Are you attending a retail trade show this year? Here are a few pointers to help you have a successful attendance.

Retail trade exhibitions are vital for retailers because they allow them to get a complete picture of what’s going on in the business, see products in person, and form relationships with vendors. Companies looking to expand their businesses and make a name for themselves have found success at some of the best retail trade fairs. If you’re going to a retail trade show this year (and you should be as a store), here are some pointers for a successful trip.

1. Clearly define your objectives

You must consider sufficient preparation whenever you visit a trade event. Trade exhibitions are typically large, with hundreds of exhibitors. Begin by doing some research on the trade expo and learning more about the attendees. This will assist you in determining your priorities and determining what you may expect. As well, it’s helpful to understand how you want to market your own retail business and what your target market wants from you. Suppose you’ve spotted Union Apparel doing well on shelves, for example. In that case, this could be a niche you want to focus on more.

2. Pre-show planning

Pre-register to avoid any misunderstandings at the exhibition. Have a purpose in mind, such as which vendors to visit, which things you need to buy, which seminars to attend, and which new product lines you’d like to view.

Before the show, figure out what you’ll need in terms of inventory. When you group your orders together, you can take advantage of discounts and special offers, and staying within budget, more effective purchasing will save you money.

Make appointments with any vendors you want to see at the exhibition—plan to bring along any staff who would benefit tremendously from visiting the trade event.

3. Check your numbers

Checking each of your numbers and making sure you don’t overbuy is one of the most important aspects of preparedness. It’s easy to get excited when you see so many amazing new products and sellers, but most of the purchases you make will be discarded; don’t let your enthusiasm lead you to make judgments that aren’t founded on rigorous analysis and number-crunching.

For example, if you discover that last year’s sales were down 7%, your new inventory should reflect this. It’s fine to be upbeat, but it needs to be tempered with a fair dose of realism. It’s beneficial to have an ‘open to buy mindset. This is a purchase budget used by retailers to keep them committed to not acquiring a product until the present inventory of that product has been sold, which helps them avoid overbuying.

4. Intensify industry collaboration

Retail trade events are about more than just finding fantastic products; they’re also about fortifying industry ties and laying the solid groundwork with vendors. There are plenty of scenarios when vendors might play favorites with retailers, even if they don’t acknowledge it or realize it, which happens organically in any sector.

Networking is key. Making regular appointments and pursuing face-to-face contacts will help you become a preferred client. For example, suppose a limited-edition garment opportunity arises. In that case, the vendor with whom you’ve developed a relationship is likely to contact you first before calling other merchants. 

Trade exhibitions are ideal for establishing or expanding your network. Bring a lot of business cards with you and hand them out to those who might be interested. Don’t be shy about introducing yourself to new people.

If possible, attend seminars and workshops. You came for the instructional presentations. Don’t spend too much time at each booth, and don’t engage in a conversation with a company with which you have no business.

5. Be on top of the latest developments

Getting a glimpse of retail’s future is possible at retail trade shows. After all, these shows provide a window into the retail world, and you can learn a lot about what’s coming next. There’s also a buzz and energy around specific brands and items, and you’ll be able to follow this trail long before anything is published to the general public. You can bring valuable knowledge back to your business and use it to your advantage as you obtain it.

6. Be Open-minded

Try new things, unproven things, things you have a gut on with your most fabulous retail categories. Because those categories pay off for you, the marketplace looks to you for such things. Because you’re “fishing where the fish are” and trying different baits, you’re safe. Even if you buy a stinker, you’ll be able to get rid of it faster because the category is in higher demand. Are you with me?

7. Conserve your resources

STOP with your bottom categories. Don’t buy more because those categories aren’t making a significant contribution to your bottom line. This is something experts discovered while working in the coffee industry. “Tea is the next big thing,” everyone remarked, “and you need to extend your tea offerings.” 

Experts examined tea sales of a particular company, which accounted for less than 1% of total sales. Even doubling the menu wouldn’t boost to support more POP, product, and training. Simply, they did not entrust their tea needs. Instead, the tea company focused on blended cold coffee drinks and attempted a variety of flavors because they accounted for 40% of sales. The company was safe because customers looked to those types of drinks and would be willing to try them. If you need to restock something, be sure it’s a confirmed #1 bestseller, or don’t bother. Remember that the arrows were given to the pioneers; after an item has survived in the marketplace in your lower categories, become a settler and bring it in.

8. Post-show Tips

Following the trade show, you must take specific procedures to establish whether the event was a success. To establish whether each of your objectives has been reached, compare your activities to your aims. Take a step back to assess what went wrong and what may be changed in the future if you wanted to attain specific goals but didn’t. The main goal is to see if the time and money you spend at trade exhibits is worthwhile in the long run. Could you have gotten the same outcomes if you hadn’t attended the trade show? What kind of benefit did the trade fair provide?


That was a lot of information, but we guarantee that your trade fair visit will be a breeze if you follow these guidelines. These aren’t all the tricks to choosing the right merchandise, but they should help you put money in your trousers rather than your vendors’ pockets.

Because stuff, like milk, spoils quickly, you should only carry what you require, not what you desire.

By Pratik Talati

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