Understanding Trunk Shows

Trunk shows offer a fabulous opportunity for retailers, wholesalers and consumers when executed effectively. Because they bring value to all players in this retail triangle, it’s important to use them as part of your sales strategy. To begin, you must first understand them.

[tweetmeme]A trunk show is when the designer / wholesaler / vendor brings products to a store for a special event that offers products and possibly prices not normally available for customers. For designers who offer one of a kind pieces, such as jewelry designers, this is a terrific way to showcase multiple items at once. For any vendor, however, it has value since you can typically sell through more inventory on this one day then in a given week or month, depending on the retailer.

Details to Consider

While each trunk show is unique to each respective vendor, a few details should be considered from both the wholesaler and retailer perspective. These include:

1. Plan in advance. If you schedule a trunk show, do so with enough time to share this event with your customers. Both the wholesaler and retailer can use email blasts, promotional mailings (if budget allows) and in store signage to spread the word. If time allows for it, distributing a press release to your local media can also help keep your store traffic flowing.

2. Discuss pricing before the event. It’s the store owner’s responsibility to decide if he/she wants to offer a discount at the trunk show, but typically the wholesaler will always get his or her standard wholesale price per product sold. The benefit to  the retailer is that they do not have to buy this inventory up front, however still make money from sales sold during the event. So offering an incentive to customers is encouraged to help make this an even more exciting opportunity for customers to shop.  

3. Schedule how payment will be made.Because the store will be charging the customers, the wholesaler needs to be sure they are getting paid right away on all inventory sold during the event. A good idea is to get the store’s credit card information before the event and then charge them accordingly at the end of the trunk show. Make sure they are aware of this scenario so there are no surprises. If they prefer to write you a check, consider if you are comfortable accepting a payment that may not clear. Sorry retailers… unfortunately not everyone is as honest as you may be.

4. Be partners in this event.Both the wholesaler and the retailer will have a lot to do to get ready for a trunk show, so make sure you are supportive of each other and trust that each of you will get your respective responsibilities done. If you expect “extras” at the trunk show, such as models, food, drinks, music or anything else, be sure to discuss these details in advance with each other. Define very clearly who will schedule and pay for each extra detail involved.

5. Discuss follow up details from the show in advance.As a wholesaler, you may request the contact information of the attending guests / customers at the show. Your host retailer needs to be comfortable this, and of course each customer needs to willingly provide their information, as well. If you plan to write thank you notes to the customers who made a purchase, decide who will do this and when it will get completed by in advance. Make sure no holes are left open when discussing how you can excel in your customer service experience as partners in this event.

Planning a trunk show is not as easy as 1-2-3, despite what it may appear to be once set up. Make sure you give yourself time in advance to get the event space merchandised, any special displays set up and all the “extras” in place so that there is no rushing around once the event starts. Customers should feel relaxed and welcomed during the trunk show, so always keep this in mind – even if your mind is going chaos. And remember to place orders right away if the product is not readily available and follow up with any questions that may have  been addressed from customers as soon as possible. In the end, all parties involved should sigh a relief of both fun and success!

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