In the age of the internet, B2B websites, forums and Google it’s all too easy to forget that often, some of the old classic business methods are still very effective. I’d say one of these is Trade Shows. It’s a completely overlooked product sourcing concept, especially for online retailers who are too lazy to get out of their office or house to meet actual suppliers face to face.
Many people think that trade shows are not accessible to them, that you need a special invitation and what not. But in reality, that couldn’t be further from the truth. While there are trade shows that are open only to professionals, most will happily welcome ANY interested people!
Ticket prices are also not as high as some people think and in many cases are even free. Also, some trade shows are open only for professionals on DAY ONE but the general public are welcome on the following days. You can always find this information specifically for a trade show that you’re interested in on the official website.
I think trade shows are still one of the best & easiest ways to find suppliers and while not many new eBay sellers can afford a trip to China’s Canton fair, there are still loads of local options available. Such local trade shows are the perfect place to find wholesalers & new, emerging brands that are looking for exclusive distributors in a region. And this can be very powerful…
If you get in talks with a company that is looking for a distributor in the UK for a new product and you present yourself well and get the contract, it’s a fast track to success! Having exclusive distribution over an in-demand brand opens your door to wholesale opportunities too – then you can start supplying other retailers in the region.
So as you can see, trade shows are not only about meeting wholesalers – you can also build contacts with brand owners directly.
In the UK there are hundreds of trade shows being held each year, and many of them are business oriented. You can find a comprehensive list and calendar here:
But you don’t have to stop there! Nowadays when you can get a flight & hotel package to, Germany for example, for less than 200 quid, it’s really worth expanding your horizons and maybe travelling to get what you’re after.
Germany being a good example as traditionally it’s the place where Europe’s largest trade shows are held.
You’ll find more information about specific trade shows in Germany on this website:
Another good choice would be Poland. It has massive potential as Poland is a country of manufacturing.
Furniture, baby cots, even exclusive jewellery – Poland is the place to go if you’re looking for an EU based manufacturer offering high quality products, a low MOQ and fast delivery times..
You can find more information about Trade Shows in Poland on this website:
Then of course there’s China and its famous Canton Fair. It’s the world’s largest trade show and each year millions of buyers from all over the world go to China specifically for this event.
Of course travelling to the Canton Fair won’t be cheap, due to the flight costs, but if you have the cash to spare, this may well be the trip of a lifetime for you.
More information about Canton Fair can be found here:
What I often like to do is I mix business with leisure! I know not good, right? Well, in this case, not exactly.
When we plan family trips, holidays etc., I often check whether there are any trade shows going on in that area and if there are, I build the trip around those dates so that I can spend at least half the day in a trade show.
And sometimes it works the other way – if I want to attend a specific trade show in Hannover for example, I’ll just get in the car with the whole family and plan a small weekend break away. Well, now, since Oliver is just 2 months old I have to hold off, lol, but I do expect to get back into the trade show business within a few months.
Lastly, when you look for trade shows to attend, you should of course have some kind of understanding of the industry and what can you expect. I mean – if you’re after gadgets, you won’t go to a London textile trade show. You would want to attend gadget/electronics related trade shows.
With that being said, if you’re just starting out, and don’t have an ideas on what you want to sell, you can go to any trade show you want, in any industry and check it out – meet suppliers, see products, get samples & quotes – you might just be inspired!
Well that’s enough writing for now, got to plan my next Trade Show trip!