Now, that the fashion trade shows are over for another season, you’re probably taking a little break to evaluate and reflect on them. Which shows did you attend? What did you expect beforehand and how do you evaluate the outcome?
Evaluating your trade show visit
Will you attend the same trade shows next year? To justify your decision whether you will attend or not attend, it is important to establish objectives. What are your goals for a attending a trade show and meeting your buyers or suppliers? Most brands or retailers set these goals beforehand while reserving their booth or buying their tickets to the show. So as to justify the expenses, they make a plan of what they will get out of the visit.
Reasons for attending a trade show
The reasons for participating in a trade show with a booth or attending walking the floor can be very diverse. However, through speaking with attendants at different international trade fairs focussed on children’s wear like Pitti Bimbo or CIFF, we have found these main reasons:
- Show your new company for the first time
- Introduce a new product or service
- Enter an international market
For a lot of brands especially in the children’s segment (which is a comparatively small market) attending a trade fair is a good way to gain exposure. If you have a booth at a show, reaching out to retailers before hand is a good excuse to get in touch and to start a new relationship.
A trade show allows you to introduce a new product, a new clothing line or a new service if you work together with brands and retailers. It is a point throughout the year when everybody is curious and attentive to what is going on around them. So if you are planning on releasing something new, the trade show season is a good time to do so.
Lastly, from many brands we have also heard that attending a trade show in a foreign country or a trade show like Pitti Bimbo in Florence which attracts a lot of foreign retailers is a good way for them to reach an international audience. These brands looking to internationalise see the trade show as a meeting point with new potential retailers. Since everybody is already at the same place it becomes much more easier to meet and connect.
Goals from trade show meetings
We have asked the same brands and retailers to name the goals that they have set for themselves when visiting a trade show. Most often we have heard that the top goals is to sell or to advance in the selling or buying process meaning to meet with retailers that you have spoken to on the phone or via email, to show the fit and feel the fabric and to go into details about the collection or even conditions.
Secondly, most brands see the trade show simply as a way of showcasing or presenting their products to customers. Next to their physical showroom, online shop and maybe even presence in other retail stores both on- and offline, their booth at the trade show allows them to demonstrate their products to existing customers and potential new buyers.
Our list of the top 5 goals to set from trade show meetings
- Advance the selling/buying process
- Showcase your product
- Secure partnerships with other brands and suppliers
- Gather information about the market and your competitors
- Press coverage
After mentioning selling or buying and showcasing or viewing the products, retailers and brands also told us that visiting a trade show enables them to search for and secure partnerships. These partnerships can be with other designers working on a joint collection but also with suppliers and other service partners like logistics, PR firms, marketing agencies specialised in the fashion sector…We of course, as FashionTrade.com, would also be a very beneficially partner for a partnership regarding trading and improving your business’s margin.
The fourth goal of a trade show meeting is gathering information about your market and your competitors. What is going on out there? What can you learn? What are you doing well and what should be improved? At a trade show you see all retailers and brands in one place – what better way to gather information?
Lastly, a trade show visit is always a good way to gather press coverage. So when planning your next trade show visit you should not forget to set this as a goal for yourself: Getting your brand or store featured in the (local) media. How to do that? Start by identifying the journalists that will be present (most of the trade show organizers will release a list for you to download) and relevant to you, then contact them and craft a good story for them. After meeting, do not forget to follow up.
These are just the top 5 goals, there are many more and every one has their own agenda. For you, the goal might be to hire new personnel or to gain personal exposure for you through speaking at a conference. There are many more ways to make the most of the trade show visit and we have just named the five most common goals.
How to measure your success
Now that you have set these top 5 goals for your trade show meetings, it is time to think about how to measure them. We suggest some of the following metrics:
- Number of meetings
- Number of leads
- Sales with existing customers
- Market research trends
- Employee recruitment
- Improved supplier relationships
If you went out to increase sales, you should quantify your goal in € by investigating sales volume directly generated via a trade show visit. If you are there to establish partnerships with new suppliers, then you should take some time (we suggest three months) to evaluate your performance with the new supplier vs. the performance with your previous supplier before the trade show. Depending on the goals you have set for yourself, you will find the right metric to aid your evaluation efforts.
Let us know how the trade show season went for you in the comments below. What did you expect and what did you achieve? How do you set your goals and measure them?