Some retailers are seasoned pros who have “worked” the floor of buying markets and trade shows for years. However, there are also younger retailers or new store owners who may be attending events for the first time. Practically, everyone can use a few tips on navigating the buying floor now that in-person events are up and running again. Remember to follow the safety protocols convention organizers have in place.
One of the best ways to learn about new products and gain insights into industry trends is to attend a convention or trade show. When done right, the events create a sense of excitement and make participants feel good about spending three or four days engaging in a host of activities prepared especially for the occasion.
Home improvement conventions tend to be high-energy affairs held in large convention centers. The booths are staffed by enthusiastic folks who hope to get a few minutes of your time. Ultimately, it’s all about buying and selling.
However, before heading to the show, you can take steps to prepare and ensure things go smoothly. Working the market floor with a plan of action lets you manage your time wisely and accomplish the tasks you need to complete.
Create a “Must Do” List When you register for a market, you’ll receive tons of information from wholesalers and vendors about special deals, new products, networking activities, and educational sessions. Take the time to read it. Consider dividing activities among the attendees and ask each person to create a list of five top priorities. Hold a meeting to review everyone’s suggestions and build a master list. Be sure to include the contact person or vendor’s name, booth number, the reason for your visit, and time restrictions, if applicable. Remember to download convention Apps that will assist you in navigating the floor and receiving updates.
Schedule Meetings in Advance Long lines can be the norm at trade shows. But there are ways to avoid them. Pre-register or schedule meetings before you arrive to secure a seat or time slot for activities that are high-priority. There are days when you will eat a late lunch or deal with long lines. Come prepared with snacks and water to tide you over–it also saves money.
Get Educated on Products This is a great time to get educated about the features and benefits of new products. Ask the salesperson to show you how the product works. Find out if it is currently popular with consumers or a new product launch. Visit the vendors on your list on the first or second day.
However, don’t wait until the last minute since some vendors pack up and leave before the final day of the show,
Dress for Comfort Walking the market floor for two or three days is an excellent exercise, but it’s tough on the feet if you aren’t wearing comfortable shoes. Bring two pairs and alternate days. Dress in casual clothing typically worn on outings with family or friends. If you plan to go out on the town, you might also want to pack dressier attire. Avoid overpacking since you may need space for a few things you pick up during the trip.
Be Social and Network People from every state and country around the world attend the Market. Many retailers take this opportunity to catch up with old friends and meet new vendors. Sharing ideas and discussing common business challenges are often the beginning of long-term friendships. Remember to bring along business cards to share with other attendees.
Keep Track of Your Badge Things can get a little hectic when you’re wheeling and dealing. But remember to keep track of your badge and cart. It’s not uncommon to mistakenly grab the wrong cart after talking to a vendor or checking out a new product.
Tour the Sights Families often go on vacation during or after the convention. If fun is on your schedule, check into discount tickets and special offers at theme parks, restaurants, and tourist attractions. The information may be included in your attendance packet, or you can see what’s posted on Groupon or other online sites that promote discounted products, services, and vacations.
Work It Go to Market prepared to come home with new products for your customers and plenty of ideas to share with your staff. At times, it’s a crazy, busy place. But, well worth the trip if you know how to work it to your advantage.