Plan your next Fashion Trade Show: 10 Tips to be a Perfect 10

By the time you read this, you’re probably scheduling your flights for the start of another trade show season. Heck, you might already be at the airport!!

Well… hope not, because we have our fair checklist list ready for you.

There’s a lot to it when preparing a fashion trade show. It’s definitely not only about carrying your collection in a suitcase. At HUUB we have an end-to-end and 360º approach to every aspect of the business and it’s this holistic and bird view we want to grant when solving our brands’ logistic challenges.

So maybe it’s not a surprise when I tell you that in order to succeed and sell more in the trade shows it all starts… with your suppliers! Ready? Here are HUUB’s 10 tips to be a perfect 10 in your next trade show (yeah, that’s what you saw on the title, we don’t do clickbait here)

As aforementioned our journey starts with suppliers management:

 

1 – Plan your selling expectations for the trade show

Don’t be afraid of selling and expecting growth. Isn’t that what you want after all? If you’re reading this you probably already took a look at your brand’s new collection. You might even be the owner and creator of the collection yourself so you know what you’ve designed, you know that the story you’re telling through your designs is beautiful and meaningful and therefore able to convince buyers worldwide. If you don’t trust yourself who will right? Still, keep in mind that this emotional bond can’t be the only card in the table. Save mind space for a rational approach to your collection. Some pieces sell more, some patterns sell more. It’s a lot about trends and what the market wants at the moment. With these two combined you will be able to plan your sales expectations and avoid major surprises.

 

2 – Share sales expectations with your suppliers

It’s important that the relationship and engagement with your suppliers grants this possibility. If you produce X number of pieces and your sales expectations in the trade show season point out to double your sales and therefore your production (don’t worry: we know it’s not this simplistic) why shouldn’t you notify your suppliers from the start? You know they’re not producing to your brand only so sharing this expectation will definitely bring more alignment and when you place your final purchase order they can’t argue. And if they do you just say the old and simple “I told you so”.

 

3 – Get your samples done in advance

Yes, this is a no-brainer: of course, you need your samples in advance. It’s maybe our concept of “advance” that bring some new light to the tunnel. All our brands struggle with this: sometimes suppliers even send the samples directly to the trade show!! Can you imagine yourself at a fair without knowing what and how your pieces will arrive? No possibility of quality control whatsoever? And I’m not even talking about these urgent matters, the baseline of this topic is at a different level. Remember we told you how planning your sales expectations is important? Well, if you’re the creator or have this huge sensibility to picture the whole thing from the drawings you could be good to go. However, you know that’s not the case with everyone right? Having your samples in advance allows you to get a touch and feel approach to your collection and you can reach out to important stakeholders like your agents and top clients to see their first reaction (it’s a great PR move also, but we’ll get there) or to you’re closest friends and family that will bring honesty to the equation, or even random potential customers. All these referrals will serve as the first market and commercial test of your newest collection even before the trade show starts!

 

Do this planning tips make sense to you? Great! Now we need to actually get your collection inside the trade shows. We’ll now talk about fair logistics and shipping.

 

4 – Get trade show shipping quotation with multiple carriers in time

Don’t be naive: most carriers know exactly when the fashion trade show season starts, they know the schedules of each event and as a result… prices rise of course! At HUUB we always have this in mind when managing our clients shipping to main events and we’re ready to respond to these demands. At this point, there might not be a perfect way out of this for you because you want and should want to work with trustworthy companies. It’s a little bit like buying plane tickets: the sooner, the better. They will know your urgency and take advantage. And hey, I don’t blame them: it’s their business after all. So buying beforehand is a good option. Also, if you think this through with time, you might check more companies or even organize a shipping yourself: gather brands that you know and trust and that are going to the exact same destinations. Maybe you will end up saving some cash. Just saying! 

 

5 – Be aware of the trade show policies and schedules

We mentioned the schedules before, but often it’s not about the days. It’s like the small letters of a contract, you really need to read them. There are fashion fairs where the goods reception for both the start and the end of the event occur in very specific time-frames (e.g from 10 am until 12 pm). This will have a brutal impact on your shipping costs because you will need to hire a level of service that provides a delivery on such a short schedule. Keep also in mind the policies, those little letters that give you the full information regarding the logistics and distribution during the trade show. And if in the end you still have doubts reach out to the customer support lines. That’s why they exist!

 

6 – Get worldwide generic shipping costs tables to negotiate with your buyers

Maybe you weren’t expecting this but it’s true: logistics and shipping are not only about getting the collection inside your booth. It can influence directly on your sales there too! Even having in mind your expectation planning you can’t fully predict all the buyers that will pass on your booth, neither their origin. And you know that the shipping costs will impact greatly on the final order. Our clients can have shipping costs worldwide instantly. However, you’re not our client (yet : ) so until then you should get a generic worldwide shipping table. That information might come in handy even in the negotiation process. Imagine this random scenario: you have a great shipping price for Dubai and a Dubai buyer is interested in placing a big order. Maybe you can offer the shipping and use it as a strategy to close the deal in the trade show!
We’re not done yet. If you want to sell more what’s missing? PR, Marketing… and sales strategies of course! Here are our final four tips:
7 – PR your presence
Press, social media, e-mail marketing, prizes… it all counts. Public Relations is important at any stage, a press coverage will result in a sales boost. Have no doubts. But if a trade show is a selling opportunity it is also a competitive environment where you will “battle” for buyers attention with hundreds of fashion brands that sell what you sell. Different colors, cuts, raw materials and patterns for sure, but it’s still the same target and segment. So PR and Marketing are a way to differentiate from the competition. Retailers, agents, and distributors will trust their gut, but they will mostly rely on what’s more appealing, makes the most buzz, wins the most prizes and recognition. These are the brands that will sell more so find the titles that serve your target, build creative campaigns for awareness and become a superstar even before the trade show starts!

 

8 – Find buyers and schedule meetings before the trade show

When I mentioned those first planning and sales expectations topics I had this card on my sleeve (yes, I want you to read this to the end). You’re not just waiting for the buyers to come to your booth, you will actively prospect, contact and schedule meetings with them. Basically, you need to build and optimize your sales strategy in order to be successful. Besides: everyone likes to be engaged so if you’re directing your efforts to certain buyers beforehand they will feel appreciated and will most definitely pass by. Once they arrive… work on your magic!

 

9 – Share goals with your agents and distributors

It’s as important to get new customers as it is to retain the ones you have. They were your early-adopters, the ones that trusted you from the start and it’s likely that you have a healthy and maybe a personal relationship with them and at HUUB we believe in honesty and frontality. You know that if you want to diversify your clients and grow in clients number this means that your clothes will be in more stores around the world, and even your positioning as a brand may suffer changes especially in a long-term basis. If your buyers know this from the start they will feel engaged and almost like a stakeholder in your growth strategy. If you don’t share these goals they may get surprised if, as an example, they were the exclusive retailers and now they’re not. Choose truth, always!

 

10 – Build your pipeline during the trade show

You’re in the fair to sell so that must be your focus at all times. You’re familiar with the pipeline sales strategy where basically you start with a big pool of prospects and as the contact, relationship, and negotiation takes place you will taper the path until you get your clients “IN”. Structure the stages of your negotiation (e.g. contacted > meeting > negotiation > IN) and place each buyer in its correspondent stage. With all this information organized you can trigger important events like e-mail follow up.
And there you go: 10 tips to be a perfect 10 in your next trade show season. Handling the entire supply chain of fashion brands it’s what we do at HUUB. This means end-to-end managing of the whole physical and data flow which will impact not only on your operation but also convert into critical business insights and triggers.  You can reach us here anytime. And now excuse us… We’ve got planes to catch and trade shows to attend! 

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