In an age of virtual showrooms, digital line sheets, and travel costs increasing, why would anyone need to spend the time and money to visit a tradeshow? Mercedes Gonzalez, director of Global Purchasing Companies, takes you through 6 key reasons why tradeshows are vital in the fashion industry today more than ever.
The essential logical reason for visiting a tradeshow is nothing can replace touching and feeling new products in person. We have all had the experience of something looking nice in a photograph, but looking like something completely different in person. There are thousands of Memes on Facebook about the consumer receiving a ridiculous fitting product that looks nothing like how it was advertised online. The time and money you think you will be saving by shopping online will be spent trying to return the product and crediting it back to your account.
Sameness and online competition hurt the independent retailer. Exclusively shopping online only encourages this. If you are buying online, so is every other retailer in the country. Plus, brands will start to undercut you and run flash sales or sell on Amazon. Visiting these same brands at the tradeshows allows you to shop an assortment of styles they haven't mass produced and posted on their online showrooms. At the tradeshow, you will find the most fashion-forward styles that brands don't post those for fear of corporate espionage a.k.a. the dreaded copying, or due to limited quantities of a print or fabric. Visiting the brands at the tradeshows give you access to these types of exclusives or first offerings.
This is one of my favorite reasons to visit a tradeshow. You may meet that difficult brand that hasn’t been returning your calls or connect with a "like" retailer on the other side of the country who can exchange merchandise with you so you don’t have to mark it down. You may even meet someone that can tag onto a private label of a "best seller" you both have or take on a new international brand and become its exclusive rep. So many opportunities are available to you that you may not have even thought of.
Community and Inspiration
The feeling of isolation is real. Have you ever felt like I’m the only one going through this, no one understands, or I’m just overwhelmed? All of these thoughts and feelings are very real for most entrepreneurs. Visiting a tradeshow and having lunch at a table full of your peers helps bring back that exuberant feeling of why you wanted to open your boutique in the first place. It’s a great way to charge up your energy battery and set new goals and plans for your store. Booth displays will also inspire you for new and updated merchandising and marketing ideas. It's easy to fall into a rut if you don't go out and explore.
Keeping updated on fashion trends can’t just come from magazine and social media posts. That's today's news but to be a true fashion insider we have to look into the future and see what is trending for the next season. Taking workshops on social media, marketing, consumer behavior, best practices, and even a little basic math will help keep you updated and refreshed. This translates into you being much more competitive than those that stay home and get all of their education from the internet.
Being first to market.
Only at tradeshows will you have the opportunity to discover that "new" brand. Branding yourself as the trend leader, the credible expert the visionary that took a chance—this is how you become the must-shop shop.
As merchants and not mere business owners, it is essential to get out there to learn as much as you can. You’ll find that opportunities that you didn’t even fathom will find you.
One last piece of advice. Plan one treat for yourself during market. A show, a spa or even room service and a good book in bed. You earned it.
Mercedes Gonzalez, a native New Yorker, has been implementing retail strategies around the globe for nearly 20 years as the founder and director of Global Purchasing Companies.
Mercedes grew up in fashion, working at her uncle’s apparel manufacturing company in the heart of the NYC garment district. After earning an economics degree from New York University, she went back to work full-time with her uncle where she restructured the company and ensured a stronger bottom line. Soon after, Mercedes embarked the fashion industry as a buyer and then proceeded to establish her own buying office. Today, GPC is hired to consult and optimize domestic and international businesses in the fashion and retail industries, and the company influences over $100 million in purchasing decisions. Mercedes is praised for having industry know-how and for sharing tricks of the trade that her every day experiences have afforded her in presentations that are realistic and easily comprehensible.