Trade Show Prep

January 2, 2024

By Jackie Bueg

Inventory is completed. Sales comparisons have been run. Displays have been reset. Time to lay out budgets and themes for Trade Show Shopping. Don't let the food, music, lights, and new products derail what you need for your customers. It's been said, that nobody plans to fail, they just fail to plan. What's your plan?

Let's start by looking at the numbers. When you look at the numbers let's take a few views.  What items do you sell the most by quantity? These are typically consumables and impulse items. Now look at what items sell the most by dollar volume.  These could be logo/souvenir items, trendy items, or that one thing everyone comes to you to get. Next, figure out what items are bringing you the most profit. This may not be the same as your dollar or quantity items. You may have some items that don't turn as frequently but are bigger ticket items. You have to sell less of them to make good profits because they have higher margins.  Finally, what items are leaving your store and not passing over the register? Do they need to be relocated to prevent theft? Do you stop carrying the items because they will disappear no matter where you put them? Remember it is not just the cost of the product walking out the door. It is also the opportunity cost of the profit walking out the door.

Now that you know the numbers, plan your reorders. How long has that item been selling well? Has it run its course? Should you get it in a different color or pattern for a new look? 

Let's keep those numbers out and think about changes. Should you bring in more items to cross-sell with your best sellers? These items would allow you and your staff to suggest add-on sales. Are there certain items that are seasonal and should only be bought for short periods? This could free up cash flow to try something new.  Should you run promotions or advertising to boost sales in the off-season? Everyone has an off-season. Pre-tax, Back to School, Bad Weather, I'm sure you could add to the list. How much are you going to dedicate to new vendors, not just new products from the same vendors? Loyalty is important, but so is staying relevant. If you can't find the new trends with your current vendors, you should have a reserve to try out new vendors.

Now that you know the numbers - take some pictures. Go around to your displays and take pictures. Do the displays need to be moved, refreshed, dusted, or updated? Print the pictures on regular paper and enlarge them to fill the sheet. Now make notes and sketches. Tape product images you cut from catalogs (note who the vendor and rep are for easy ordering).

Now put it all in a binder. Rule number one - pack your own stuff! We tell the scouts in my son's troop this all the time. Why? So they can find it at camp. Don't let anyone tell you how to set up your binder. We all file things in our brains differently. Your binder will be the same.  You can organize by category, holiday, month, vendor, or a combination. Just make it a priority to keep your budget most accessible. As you write orders, get totals and immediately deduct them from your budget.  While you're at it, if there are new items snap some pics of those, too.

If paper is not your thing, create a folder on your phone or tablet. No more misplacing pages and it's super lightweight. You can store it in Google Drive, DropBox, or any other place you can access from multiple devices. That way your whole team can make or see updates in real time.

Happy planning leads to happy shopping leads to happy customers!