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Business Design Centre, London


18 April 2017

Laura Turner's top five trade show tips

The new season is fast-approaching - and, whether you're a seasoned retailer, a start-up store, or completely new to the kid's industry, preperations for your latest trade show-visit can begin in earnest. But are you getting the most out of events like Bubble London? CWB Magazine's editior, Laura Turner, has visited her fair share (no pun intended!) - and she believes that they're more than just a buying opportunity. With registration for Bubble now open, we asked her to share her top trade show tips...

Nowadays, visiting a trade show provides so much more than the chance to buy!
Season on season, exhibition organisers are working hard to provide the ultimate, multi-dimensional visitor experience, devising added value to enhance your business alongside providing a platform for buyers and brands to trade. Here are five things you should consider when planning your trip...
1. Getting closer to collections
Whether you are looking for the latest emerging brands or industry heavyweights, a trade show will bring you the full spectrum under one roof. For fashion buyers, it is the optimal environment to view collections and gain a true understanding of a brand and its ethos. Make sure you feel, as well as see, the product – and take the time meet and interact with brand founders and designers. You’ll discover the stories behind the labels and, in seeing the collections in an exhibition environment, gain valuable merchandising ideas for your own store.

2. Networking  
But what else can a trade show offer you? Well, it’s also a forum to meet face-to-face with the children's industry’s key influencers – and you should take full advantage of the chance to network with press, bloggers, business experts, industry associations or other retailers. This is your opportunity to pick-up really useful contacts, and to participate and be part of your industry – so make sure you bring plenty of business cards. Following a show's social media pages (particularly Twitter) is a great way to keep track of who will be attending. 

3. Scheduling-in seminars
On the subject of gaining industry knowledge, if a trade show provides business seminars, it’s definitely worth scheduling one into your visit. Essentially, they are a cost-free way to obtain tailored insight, guidance and advice for your business and, with a little advanced planning, a half-hour seminar can easily be incorporated into your trip. Do your research beforehand, decide which seminars you want to attend and organise them into your agenda. Most shows publish their full seminar schedule in advance, so check the event’s website and get planning. It’s also worth following an its social media platforms for last-minute updates as well as brand signings and news.

4. Trying something new
A trade show should also be one of your first ports of call if you are itching to try something new. Maybe you want to work with the press or a blogger? Or perhaps you want to form a collaboration of some kind? My point is, trade shows are the melting pot of an industry, they provide the ideal mix and environment for ideas and ventures. A good example would be if you wanted to expand into a new product sector. Bubble, for instance, recently introduced Bubble Bump, which offers childrenswear buyers a unique and complementary showcase of maternity and nursery brands, allowing buyers to conveniently explore a new and exciting product sector without any extra effort. Go along with an open mind, take notes, and don’t be afraid to ask questions.


5. Trend-spotting
Trade shows will also keep you in touch with the latest trends. Firstly, you can use them to pinpoint the fashion kind; get a feel for the season’s key shapes, colourways, motifs and styles, and make time to attend any Trend Forecast seminars. This will help you to make well-informed buying decisions, and provide you with insights that you can pass on to your customers.
These events are also a way to stay in the loop, generally. You should keep an eye-out for emerging industry trends, such as the latest retail and technology developments.

My final tips would be to absorb all the information you can while you are at a show and to keep talking, to as many people as you can. You never know who you will meet and the prospects a chance conversation could hold.
For me, trade shows represent opportunity – don’t miss yours!  


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