Thursday, January 14, 2010

On the Road Again-- Trade Show Fever

January is always an exciting time for me as I get to head out to speak at various trade shows across the US. I'm always excited to talk to retailers about what happened this past holiday season and how they are planning for the upcoming year.

Planning is especially important in this challenging economy and sometimes, I don't think retailers give it a high enough priority in the day to day rush of getting everything done.

So for this post, I thought I would share a couple of ideas for retailers as they head into this frantic buying season full of excitement and Christmas dollars to invest in spring inventory. Keep these ideas in mind as you hit the road to fill your shelves and store rooms with merchandise

Determine Your Goals for the Trade Show IN ADVANCE

  • Set a budget by vendor and classification after reviewing last year's results and existing inventory - Stick To It.

  • Establish dialogue with suppliers on potential marketing support for this year

  • Network with other retailers and suppliers seeking new ideas to drive sales, market share and profitability

Prepare A Thoughtful Merchandise Strategy in Advance.

  • Develop a strategy for buying - number of units, sizes, classifications, vendors, dollars

  • Schedule appointments ahead of time with key vendors

  • Preview show map and develop a schedule and plan a route - don't just meander through the show aimlessly

Gather Relevant Industry Insights to Make Good Purchasing Decisions

  • Schedule time for relevant educational seminars during your trade show visit

  • Talk to key vendors about best practices for sell through and merchandising

  • Engage in conversations with key thought leaders - approach seminar leaders with questions

  • Gather contact info on opinion leaders and plan on following post show on twitter, blogs, websites and newsletters

Work With Your Suppliers

  • Pre-wire for support during the year and determine follow-up plan after purchases
    Request placement on their website - store locator, hyperlinks

  • Ask for information about best practices from non-competitor

  • Seek merchandising suggestions

Going into a trade show with a defined set of objectives and a plan to achieve them will go a long way to ensuring you have a productive trade show and a great start to 2010. Think strategically and stick to the plan!

I'm off to Los Angeles and the California Gift Show. Drop by and see me and my colleague Ruth at our hands on Twitter sessions....put it in your schedule :-)

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