What is a wholesale trade show?
A wholesale trade show is a temporary marketplace that's anywhere from two to five days in length. It's a place where retail buyers and sellers come together.
Most trade shows are at convention centers in large cities, and the attendees (the non-exhibitors) are limited to members-of-the-trade or legitimate buyers. The show management works to protect the exhibitors from competitors who are not potential buyers.
Wholesale trade shows are not for amateurs.
Trade shows are expensive to do, but they are worth it if you're ready.
What do you need to do to get ready to exhibit at a trade show?
You need to have a product line large enough that it makes a statement so that the retailers want to buy from you. You also need packaging that looks professional and could be displayed in a retail environment.
Your marketing needs to be completely different than craft fairs and retail shows.
You need to set your booth and displays to cater to retail buyers. Design your booth to look like the displays would in a retail store to help the buyer see how your products would look in their stores.
A successful trade show can make a lot of money if you're in a good location and prepared.
Make sure you plan it out well. Make sure you have a good line assortment, that your pricing is right, and that you can execute and deliver on time.
I've been to trade shows where I've done really well. I've also been to trade shows where it's been a colossal flop. Different things can make the traffic at the trade show slow.
I went to a show in Dallas once that was a flop because of the weather. There were ice storms and nobody could get to the show. But I've also been to trade shows and exhibited where I wrote an order as large as $97,000, but that's not always the norm. The large orders come when you have the horsepower to work with the bigger accounts.
I have also exhibited at trade shows where I've had a million dollar PO (purchase order) from a big box retailer. However, that was something I had been working with the buyer on for a while. The buyer came to the show to see our products all displayed as they would be in their store. We worked together at the show and we laid out their assortment for their stores for the entire year.
Trade shows vary in size and success. Make sure that you are ready when you start doing them because wholesale is the quickest way to scale your business.
It is important that you get systems and structure in place before you start exhibiting at wholesale trade shows.
You must be able to deliver the orders you receive.
The wholesale gift shows are typically held two to four times a year in the big cities where there is a gift mart. The big ones in the U.S. right now are Atlanta, Las Vegas, Dallas, and New York. The smaller regional shows are in L.A., Denver, Seattle, Columbus and several more.
Milan, Frankfurt, Melbourne, Tokyo, Hong Kong, and China also have big international shows.
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