If you’re a buyer for a retail business, or your own boutique, you spend a lot of time traveling to trade shows or scouring the internet for apparel, footwear, and accessories your customers want to take home. After your “20-somethingth” show this year, you might look at all the products and say, “It all looks the same!” Have no fear, because there’s an easy method for sourcing new vendors and their fabulous new looks.
Use Online Exhibitor Lists
Before you step foot on a trade show floor, check out the trade show’s website and look for their online exhibitor list. Online lists are often the most up-to-date, and can easily be sorted by “new vendors.” Even if you check an online list once, remember to check it again in a few weeks. Especially as a show approaches, new vendors are often added to a trade show last-minute.
Once you find a list of new vendors, select each vendor’s profile and visit their websites. You can usually browse their selection online, and decide whether you’d like to see their products up-close at the show. Take it one step further and book an appointment with a vendor ahead of time before their schedule gets busy. Book appointments early in your time at the show, so you can see new merchandise before you start browsing aisle by aisle.
If you don’t want to book appointments (although it’s strongly advised), you can often use trade show mobile apps to view an up-to-date exhibitor list while at the show. On the OFFPRICE Show app, you can also mark new vendors on the responsive show floor map, and use that as your guide.
Join Buying Groups
If you’re a business owner or work for a smaller retailer, buying groups can be a great way to open your company up to new products you may not have been able to consider purchasing in the past. Vendors have the right to sell their merchandise in large packs, or quantities, and sometimes will not break up those backs for smaller orders. Other vendors may have a minimum, or minimum amount that must be spent on a single order.
A buying group helps retailers like you join forces, pool funds, and place orders that you may not have been able to make before. There are plenty of buying groups you can join online or through social media, and there’s usually a fee to become a member. A word of warning: do your research on a buying group before joining one. Reach out to other retailers and ask which groups they would recommend, read online reviews, and ask group members if they’ve had any problems buying. Before you place an order, make sure you ask for the return policy from the vendor.
Buying groups are also a great way to find new vendors off-line. Retailers from the same buying group could have shops set up across the country, or even internationally. Once you start making new connections, ask other retailers if they would be willing to share their favorite vendors with you. Since a retailer across the country likely isn’t close competition for you, they may be more willing to share their secrets!
Routinely Attend Shows
At trade shows like OFFPRICE, new vendors attend every show. When you make an effort to routinely attend trade shows, you will not only keep up with current fashions in the industry, but you’ll find new products to add to your mix. But don’t be confused—even the “same old” vendors that attend every show still have new products. You can ask vendors ahead-of-time for pictures of their new merchandise, so you can decide if you want to spend time in their booth.
You should also attend new trade shows! When you travel to different areas, you can meet vendors that may not be willing to travel. If you usually attend the OFFPRICE Show in Las Vegas, try our upcoming show in New York City. While you’re in a fashion-centered location like the Garment District, take advantage of vendors’ nearby showrooms. Vendors often can’t take all of their products to a show, but are willing to show you their full selection in their showroom.
If you find a new vendor you like, ask when you can stop by their showroom. If there’s a vendor who has a showroom near a trade show you’re visiting, find out if you can book an appointment before you arrive. OFFPRICE has about 100 showrooms surrounding the upcoming New York Show.
Buy in Online Marketplaces
If you’re just not ready to commit to attending a trade show or aren’t able to make it to a show you normally attend, consider buying from an online marketplace. OFFPRICE365, OFFPRICE’s new online marketplace, is a great way to source products year-round, from the convenience of your computer or smartphone. After joining the community, you can easily browse new vendors’ selections online, and view pricing as well.
For less than the cost of a plane ticket, you can subscribe to be a new OFFPRICE365 buyer. Even better, vendors are already vetted by OFFPRICE, which means you can shop without worrying if your products will show up. Many other online marketplaces, do not have a vetting process, so be sure to do your research. For questions about OFFPRICE365, contact Mikaela Kornowski at 262-754-6910.