Why trade shows are not to be missed

In the UK, the retail watch and jewellery trade is fortunate that there are numerous opportunities throughout the year for them to interact with brands and suppliers at the various trade shows and buying group meetings.

These shows should be seen as important dates in the calendar, as they are often used by brands as a showcase to launch new product, and better still, to find new stockists.

For the retailers, this is a unique opportunity – instead of waiting for a sales rep or a merchandiser to visit, in this environment the retailer is in control and can spend time exploring and comparing both existing and new brands and suppliers, and then to select merchandise, negotiate terms and make sure that they secure competitive advantage in their town or city.

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Some brands no longer use sales representatives, preferring to use shows as the only way of reaching out to the independent jeweller.
Many retailers claim not to be bothered by the competition, but in securing new and exclusive merchandise, or by negotiating better terms and being able to lower prices, the retail jeweller can use shows to really secure some major advantages over the competition and drive higher traffic to their stores.

As a company that invests heavily in attending trade shows, buying group meetings and exhibitions it is increasingly frustrating that many independents choose not to attend, and I really don’t know why.
Advantages: see new brands, meet other retailers and discuss trade, find new opportunities and place orders in one place, negotiate with suppliers, see new products, attend forums and so on. Disadvantages: None.

So why don’t retailers attend trade shows? Sometimes I am told it is because business is not great, other times because there just isn’t enough time to attend. But none of these excuses make any sense to me. In the same way that I was always taught that independents are the lifeblood of any supplier, new products and new suppliers are an essential ingredient for any retailer who wants to compete with other retailers.

Trade shows and exhibitions provide the perfect opportunity to reinvigorate your store, keep abreast of new trends and developments and make sure that you are ahead of the game. Yet still, many don’t show up.

The irony is that multiple buyers almost always attend shows – and they don’t necessarily need to because all brands make sure multiples are the first to hear about new products and launches. But they still attend, just on the off chance that they will see something new that will further enhance their business.

Not every independent wants to be a multiple, but in order to compete it’s important to think big and see what the competition is looking at.

Without trade shows, independents will lose an important commercial opportunity – but if they don’t attend in greater numbers, suppliers will stop attending and then there won’t be any shows. The multiple buyers will still get to see everything new – but will you?

  • Julian Pollock is director of IBB London, which distributes watch brands Lulu Guinness, ToyWatch and Glam Rock watches among others.  

This column first appeared in the November issue of WatchPro magazine. To see the full digital of the issue, click here

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