Buyer to Buyer: Insider Tips to Trade Show Purchasing


Saks and Lord & Taylor customers are the latest victims of a massive credit card breach earlier this month, where more than 5 million credit and debit numbers were stolen. Many retailers have taken major steps to protect their shoppers’ data, but are retailers doing enough to protect their own information? According to Vicki Adrian, the Owner of Adrians Boutique, retail trade shows have become a hot spot for credit card theft. Adrian breaks down what buyers need to know about safe purchasing with OFFPRICE…

Process Your Information Post-Show

Depending on the buyer’s preference and the vendor’s point-of-sale (POS) system, a purchase can be completed in different ways. Some buyers use a line of credit through the bank, others leave their card numbers with vendors, and some use a card-reader on-the-spot. Each method comes with its own risks, but some are safer than others. Adrian has been shopping retail trade shows for 35 years and has been a victim of credit card theft herself.

Instead of offering a vendor her credit card number on the show floor, Adrian asks vendors to follow up with her post-show to take her information over-the-phone. “Years ago, I started printing labels that I take to every market,” says Adrian. “They have all the essentials: my name, the name of the store, address, telephone number, even my time zone so vendors can call me during office hours.”

Adrian explains she’s experienced little resistance to her request to process payment at a later date. “Vendors don’t want to play telephone tag with buyers, and the labels help prevent that,” she says.

Important Questions to Ask

Before placing an order, Adrian always asks about product availability. “I always want to make sure the inventory is there, so I don’t tie up my spending dollars on a product that isn’t going to ship,” she says. “If there are only 20 units left of a product and I’m placing an order on the third day of a show, there’s a good chance I’m not going to get it. If buyers don’t ask about inventory, they run the risk of understocking their store.”

Other questions you should ask:

  • Do you have a minimum order requirement or pre-packs?
  • What’s your return policy?
  • Could I pick up the order on my way home?
  • Do you have sizing examples on-hand?
  • When is the order expected to ship?
  • Can the shipping freight be charged directly?
  • If I buy a large order, can you offer a better deal?

Tracking Contact and Purchase Information

“If I’m going to the August OFFPRICE Show in Las Vegas, I run a sales report from August 1 to six months out,” says Adrian. “I have data with me at the show about which product sold, my profit margin, and if I had to clearance out an item. Buyers also need to figure out their budget beforehand and stick to it.”

Adrian prefers first to visit vendors she has done business with in the past, to continue nurturing their long-standing relationship. This also gives her a firm amount she has left to spend with new companies. “There’s something beautiful around every corner, and I want to make sure I have dollars available when I do come to those really good booths,” she says.

Especially for new buyers, the aisles and aisles of merchandise can be overwhelming. The OFFPRICE Show App makes it easy for retailers to save vendor contact information, take notes, and mark favorite booths.

Adrian also recommends new buyers attend educational seminars, join buying tours at the show, and participate in networking opportunities to get purchasing recommendations from others in the industry.

To begin purchasing on-trend, affordable apparel, footwear, and accessories, register to attend the OFFPRICE Show, June 11-12 in New York City, and August 11-14 in Las Vegas.

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