Making the most of your time and money while shopping a wholesale gift trade show

Lisa Mason

Trade shows are a great way to research NEW new product for your business and also connect with current vendors to see what’s NEW new in current lines you carry.  Trade shows give you the opportunity to place an order that you may have planned on ordering anyway and the opportunity to take advantage of “show specials” that may not be offered throughout the year.

Making the most of your time and money while shopping a wholesale gift tradeshow

Trade shows are a great way to research new product for your business and also connect with current vendors to see what’s new in current lines you carry.  Trade shows give you the opportunity to place an order that you may have planned on ordering anyway and the opportunity to take advantage of “show specials” that may not be offered throughout the year.

To make the most of your buying time during a trade show make an appointment with new “must see” vendors.  Many times a new product line will attract quite a bit of traffic to a vendor’s booth and you may find their staff  busy with other buyers.  The opportunity to come back to that particular area of the trade show may not arise again for you during the show.  Most vendors will welcome the opportunity to set aside specific time just for you.  If at all possible, research this business prior to your meeting. If they have a website that will introduce you to their product lines, you can then be somewhat familiar going into the meeting at the show

Here are some questions you may need answers to when meeting a new vendor:

  1. Does the vendor have initial order and reorder minimums? 
  2. Do they offer quantity discounts?
  3. Does the vendor offer show specials?
  4. FREE shipping? 
  5. Discounted pricing? 
  6. Extended terms?
  7. How long is the show special in effect? 
  8. Do they allow future ship orders? 
  9. Do the show specials apply to future ship orders?
  10. Do they offer name drop or custom programs? 
  11. What is the lead time needed for custom items? 
  12. Is there a set up fee for custom products? 
    1. Can an original design be created for you or do you need to supply logo/design files? 
  13. What is the quantity requirement for a custom product?
  14. Where is their product made? 
  15. Where does the product ship from?   
  16. How long will it take to get to you?
  17. Is there standard shipping charge or actual shipping charges?
  18. What type of packaging?
    1.  Gift box? 
    2. Hang card? 
    3. Are there displays available and if so is there a cost or order minimum to receive the display? 
    4. Are custom displays available? 
  19. What is needed to set up terms? 
    1. Are they flexible with terms depending on the seasonality of your business?  Bring along a current credit reference sheet with you to set up terms during the show. 
  20. *What type of customer service do they offer?
    1. Will you have a specific sales/account manager to assist you when you call to place an order or assist you with any product issues or shipping  issues that may arise?
  21. Do they offer a guarantee?
    1.  If so, what are the specifics of that guarantee?
    2. What is the time frame of the guarantee? 
  22.  Do they offer free return shipping?  
    1. Does the return policy offer a product exchange or money back for items returned? 
  23.  Do they offer a suggested retail price? 
  24. Will they be able to work with you on their wholesale cost to meet your margin?

When reordering from current vendors be sure to have your order ready BEFORE attending the show.  Does the vendor offer an order form that will streamline ordering?  You can always adjust an order if you find that there is a new product or new designs that you would like to add to what you currently carry, but having your order ready before the trade show will save you valuable shopping time. 

Bottom line, to make the most of your tradeshow time and money, be as organized as possible.  Invest the time prior to a trade show to research new companies, and products,. Have orders ready for current products/vendors.  Set up appointments whenever possible to save yourself time. Don’t’ be afraid to ask a vendor to work with you on terms, products cost, and a show special that meets your needs.  Most vendors will be flexible if they can.  They want your business and they want a happy customer, so don’t be afraid to ask.