As a lingerie buyer or business owner, attending trade shows is probably one of the most exciting parts of your job each season – and one of the most important.
They’re where you’ll get a first glimpse at the lingerie trends coming up next season, and build those all-important relationships with suppliers for your store.
Attending a trade show often comes with a hefty price tag however. Whilst entry itself is typically free, there’s still transport and accommodation to think about. And with only a handful of days at most to visit the booths and talk to brands, you definitely want to make the time and expense count.
Here’s how to get the most out of your next lingerie trade show visit:
For some lingerie trade shows, this is simply a requirement – or you may find yourself turned away at the door. Where pre-registering is optional, it’s still a good idea to avoid any potential delay getting in.
Know Your Needs
Make sure you know exactly what you’re there for. What’s your budget? Which colours and styles of lingerie sell best in your store, and which sizes? When you’re surrounded by an endless sea of gorgeous lingerie, it’s easy to get distracted. Having a specific inventory checklist to track down and order will help you to stay focussed.
Prepare a List of Questions
Trade shows are busy events. Particularly at the booths of very popular brands, you may not be able to speak to a representative for as long as you’d like to. Avoid leaving and later wishing you’d asked this or that by going in armed with a list of your most important questions.
Make sure you get basic information about MOQs and delivery dates, as well as whatever else matters to your boutique, such as their ethical manufacturing credentials.
Again, some booths at lingerie trade shows can be very busy. If there are brands you definitely want to chat to, make sure you book a slot with them ahead of time to avoid disappointment.
At the Booth
Have a Notepad and Pen on Hand
Chances are, you’ll be speaking with lots of different lingerie brands and asking them all similar questions. Make sure you don’t muddle up who said what by taking notes as you go!
Dress for the Occasion
Although pouring over pretty lingerie at trade shows can be very fun, don’t forget that you’re there on business. When you look professional, brands will take you more seriously. You don’t necessarily need to be in a smart suit, but definitely leave the flip-flops at home.
Speaking of footwear, most lingerie trade shows are big. You’ll be on your feet all day and probably doing a fair bit of walking – if you’re not wearing flats, at least have a pair in your bag as a backup!
Get Contact Details
If you’re not placing an order then and there, be sure to get the business card or contact details of the person you’ve been speaking to. You may find it difficult to get through to that same person later otherwise.
Don’t rely on simply handing over your own business card – do that too, but it’ll be one of many they’re getting that day and it could end up lost or forgotten about!
Keep Some Time Free
Although I’ve mentioned booking appointments, don’t fill up all your time before you get to the trade show. Your next bestselling bra brand could be one you have yet to hear about! Leave some time in your schedule to wander the floor and see what catches your eye.
Attend the Conferences
Many of the bigger lingerie trade shows offer talks for attendees on anything from upcoming trends to business tips. Check out the programme of events in advance and, if you’re a buyer, chat to your boss to see which would be worth attending. Some may relate directly to your job role, others you can take notes from to pass onto the relevant people back in the office.
It’s not often that half the key players in the lingerie industry are gathered together in one place – make the most of it! As well as informative conferences, most lingerie trade shows will host informal events – fashion shows, dinners, cocktail parties. Pack your business cards in your purse, mingle and start building new connections.
If you’re a lingerie trade show regular, or even if you’ve only attended one once, what’s your advice for someone going for the first time?