Ten Tips To Maximize Trade Shows

Retailers are faced with a lot of challenges. Among them? Deciding which trade show will best support their buying goals. Whether you sell pet supplies, hardware, novelty goods, children’s toys or home accessories, it’s important to maximize your buying dollars and your trade show experiences. Our tip? Choose a show that caters to your diverse inventory needs, allowing you to get as much buying done at one show as possible. This will save you much needed time, as well as money (airfare and hotels can add up).

To help you prepare for trade shows, take the following action steps to ensure you maximize both your time AT the show as well as prepping BEFORE the show.

1. Identify what you want to accomplish at the show, listing “must have” products you need to buy and creating a “wish list” of categories or products you hope to purchase, as well. Having a list to refer to will help you stay focused – after all, trade shows can often be overwhelming  and tempting at the same time. Plus, knowing your inventory needs upfront will help you best accomplish your buying goals. Be sure to identify your budget, as well.

2. Become familiar with the staple show exhibitors in advance, and schedule appointments with must see vendors when possible. This will keep you on track in your time, your buying and your trade show agenda. Leave room for the unexpected vendors you will discover, while also planning for the exhibitors you know  you need to see.

3. Pack your walking shoes. Too many times retailers avoid visiting certain exhibitors simply because it’s “too far” to walk or their “feet hurt”. This is no excuse to skimp out on your store buying. Plan in advance to bring comfortable shoes – even if it means swamping out your heels to flip flops mid day.

4. Plan your fun nights in advance, and dedicate some down time, as well. Whether your show is in New York, Vegas or somewhere in between, trade shows offer more than buying and can often lure retailers to too much fun. For some, this isn’t as tempting. For others, this is enough to keep them from setting their alarm clocks. Remember – you need to maximize your show time, so plan your “fun” around this priority first.

5. Have a bag that allows you to carry all the promotional materials, buyers packets and other vendor giveaways that you will receive. Some prefer to use something with wheels, others backpacks and yet other’s fashionable purses. Your call here – just be sure to have something. And when possible, request vendors to send you their promotional materials directly to your store or via email.

6. Pack and giveaway plenty of business cards. Networking is a huge part of trade shows, and you don’t want to miss the opportunity to connect with someone. Often this means connecting with vendors, and other times this means connecting with like-minded retailers from different parts of the country. Pack cards and be sure to distribute them, as well as be sure to collect them from others.

7. Take advantage of show seminars, educational events and other learning opportunities. Whether you attend one seminar or all seminars provided to you, this is a fantastic way to gain valuable, expert insight to a variety of categories for your business. Trade shows aren’t just about buying anymore – they are about learning. Really maximize this!

8. Avoid wasting your time with vendors you don’t plan to buy from. If you are learning something from them or considering them for a future purchase, that’s one thing. But it’s too easy to just chit-chat and yet not effective. Stay focused!

9. Plan your start of day and end of day to accommodate less cab lines and more efficient time planning. If you follow the traditional show hours, you may get caught in super long cab or shuttle lines. Instead, plan your day a bit off from the normal crowd to gain more time working effectively and less time standing in lines. Often, some vendors will stay later just to work with a buyer they know will buy. In return, the cab line will clear up by the time you are ready to leave.

10. Evaluate your show experience once you return to your store. Your goal should be to have met your buying needs, accomplished your educational and networking goals and feel that your investment for the show was worth it. Remember that maximizing your show experience is your ultimate goal, as well.

Want to learn more about a trade show that has it all? Visit the ASD Show website, where you can discover over 2,800 exhibitors from categories that include fashion, accessories, gift & home, health & beauty, toys & variety, gourmet foods, hardware, military and a vast assortment of value products. Learn more at

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