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5 secrets to a successful trade show! (Part 1)

Starting in June the fashion trade show season takes fashion buyers and sales representatives into a frenzy of traveling, meetings and many a night out for dinner and drinks (everything in moderation, right?). From the outside, trade shows appear as glamorous events where the fashion industry displays its most impressive outfits – just think about the profusion of peacocks at Pitti.

From the inside however, we know that trade shows kick off the selling and buying season and are an important time to:

  • Catch-up with existing partners and prepare orders
  • Network and connect with new partners
  • Get familiar with the latest trends and gather inspiration

As fashion professionals, you know that this is a very ambitious program. Think about it: a trade show like Pitti Uomo lasts for 4 days, gathers 25,000 buyers, 1,200 brands and includes hundreds of talks and events. The pressure to have a successful trade show experience is even higher for brands who pay the rising stand fees. 
At fashionTrade, we have a lot of trade show experience, from both the brand and buyer side – so just how can you make the best and the most of it all? Because we have so much valuable information to share, enjoy the first 2 tips this week and the next 3 will follow next week Wednesday!

1. Set up measurable objectives

Success can only be defined based on the prior objectives you set for yourself. These will differ for everyone, but they should always be specific and measurable. So other than saying you’ll set them, you should actually set them up.
Trade shows aren’t isolated events: they should be part of your overall strategy. Do you have a 2-year plan to expand your brand internationally? Then your primary goal should be to connect with foreign buyers. Are you trying to add more ethical brands to your assortment? Focus on the right trade shows and booths, and don’t forget to attend any talks about this topic and surround yourself with like-minded people.

Hot tip: ‘Brand awareness’ is too broad and hard-to-measure as a primary goal. Moreover, it will follow alongside the other (more specific) goals you set for yourself.

To inspire you, we have listed below a few typical objectives that can be yours.
For brands:

  • New connections made (e.g. new retailers)
  • Buyers attending your booth
  • Meetings pre-arranged
  • Orders started and placed
  • Average order value
  • Press coverage

For buyers:

  • Orders started and placed
  • % of brand relationships at the show
  • New brands discovered
  • Meetings with existing partners

Before going to the trade show, make sure your goals are set and shared across your team or company. Starting from that, you will be able to draw your plan of attack, before and during the trade show.

2. Prepare ahead carefully

Depending on the goals you have set for yourself, a list of actions will come naturally. 
Is one of your objective to catch-up with existing partners? Let them know that you will be there. Set up an email campaign sharing your calendar and share info on your social accounts or blog. At fashionTrade, we contact the partners we really want to meet directly via email or phone to secure a meeting with them before the shows start. 

Are you trying to connect with new partners? Check the list of attendees, do some research and select the relevant partners for you. Reach out via email or stop by their booth. Are you looking for a faster way to know more about a brand or a retailer? 

As a B2B marketplace, fashionTrade allows you to browse new partners based on location, price or category. With our brand and retailer profile feature, you can quickly see if this partner is right for you. If you want to start a relationship with someone, simply send an invitation to connect. As a retailer, you will be able to check the digital showroom and collections of the brands that accepted your request.


Are you a brand trying to maximise the number of orders placed during the trade show? Prepare order proposals ahead and share them digitally with your consumers. This can easily be done via fashionTrade from your desktop, tablet or smartphone. Retailers can review the proposal wherever they want and send feedbacks if needed. This will allow you to arrive prepared for your meeting and complete the order quickly, making it possible for you to do more in the same amount of time.

Are you a retailer looking to place orders during the fair? Planning your assortment a year ahead is a critical task: the more time you have the better it will be. This is why we strongly recommend you to browse collections online before going to the show. This can be done on brands’ websites, B2B tools or fashionTrade. The advantage of fashionTrade is to give you access to many different brands on one platform. You can also start preparing orders from different brands, thanks to our multi-basket buying feature. This will give you a clearer (and more strategic) view on your whole assortment. 

Once at the trade show, you can directly look at the products you are the most interested in and complete your orders quickly.
The preparation will allow you to reach your objectives and maximise face-to-face time with your partners.

Trade shows go fast and are expensive: this is why you should do as much as you can ahead and focus on the essential once you are there.

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