Today we're talking all about wholesale trade shows. You can watch it here or read below.
So 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've written 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.
Please tell us in the comments are you ready to wholesale at trade shows?
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The IFJAG International Fashion Jewelry and Accessory Show was in Orlando in September. This is an awesome show for purchasing jewelry without having to go to China, always a plus.
The IFJAG show as per their website is a major source of jewelry and accessories for over 50 years to wholesalers and volume buyers. The show offers over 200 lines of fashion jewelry and accessories. Exhibitors are manufacturers, designers and direct importers. Each exhibitor has a private show room for buyers to see new designs. In addition to fashion jewelry there is sterling silver. Accessories include watches, handbags, belts, scarves, shawls, hair accessories, small gift items and much more.
I attended the IFJAG last year and found a lot of new manufacturers to work with. This is a must attend show if you are in the jewelry business. The products are on trend for the following year and there are so many choices of products from low to high pricing.
Each company has their own room to keep their new designs as private as possible to the buyers. We just walked from room to room to see all the new exciting things in their new launches. I found watches, scarves and lots of jewelry pieces for my business. I wish they had more handbags but that is another show. I didn't have the best lighting for the photos but you will get an idea of the way they display merchandise at the show.
When I started a new line of candles years ago and was trying to find new sales reps. The first thing I did was walk trade shows.
The Las Vegas Gift Show is at the World Market Center in Las Vegas. I have learned over the years the gift industry is great place to start looking for reps first.
I start by walking the show and just looking around to see who the players are. I look for showrooms that either don't have what I want them to carry or they have a lot of what I want them carry, in this case candles.
I just walk in the showrooms that I like and ask "who makes decisions on the lines that you carry here?" Don't be afraid to ask, they want to pick up good lines just as bad as you want to sell your products.
Make sure that you have these five things before you start looking for sales reps.
1. A catalog or line sheet showing clear photos of the products with item numbers.
2. Business cards with contact email and phone number on them.
3. A website and email addresses with the name of your company, it looks more professional and they will take you much more serious.
4. Clear pricing on your products with the correct gross margins built in and an allowance of 15% commission for the sales reps.
5. Samples of your products.
As an example of what your pricing should be to make it work for both you and the sales reps as well as the retailers, use this formula.
Cost of Goods $1.00
Wholesale Cost $3.00
Retail Cost $6.00
I have always used this this formula over the last twenty years, if you use this formula you will always make money. I say one dollar COGS, one dollar overhead and one dollar profit. The only exception I make on this formula is if it is very large volume then I will wholesale for $2.00 and retail for $4.00 for every $1.00, however it has be large volume as in 1,000's of units.
Make sure you wear comfortable shoes when you set out on your trade show journey. At the end of the day nobody is going to remember what shoes you wore and your feet will thank you. My shoes at the Vegas Show....my fitbit says I walked six miles that day.