Trade Fairs- What to Expect

It’s coming up to the Autumn fairs so I thought I’d give you a few tips on what to prepare and what questions you need to ask…

Shopping bags for fairs

There are a couple of things you will need to prepare before you go to a trade fair. It can be quite overwhelming and exhausting, especially if you don’t know exactly what it is you are looking for and believe me you’ll be surprised how many suppliers there are and also how many are selling the same thing! So come prepared with an open mind, with your business hat on and you should have fun!

Thing’s you’ll need to do and bring for the fair:

– Get your ticket in advance so that you can get free entry otherwise you’ll have to pay around £20 on the door.

– If you are going to a big fair like the Spring /Autumn Fair in Birmingham and you live far it might be a good idea to book a hotel for a night. Get this done in advance as the hotels get booked pretty quickly. When my mum and I went to the Spring fair, it was our first time and we were slightly overwhelmed as to how much there is to see- the Spring Fair takes over the whole of the NEC! We were so pleased to have booked a hotel so that we could process everything that we saw, have a chat about what we might want in the shop then go back the next day to ask anymore questions we’d forgotten and go ahead with an order.

– Take lots and lots of business cards!

– A notebook- Sometimes you might see a very similar item with another supplier- make a note and check both items as one might be more expensive then the other and/or better quality.

– A small weekend suitcase with wheels- You get given so many catalogues and brochures it’s much easier wheeling them round then carrying them on your shoulder- it gets heavy very quickly!

– Comfy shoes.

Questions you need to ask / check:

– You’ll want to check if there is a shop near you that is already selling their items as there is no point in selling the same things. They can normally check whilst you’re there.

– What’s the minimum order?

– Delivery times?

– Where are they based? If it’s in Denmark it could take a while to deliver and no doubt delivery will be more expensive which you need to take into account.

– Ask what the wholesale price is on particular items that you like and what their recommended retail price is (RRP), this will determine whether you think you and your customers can afford the item.

– Ask for catalogue/ brochures with a price list.

– Where are the items made?

– If you are just an online shop, you might want to check whether they are ok with this (some are not) and if you are planning to sell on Amazon or Ebay you will need to let them know.

– If you like the items and want to make an order, ask how you can set up an account with them and whether or not you can make an order at the fair.  Some companies prefer you to fill out a form and they’ll send a sales agent to your shop at a later date, others will set you up with an account there and then.

-You don’t have to make an order at the fair, you may feel you want to look over everything and decide at a later date. Just make sure you know how to get in touch with them and whatever you do don’t get pushed in to buying something you don’t like, they have their best sales agents working so watch out!

Here is a list of some of the Fairs (you don’t need to go to all of them!):

– Spring/Autumn Fair in Birmingham NEC (Spring- February, Autumn- September): Website here

– Top Drawer Spring/ Autumn London usually in Earls Court. (Spring- February, Autumn- September): Website here

– Pulse London Earls Court (Once a year usually in May): Website here

– Home & Gift, Harrogate usually in Harrogate International Centre in July: Website here

– Home London ( Earls court, shares it with Top Drawer in February): Website here

-Interiors UK in Birmingham NEC (once a year in January): Website here

There are quite a few more but I think these are the main ones for gifts and interiors. Usually when you register with one, they’ll ask you what other fairs do you attend and there is a massive list which you can have a look over.

Many of the fairs also have some very helpful talks about trends, tips on running/opening a shop or online business etc so have a look in the catalogue you get sent a few days before. I’ve sat through a couple and I would definitely recommend them.

I hope this helps. If you have any more tips or any fairs you prefer to go to please share them by writing in the comments box below. Thanks!

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