Retailers share how they make the most of their trade show visits
Through a special arrangement, what follows is a summary of an article from Kizer & Bender’s Retail Adventures blog.
Each year we ask successful retailers how they make each trade show trip profitable. Here are some of their top secrets.
- Pre-plan your time: Before leaving home, do some pre-show homework. Closely look at your product sales histories. Which merchandise is selling? Which is gathering dust? Examine current and committed inventories. Set a strategic plan on how to shop the show floor.
- Attend business seminars: Workshops are important and, well, fun, but business classes teach merchandising, marketing and other skills every retailer needs to take their store to the next level of success.
- Hit the exhibit floor running: Arrive early on the first day to get an idea how the floor is laid out. Quickly walk the entire floor, noting what’s important about each booth. With most attendees shopping front-to-back, work the opposite direction. You’ll find open aisles.
Visit the New Exhibitor section and keep your eyes open for “show only” specials. Set appointments if you require quality alone time with a vendor. If traveling with colleagues or your buying group, choose a time to meet and assign each person a goal, such as finding a new vendor for _____________, getting the best price on ______________, or securing prizes and giveaways for upcoming promotional events.
At each day’s finale, replace your enthusiasm for the cool product with common sense. In your hotel room, review your orders, asking yourself if this is the product and quantity you really want — or need — to order. If not, drop off the order in the morning.
- Tap into vendor knowledge: Your vendors are invaluable resources who travel the country and talk with retailers and customers alike. They’ll be more than willing to share with you. Questions can range from “What trends have you seen that I need to know about?” to “Do you have display tips?’’ and “What have other retailers selling the line done in their stores to encourage sales?”
- Grow your retailer network: Seminars are a great place to network with other creative retailers. If you’re attending alone, agree to meet your new retail friends each day to hash over what you’ve found at the show.
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Which of the tips above do you find most valuable? Do you have any additional tips for retailers looking to make the most of their time at trade shows?