Going Beyond Buying Online: Trade Shows
Imagine if you will, an oversized showroom filled with eye-catching displays, free giveaways and hundreds of eager product suppliers, all enthusiastically vying for your attention and offering the best prices possible on the latest products out. As amazing as it sounds, it's really not that far-fetched, it's just a typical scene from your everyday trade show.
We've always encouraged our members to try out new ways of finding and sourcing products, and attending trade shows is one more fantastic way for you to do just that. There may come a time in your product-sourcing career when buying online will no longer cut it, and it will be time for you to go beyond the limitations of Internet-based sourcing. When this time comes, you should definitely give trade shows a go!
What is a trade show?
A trade show (which may also be called a trade fair or trade expo) is an exhibition which has been organized by industry leaders or exhibition planners to bring together companies and service providers in specific industries to learn about new developments and products. Trade shows are expensive to hold, for both organizers and exhibitors who pay a fee to host their own stall, but can be very profitable, which is why many cities host large trade shows as a way of generating local income.
Why Trade Shows?
When you visit tradeshows, it's almost guaranteed that you will get the very best price possible, so get ready to make some big savings! Trade show stands are usually held not by wholesalers, but by the manufacturers themselves which simplifies the buying chain and eliminates the middlemen and the commission they take!
The hottest products
One of the reasons why manufacturers exhibit at trades shows is to showcase their latest and upcoming products. This creates a highly unique opportunity to find niches and there are very few places a retailer can go to get so many great money-making niche ideas.
Finding new products and gaining a monopoly on them is a highly powerful accomplishment for retailers, especially eBay sellers, and should be something that all retailers both off and online should aspire to achieve. Being the sole distributor of a particular item doesn't always last long, as others will eventually identify your product as being profitable and will hunt down a supplier (maybe even your supplier!), but for at least a few months, you can really bring home some big profits.
You'll already know how important it is to build up a strong relationship with your supplier and how it can go a long way in getting you better deals and greater access to new, hot-off-the-conveyor-belt products. Don't be shy about getting to know new suppliers, it's mutually beneficial for you to both get along and make acquaintances.
How to make the most out of a trade show:
Select the right show
This might seem obvious, but it's important to make sure you attend the trade shows most relevant to you and your business. You can easily waste a lot of time and money on admissions fees if you attend a show which only has 1 or 2 exhibitors relevant to you. Pick industry-specific shows, rather than general ones, wherever you can that are most fitting for your business and for any product lines you would like to explore in the future.
Plan your time
Whether you are going to a small trade show for a day, or scouring around a larger one for a week, it's a good idea to plan how you will spend your time. When the marketing material is released, you can find out exactly who and what will be exhibiting there. Make a plan of who you want to visit, and if you are ultra organized (or just a big geek like me!) you could write down a few questions you want to ask each exhibitor.
Learn to say ‘no'
You will meet some of the best sales people in your industry when you attend trade shows, and they will either have strict sales targets to meet to help their company pay for their stall, or will be sales making maniacs who will be using the trade show as an opportunity to make some serious commissions. These salespeople can potentially waste hours of your time by trying to sell you ideas, products or services which may have no benefit to you whatsoever. If you get yourself into the sticky situation of being at the receiving end of a hard sales pitch, you need to know how to get yourself out of it.
Often, all it takes is a simple ‘no, thank you' followed by a polite smile, but for some people this isn't easy. If you struggle to get away from pushy sales people and would rather hand over your credit card for something you know you aren't going to get any use out of, you are going to have to get creative! You have a couple of options here, both of which are tried and true. You could do the ‘sorry, this is fascinating, and I'm really interested, but I really need to go to the bathroom!' or the old look-at-watch-and-exclaim ‘is that the time? Sorry, buddy, I gotta go, my wife/husband/boss is waiting for me'. Whichever approach you take, don't feel bad for not taking the time to listen to a sales pitch on a product you have no intention of buying, you'll be wasting their time too and they would rather spend it dealing with more solid prospective buyers.
How to find trade shows near you
The best way is to simply Google ‘trade show + your area', but there are some helpful directories out there that can point you in the right direction which I have listed below.
Virtual trade shows
If you can't find one in your area, never fear! You can easily access virtual tradeshows from home. Virtual trade shows have really taken off recently, mainly because of how affordable they are compared to regular trade shows where exhibitors have to pay hundreds to host a stall and attendees may have to pay for travel and accommodation. Virtual trade shows offer everything a regular trade show does, but it's all done online, meaning you can get the benefits of visiting a tradeshow all from home!