How to Have an Online Vendor Party

Selling online is sometimes difficult but when you throw a party people often get in the mood to shop. And, if you invite other vendors to party with you, you’ve added to your list of guests that will show because they’ll invite their friends and customers too. Before thinking of having a party make sure you have your website looking good and a functional shopping cart. If you don’t have a cart you can always have individuals email you but this is a big hassle with a party going on as well.

Reserve a chat room but make sure you’re aware of the rules. Many chat rooms don’t allow vendor selling so be careful or your party could be shut down just as it’s getting started. Search for Work At Home Moms (WAHM) or Work At Home Dads (WAHD) for possible free chat rooms for your party.

Ask friends and other website owners to have the party with you. Ask each vendor to donate a $5 or $10 gift so that visitors can play games and win prizes. Better yet, make the prizes gift certificates to your sites. This encourages the winners to shop from you and tell others about your site and your wonderful products.

Plan your party a few weeks in advance so you’ll have time to plan. Send out invitations to your party – don’t spam. Post the party info at chat boards that allow this type of advertising. Check the rules first or your ad will be pulled by the moderator. Place an ad in newsletters that allow free ads. WAHMS is one place that allows members to post free ads on certain days. Join their news group then check the calendar and rules for postings.

Make sure you set up a page where you can announce the vendors, their specials, and the gifts that will be given away during the party. For people who can’t make it to the party but still want the discount, specifically state the amount of days that the discounts will be valid and provide a link to each site. Also provide an email address to each site in case a potential customer has a question about a particular product.

After you have decided on time and date, invited guests, planned vendor time slots and prepared your website it’s time to have your party. Make sure you arrive before starting time so that you can welcome your guests. It’s a good idea to get a room that allows private messaging between guests. This allows one vendor to talk about products while another finishes a deal with a customer from his or her time slot. It also allows special deals to be made, in private, for loyal, repeat customers.

Welcome each and every guest as they enter the room. Don’t spend all your time talking to people you know and ignoring potential new customers. Vendors should start their time slots by reviewing their specials. It’s okay to mention certain items you’ve tried and like or particular crafts and the color choices available. Don’t spend the entire time slot plugging the products. Get to know the customers by chatting. They might mention something that helps you make a sale. For example, you may be chatting with a person who mentions that her husband is diabetic. At that time you can ask her if she has checked the diabetic products that your company offers, and provide her with the link right then.

If customers like you and think you’re friendly they’re more apt to purchase from you. And, even if they don’t purchase from you during this party they could remember you and purchase at the next party you throw. Having the parties too frequently will cause guests not to show so schedule them about every 3 to 6 months.

Play games to allow the customers, even if they haven’t purchased, to try your products or shop at your site. One fun game to play is scramble word. Use a word or product name and scramble the letters in it. Now see who can unscramble the word and be the first to type it correctly in the chat box. Play with 10 different words, and the one who gets the most right, wins a prize. Or play a game naming products of days gone by. Type the slogan that a company used years ago and ask the visitors to name the product. Play this several times with the winner being the one who guessed correctly the most times.

Another way to give away prizes, and make sure you get sales, is to have a “prize patch” or “prize page”. The person who makes the highest purchase in an hour gets a trip to the prize patch to choose the prize of his/her choice. Or, each person who makes a purchase of $20 or more gets a trip to the prize patch. You can also have the patrons visit your sites and fill out a questionnaire to win a trip. For example, make a list of questions, one from each site. Questions can be something like, “How much are the double chocolate brownies at such-and-such site?” The visitor goes to the site, looks around, finds the brownies and price, then fills in the blank. Now the visitor moves on to the next site to find the answer to the next question. This encourages the visitors to at least go look at some of your products, and hopefully, one or two products will catch their eye.

If this is all too much work for your busy schedule check the WAHMS calendar to see if you can schedule a party with another group of vendors. These parties go on most every day and you can probably get a time slot with a party that’s happening in the near future. Be aware that some of these groups charge $5 or $10 for the vendor spot. This money is usually used to pay for the chat room services or to advertise for the party. Each vendor is usually obligated to donate a gift as well. The money and gift is normally non-refundable so do make sure you show up on time for your slot.

Above all, try to make the experience fun for the visitors. Even if they don’t purchase this time they’ll be thrilled when they get an invite to the next party because they’ll remember how much fun they had. And, if all goes well, they’ll purchase from you at the next event.

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