Top tips for how to become a seasoned and successful market trader

July 2, 2015

Heritage. Tradition. Institution. Bargains…

From offering a vast array of ethnic products thus catering for and embracing our multicultural society to the conventional range of items and produce such as flowers, meat, clothing, fruit and veg – the market stall has always been a strong cultural staple within the UK. It is a place of great energy, vibrancy and excitement. A market can be a wonderful place to browse, to spend the day with friends and family, to pick up a bargain and to search for and potentially locate a rare and sought after item that cannot be found in high street stores.
Market traders are prominently confident, lively and friendly characters that can often be seen (and heard) yelling “the lingo”, informing their clientele of the bargains they have for sale that day. The passion they have for their product and the love for what they do is undeniable. This is a key attribute for any successful market trader.
Should the notion of being your own boss in addition to working flexible hours and meeting new people on a daily basis excite you, then entering into the exhilarating world of market trading may be the perfect career move for you.

There is no set path to becoming a successful market trader but here are a few useful tips which may assist in placing you on the right track:


Conducting research on your customer base is crucial. If you are unsure as to what you will offer to your consumers, you must first discover what they are missing out on. What do they need? Is there a demand for a particular product? If there isn’t a requirement for the commodity in question, then why sell it? Speak directly to consumers in regards to what they are searching for and see if there is a gap in the market for what you have to offer them. Do you have a unique selling position? Find out how much are customers willing to pay for your merchandise and would this lead to repeat purchases on a regular basis or is your item a one-off acquisition?
Carrying out research on your competition is also extremely important. Who are they? Where are they located? Do they have an online and a social media presence? How established are they? Does your product and service differ from theirs? If so, in what way? Would this variation benefit the consumer? The information that you may discover from this research could prove vital in regards to the future success of your business.

Planning ahead

Developing a stable business plan is fundamental. Entrepreneurs with a three to five year strategy are more likely to succeed than one without. There are a few questions you should ask yourself when devising your plan: What is the current condition of your business? Where would you like it to be? What changes would you need to make and what would be the cost in order for this concept to become a reality? Here you could consider the potential location of your stall, the price of your products as well as any marketing and promotion activity that you wish to undertake.


Once you’ve completed your initial research, decided upon which product(s) you are going to sell and have a robust trade plan in place, you may need to look into a financing or funding option in order to get your business up and running. The National Market Traders Federation (NMTF) work closely with a government backed initiative called Start Up Loans UK. They provide new traders with less than 12 months experience with funding options as well as business mentoring. You can find out more about Start Up Loans UK Here.
In order to purchase stock, further research may need to be conducted when seeking wholesalers and suppliers. It would be wise to explore their reputability as well as performing price comparisons with related sources before acquiring stock.


Ensure that you have registered as a sole trader (self-employed) with HM Revenue and Customs within three months from when you begin trading. This will mean that you will receive all of your business profits after the tax deduction. Find out more Here.
A legal requirement that you must obtain before launching your business is market stall insurance. This will safeguard you in the event of any accidents or injuries inflicted upon the public whilst trading. You may find that most markets will not allow you to trade on their premises without proving proof that you have stall insurance. Once you become an NMTF member, they will provide you with a free package which includes public and employee liability insurance.
You must adhere to the Trade Descriptions Act when providing the public with goods. Products but be described correctly and cannot be fraudulent or counterfeits. Failing to comply with the regulations of the Trade Descriptions Act could lead to a large fine and harm your reputation as a trader.
Following the guidelines of The Sale of Goods Act is also imperative. This portion of consumer legislation is there to protect customers from purchasing good that are unsatisfactory or defective. If the item sold is not of a favourable quality, then you are duty-bound to correct the issue by offering an exchange, a full refund or a credit note. This policy could prove valuable as it could very well boost your notoriety as a reputable market trader.
Should you be considering becoming a food trader then you must comply with the Food Standards Agency (FSA) regulations. You will be required to register the address of your stall with the FSA and expect to receive one or two inspections to be performed throughout the year.

Keeping organised

Ensure that you are organised and up to date in regards to capturing sales, spending and ordering information. Clear and accurate data contained within spreadsheets or lists will enable you to keep track of your business performance as well as your finances and spend. This method will grant you a birds eye view on the goods you are selling so you can ascertain which products are performing well and which are not. From this information you can make a knowledgeable decision on which stock should be buying as well as aiding you in recognising consumer trends, thus allowing you to better prepare and fulfil customer demands.

Expand your business

Once the dust has settled and you begin to feel comfortable with the systems you have in place and the reputation you have acquired as a skilful market trader, you may decide to expend your horizons and reach a larger customer base. This can be done via various marketing methods from newspaper and magazine adverts to promoting your business via social media channels such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.
You may also find that a large quantity of your existing customers do not always carry sufficient funds in cash on their person and are therefore unable to complete the sale.
Traditionally cash has been the only form of payment method accepted within a marketplace setting. However times are changing and in recent years people are carrying less cash on their person. Credit and debit cards are fast becoming the primary way in which to complete a transaction.
With our help, never again will you lose a sale due to this issue. Chip & PIN Solutions can provide you with a modern, contemporary, yet tough card terminal for your market stall thus ensuring that your customers will always have an alternative way to finalise their purchase.

Market Trader Chip & PIN blog

Future-proof your business

At Chip & PIN Solutions we are delighted to be in partnership with the NMTF. We can therefore offer all National Market Traders Federation members an array of superb benefits such as:
[su_list icon=”/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/Tick.png”]

  • Discounted rates for members
  • Dedicated phone line for NMTF members
  • £50 off NMTF membership with any hire
  • Quick set up and UK wide network coverage
  • Recommend a friend and receive a £50 voucher
  • Increase sales by as much as 30%

As the UK’s leading provider in card payment systems we feel that it’s key to offer our customers with choice which is why we can provide a great range of products and services designed to enhance a business of any size.