect that chest to be puffed out even further.

Going To The Top - One trader who visited the Engagement Hub on Friday to see the new underground plans was pleased to get to speak to CoM Design Chief, Rob Adams although he feels his question may not have been all that welcome. He asked why every fruit & vegetable trader didn't have a lift close by. Of course the proposed lifts are a lot closer than Franklin Street stores but we can always seek perfection.

Have Your Say - click here

QuadPods - Some Questions Answered

Our last article on the possibility of introducing Night Market stall setups into the day market raised a few questions. Read the article here –

As suggested by traders we asked 4 day traders who also trade at night what they think of way-finding and the impact on wheel chair use when stalls are arranged in QuadPods.

One trader suggested that way-finding was more difficult with the night time arrangement  but he overcame that by installing his identifying signage up high on his stall. The other participants didn’t think there were serious way-finding issues and in fact the more open environment (no stock above a certain level) made it easier for customers to find their way around.

None of the participants felt that wheelchairs were disadvantaged by QuadPods. They felt that the predominance of corner stalls probably made it easier for wheelchairs to get close to products. The size of the night time crowd was more likely to be the problem for wheelchairs rather than the configuration of stalls.

Participants agreed that QuadPods were worth trying in the day format particularly as part of a food/entertainment precinct within the sheds. One suggested they should only be used for food as it would be difficult to accommodate all the general traders who might be interested.

More discussion to come.

Have Your Say – click here.

Challenging The Myth - Traders Can’t Make Money Online

The debate over whether traders need to establish an online presence has been going on for years. While the overall share of online retailing still hangs around 10% of total retail sales the argument for an online presence for humble market traders has been difficult to sustain but that is all changing.

Rapid Growth - all categories of retailing are recording some pretty amazing growth figures for online sales. There is little doubt that consumers are embracing the convenience of online shopping. In a rare show of confidence, Walmart have announced that they expect next years online sales to grow by 40%. When a mainstream retailer predicts that growth you can be confident it says something about mainstream consumer habits.

Even 10% Is Significant - imagine getting a 10% boost in sales every week for a little website maintenance which these days you can do from your stall during quiet times. Using your mobile to add products to your website beats the hell out of playing games. And if retail trends are any guide, the potential for increasing sales seems guaranteed.
As one of our Trader Representatives said this week - traders need to find additional sources of income as we work our way through the retail revolution. It is all the little income add-ons that will determine survival for many traders.

A Natural Integration - one of our traders who has embraced online (in clothing) says that he now knows what retail commentators mean when they talk about “seamless integration” between bricks’n’mortar and online. It is not one or the other, but a combination of both sales sources that characterises his relationship with customers. More and more of his online customers are visiting his stall when they come to Melbourne. The secret is to be available either online or at your stall when the customer decides to buy.

Of course this might all be great advice but if your technology skills are limited where the hell do you start? The answer is that the marketing team at QVM is a good place to start. They can point you in the right direction and offer assistance. 

Have Your Say - click here.

First Impressions of the Underground At QVM

It has been a long time coming but detailed plans for the underground facilities at QVM’s A-D Shed precinct are now out for Trader and public comment. Here are some first impressions.

Ho-hum - this is not a comment on a significant construction project but on how little will have visually changed when it is completed. A lot of new features will be available underground but above ground will look pretty much as it always has. Of course this has been the intention all along with a lot of emphasis on retaining the original historical nature of the market. If the artistic representations are an accurate guide, that intent has succeeded.

Fancy Facilities - at last some essential services have been brought into the 21st Century with rubbish handling and cleaning facilities. Even traders can keep clean with shower and change room facilities.

Produce Handling - will the placement of service lifts give adequate access to produce stalls considering that forklifts will be banned in favour of pallet lifters above ground? One trader was surprised to see that lifts were not more accessible for more traders.

No Weather Protection - apart from more comprehensive insulation on shed roofs. The areas adjacent to laneways will continue to be subject to Melbourne’s wind and rain. The opportunity to meet 21st Century comfort expectations for consumers appears to have been missed.

What are your impressions?

Traders Going Online - The Last Yard Is The Hardest.

More and more QVM Traders are establishing an online presence, but for many it is just getting started that is the hard part, and at QVM we haven’t yet worked out how to help them.

One of our senior traders (with an active website) says that we need a better structure to convert more traders to the benefits of online trading. He recalls how, as a Trader Representative, he used to act as translator for non-English speaking traders to make sure the message got through. It required direct personal intervention to make sure a result was achieved.

For many traders, going online is a very difficult task. There is plenty of technical information around, and there are many websites that offer step by step guidance. QVM even has its own assistance package. But if you have language difficulties, or are not technically minded, the process can be daunting.

Without being too dramatic, we are in very difficult times - poor business conditions, struggling financials, and low confidence levels all add to the barriers for traders. Faced with all those difficulties, traders are more likely to find reasons not to embrace online. It is easier to blame management for not bringing us enough customers than to step into the scary new world of technology.

There is a famous saying that you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink. Well maybe the horse sees a ditch that others don’t see and he or she needs a bit more guidance. That last yard can be the secret to success or failure. The question is how do we get over the last yard? At least one senior trader believes that one to one intervention is the way.

When Two Celebrities Go Shopping

This video has little actual retail merit but it is good for a laugh. Great to watch while you are doing your GST return or something like that.

QVM Top-end Enclosed

The possibility of enclosing the top end of  The Queen Victoria Market has been raised before and usually criticised for over-sanitising a great open-air market.
Of course enclosing does currently take place for special events like night markets.
Well, there was a time when the market was enclosed with a traditional white painted picket fence as our photo shows. We are told the photo was taken at the Queen St. end of the upper market sheds looking towards Victoria St.
Fast forward to today and you could imagine glass panels behind the pickets to keep out the worst of Melbourne's weather and keep in a level of comfort that today's consumers have come to expect.


Australia Post Launches New Free Shipping Option

Australia Post has shown itself to be a pretty innovative organisation and their latest idea offers free shipping for online orders from 40 of Australia’s biggest online retailers including Booktopia, Myer, Target, Toys’R’Us and Cotton On.

To take advantage of the free shipping you need to become a member of  Australia Post’s Shipster program  at an introductory cost of $9.95 and then spend a minimum of $25 on each occasion that you shop with the participating stores. Shipping costs are automatically deducted at the checkout. That special offer applies until January 1st 2018 and then a $6.95 per month fee will apply.

Offers of free or discounted shipping from the likes of Ebay and Amazon have certainly increased the expectations of consumers and the strategies that retailers need to adopt.

Thursday, 12 October 2017

QVM In The News - 12/10/17

Heritage permit sought for Queen Victoria Market renewal works
​Lord Mayor Robert Doyle AC said Heritage Victoria's consultation process on the proposed works to the Victorian Heritage listed Queen Victoria ...
After controversy and compromise, Melbourne's famous Queen Victoria Market is also set to undergo a $250 million rebuild, retaining historic features ...
Google Plus Facebook Twitter Flag as irrelevant
The World Union of Wholesale Markets Congress (WUWM) will bring ... general manager of strategy and operations at the Queen Victoria Market, will ...
The Story Behind Melbourne's Iconic Queen Victoria Market
A brief history of Melbourne's Queen Victoria Market, including the story behind the Lower and Upper Markets, Old Melbourne Cemetery and more.

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Underground Plans Revealed

Heritage Victoria this morning released detailed plans of the proposed dismantling, construction and reassembly of the upper sections of Sheds  A-D at The Queen Victoria Market.

The plans include detail of amenities including lifts, storage and working areas, vehicle access, and public and trader conveniences. The link to the full planning application is here –

Here are some artists impressions of some of the above ground features - clicking on the photos will give you more detail.

11/10/2017 11:37:11 Underground Plans "Good to see indications that some weatherproofing is planned via a new 13cm(approx) insulating roofing panel BUT no indications of any attempt at weather proofing beyond that - either between the sheds or along shed perimeters. That has to be of concern to both Traders and customers." Ivano
Thanks for your input Ivano - Ed.