5 Ways to Increase Sales at Your Next Trade Show

Participating at Pulse, Top Drawer, Bubble, or Scoop this year? 

Trade shows can be a great way to grow your business and get your brand out into the world. While there are a lot of benefits, trade shows can also be a huge investment of both your time and money. To help you make the most of your efforts, I’ve pulled together some of my top tips for trade show sales success.

Say hello & be positive.

This may seem basic, but there are so many times I walk past a stand at a trade show and find the brand representatives so focused on their cell phones or in a conversation with each other that they don’t even look up to say hello.

While it’s fine to look busy, stay engaged with the visitors that walk by – even when they don’t stop immediately at your booth. Smile, say hello, and ask them how the show has been for them.

Pay attention to everyone, whether they are a prospect or not. If you look like you are having fun with the crowd, people will be attracted to your energy.

Take time to understand your prospective retailers.

When someone stops by your stand, it’s easy to jump right into a monologue about your brand, backstory, bestselling styles, ect. Rather than going into too many details about yourself at first, try to make an effort to ask questions about the visitor’s businesses before making any recommendations.

Where is their store located? What type of customers do they have? What time of year are they the busiest? What other products and brands are working well for them?

The more information you find out, the easier it will be to put together an assortment that makes sense for them. Taking time to get to know a new stockiest also builds trust, and is the start to a mutually beneficial relationship.

Be sure your prices are attractive.

Are you confident in your pricing? What markup are you offering to retailers?

First thing first, always include VAT in your recommended retail price. Even if you aren’t VAT registered, stockists will expect that whatever retail you suggest will already account for VAT.

In terms of markup, after VAT is removed stockists will expect to have at least a 2 – 2.5 x markup (margin of 50 – 60%) depending on the industry and type of product. Need a pricing crash course? You can grab my free Pricing Guide here.

Stop talking minimum order, start talking optimal collection.

While having a set minimum order is a common practice, I challenge you to think about your minimum order more in terms of what assortment best represents your brand.

For example: If you’re a jewellery brand, does your brand look best when a retailer showcases 12 pairs of earrings, 6 bracelets, and 4 rings? What would an assortment like that (with back-up quantities) cost for them?

This is where your minimum order amount should come from and when you show a retailer why they will be much more inclined move forward.

Follow up, follow up, follow up.

Not all the magic happens at the show! Be sure to grab all visitor’s details and reach out in thoughtful ways. Send personalised thank you emails to everyone who stopped by, and even if they aren’t interested for the moment, send updates or info on future events periodically throughout the year.

Did you receive a lot of initial orders? Congrats! Now the real work begins. Be sure to follow-up consistently. Create a schedule so stockists hear from you on a regular basis, every 6 weeks or so. It shouldn’t always be to sell, it’s nice to ask about them, their store and work towards building a stronger relationship!

That’s where the real sales results will come from. 

Looking for more support as you prep for your next trade show? I’d love to help! Feel free to connect with me here.


Learn to love 'Basic' Stock

What can we learn from some of the top retail brands in the world? While they always have newness & fashion styles on hand, if you look closely a lot of their inventory is made up of 'basic' bestsellers that are always in stock.

Basic doesn't always mean the same exact product though and can also be updated versions of a customer favourite. While known 'basics' retailer such as J. Crew may have close to 60% of 'basic' styles in their stock, even 'fashion' retailers such as Zara keep close to 15-25% of their stock in re-orderable 'basic' styles. 

First step to stabilise your retail store or wholesale collection? Define what your 'basic' stock will be and ensure that you're able to keep the products in stock without any issues.

Here are some examples to get you thinking about what this stock could be made up of:

  • You're an online children's clothing boutique or shop that sources & carries the freshest brands. Many of your products are one of a kind or not re-orderable. Your 'basic' solution? Be sure to stock onesies, t-shirts, and leggings in 2 of your best selling colours from your top brand at all times. Pull them aside into a 'basics' category on your website or within your store. Evaluate seasonally, and aim to have this make up 10-15% of your inventory budget.

  • You're a handbag brand selling into small boutiques. The majority of your products are super colourful & made of alternative materials. Many are even one of kind. Your 'basic' solution? As much as it may pain you, develop a more timeless everyday product in a few neutral colours. Use the silhouettes or materials of your more 'fashion' driven items, but be sure to build some type of footprint in more timeless styles so that you're able to transition as trends change.

Once you pinpoint what the 'bread & butter' will be in your inventory and provide consistency, your customers will know they can turn to you for these products as well as for the exciting 'fashion' newness. This also provides massive stability to you as trends and consumer buying habits shift. 

Feel free to reach out for a chat on how to make this work for your specific business model!