The growth rate of global online shopping provides a host of opportunities for anyone and everyone to sell online. You have the option of selling on your own website or e-commerce platforms such as Amazon/Ebay. We even met online business owners solely operating their business via Facebook/Instagram. Now, with easy access to wholesaler, manufacturer and dropshipper online, one no longer must attend trade shows or travel abroad to meet with the suppliers. Products can be designed, manufactured and sold without you having to get off your seat!
We went online and to the trade shows in searching for the right products/niche for us. While it is not necessary to attend one, you do gain valuable information from attending. Especially if you are looking at long term commitment as a retailer/wholesaler. In no particular order, below are the benefits we gained from attending trade shows.
See, Feel, Try and Watch Demonstration of Products
How many of you have ordered samples from suppliers only to be disappointed with the sample? We once paid USD 60 for a felt phone cover. It was so poorly made, you can’t even use it to wipe your arse with. (this was a one-off experience. Not all our samples experience turns out bad).
If you still can’t decide what you would like to sell or couldn’t find suitable suppliers, going to the trade shows will save you a whole lot of pain and money. You can obtain actual product specifications, watch product demonstrations, feel and try the products yourself without paying for it.
Trade show exhibitors only display the best quality products. So this is your opportunity to study the products and get products of the same top specification. Sleep on it, do you math, do your product research and go back to the supplier of your choice the next day. Talk further or order an actual sample or better, place a test order.
We spent a few months prior to heading to the trade show speaking to suppliers available online for a private label product we had in mind. Suppliers online were accommodating and provided us with adequate information. However, after meeting with other suppliers at the show, we have come to realise that the suppliers online are flogging mediocre product. We haven’t done enough research and basically believed whatever-cockamamie that came out of them. At the show, we found suppliers who can make better products with better quality and technological application. Yes, the prices are higher, but we are now more confident and excited about introducing the product under our own private label.
Meet Many, Many Suppliers
Majority of the suppliers we ended up working with, we would not have found online. They either get swamped by other companies who paid to be at the front page of suppliers directory or get sidelined due to the language barrier. Some who are happy to work with us, have very little presence online. Nonetheless, by attending the trade show, we are able to have one on one chat with the team and the team leader (the decision makers) on products, material, minimum quantity and price requirements. Some trade show participants do accommodate for smaller MOQ’s. Meeting them also means they are willing to work with you on making any changes/upgrades to existing products.
Meet your Existing Suppliers
Already established a virtual relationship with the current suppliers you work with? Some suppliers we work with will extend an invitation for us to visit their booth at the trade fair. You get to drop by and introduce your self or let them know you are coming. Meeting them reaffirms the existing relationship you already have and let you discuss on new up and coming products they have. If you are lucky, they might even invite you to visit their factory!
Ask Questions that Matters
Sometimes questions you ask on the internet gets lost in translation. But more often than not, it is hard to ask the right questions about the products because you are only seeing pictures and brief descriptions. Seeing the actual products gets you in the ‘zone’ where you will ask product oriented questions i.e.: materials, warranty, application. You will understand the product better and have lesser chance of making mistakes when making a decision.
Experience Product Official Showcase
Many sellers attend trade shows to be the first to witness newly introduced products. Trade Show is a good platform for suppliers to showcase their up and coming products. This way you can be among the first to offer the products to the consumers. We have seen really cool stuff at trade show’s product launch.
A trade show does not only focus on suppliers from one country, suppliers from other parts of the world also participate in the show. We have found suppliers from other parts of the world offering interesting products and manufacturing capability
Extend Product Line
If you are a retailer who prefers variety, you will love the products on display at the trade shows. You will come across a ‘great idea’. Some which may not be on your radar or genre, but have potential! You may be able to introduce them in your repertoire. Some trade shows offer thousands of booths on just one type of items (e.g 2000 booths showcasing just handbags)
Find Raw Materials
Great if you love to create products from scratch. The trade shows does not only include product manufacturers, you also find suppliers of raw materials. Want to find the newest paint? The latest fabric? You can do so at the trade shows
Some trade shows put on seminars and talks from industry experts which you could attend for free. We attended a few that spoke about things that are important but often overlooked by sellers. Especially topics that falls under the ‘too hard’ category. Attending these seminars by experts and being able to ask questions and hear real life case studies help to put things in perspective.
Some Things to Consider
- If start up costs seems to be an issue, do weigh it in the cost benefit of attending these shows. Money is better spent on inventory.
- You don’t necessarily have to visit the bigger/popular trade shows continents away. Do your research at home. Sometimes you will find trade shows/exhibition/expo being held near you.
- Just because you see these suppliers face to face, it does not mean that they won’t sell mediocre products. Still apply the same due diligence as you would any only suppliers.
- While some may go to these trade shows to find Ideas/ niche/ just looking around, it is worth preparing yourselves for these shows. So you can maximise the benefit from attending.