How to Prepare for a Trade Show: 7 Tips for Retailers


I love Show season! For well over a month now, my anticipation has been growing as we ready the showrooms to showcase our newest design collections.Various Gift, Home, & Garden Tradeshow Logos

But while I’m prepping our storefront, many of you are leaving yours to attend a summer trade show. With all of your travel costs and time commitment taken into account, trade shows can be quite an investment, so I thought I’d share some tips to help you get the most value out of the shows you attend.

Here are 7 quick tips to help you get more bang for your buck:

  1. Review Your Sales – Your sales history can help you determine the top categories and lines at your store, so you can be sure to visit those showrooms. It will also help you see any missed opportunities as you put together your “shopping list”.
  2. Set a Budget by Classification – Segment your budget by different classifications of products, so your overall store mix is well balanced and the categories that drive the most sales get their due attention. It is important to allocate funds to the product that continually rings your register first!
  3. Plan Your Time and Route Wisely – The Atlanta Market Magazine, the Buyers Guide, and offer floor plans with vendor locations. Take advantage of these resources by charting out your route ahead of time. You don’t want to end up wasting valuable time waiting in line for elevators.
  4. Schedule, But Don’t Over-Schedule – Make appointments with your main vendors but don’t over-book yourself. Be sure to leave yourself some extra time to look for new vendors or product categories. Take advantage of early morning and late night availability when showrooms aren’t quite as busy.
  5. Take Your Camera – You’ll be happy to have some pictures of interesting display ideas or new products to share with your team when you get back to your store.
  6. Ask Questions – Show season is a GREAT time to gain valuable information from vendors.  Ask questions like: How can I maximize sales with your product?  Is there a display program?  What type of product information can you provide me with?  What are your Best Sellers?  What type of store is doing well with your product?  Who is your competition and how do you differ from them? Don’t forget to inquire about Show Specials!!
  7. Take Care of Yourself – Pack a healthy snack or take advantage of a showroom offering, drink plenty of water, and wear comfortable shoes. It’s also a good idea to bring a small rolling tote to help save your shoulder and keep your selling information and catalogs organized.

These tips can help you prepare for most shows, but for more show-specific info, visit the websites of the markets you are attending. For example, Americas Mart’s New Retailer Information Packet has some helpful tips and checklists.

If you have any questions about Magnet Works products, please stop by our booth in Atlanta at The Gardens on the 9th floor, Building 2W, B-84 or in the Link2Sales Showroom at 1600 Building 9. I’d love to connect and share what’s new!

If you have any questions or comments, please share them below. If you’re a trade show veteran, what advice would you give to a fellow retailer about attending a show? I look forward to hearing from you!

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2 Responses to “How to Prepare for a Trade Show: 7 Tips for Retailers”

  1. SS Marsha Says:

    Good blog. I agree with all of your points, EXCEPT for part of #7.

    Please, please, please… leave your rolling bag at home!!! Rolling bags clog up escalators, aisles and walkways… and if you read the guidelines for America’s Mart, they even say ‘No rolling bags allowed.’ (At least they did at one time.) If you’re concerned about the amount of paper, catalogs, etc., you are carrying, just pick up a one-sheet or have the catalog mailed to your store.

    My advice to new buyers is “Be decisive.” You can waste a whole lot of time picking up sell sheets and catalogs, then waste more time backtracking to write orders. If you are intrigued enough about something to ask for a catalog, you probably should just be writing an order anyway. When you review your orders at the close of market, you can always cancel if you have second thoughts.

    My co-buyer and I have a hard-and-fast rule… if we find ourselves debating something, MOVE ON! One of us has to have a strong feeling about something in order to buy… if we both love it, all the better. But if we are each ‘meh’, but somehow trying to make something fit… chances are, it won’t anyway.

    • Tammy Hickel Says:

      Thanks so much Marsha for taking the time to share your tips and great advice! I think you summed it up perfectly when you stated “Be decisive”. I would just also add to that—“Be disciplined.”

      It’s easy for many buyers to get caught up in the moment and exceed an overall Open to Buy if proper attention is not given to planning out the dollars prior to arriving at market.

      Regarding Rollarbags—I couldn’t agree with you more regarding oversized carts. They are a safety hazard on the escalators as well as in the showrooms. However, there are some great “briefcase like” totes that are minimal in size and have hidden wheels attached. I find that it’s great to have the option to “roll” come the end of the day!

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