deliveries. Then choose the vendors you
want to visit, keeping an open mind about
new companies as well.
Make appointments. Reps’ schedules fill up
quickly, so call or email them weeks beforehand to arrange an appointment. A few
days before the show, contact them again
to confirm. And make sure you’re on time,
even though they may not be. Plan to see
as many reps as you can.
Be thorough. Look at the entire agenda,
and then decide where you want to focus
WHILE YOU’RE THERE
If you’ve prepared your visit in advance (see
above!) you’ll be walking from booth to
booth with a merchandising plan in your
head and purchase orders in your hands,
but don’t forget to:
Keep an open mind. While you’re looking
at products, trust your first impression because that’s likely the first impression your
customers will also have of the product.
Don’t avoid familiar booths. These exhibitors may have new or improved products
or categories since you last visited them.
Talk to people. It’s important to network at
a show. Reps are a valuable source of information, so take advantage of them. Also,
don’t pass by fellow retailers. You can get a
lot out of talking with each other. When
you share your business concerns and
means of dealing with them you’re bound
to learn something. If you’re excited and
open to talking with people to see what you
can learn and offer, you’ll walk away with
more ideas and insights.
Collect information. Gather as much product literature as you can. Ask for business
cards, or input the information into a electronic device, so you can follow up if you
don’t hear from them.
Plan to do business. A show is the most economical place to do business. Not only are
exhibitors eager to write orders, but they
also often offer attractive pricing for orders
placed at the show.
Attend seminars. Seminars and business sessions provide countless ideas. They’re an
opportunity to keep up to date with product
trends and the issues facing the industry.
Get sociable. Casual and formal social functions provide other chances to learn from
people who do what you do. You can gather a lot of information over a coffee, so
don’t scratch impromptu socializing off
your list because you think you don’t have
time for it.
AFTER THE SHOW
Just because the trade show is over
doesn’t mean it’s through with you. There’s
plenty you can do to continue getting the
most out of the event once you’ve returned
to your store.
Hold a promotional event. Organize a prod-uct-introduction party to show customers
all the latest and hottest products you just
sourced from the show. Customers like to
hear that you’re working on their behalf
and keeping up with the trends.
Host a customer focus group. Ask your customers what they think of the products
that interested you at the show. Let them
suggest what you could be carrying.
A LEARNING EXPERIENCE
If you’ve played the field correctly, long
after the doors have closed you’ll still be
utilizing the contacts, product information
and industry insights you gathered at the
show. Put everything you learned or saw
into practice, centre your merchandising
around the new products and special deals
you received and keep track of how much
better you’re doing.
WH Y YOU SHOULD ATTEND
A trade show is the only
place where you’ll find the
newest products all at once,
under one roof
During a trade show, you can
talk with dozens of people who
represent thousands of products
and services of benefit to
With all the product options laid
out in front of you it’s easy to
compare prices and negotiate
the best deals
From financial management to
opportunities are what complete
a trade show. Combined with
product sourcing and networking,
seminars and workshops are
what make a trade show a
complete business package.
Before you head to your next
trade show heed this helpful
advice. Attract customers and
make it easier for them to do
business with you by:
• Knowing your business
• Contacting customers beforehand and inviting them to meet
• Preparing your display with
strong visuals which highlight
your company’s logo and
products, while stating
• Keep pens, paper, staplers and
other office supplies on hand
• Train your staff to be friendly,
knowledgeable, inviting and
• Talk with attendees about their
stores and your products
• Document who, and how many,
attendees stopped at your booth
• Follow up with visitors and reps
after the show
• Offer post-show specials to
• Ask customers their opinions of