Fall 2013
Show Time! By Becky Tyre

A tradeshow takes up a lot of your time and money. Here are some tips to make the most of your investment.

Travel expenses and time away from the store are major concerns if you want to attend wholesale tradeshows. With some advance preparation and a few organizational tools for attending shows, you can get the most out of them. Here are some ideas for what works:

Pre-show planning:

1. Make reservations for travel and lodging early.
Many shows offer rooms at a discount. Stay close to the tradeshow venue when possible and visit the show website to see if the mart offers shuttle service to and from local hotels to the market venue.

2. Determine inventory needs before the show.
Review prior sales statistics and identify areas for expanded growth potential. Ask your staff for input on what to buy and areas to expand or lessen. Consider your best customers as a source for suggestions, as well.

3. Register for the show in advance to save time upon arrival.
Pre-register for seminars and workshops, if required. Note the seminar times on your mart calendar.

4. Set appointments with your top vendors.
Get a map of the show floor plan and try to group your appointments by building or by floor. Review the show’s website as a resource for show layout, rules for attendees and check if the mart has an app for your phone or tablet.

What to bring:

5. Take plenty of business cards and copies of your credit sheet.
Provide the names and contact information for all buyers, the owner and inventory specialist or store managers, if applicable.

6. Take a calendar of store events and merchandising timelines.
Knowing when products need to arrive for special events will assist in designating shipping dates so that all inventory arrives in time to complete merchandising plans and also enables staggered scheduling of non-seasonal products to offset heavy delivery months.

“Carry a calendar with the dates of all your store events, VIP customer needs and shipping cutoff dates. As you shop, add your purchases to the calendar with ship dates, cancel dates, order totals and terms. Having all this information in one place makes it easier to stay on budget, manage inventory, cash flow and provides a visual snapshot of what is going on in your store.” 
Linda O’Boyle, Metro Home Style, Syracuse, NY

Bonus Tip: Stay connected. Many market centers offer apps for smartphones and tablets that assist in locating vendors and navigating on-site during the show. Most of these apps are useful before and after the show as well. WiFi access varies by venue, but consider using your social media platforms to share market news, sneak peeks and trends with your followers by posting updates during your market trips.

Becky Tyre

Becky Tyre is the senior trends editor for GIFT SHOP Magazine and the owner of the Retail Details blog.

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