Tricks of the trade: preparing for trade shows

Tricks of the Trade is a space for retailers to share knowledge and tips on facing everyday business challenges. This month, they give advice on preparing for the trade show season.

Beales womenswear buyer Beckie Andrews

Do your research before the show
Know what it is you are looking for. What are the key trends that will work for your store? Are you missing something in your range that your current suppliers don’t offer? By looking at who or what is at the show, it will make your time more effective whilst you are there.

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Plan your time wisely
Know how long you have to spend at the show and plan any meetings with key suppliers beforehand. Get the important meetings out of the way just in case you run out of time.

Know your budget
Always know what you have to spend before you go and in what categories – this will stop you from overspending.

Wear sensible shoes
There is nothing worse than walking around for eight hours with sore feet.

Vérité Louise and KnickerBockers owner Verity Symcox

Do your research
Viewing lots of new products can be overwhelming, so find out what you need and focus on sourcing that.

Plan your budget
Everything has to be paid for and, with the state of the retail sector still up in the air, you can easily overspend.

Be sure about what you’re buying
Don’t be afraid to go back for a second look. I like to have a quick scan, grab a coffee and then go see who I need to.

Be prepared to network
Make sure you take plenty of business cards.

Wear comfortable shoes
It gets tiring doing shows so think comfort, then fashion.

Coco de Mer head of Buying Emily Thomson

Plan your trip
Ensure you pre-book appointments with the brands you know you want to see so that you don’t miss out on any opportunities. When at the show, be timely, as brands will have a tight schedule to keep to.

Do your research
I always research new labels prior to the trip. The show is so vast that it is easy to miss things, so it’s helpful to have a grasp on the up-and-coming brands, which you can easily find on the exhibitors list.

Spot the trends
Take time to look at the trend forums. For us, not all trends are relevant for our customer, but it is always beneficial to know what is going on in the market.

Attend the fashion shows
Don’t rely on judging lingerie on mannequins at the stands. Take the time to see the fashion shows and you’ll appreciate certain styles so much more on a model.

Look after yourself
Don’t underestimate the walking you will do. Flats and water are a must.

Vanilla Blush owner Nicola Dames

Be friendly
Make sure your trade show trips are enjoyable and fulfilling, so much so that you always look forward to the next one. By being honest, friendly and respectful, you will find you get on with the vast majority of people, who are decent and will return serve. For the odd occasion that someone does not reciprocate the honest, friendly and respectful relationship? More fool them; they’ve just lost the possible chance of a good friend and good contact.

Don’t be nervous
Feeling nervous? Wrong. You are misunderstanding what your body is telling you – it’s excitement!

Pack in advance
On an extremely practical physical note, pack your bags one week before you go. You will find that as the week goes by, you will remember what you have forgotten to pack, and this way you have the chance to add to your bag.

Don’t forget your PJs
Have a set of clothes and other items that are only used for your trade show trips. Make sure you have a favourite pair of pyjamas. Psychologically, it is great for you to know that once you slip into the cosiness of your favourite pyjamas then the line in the sand has been drawn; you are at the end of a day’s work. With your pyjamas on, you can return to being you, no matter how great or not so great the day may
have been.


ASOS branded lingerie junior buyer Hayley Smith

Plan your day
Trade shows are an extremely important part of a buyer’s life. With a fully packed schedule and little time, planning my day is a must to make sure I get time to meet with all the brands. I also spend time looking for the newest and latest trends, upcoming brands and exciting opportunities out there that could work with ASOS.

Don’t wander around aimlessly
Plan your day, know the floor plan – you don’t want to be the buyer
who wanders around getting lost.

Book appointments
Know what brands you are seeing on the day – try and book appointments and be flexible as things don’t always work out time wise.

Wear comfortable footwear
Your shoes need to be your best friend when you are on feet all day.

Be open minded
Sometimes, the best brands and product are hidden gems. And, most importantly, enjoy the show.


Rumour Lingerie creative director Yuliya Higham

Analyse your data
Taking time to put your data into simple spreadsheets will turn into your most powerful weapon, providing you with priceless information that is unique to your business. It will certainly take some guesswork out
of deciding which styles and sizes to order.

Dare to be different
Being in charge of your own brand is good fun, if a bit daunting. Know your competition and make sure you have something entirely different on offer, letting the stock reflect your personality and creating a distinct look for the business.

Stay true to your business identity
The temptation is high to stock a bit of everything in attempt to fulfil all your customer’s needs, but in practice it rarely works. Don’t be scared to be a specialist in your area and do it well – that’s what independents are for.

Listen to your customer
Keep a record of items the customers couldn’t find in your shop. While some of it will keep you entertained, certain requests might be worth considering. It will also give you some insight
when selecting sizes – if you don’t stock something you might never know what sales opportunities you are missing.

Make a shopping list
We all know how easy it is to get carried away when viewing new collections. Before you go to a show, consider what styles would enhance your existent collection, think of lines that sold particularly well in previous seasons, as well as the ones that didn’t work for you; and keep an eye on potential continuity styles.




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