It is that time of year for Holiday Shopping Shows and one of the biggest shows in the Midwest, One of A Kind, happens right here in Chicago! The show has a fantastic assortment of artists selling anything from food to apparel to Holiday ornaments. While there is a large concentration of artisan retail shows at Holiday time, there are many shows throughout the year in different cities and markets. As a start-up, selling at retail shows can be a great avenue for direct to customer sales as well as an excellent opportunity to meet potential future customers. When I had my line of women's wear, I was terribly shy and the idea of selling at a show for multiple days in a row was terrifying. However, you can always ask for help from friends, family members or interns. So, while not every entrepreneur has the personality to chat and smile all day, here are some compelling reasons why I wish I had considered selling at retail shows:
1. Refine your product:
Selling at a retail show gives you the opportunity to do market research because you can actually meet and speak with your potential customers. They can give you feedback on your product offering. For instance, you can learn about your fit, color choices and style choices. You can use this feedback to tweak your line moving forward.
2. Learn more about your target market:
As we discussed in 5 Essential Questions to Answer Before You Launch Your Line it is important to know your target market. You not only want to know their age, income and where they live, but you will want to know details like their shopping habits and what they do in their leisure time. The better you know your market, the easier it will be to create styles and designs that they will want to purchase. Being able to talk with them in person is a great way to get to know the answers to these questions.
3. Personalize yourself :
Everyone loves to meet the designer! You can finally give your current customers the opportunity to meet you in person as well as create new lifetime customers by meeting them in person. Once they feel a personal connection to you in person they will be more likely to purchase your line from online or other stores in the future.
4. Immediate payment at great margins!:
Depending on your selling strategy, selling direct to customer should provide you with the highest profit margins. At a retail show, you not only get the satisfaction of cash and carry, but you also sell at the best prices. A win, win!
5.Build your mailing list:
This is a great opportunity to collect email addresses to grow your email list. Keep some pens and a notepad handy so that people can leave their contact information. This can hopefully lead to future sales.
What other reasons would you suggest that a new designer sell at a retail show?