Thursday 31 January 2019

Where Is The Quality Control In Big Data?

This has little to do with retailing so tune out now if you wish, but I have a problem with big data.

Big data is the holy grail of business with companies spending millions to gain information about us. That is essentially what billion dollar operations like Facebook and Google do - finding out your preferences and then “helping” you by directing information that is relevant to your data.

I have just read an article that questions the relevance of different pieces of data that are held about you. Your purchase of a concert ticket for instance (which may not have been bought for your own use) suddenly becomes part of your data pool. Then there is the product you purchased on eBay and wrote a review about. That little action has become part of your data pool and, at least in a digital sense defines you.

Let me explain the problem with a personal example. I use an app called Flipboard for a lot of my news gathering. My Flipboard feed has links with various news services and subject matters. As editor of Victraders, I read a lot of articles about retailing. I also have a passion for watches (usually watches I can’t afford) and Flipboard knows that by storing data on my reading patterns.

So my news feed these days is dominated by articles about retailing and watches. Very clever you might say, but my fear is that the more focused stuff that Flipboard channels to my news feed, the less aware I become about the rest of the world.

In short, I don’t really want somebody else forming an opinion about me based on random data collection. And let’s remember they are doing this for money - big data is big business but where is the quality control? 

This is my data you are playing with and I would like to be more confident that it is painting the right picture.

By Greg Smith

Queen Victoria's Voracious Appetite For Food & Sex

Ok, we have blatantly ripped off this article heading from a BBC website but given our attachment to Queen Victoria we are confident we will be forgiven.
Maybe some of our food purveyors can draw a promotional link between their food products and Queen Victoria's preferences - preferably without the sex bit.

Here is the link to the full article - 

Have Your Say - click here.

Tuesday 29 January 2019

QVM In The News - 29/1/2019

To wind up the celebrations, head down to the Queen Victoria Market where there will be Melbourne's very own Lantern Festival, jam-packed with ...
One of the most successful theatre productions in Australian history, Jersey Boys, will make an appearance at Queen Victoria Markets as part of a ...

Other traders at Queen Victoria market also bowed out of trade in the hottest part of the afternoon last week, with local cosmetics brand Food For Your ...

Business Conditions Plummet With Retail the Worst Offender

Traders reporting poor trading conditions are apparently part of a larger picture with NAB reporting the worst business conditions since the Global Financial Crisis and retail showing the greatest weakness.

Falls in financial markets, and lower house prices have combined with lower retail sales to create a worrying trend.

See the full report on the ABC here - Business Conditions Fall

Sunday 27 January 2019

Heard Under The Sheds – 27/01/2019

Good News / Bad News – This week’s Night Market seemed to get the thumbs up from participants but trade for the Day Market has been very patchy with some reasonable reports from Thursday. Friday’s heat saw many absentees and, despite better weather over the weekend, trade has been very slow. One trader said that there is a dark mood in the trader ranks at present.

One trader who braved Friday’s heat said the temperature wasn’t so much of a problem but the strong winds were quite destructive.

A customer complained that she couldn’t get the ATM’s to work properly – turned out she was trying to insert a parking ticket in the ATM.

Toilet complaint – The Toilets at the top of String Bean Alley are copping a number of complaints with one trader saying he had talked to management about the poor impression left on international tourists with our third world facilities. The ladies toilet in that block broke down twice over the weekend to add to the difficulties.
(Comment from QVM Management - QVM management are currently looking into improvement works for the toilets at the top of String Bean Alley. We would encourage traders to report any maintenance issues to QVM facilities on 0418 222 119 or For urgent or after hours issues contact security on 0414 550 451.) 

A trader returned from an overseas trip and says he is looking forward to a fresh take on things after clearing his mind of work and taking a new look at priorities.

A trader said that if the current Australian cricket team can win a test with an innings to spare (Australia v Sri Lanka in Brisbane) then anything is possible.

A tennis fan from Spain was saying that he enjoyed our market (“It is so big”) and that back home markets were very much a community thing - “Markets are in our blood."

29/01/2019 20:11:52       Heat   "Greg heat of the sort experienced last week and expected this coming weekend is indeed a problem on many levels. 1) problems with stock i.e. soaps make up and food. 2)there is a heat policy for older traders but when it is extreme it should be available to all. 3) fruit and veg rotting etc and last but not least NO CUSTOMERS  prepared to brave 38 plus temps!!!!! Your comments PLEASE."

Yes, weather extremes are a problem at many levels and climate change may require a new look. The new 1:00pm heat policy is welcome, particularly when we see that peak heat appears to occur later in the day, and those who brave the conditions do get trading opportunities earlier in the day.
“NO CUSTOMERS” - not really, because tourists in particular will always turn up. And that is the cruncher for us. Local shoppers can choose to shop another day but tourists on itineraries don’t always have that choice. We need to be there for them, and when I say “We” I mean those traders whose products and fitness levels allow  them to trade. Generally those traders will tell you they do OK on extreme heat days.  However, I wouldn’t want to be a senior trader selling chocolate fudge.
Thanks for raising the issue - Ed.

QVM In The News - 27/1/2019

Market CEO Stan Liacos told CBD News he was “heartened and ... Save Queen Victoria Market spokesperson Mary-Lou Howie told CBD News the ...
Google Plus Facebook Twitter Flag as irrelevant
The Queen Victoria Market offered us unlimited spoils for food, and perhaps most enviable in this day and age, was the complete elimination of the ...
Work has begun on the construction on the large-scale redevelopment of a site on the corner of Queen and Thierry Streets, adjacent to the historic ...
Demolition works have begun on the former Munro building to make way for the redevelopment of Melbourne's Queen Victoria Market precinct.
Google Plus Facebook Twitter Flag as irrelevant
Work has started on a major development next to Queen Victoria Market that will feature a hotel, community facilities, housing, laneways and ...
Google Plus Facebook Twitter Flag as irrelevant
... as workers demolish buildings on the so-called Munro site on Therry St before works start on a major development next to Queen Victoria Market.

New Night Market And Other Things

Well, we can’t complain about QVM being complacent with Night Market concepts because invitations are out for a new Europa concept market beginning in April.
The market will “ showcase the very best in European food, culture and entertainment”. Keeping our Night Market fresh and at the top of its game is important as competitors hone in on a successful concept.

Expanding String Bean Alley:
Not only are we getting 12 new containers for String Bean Alley but CEO, Stan Liacos, is talking about expanding trading in the aisle as well. In an article in CBD News this week he said “String Bean Alley once complete mid this year will emerge as another groovy enticing laneway for central Melbourne that will be able to trade more days of the week and for slightly longer hours than it currently can given its current half-done state.”

Munro’s Demolition In The News:
A great time lapse of the Munro’s demolition appeared in the press this week.
Click here for the link.
And then one of our traders (thanks Corner Larder) posted a video on facebook showing workers hosing down the demolition process.
Click here for the link.

Miniature QVM:
Legoland is featuring a model of QVM with some very recognisable features.

This Sign Nails An Important Aspect Of Shopping At QVM

You might have noticed some new banners around our market and these were photographed in String Bean Alley this week. 

The slogan on one side of the banner is backed by a photo of a trader(s) and they stand out very well.

The slogan that caught our eye was this one - 

The sentiment of authenticity says a lot about our traditional market. Many of us would see ourselves as authentic retailers with a strong work ethic, great product knowledge, and outstanding personal service at the forefront of what we offer our customers.

Our market is all about authentic shopping and maybe that is a theme that can be incorporated in our discussions about a vision for QVM. What do you think?

Have Your Say - click here.

Monday 21 January 2019

Customers Are Video Shopping At My Stall

This new way of shopping has popped up at my stall three times this week and each occasion resulted in a sale.

Video shopping is when a customer remotely examines your products through somebody else’s phone. The phone holder, or proxy shopper, will show the customer on the other end of the phone products that interest them and it becomes a bit like a shopping tour usually with continuous banter and regular review and comparison discussions. “What size is that? Can you show me the larger version? Please get a close-up. Ooh what was that?”

The customer sees the products and the proxy usually has vision of the customers face so that their reaction is monitored. The whole process seems to be remarkably effective and, as I mentioned in the introduction, each video shopping event this week resulted in a sale. One customer even bargained with me on the screen - quite bizarre!

Perhaps the most memorable situation was a Brother shopping for his Sister in New York. He had told her about some of my products, apparently unobtainable in the US, and they organised a video tie up. The Brother purchased 3 items and was catching up with his Sister in India in a week’s time.

Another customer was a Mother videoing for her Daughter who collected one of my products. The Mother sifted through the ten options I had in stock and the Daughter selected from the video vision. Sale done.

Of course there is no reason why he video shopping can’t be done with the stall holders phone as the medium. There are a number of free phone apps that allow videoing and I will certainly be investigating those options and how to offer them to my customers.

By Greg Smith

Have Your Say - click here.

Sunday 20 January 2019

Heard Under The Sheds – 20/1/2019

A busker at the Night Market recently got his audience involved with a clever little activity involving a selfie video. He wanted to send his Grandmother back in England a special video for her birthday and as he panned his camera around the crowd cheered and jumped about for a very special birthday wish – great entertainment for the crowd and presumably for Grandma.

A trader who keeps good records says last year his February sales were better than his January sales and he is predicting the same this year.

A trader who went to the tennis this week says she can understand why tennis tourists are not spending much with us. Airfares, $400 per room per night accommodation, and the cost of actually getting into the tennis would drain many wallets.

A trader commented on our article last week about showing respect to new traders. He suggested that respect is two way and he is absolutely right.

A trader observed that walking down K Shed during trading time this week he counted 20 traders looking at their mobile phones. All posting to their business social media accounts no doubt.

A customer saw a thief take an item from a stall last week and alerted the trader. When the trader reclaimed the stolen item, the thief defiantly protested that she only stole because she didn’t have any money. The trader is still not sure how she should respond to that level of reasoning.

A little boy to his father on entering the temporary(?) toilet block at the top of String Bean Alley – “I don’t want to go in there Daddy. It looks scary and it smells.”

Gotta love the positive outlook of this trader – “Today’s market was populated by a very small number of actual buyers, and a very large number of potential buyers. Today was preparing for a future rush.”

QVM In The News - 20/1/2019

Polish Deli isn't exactly off the beaten track. You'll find it in Queen Victoria Market's busy deli hall. And no matter what time of day, there's almost ...
QV MARKET MEDITERRANEAN FOOD WALKING TOUR ... a guided walking tour of Melbourne's most popular and iconic market, Queen Victoria (QV) ...

Latest Retail News – 20/1/2019

Latest Retail News – 20/1/2019
1. ABS shows strong online sales in November.
2. Coca-Cola cans plastic straws and stirrers.
3. UK new world leader for vegan food launches.
4. Reject Shop sticks with first half profit prediction.
5. Kmart records first half drop in comparative sales.
6. Menswear retailer, Ed Harry, enters administration.
7. Nestle review their packaging for biodegradable options.
8. Noni B claims 140% growth in Christmas sales due new efficiencies and online.
9. Business confidence plummets while Westpac reports consumer confidence also down.
10. H&M tests in-store cafes and florists.
11. Coca-Cola signs five year deal with Pizza Hut.

Committee of Trustees To Examine Market Vision

Next month’s Committee of Trustees meeting is to examine a Vision for our Market and it might pay to look at just what a Vision Statement means.

Wikipedia says: "A vision statement is a declaration of an organization's objectives, intended to guide its internal decision-making. A vision statement is not limited to business organizations and may also be used by non-profit or governmental entities."

A good vision statement resonates with its intended audience whether it be customers, shareholders or employees and perhaps we should first note that the intended audience is just one variable in this conversation. Some vision statements can be quite complex, others very simple and succinct. Disney’s Vision Statement is “to make people happy” – that is pretty simple.

Perhaps the most common intent of a vision statement is to guide stakeholders. If stakeholders can embrace a vision statement it is said that unity throughout the whole organisation can be enhanced. Providing an intent and direction that everyone can understand is very important. It can also help in day to day decision making by all participants as decisions are weighed against the organisation’s vision.

A vision statement will often talk about the future in a very positive way and often sets some lofty things to aim for. It is a statement that can be reviewed and tweaked to fit in with changing circumstances and aspirations.

We look forward to this process as QVM reviews its vision for the future.

Great New Free Marketing Assist For Traders

Free help with Advertising, Marketing and Social Media

The most common problem faced by business owners is time. You are so busy running your business that there is no time to plan out your marketing and advertising campaigns and get on top of social media!

You know what you should be doing, but finding the energy, resources, and know-how can be a massive hurdle.
SBMS, as part of the Trader Connect, program has come up with a solution! Partnering with RMIT University, online savvy students will now be available to work with traders and assist in developing strategies and implementing them throughout their semester – this is a FREE service for QVM traders!

Why this is great
The great thing about this program is that the students will be tasked to find custom advertising and digital marketing solutions specifically suitable for each trader. No two businesses are alike at QVM, so working one-on-one with student groups and business mentors, traders will end-up with the perfect strategy and marketing plan for their business, and the students will make it happen…. Without any out of pocket expenses!

If you are online Savvy
The bonus is that each trader’s existing plans, capabilities and ideas will be factored into the plan. Meaning that if you are already savvy and proactive with online marketing, the students can help enhance your efforts, and make it happen faster, plus after meeting with you, they can suggest ideas you may not have had otherwise.

If you are a digital Neanderthal
Conversely, if you have absolutely no idea where to start, or what social media is, or if you have any ideas that you would like the students to implement, that’s great, because the students will come up with options for you to choose from, will help activate the ideas, and ensure that you fully understand what is being done to promote your business, and leave you with detailed instructions on what needs to be done next, if anything at all. Tasks can be as simple as just making sure your business is listed on relevant online directories that have now replaced the YellowPages, so clients looking for your product can find you easier.

Language Help
And one final bonus worth mentioning, is that if your preferred language is not English, there is a good chance that there are students speaking your language, that can be matched to work with you, making it a whole lot easier for you.

Further Information
Click here for further information and to register your expression of interest.
All your questions are answered in the Frequently Asked Section, including:
What will the student do? What marketing is included? What happens after the students have finished? How much effort is required from you?

You can always call or email Katya at the Trader Lounge to discuss further, via 1300 631 171 or

It’s Time

The heading has you guessing doesn’t it, but this one is about consolidation of the Upper Market and the regularity of comments from traders suggests it is time we took that big step and got rid of the gaps.

There are areas of the market that are particularly vulnerable to gaps in stalls and the sad picture in sheds like C and D Sheds is seen as a severe negative not just to traders but also to customers. Traders say they are regularly overhearing customers talking about the obvious decline in the market.

Gaps are also appearing in other sections of the market and it is not a good look. The answer would seem to be simple – consolidate the market into a smaller area. The result would be removal of gaps and a return to a full, vibrant market. Many traders say the “buzz” of a full market is important to maintaining the right consumer mood and maximising sales.  

As one trader said (thanks Tony) – you would not hold a garden party and spread your guests out deliberately to improve the appearance. Conversations require the energy of large groups and guests will naturally gravitate to where the action is. It is an analogy but for many traders there will be a parallel in creating energy to achieve sales through consolidation of the trading area.

Efforts have been made to minimise the impact of gaps. New traders have often been directed to empty areas and spreading is not only sought by traders but also encouraged by management. But clearly that is not enough and many believe the time has come for a more scientific approach and maybe a structural change in how and where we position stalls.

There is a lot to consider here, but let’s get a serious conversation started. – time waits for no-one.

Tuesday 15 January 2019

This Article Might Just Set The Direction For Traders In 2019

“Speak to any consumer in our major global cities, and they will describe a world of convenience, from click-and-collect to fulfillment within hours. But they will also think and express the new face of physical experiential retailing – and for our island economy, this wave of consumer lifestyle experience is crucially now on the horizon.

The above paragraph is from an article by Brian Walker, CEO of Retail Doctor Group. It was published in Linkedin a week ago and its timing at the start of a new year and the relevance to all forms of retailing including market trading, makes for compelling reading.

“Retail specialisation rather than generalisation will be paramount in 2019.

The emphasis on specialty retail and the importance of convenience are just two ingredients that will ring bells with some of our recent discussions on Victraders.

“Specialty retail will focus on curation, with a greater focus on retail metrics and customisation. Savvy retailers will be building more ‘play’ into their shop experiences.
“…… convenience in the future may relate to payment technologies, store opening hours, or other assistive technology in the pipeline. Whatever the case, the drive for convenience is likely to persist.

At the completion of his article Brian Walker predicts “At the niche community end, the community high street, done well, will start its climb back into relevance and surely that is the link to market trading. 

Our success may we depend on how well we excite customers through retail experiences, and meet their need for convenience.

Monday 14 January 2019

Heard Under The Sheds – 13/1/2019

A casual trader was heard to ask for a stall change because her sales in that spot the previous day were so bad. A fellow trader suggested that no spot in the upper market did well that day and usually it’s not the spot, just the vagaries of trading - good advice?

On a particularly bad business day a trader thought that he was getting the final insult when a customer turning up with a gift voucher in his hand.  Fortunately the voucher was used as a part payment for a much more expensive item - a good ending to the day.

A trader who sells inexpensive items is worried about the cost of converting to paper bags. A paper bag will simply chew up too much of his profit. He was advised to contact QVM Sustainability Manager, Kelly Green. Maybe options have already been found for this situation.

Advertised Trading Hours – a trader in the Upper Market was confronted by a customer early Saturday morning wanting to know why the market was not open from the advertised starting time of 6:00am. The trader explained that 6:00am applied only to food and that Specialty Merchandise was open from 8:00am. That trader’s first sale was at 10:00am – Sigh!!!!!

A number of traders reported another good Night Market with sales similar to the previous week.

A trader says he fears something is missing with our customers. He is not sure if it is the actual customers or just the money in their pockets.

An article a few weeks back suggesting that traders would benefit from a central parcel depot for customer orders has got one trader wondering if one of the Chinese parcel delivery services up on Peel St. might be interested in our business.

On a similar note, a trader says he purchased an $8.00 item on Ebay last week and was happy to pay the$7.50 courier fee for delivery to his door 2 days later. He is beginning to think he should offer the same service to his customers.

A trader has asked for advance warning of any extended trading hours so he can book an appointment with his dentist. He reckons an extra couple of hours per day grinding his teeth may have repercussions -  there is a comedian in every aisle of our market.

Does anybody know if this graphic on the roller door at the top of String Bean Alley is of a past trader? He appears to be wearing an apron.
Thanks to Matt Ryan for letting us know that this is Guiseppe Foca, B Shed Fruit & Vegetable Trader (retired). - Ed.

15/01/2019 11:40:18       Re Postal Services at QVM           "We have been offering mail-order services for years.  It is a fundamental part of a retail offering now and one which all traders should provide.
We find offering to post helps close the deal for tourists (local and international)
We use Australia Post as it covers the whole of Australia.
The Post Office on Franklin St is short of room and difficult to access because of the ongoing Metro Tunnel works.  There is a business case for offering them space at the Market. 
Australia Post have free shipping integrations with eBay and online stores as well as square etc. 
Having a post shop at the market might also improve mail delivery to traders under the sheds (its been hard enough getting mail to a Victoria St shop)"  -Tim, Books for Cooks  
Thanks Tim. A post shop at the market would be fantastic. We need to bridge that gap between packing an item (which can be done at a stall or shop) and getting it into the postal system. For many traders, taking a parcel to a post office has to wait for a day off. - Ed.

17/01/2019 13:13:05       Re Australia Post     Australia Post eParcel        "Australia Post eParcel under a contract allows for free pickup if the value of the postage of the items is more than about $45;  the problem is open air traders don't have addresses for delivery under the national address database.  Having a post shop in the market would help with this problem."
And in the absence of a post shop could we have some other central point that could be registered on the national address database? Thanks for adding to the discussion - Ed.

Latest Retail News – 13/1/2019

1. Drugstore, Walgrens in the US, is to introduce frozen food, meal kits, and other food items into 12 of its stores.
2. Laura Ashley is to close all its stores.
3. Caltex has lowered its sales outlook.
4. ASOS downgrades its forecast.
5. Europe’s biggest consumer electronics entity, Ceconomy AG, eliminates dividend and warns of profit drop.
6. Reject Shop prospective buyer urges release of accounts.
7. Australian lingerie brand, Honey Birdette, opens in Los Angeles.
8. Sears to close further 80 stores by March.
9. Amazon achieves record Christmas sales.
10. WA bans plastic bags – retailers face fines.
11. Kathmandu says Christmas sales slow.
12. Apple drops sales projection after slow sales in China.
13. Lowes to refocus on retail fundamentals.
14. Bloomingdales experiments with floor to ceiling screens to create immersive shopping experience.
15. Aldi UK reports “best ever” Christmas trade.
16. Toy retailing to slow in 2019 says Ibisworld.
17. J.C.Penney sales fall.
18. Coles & Woolworths in race for Christmas sales kudos.
19. Noni B ups sales in last 6 months of 2018.
20. Costa share price plummets as reduced demand for F&V predicted for January.
21. Debenhams Chairman out and CEO off board as sales drop.
22. Crabtree & Evelyn to close all Australian stores.
23. Peter Alexander price increase for plus sizes causes social media uproar.