It’s a wrap #sydneyretailfestival! And what an excellent wrap! This is my 4th trade fair with the Sydney Retail Festival and Melbourne Retail Festival and I can’t be grateful enough with #JordanWentworth and his excellent team.
Lessons learnt from The Trade Fair:
- Consistency is a key for success.
- Patience is a virtue.
- Forget about overnight success. It takes time, efforts, investment, and relationships.
- Do not assume. Every visitor could be helpful to your business or you can be helpful for them.
- Share the knowledge when asked (when possible).
- Relationships in business are a key factor. Build them!
Do’s and dont’s of a Trade Fair:
- Do prepare yourself and your stock.
- Do practice KISS: Keep It Simple.
- Do bring the necessary stock to show your potential buyers and current buyers.
- Do have a catalogue and a price list. With excellent content.
- Do have business cards ready with your name, title, social media, email, and description of your shop i.e. “Tolu Australia – Latin American Swimwear and Resortwear”
- Do have clear the numbers (wholesale and retail prices).
- Do have clear the production times and delivery times
- Do apply the 3-1-8 rule: have a list of potential visitors (buyers, media editors, models, influencers, clients, etc) 3 months before your trade show. Contact them, send written invitations, email and call them. Send another invite 1 month before the event, and a final reminder with your stand number 8 days before the event. Use Mailchimp or personalised emails, connect with them via LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram.
- Do have your social media up to date and interesting. Remember it is the “virtual window shop” and first impression nowadays for your business.
The extra miles:
- Do be patient, if buyers don’t turn up, keep waiting.
- Do meet other stand holders. Chat to them and share contacts. It’s a win-win situation. Specially the stand holders that sell products that complement yours. They might stock a boutique that could also be your potential buyer.
- Do greet and welcome everyone.
- Do keep a nice and relax body language. (Never have your arms crossed).
- Do listen to the buyers and what are they looking for. Ask what’s their target market, what products are they searching for, which season are they interested on, what’s their price point, etc. (Scan their details)
- Do share the event via your Facebook page and social media.
The best tip of advice:
- A trade fair is a work in progress job.
- It doesn’t start on the 1st day of the event and it doesn’t finish on the last day of the event.
- It starts at least 3 months before, by doing all your preparations and contacting buyers, media editors, clients, potential clients etc, and after the event, the most important thing is the follow ups you give to the people who visited your stand or that you meet at the event (even your neighbour stand holder).
- Don’t complain if buyers are not turning up. Keep waiting.
- Don’t blame the event organisers, they can only do as much and they put together an amazing event infrastructure, stand holders, marketing, advertisement, seminars to attract people from the industry, venue, contact buyers. But remember is the final decision of a visitor if they show up to not.
- Bringing buyers to a trade show is a dual job: from event organisers as well as stand holders.
- Don’t think a trade fair is a crystal ball where you invest money and will receive a return on the investment straight away. It is a hard work and it is a work in progress. The results don’t come overnight. It took one of my suppliers 3 years trading at the Miami Swim Show to be able to get into a major department store in The United States of America.
- Don’t pack up early. If you have been in the trade fair 24 hrs, 1 more hour won’t hurt and a speaker, buyer, editor could come along to meet you.
My conclusion: This was my 4th time attending the Sydney Retail Festival and I’m grateful and confident enough to say that it has been working for me. It takes time but I could see the results, my highlights are being able to meet with a major department store (several months after one of the events), as well as welcome my major online retailer, The Iconic, to see my latest collections every time they attend. #TheIconic is a big supporter of fashion industry in Australia and New Zealand and they have attend two of the events, they take the time to visit most of the stands, talk to the suppliers, participate at the seminars speaking about sustainability and choosing brands to get on board at their marketplace.
I‘ve also met buyers such as #TJX, #OzSale, #Amazon, #DavidJones, fashion boutiques, and alike as well as stylist, designers, software suppliers such as #shopify, freight companies such as #interparcel, and I’ve welcomed into my stand media experts such as #flaunter, and I’ve networking with women empowering women such as #ChanaImsirovic, agents such as #AngelaLowe, shop fitters and designers such as #JulesBuckland, and my own competitors.
#JordanWenthworth and his team are doing an amazing job filling an evident gap of Fashion Trade Fairs in Australia. Their business (as everyone else in the trade fair) is small and growing and they count with the support and interest of buyers as well as stand holders to fill this gap.
If you are a buyer, editor, student, model, influencer in the fashion industry, I would like to invite you to visit their next event, and all together we will build the perfect destination for fashion buyers in Australia.
The event runs in March in Melbourne and September in Sydney.