17 September 2015
Following our report last week focusing on how exhibitors can build better relationships with visitors within a trade show environment, independent retailer Richard Broadbent shares his thoughts on successful interaction between supplier and stockist. As the owner of womenswear independent Broadbents, he has two stores in Stockton Heath and Knutsford, Cheshire, retailing an extensive brand portfolio including Marble, Sahara, Frank Lyman and Emreco.
As far as I am concerned, my decision to visit a stand is driven by one or other of the following; product relevance to our business, prior knowledge, range presentation and personal engagement.
I would estimate that approximately 30 per cent of the stands at Moda are “walk by” exhibitors who did not meet any of the criteria listed above. However, for the remaining majority, there are other factors that come into play as to whether or not we approach them.
Generally - and as we would expect - the stands at Moda are well presented. However, as space can be limited, a number of stands are unable to present their ranges as attractively as they might. There are also too many stands where the boredom of the exhibitors is all too plain to see. These are generally small stands with tight ranges and almost always niche products.
Interaction with exhibitors, both known and unknown, is an important element in our approach to the exhibition. We expect a friendly business-like approach allowing the correct balance between viewing by ourselves and being introduced to the range. We expect well-labelled product with clear pricing on each garment. It is tedious and time consuming to have to seek information on a busy stand on this basic requirement.
Incentives play no part in our approach to becoming a potential customer of a company. The product must stand purely on its own merits; neither “goody bag” (tedious to carry round) nor a gift with purchase are of any interest to us.
What also drives footfall to a stand is word of mouth – a five minute chat to a colleague may be worth more than anything else. If a supplier really wants us as a stockist, they should have done their homework first (if they have invited us to visit their stand), and have some appreciation of what our business is all about.
Too many suppliers seem uninterested in how their range has performed the previous season; in other words they fail to recognise the criteria in the mind of the buyer. Too many suppliers also talk up their ranges irrespective of wider economic factors impacting on retailing. Too many suppliers also risk closing off a potential commercial opportunity by talking “minimums” or “quantities”. The brands that say, “give it a try – see if we can get this to grow – this bit of the range is our strength” and so on are more likely to get an order.