What to expect when you go to your first trade fair as a buyer

So, you’re on your way to your first ever trade show as a buyer. You’ve heard all the stories about how beautiful the stands can be and you’re excited to be able to see so many suppliers in one place.

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Today we’re talking about what to expect when you attend a trade show as a buyer. I remember my first ever trade show that I attended as a buyer. I felt so important, with my name and business name on a lanyard as I waltzed around the stores. But, I had a very big shock waiting for me.

Before the show

Most trade shows will require that you pre register. You’ll have to fill out an online form, and usually provide some kind of proof of business registration. Once you’ve been accepted, you’ll get an email, and either your registration lanyard in the post, or you’ll pick it up on the day. To avoid any surprises, Be sure to check out start and finish times, transport, parking fees and whether children can attend. In many cases children are not allowed at trade fairs, or may be required to be in a baby carrier or pram. Here’s a little tip – you can often pre book parking, or get parking validated at the show for a rediuced fee – even as a guest. Just sayin’

When you enter the show

When you enter the trade show, you may be overwhelmed. Grab a guide and circle the suppliers you’d like to see the most. I recommend hunting those places out first, so you don’t accidently walk past them in the hustle and bustle. Vendors will often have show specials. A word of advice. Think before you order! And if you order on the day, keep track of how much your spending.

4 weeks after my first trade fair, I was receiving whopping invoices from things I’d forgotten I even ordered. Ask suppliers what they provide. Do they supply images, Point of sale or merchandising items, are their stands available for awkward products? What are their trade terms and warranties? Can you return or exchange stock that doesn’t move? You’ll often get your lanyard scanned by everyone who’se stand you show an interest in. Be aware these people WILL email you, so be prepared for an onslaught in your inbox.

Remember to ask yourself if this would really suit your ultimate customer, or is it just something YOU like? I guess what I’m saying is to just be mindful of what you’re buuing and how much your spending. Most of all, have fun, enjoy the opportunity to be a business owner, making decisions that will grow your business. Use this opportunity to connect with suppliers and develop a relationship with them. You may only get a few minutes, but have something noteworthy to discuss if you want to foster your relationship. Some suppliers will even let you book meeting times with them.

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