The first ever trade show I attended as a buyer was memorable. Puffed up with importance, I approached the registration desk, clipped on my badge that had my name AND my business name. I wandered up and down the aisles, overwhelmed at how many stands there were. Revelling in all of the new products and ordering up a storm.
Whether you’re a seasoned visitor, or this is your first trade fair event, here are my tips to getting the most out of your visit ahead of The Retail Quarter Sydney.
Secure Your Registration
You’ll need to register to attend, which you can do by either online before the event, or by registering when you arrive at the show. Both options require you providing proof of business before your registration is approved (find out more details here). If you’ve registered online, around two weeks before the show you’ll get an email with your Print@Home badge. Print it off and bring it with you for express entry.
To avoid any surprises, be sure to check out start and finish times, transport, parking fees and whether children can attend. The Retail Quarter and Reed Gift Fairs discourage children under the age of 14 from attending, with babies and toddlers (aged 0-2) permitted if they are in a pram or carrying device. Find out more on The Retail Quarter Sydney’s FAQs page.
Most trade fairs will be held across several days (because they’re BIG!), so it’s important to allocate yourself adequate time. Plus, attending a trade fair usually only happens a handful of times a year and a lot of business owners don’t have the opportunity to take the time out of their business to plan, reflect and recharge, so here’s how you can use this time to the fullest.
Do something for yourself
You’ll want to cram as much as possible into the 1/2/3/4 days you’ve allotted to visit the fairs, I get that. But this is also a much-needed break from working in your store. Think about enrolling in one of The Retail Quarter Sydney’s many Retail Therapy: The Business of Christmas education sessions. An hour or two out of your day, learning something new can be just what you need to give you back your mojo, if you’ve been feeling in a rut. Find out more here.
All fairs have exhibitor lists available online before the show. To avoid overwhelm, grab your beverage of choice, and make a list of exhibitors that you want to see. I recommend hunting those vendors out first, so you don’t accidentally walk past them in the hustle and bustle. See the full exhibitor list for The Retail Quarter Sydney here.
The first trade fair I attended, it got to 5pm and I realised all I’d had was a cup of tea and a few biscuits. Not the best brain food to be making product decisions on! When you’re planning out your day, remember to factor in breaks to eat and stay hydrated. Long hours on your feet can lead to regretful purchasing, and no one wants that.
Take this opportunity to meet up with ‘virtual’ biz friends, grow your business acumen ‘network’ and debrief. Think about organising a meet up in the evening to rest and recharge.
Know your limits
Vendors will often have show specials. It’s a great opportunity to secure extra stock, or use those saving elsewhere. But remember to have a budget set before you attend, and stick to it.
Discovering new suppliers is probably the main reason you to attend a trade fair. Remember to ask yourself if this would really suit your Ultimate Customer, or is it just something YOU like? Take time to ask suppliers what they provide. Do they supply images, point of sale or merchandising items, are stands available for awkward products? What are their trade terms and warranties? Can you return or exchange stock that doesn’t move?
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.
Most of all, have fun.
Enjoy the opportunity to be a business owner, making decisions that will grow your retail store.
Hear Salena Knight speak on ‘The Business of Christmas’ on 24 September as part of the Retail Therapy education series that will run throughout The Retail Quarter Sydney. Tickets are $30 – find out more and book your place here!