Top 5 Questions to Ask Vendors at Apparel Trade Shows

Top 5 Questions to Ask Vendors at Apparel Trade Shows

How was the product designed?

If you’re working with a vendor who manufactures his or her own products, ask how they come up with their designs and styles. At the August 2018 OFFPRICE Show, I browsed around the Cash & Carry section for any last-minute accessories to add to my wardrobe. I found an unusual necklace with small feathery poms on them. As I picked up the necklace, the sales rep rightly stepped in to explain the necklace I was interested in was very unique, and designed from products seen on the runway from France.

Was I going to buy the necklace anyways because it was cute? Yes. But the new information now serves as a talking point for anyone who points out my new piece. This background knowledge can help you seal the deal in the same way with any customer, when your product carries a story along with it.

“Try bringing design ideas based on your customer feedback to the next OFFPRICE Show,” says Katy Albrecht, Publishing Editor of Off-Price Retailing Magazine. “If you find a vendor with similar products, or is willing to work with you on manufacturing product, ask if it’s possible to create a comparable style.”

What are the materials?

This one might seem like a no-brainer, but many retailers still aren’t asking vendors the benefits of the materials used. If you’re on a mission for a particular material, try widening your horizons to other options. Vendors are always testing new blends and materials to better suit consumers’ changing needs.

Ask the vendor what they know about the materials, and how that stacks up to competing products in the same category. Are your customers going to return to your store for sportswear if the workout outfit they purchased is uncomfortable, un-breathable, or smelly? Maybe not.

How can the product be styled?

Your display in-store or online is going to be one of your best-selling points for your newly-purchased off-price products. As the retailer, customers are going to look for you for help with pulling their outfit together, in a way that works for them. How can a scarf or swimsuit coverup be styled to help the customer show off their best self? When you (and your staff) are armed with multiple ways of styling a product, it gives shoppers a sense of excitement, but also security in the options available.

Ask the vendor if the product can be worn or styled in multiple ways. Ask the seller if you can take photographs so you will remember when you return from the show. If you have an online store, highlight multiple ways the product can be worn. In-store, try posing the same product in different colors and different styling options.

How can I re-order?

If you have a hot-selling item from OFFPRICE Show, you do not want to miss out on the opportunity to r-stock and fill your demand. When writing an order for a particular item, ask the vendor how many units they have in-stock, and if they’re expected to receive more of the same products or something similar. This will help you decide how many units to reserve in your initial order, and make plans for when the product sells out in your store.

Ask the vendor on-site if they sell products online through OFFPRICE365, so you can easily view their new products as they arrive, and re-order if necessary.

When can I expect the shipment?

Especially if you’re a retailer that’s just starting to launch your business, you want to make sure you have the space available to store products, and that your merchandise will arrive on-time for you grand opening. Ask the vendor how long they expect for the products to ship so you can plan accordingly.

In some cases, retailers are able to pick up their orders from vendors’ warehouses on their way home from OFFPRICE, which will help cut down on costs. Ask your vendor where the product will be shipping from so you can possibly make arrangements to avoid shipping costs altogether.

Register to attend the next OFFPRICE Show, August 10-13, 2019, in Las Vegas, and as our vendors these top five questions.

About Author

Stay In touch