Sunday 31 July 2011

Market Interview - Market Man

Name? - Market Man
What do you do/sell at the market? - I am a purveyor of trader justice.
How long have you been at the market? - Eons
What do you like best about the market? - the forces of evil are very strong here so I am kept busy.
Worst moment? - the day leases were introduced for traders. Actually leases are not for traders. They only benefit management.
Past jobs? - Assistant super hero.
Sporting interests? - Leaping over tall buildings in a single bound. Superbowl.
If you were CEO for a day? - I'd re-route all airport buses via QVM.
One thing nobody knows about you? – I find Catwoman a turn-on.
Favorite food? – Spinach.
Favorite drink? – Fruit Punch.
What is the best piece of advice you've ever been given? Never underestimate your customer.
What is the best part of your job? I can wear underpants on the outside and it’s OK.
Which enemies do you fear most? – Poor market promotion and trader apathy.
Do you have a batcave? – I have been known to rest in an ivory tower.
Is that a cheap shot at management? – Nothing cheap about it.
How are you different to other super heros? – I have sex appeal.
Anything else you'd like to say? With great power comes great responsibility.

Thanks Market Man

No Longer Just Social

For those who doubted the inevitable push of marketing into social networks we can report that Twitter are about to launch targeted stand alone advertising tweets for business customers like Dell, Gatorade, Groupon, JetBlue, LivingSocial, Microsoft, Red Bull, Starbucks and Virgin America. We wonder what the tweet recipients will think.

Friday 29 July 2011

Trader's Suggestion On Gift Vouchers

     Gift Vouchers seem to be primarily generated by the market as freebies for competitions and the like. They are designed, at least in part, to generate extra business throughout the market. One of our traders has suggested that the market is not making the most out of Gift Vouchers.
     At one end of the equation, a recipient will attempt to exchange a voucher for cash. Obviously that generates no extra business for the market. At the other end of the scale the voucher is exchanged wholly for goods purchased from traders. In between the two extremes there are obviously various contributions to market business depending on how much money is returned to the customer as change. Are you still with me?
     Our trader is suggesting that gift vouchers should be restricted to 50% of the sale. So, if a customer wants to purchase a $20- item he or she can only present a voucher up to $10 and the balance must be in cash or on card.
     To put it another way - if the market distributes $50,000 of vouchers and they are all exchanged for cash, there is no benefit to the market. If the $50,000 is exchanged solely for goods, the market benefits from a $50,000 money flow. If our traders suggestion is taken up the original $50,000 becomes $100,000 worth of business.
     What do you think?

Thursday 28 July 2011

Trader's Letter On Customer Service

Why I Don’t Support The Customer Service Workshop.

Whilst I most certainly applaud any and all initiatives that QVM Pty Ltd make to improve trade and traders at the Market,I feel compelled to take issue  with the scheduled "Free One day Workshop" mentioned in the Traders Bulletin July 2011 - Issue 98. This workshop will be held in conjunction with ARA and AussieHost.
On what basis I hear you ask?

Firstly, a quick check of these afore mentioned associates tells us that in their normal course of duty there is a per person charge for all present at their workshops.So I am pretty sure I am not being presumptuous to suggest that whilst it is indeed said to be "free" to stallholders on the day, the workshop is indeed not "free" at all to QVM Pty Ltd.  And since the limited monetary resources available to QVM Pty Ltd (allow me again to be presumptuous) come from guess who? This suggests the "freeness" of the workshop is not so "free" for Traders after all.
(If the workshop is funded by some other generous entity (perhaps the Melbourne City Council) again the yearly profit received by the council from revenue raised from again guess who, makes it again not quite as "free" as the "free" word in our Trader Bulletin suggests.)

However that is not my real objection, my objection is not so much fiscal in nature but is firmly based on reality and priority. Customer Service is indeed essential, but to offer Customer Service we first and essentially need...? Yes, you're way ahead of me again.
So what we have here is the typical "chicken or the egg" conundrum.

Let's be abundantly clear, we need customers, first and utmost! 
This is of course no news to you dear readers, and most certainly no news to QVM Pty Ltd, they have in fact been informed very clearly as to the present state of affairs in our part of the Retail World, and have been receiving continual requests and pleas, begging them to address the main issue which will turn around the worsening situation at the Market, and that is to prioritise "Marketing the Market". 
That MUST be their priority. That must be addressed completely and satisfactorily, with all their attention and available funds, before other lesser issues are tackled.

So please, please QVM Pty Ltd, give us customers and then by all means help us address these customers politely with diligent and attentive service.
Then and only then can we truly wholeheartedly embrace, applaud and support your initiatives.

A Trader.

The One Single Answer To Our Problems.

There is so much debate about the new reality of retailing that it is easy to become confused. Everywhere you turn there is advice on how to counter customer’s reluctance to spend. We are guilty of that on this website - tidy up your stalls, get an online presence, improve your merchandising etc. etc.
We are told that consumer reluctance is caused by interest rates and the carbon tax, or the attraction of online merchants and a myriad of other causes, many of which we have no control over. So is there a single answer to our problem? Actually there are two. The main answer is getting more customers past our stalls, particularly tourists, but we don’t have control over that. Tourist numbers are the responsibility of QVM management. So what is the one single answer that we have control over?
We are going to stick our neck out and say there is one key element that Queen Victoria Market Traders need to focus on – good old-fashioned customer service – and here is why:
1. We have control over customer service. Many other things we don’t control.
2. We know our products better than most.
3. Customer service doesn’t require a lot of expense – just a bit of extra sweat.
4. This is one area where we have the advantage over large impersonal retailers.
5. Most customers really do want advice and assistance and many customers come to a place like the market just so they can have personal interaction.
 6. There are some simple techniques to create happy customers.
7. A happy customer makes us feel good too.
The QVM has arranged Customer Service Workshops which you have probably already been invited to.  In the meantime these pages will concentrate on customer service related posts and we welcome your input. Let’s make this a key focus for all traders.

Trader's Advice On Selling Your Stall.

          We should say up front that our trader is disgruntled. He has been trying to sell a stall that he admits is not performing but he is frustrated by management’s refusal to allow expansion of his product range and therefore give prospective buyers a reasonable degree of flexibility going forward.
            His advice? Before you advise management of your intention to sell, add products to you range that will give you (and your prospective buyer) a better chance of success. Obviously you don’t go overboard and break market rules but the more variety you have in your range, the better it is. According to this trader, management is likely to photograph your stall to establish the formal product range for a new lease. Forewarned is forearmed.

Sunday 24 July 2011

Broadcasting The Wrong Message

“Could I have your attention please – would customers keep all wallets, purses, handbags, and the like, secure at all times.”
We've all heard this announcement broadcast over the public address system at the market. In other words- “Watch out! You are in danger of having your valuables stolen by thieves at the Queen Victoria Market.” OK, thievery is a fact of life in most crowded places around the world although we wonder whether anybody has heard such an announcement on their travels. Sure, you can read warnings in travel guides and the like but not public announcements. Are we likely to hear such an announcement at Westfield Shopping Centres or at Flinders Street Station? Are you more likely to have your wallet stolen at The Queen Victoria Market than those places?
The point is that the QVM announcement is anti-customer. It creates an unnecessary expectation of thievery and reflects poorly on our market as a legitimate alternative to almost any other shopping venue in Melbourne.
May we suggest that instead of absolving our security responsibilities by making public announcements we use more professional (and discrete) methods.
Let us know what you think about this issue.

Market Royalty - Tim Moore

Our interviewee this week, has been part of the Queen Victoria Market for nearly 40 years and royalty is an appropriate title because it is often said that he holds court on Saturday’s and Sunday’s at his prominent corner locations on the W walkway.
Tim is a farmer who doubles as a jewellery trader at the QVM. He dispenses a rare brand of wit which at times can be outrageously provocative and sometimes culturally inappropriate but always in good nature and balanced with a human understanding and compassion that few possess.
His courtiers include customers and traders and it is rare to pass his stall without one or the other stopping for a quick chat often laced with irreverent barbs of wisdom. However, Tim takes his business seriously and few traders are as polite and service oriented to the general public. Indeed, one of his outstanding attributes is his love for the market and his belief that the QVM is a very important part of Melbourne’s social fabric.
If you pass Tim’s stall and he is on a rare break, stop for a chat. Otherwise, just do like the rest of us – smile, bow low as you pass, and be grateful for the part that Tim plays in making our Market such a special place.

Market Interview - Tim & Austin

Name? - Tim
What do you do/sell at the market? - Jewellery including opals and silver.
How long have you been at the market? - Nearly 40 years.
What do you like best about the market? - Leaving at the end of each day.
Worst moment? - Getting blown away in a storm.
Past jobs? - Farmer.
Sporting interests? - Shooting & fishing.
If you were CEO for a day? – I’d make every member of government (all levels) and every QVM employee run a stall for a day so they would appreciate the importance of our activity and why our customers appreciate the uniqueness we offer.
One thing nobody knows about you? – I am a licensed AI Technician (Artificial Insemination)
Favorite food? - Lamb chops or roast.
Favorite drink? - Water
Favorite TV show or movie ? -Dambusters. Great Escape.
Favorite Band? -  Somebody’s Image (Russell Morris’ first band)
What is the best piece of advice you've ever been given? - There's no such thing as can't. (Dad’s advice.)
If you had your Sunday arvo free from the market, what would you do? - go to an air show.
If you were given a 2 week free holiday anywhere around the world, where would you choose to go? - Duxford Airshow, UK
Anything else you'd like to say about life at the market? - We don't really appreciate what we've got at this Market.

Thanks Tim

Interviewed by Greg
(Note: Tim was most obliging throughout this interview. However, when it came time to take the photo he insisted there would be no photo without his grandson, Austin, being part of it. Fortunately Austin was in the market and, incidentally, probably saved the photo.)

Saturday 23 July 2011

Vietnamese Translation No.2

Thanks again to Henry Ngo for his Vietnamese translation of one of our articles. This one is from our Tips For Better Business series - Greeting your customer.

Chào hỏi khách hàng -  Một điều đơn giản nhưng rất quan trọng. 

Bạn có hoàn hảo ở việc đánh giá khách hàng? Bạn có thường ngạc nhiên khi một khách hàng "không
có cơ hội" trở thành một khách hàng trả tiền? 
Một lời chào đơn giản cũng giúp bạn giao tiếp tốt hơn với khách hàng .... và đừng lo lắng nếu họ
không liên lạc lại bằng mắt ngay lập tức (rất nhiều khách hàng không). Họ chỉ đơn giản có thể phản
ứng với một kinh nghiệm mua sắm xấu gần đây. 

Điều gì tạo nên một lời chào tốt? 
                                1. Ngay lập tức chào khách hàng khi bạn thấy họ - không chậm trễ. 
                                2. Hãy nhiệt tình & Chân thành - nếu lời chào không xuất phát từ trái tim, nó sẽ
không hiệu quả. Hãy là chính mình. 
                                3. "Tôi có thể giúp gì bạn?" Chuyển tải tình cảm đúng, nhưng bạn có thể tìm một
lời chào ít được sử dụng hơn. 
                                4. Hiểu khách hàng của bạn - nghe, nhìn và học hỏi. Nếu bạn đánh giá một cách
chính xác khách hàng của bạn, bạn sẽ thành công. 
                                5. Hãy đối xử với khách hàng của bạn theo cách bạn muốn được đối xử. Bạn có
thể không thích bị làm phiền khi bạn mua sắm trong các cửa hàng nhưng  bạn có bao giờ bị xúc
phạm bởi  lời chào "Hãy cho tôi biết nếu tôi có thể gì giúp anh/chị". 

Không phải là luôn luôn dễ dàng để chọn lời chào thích hợp nhưng sẽ là không chấp nhận được nếu
bạn lờ khách hàng đi.

Friday 22 July 2011

The Retail Week In Brief - 22nd July 2011

The Retail Week In Brief: 22/07/11
1.    Fashion chain Bettina Liano have gone into administration. The brand established in 1984 was distributed throughout Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia and Malaysia. Its seven stores in Australia will continue normally while administrators evaluate the business.
2.    Aldi complains of growth restrictions. Aldi's new MD has criticised Australia's planning laws, saying the lack of suitably zoned sites has made it difficult for the supermarket chain to expand.
3.    NAB reports business confidence softening. The recent NAB monthly business survey reported that while business conditions improved by two points to plus two, business confidence fell by 6 points to rest at zero.
4.    BodyShop and Ikea are two high profile retailers who support the government’s carbon tax proposal.
5.    David Jones have confirmed an expected 11% drop in profit due to “dramatic and rapid deterioration in trading conditions in 4Q11”.
6.    End Of Financial Year Sales at Myer and David Jones have extended well into July as retailers battle to excite customers.
7.    Spencer Street Fashion Station (previously a DFO outlet) has been placed in receivership.
8.    Borders Close – It’s all over for Border’s worldwide operations as 399 stores close without a rescue bidder in sight.
9.    Apple reported profit figures equating to $3.2 million every hour.
10.  Costco opened its second Australian store in Sydney this week and opens its third in Canberra next week.
11.  Radio Rentals have announced store rollouts as they benefit from tough times with increased customer patronage.
12.  Woolworths posts a 4.2% sales rise in “a very challenging year”.

Thursday 21 July 2011

Virtual Grocery Store For Commuters

We have cracked on about the stupidity of virtual shop assistants in shopping malls as a very poor substitute for the real thing but an experiment by Tesco in Korea looks to have made an impact.
Commuters are invited to study a backlit wall of grocery item images while they wait for a train. Using their mobile phones, they scan barcodes attached to each image and compile a grocery order that is then assembled and delivered when they arrive home. Sort of a cross between sitting at your computer and wandering the supermarket aisles.  Apparently Korea is the second hardest working country in the world, so convenient time-saving shopping options are important. Let’s hope they have time to eat the food.

Don't Blame The Conditions

How often do you hear traders blaming the lack of cover, air conditioning, or untidy toilets for poor customer patronage – “Why would customers come to the market and get rained on or blown away when they can go to an enclosed shopping mall?”
Overseas trends point to a growing prominence of open-air configurations in their shopping centres. The factory outlet type concept is booming overseas but rather than dumb down the presentation and use factory outlets purely for getting rid of the rubbish (like they do here in Australia) they have upmarket brands and exclusive stock lines. The open air configuration tends to highlight individual brands rather than group everybody under the one roof.

A couple of years ago your writer visited such a centre in the UK. It was quite separate from traditional shopping areas (almost regional) and laid out in a street type configuration, much like a wild-west movie set. I had to battle through the odd snow drift to get to each store but discount offerings from Tommy Hilfiger, Boss, GAP and the like, made it all worthwhile. Judging by the crowds, particularly of international tourists like me, this was a successful way of retailing and it offered an air of excitement to shopping.
I can hear you saying now – “Hey! We’ve got open air retailing already at the QVM!” We may need to make a few adjustments to our product offerings and we don't have a setup like the village in the photo, but it makes you think doesn’t it? Let’s not complain about what we don’t have but accept that what do have is a distinct advantage over boring, comfort malls.

David Jones Debacle

The much publicised David Jones profit down grade has impacted significantly on retail media and the share market and, according to some, has significance for all retailers.
David Jones CEO Paul Zahra said it was the retailer's largest known quarterly fall in sales and could lead to a 15-20% downturn in profit for the second half of the 2011 fiscal year.  The largest fall was reportedly amongst the higher income group, normally DJ’s bread and butter. Zahra said that the company would need to address excess inventory levels and factor in lower consumer confidence brought about by interest rates and the carbon tax but admitted they were heading into uncertain territory.
However, Melbourne Business School academic Jody Evans says the profit warning is another sign consumer behaviour has "fundamentally and permanently changed since the financial crisis". "Many retailers felt that the mid-year stocktake sale would be the big fix," she said. "We said at the time of the GFC that it was dangerous to assume that customers will buy more if you drop the prices."

Inside Retailing - 14/07/11

Price Gouging 2

We wrote recently about customers perceptions of what is a fair mark-up and how retailers had forced customers online where margins were more acceptable.
A letter in Inside Retailing this week has attempted to examine the issue with this analysis – Shopping centre rents in Australia are astronomical and retailers are forced to look for high margin goods to pay them. High margins usually don’t translate into value for customers and worse still, retailers head into junk territory as they chase the next high margin product. Add the new found power of consumers to check price competition around the globe, and you have a recipe for deep mistrust and dissatisfaction by Australian consumers. You also create a void that international retailers are very happy to move into.
Yet even the new glamorous new international players are prepared to price-gouge the Australian consumer if given the chance. A price tag on a Zara clothing item failed to cover up the original Euro 19 (about A$25-) price. The Australian store price was $49.00. That’s a lot to pay for freight especially when it is a good chance the item came direct from China.
This is just one more area that Queen Victoria Market Traders need to address as we focus on providing our customers with service, value and a satisfying shopping experience

Larger Retailers Downsizing.

Evidence in the US that larger retailers are in fact downsizing their stores as they adjust to new retailing particularly affected by online shopping.
The theory is that huge stock displays are no longer impressing shoppers probably because they can already see full ranges online before they go shopping. The evidence for this trend is restricted to the US with Best Buy, New Crate & Barrel and GAP Old Navy all declaring store size reductions of 20-25% although speculation already exists for a similar trend in Australia. We wonder if anybody told Costco that.

Sunday 17 July 2011

Vietnamese Translation No.1

Trader volunteer, Henry Ngo, has been good enough to translate some of our articles for the convenience of many of our traders with Vietnamese heritage. This first article refers to tips for better business. -

1.  Thường xuyên thay đổi cách bày hàng

Các trung tâm mua sắm luôn cố gắng để khách hàng cảm thấy thú vị, biến mỗi lần mua sắm thành một
cuộc phươu lưu. Họ cố ý làm khách hàng lạc trong môi trường mua sắm. Khách hàng ghi nhớ các
thông tin cơ bản trong trí nhớ và khi ghé thăm gian hàng của bạn họ bị ảnh hưởng bởi những gì họ
thấy lần cuối cùng. Nếu bạn thay đổi cách bày hàng, bạn thay đổi nhận thức của họ về các mặt hàng
bạn bán, họ sẽ thấy các mặt hàng mà họ chưa để ý từ những lần trước và cảm thấy thích thú hơn. Đây
là một cách đơn giản và ít tốn kém để cải thiện kinh nghiệm mua hàng của khách hàng và để bán được
tất cả các mặt hàng mà bạn có.

Market Interview - Joe

Name? - Joe
What do you do/sell at the market? - Mixed shoes.
How long have you been at the market? - 21 years.
What do you like best about the market? - Walking down the sheds and not bumping into customers - not like the good old days.
Worst moment? - Watching 2 guys kiss.
Past jobs? - Information Technology
Sporting interests? - The world game.
If you were CEO for a day? -I'd take time to visit my loyal subjects.
One thing nobody knows about you? - Better left unsaid.
Favorite food? - Anything Italian.
Favorite drink? - Wine.
Favorite TV show and movie ? - Seinfeld. Shawshank Redemption.
What is the best piece of advice you've ever been given? - Never shit on your front doorstep.
If you had your Sunday arvo free from the market, what would you do? - Watch my son play soccer.
If you were given a 2 week free holiday anywhere around the world, where would you choose to go? - Europe particularly Italy.
Anything else you'd like to say about life at the market? - It's a different day every day.

Thanks Joe

(I'm impressed Joe - It's all printable. Ed)

BYO Food! - A Clever Twist.

The ABC's Inside Business program today had a story on a wine bar that is achieving record sales with a new twist.
Two brother's took over this wine bar in a location with plenty of competition from the big liquor retailers. It soon become obvious that attempting to compete with traditional methods was a lost cause. The inbred pricing structure of the liquor industry left them uncompetitive so they decided to think outside the square. Firstly they established contact with middle of the road wineries, many of whom were also disenchanted with the established structure. They focussed on middle of the road pricing ($12-25 per bottle) and ramped up the one area that they had all over the big boys - customer service.
Then they introduced their trump card - bring your own food. They decided that the expense of setting up a full restaurant style kitchen was unattractive so they encouraged customers to bring their own food. Customers rock up with everything from fine dish casseroles to pizza boxes and settle down to enjoy the customer service, the ambient surroundings and an unbeatable selection of wines.
Turnover has doubled and the brothers see no reason why the growth will not continue.
Why have we mentioned this story? We have been repeatedly cracking on about the new order of retailing - how the GFC, and events since, have changed the face of retailing forever. Times are tough but the good thing is that change brings opportunity and we can't help but think that consumers are ripe for new and exciting ideas to tempt them. The wine bar brothers found such an idea. What have you got in your bag of tricks?

Friday 15 July 2011

Angus & Robertson Franchisees Join Collins.

Further to recent announcements on the winding up of Angus & Robertson’s parent, Redgroup, the future for A&R franchisees has become a little clearer with 20 franchisees signing up with Collins Booksellers. Others are expected to follow.
An interesting twist in the deal is that Collins have announced plans to expand their online presence with a percentage of online sales, including e-books, going to bricks and mortar Collins Booksellers based on customers in their assigned territory.
The Angus & Robertson saga is just another example of retailers thinking outside the square as they adjust to a rapidly changing retail environment.

Facebook For Marketing

DFO have launched a new multi channel advertising campaign which utilises television print and outdoor media as well as an online presence through facebook.
The DFO facebook page has been set up as a campaign storyline that follows the life of a character called Zoe Walker. This is a blatant marketing tool that attempts to enmesh the shopping and personal life of the character in a way that mirrors normal facebook social interaction. It is an interesting take on social networking for commercial purposes. The page only started 3 weeks ago and they have nearly 3,000 “likes” or “friends” (facebooks way of recording interest in a page).
It should be noted that some commercial entities have a huge facebook following. Bonds (underwear and clothing) have over 600,000 friends so facebook is obviously an important part of their online presence. Myer don’t appear to have a facebook page although there is a “Check-in” page for Myer that allows shoppers to record that they are actually visiting the store. That page has 6142 check-ins. David Jones have over 11,200 friends while the QVM facebook page has over 3,500 friends and over 15,000 check-ins.
After a somewhat shaky start, facebook seems to be establishing itself with a marketing presence. It will be interesting to watch the progress. In the meantime you can take advantage of the QVM’s facebook presence by posting direct on the QVM wall or by being part of the marketing promotions conducted by Andrew Cyples.

Free Promotion Reminder

Next Promotion - Andrew Cyples is currently preparing offers for the Spring Brochure so all you traders with a spring orientation to your product range should contact him before 15th August. You can telephone or email - Market Office 513
Elizabeth Street, Melbourne Victoria
+61 3 9320 5822

 The requirements are very simple. You will need a special offer that you can adequately stock for a minimum of 2 weeks. Your special will need to be at least 20% off normal retail price, which is no big deal for market traders, and you will need a product photo. Greg Smith (0406222020) will be happy to organise a photo of your product(s) if you don’t have one.

Don't miss this promotional opportunity - it gives you widespread coverage, and its free!

Thursday 14 July 2011

You Won't Find Phone Hacking Here.

With Rupert Murdoch’s newspaper empire under fire for alleged phone hacking, journalistic practices around the globe are being closely scrutinised.
You will be pleased to know that this publication does not secretly hack phones although, given the market’s thin walls, that is probably superfluous. Overheard public conversations may be submitted for publication anytime but we draw the line at whispers. After all, we do have some journalistic principles.
Ed: On a more serious note, we do recognise some reluctance by traders to contribute to this publication and we want to make it clear that no article will be published that may reflect badly on a trader and we have a strict policy of clearing all articles with concerned traders before publication. Even our friendly Market Interviews are cleared with the interviewee before going to press.

Retailers Queue Up For Profit Downgrades.

Earlier in the week it was Noni B announcing that poor trading conditions over recent months had forced a downgrade of their full year profit expectations. They were expecting profit to fall from $3.9 million in 2009/10 to $600,000 - $800,000 in 2010/2011.

In a shock announcement today, David Jones said  that their profit for the 6 months to July could slide by 12%. Chief Executive Paul Zahra said ''The dramatic and rapid deterioration in trading conditions … has been unprecedented''.

Other retailers are expected to make similar announcements as consumer confidence drops in a manner not seen since the 2000 bursting of the dotcom bubble and the introduction of the goods and services tax.

Every story has a good side and it is some comfort that the pain we traders have been feeling for many months is at last being recognised by the big players as a retailing reality.

Wednesday 13 July 2011

Understanding The Ripoff

As part of their recent submission to the Productivity Commission’s retail inquiry, Choice Magazine pointed to a pair of Nike running shoes, which cost $240 at a major Australian sports retailer, and just $134 from an online store in the States.
Australian consumers have long suspected that they are paying too much for their goods when compared with overseas and now they have the transparency of the internet to prove the point. Australian consumers believe that 35% is a fair mark-up from wholesale to retail and anything more is a rip-off. Ok, consumers are deluded because 35% is insufficient for most retail businesses, but perhaps the problem is more at the wholesaler end than the retailer end. A 35% mark-up from the wholesaler becomes at least 55% (I’m assuming a minimum 65% retail mark-up) at the retail end. We know that many importers work on a lot more than 35% so the compounding effect is very significant.
There are lots of reasons why Australian retailers need more mark-up than overseas online suppliers. They include higher rents, higher wages and better after sales service, but do consumers really want excuses?
If you have a wholesaler who is marking up too much, tell him the party is over. Your customers are becoming too smart so he’ll have to adjust or lose your business. Economics commentator Ross Gittens predicts that internet transparency means that prices around the world will fall to approximately the same level. In other words the law of supply and demand will just even things out and structures will need to change. There is a lot to think about, and a lot of adjusting to do before we eliminate the rip-off.

Letter From A Travelling Trader

Recently one of our traders had the possibility of visiting a number of Markets in mainland Western Europe and he has written to us with some very interesting observations.

“Although the general intent of my travels was to enjoy a work free (read "MARKET FREE") R&R break, I did grasp the opportunity to visit a number of markets whenever it seemed possible. Here are a few brief observations.

The weather was indeed much warmer than anticipated so I thought I might seek out a short sleeved men’s shirt, I was looking for something with a bit of "European" flair.
My first stall had a rather small selection of short sleeved shirts with much the same design as you would find in any store/market in Australia. I thought no, not at all what I want from Europe. They were in fact obviously mass produced (read "Chinese manufactured") garments ( yes I know, why should that have surprised me). As I went to the next stall, same styles, same selection, next stall, again almost precisely the same fare as the previous 2 stalls. Now I was on a mission, were any of the 20 or so men's garment stalls at that particular market selling any real variety? Short answer NO!  Interestingly this scenario repeated itself at all the Markets I visited no matter where their location. 

Lesson 1: Market stall holders in that European country are selling a very limited range of identical, mass produced items right through their Markets. In fact a family member who was travelling with me, who recently came to the QVM noted how much diversity we actually have in comparison to the markets we saw in Europe. Who would have thought?!?
So why did they seem to have such a large patronage, I asked myself. Well my tentative conclusion was that this particular country has not embraced the "all encompassing Shopping Centre" trend. They have very few shopping Centres as such.
Hence if people are going to travel to do their shopping, one real attractive option other than the relatively expensive boutique shops is the local Markets.
As we know Australia has a Shopping Centre almost on every block at the moment and that most certainly has, and is, causing Australian Markets to be far less viable and patronised than our European counterparts.

Lesson 2: Our real challenge is to find a way to be more attractive than the plethora of local Shopping Centres. Certainly no simple task.

Fortunately, at the QVM, we have not been totally engulfed and engorged by the Chinese juggernaut, although we are going down that road. I wonder if that may not be the way out of our dilemma. It may be possible to somehow stand out above the Shopping Centres by offering the unusual and diverse. Could this be our way forward? But, then I have always been a deluded idealist.

Thanks for listening 
A fellow Trader.