Top 5 Tips for Buying at a Trade Show

Plan on attending Pulse London next week or any other trade show in the next few months? Here are ou top 5 tips so you can feel more confident & prepared in your buying strategy:

1. Be Prepared- Make sure you know your numbers ahead of time. It isn't enough to just know the total sales you achieved last month, it's important to have a strong understanding of your sales and inventory by category, brand, and best/worst selling individual products. My general rule is that you should walk into the show with a list of your top 5-10 categories in gross sales & your bottom 5-10 categories. 

2. Analyse- Now that you have an understanding of what's working by category, it's time to understand your inventory needs on a macro level so that you don't end up overbuying. How have total sales been over the last season & year? If you are trending down 8% in sales, you don't want to end up buying 20% more than last year in inventory without a clear reason why. It is also important to understand if your best selling products turned too quickly last year (or season) and sold out, this may be why your sales are down as you didn't actually have enough inventory. For this analysis, we like to run a simple sales to stock ratio by category to get an overall picture of where I'm over and understocked. Where are your sales percent to total larger than the inventory percent to total or the opposite? That is a place to start to see where you are over or understocked. 

3. Make your shopping list - Now that you have prepared & analysed, put together a list of what products and items you want to focus on based on your past results as well as current trends. We like to review the exhibitor list beforehand and map out a general strategy. Always leave room to stop at new stands that catch your eye though!

4. Smart negotiations - When you're ready to commit to a buy with a vendor, there are 3 main terms that you may be able to negotiate. Feel free to ask what the brand is flexible on within these areas:

  1. When payment is due
  2. Who pays shipping
  3. Minimum order quantity*

*Quick note on minimum order quantities. If a brand sets a minimum order & it's thought out based on an optimal assortment of their best sellers and the range that works best for the brand, we tend to follow the brand's general suggestions with a few changes to appeal to my individual customer base. If the minimum order seems to be just an arbitrary number then feel free to negotiate on it in a respectful way. 

5. Order at the show - If you find just what you need, order at the show. This is your chance to touch & feel the products as well as see all colours in person. Brands will often offer specials for buying that day, so be sure to ask and take advantage of that. It's also a chance to really talk though the products with the vendor and begin to establish an long term relationship with them.

Let us know if you have any questions, or need some help putting your buy plan together. You can connect with us here.

Happy shopping!