​We’ll See You There (At the Autumn Fair)!

​We’ll See You There (At the Autumn Fair)!

How trade exhibitions can improve your retail business

We’ve already started gearing up in earnest for the Autumn Fair, the UK’s premier Fall season home and lifestyle trade show. Held over a long weekend in September (4th to 7th) at the NEC Birmingham, this is a show that has to be seen to be believed in it’s scale and turn out.

There are over 900 trade shows in the UK every year of varying sizes and specialist areas. Visiting at least one show a year is a great way to network your business and make new connections that are relevant to your business needs.
If you’re new to the trade show circuit, (or even if not!), it’s important to plan ahead to make the most of your time there, so we’ve put together a few Do’s and Don’t’s to help you hit the ground running as an exhibition visitor!


  • Plan ahead
    Well in advance of your visit, it’s a good idea to check the exhibitor’s list on the show’s website or mail-outs to pre-plan which exhibitors you’d especially like to visit. You can call each exhibitor ahead of time and plan appointments to make sure that you don’t miss the person on the stand who would be best to speak to.
  • Meet with exhibitors
    It seems obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people go to trade shows and just look around without speaking to any of the exhibitors.
    By chatting with the standees, you may open up new supply routes for your business with better deals than you’re currently experiencing. You’ll be able to compare products and also get an advanced viewing of new products or styles that have yet to hit your competitor’s stores. If you’re thinking about making an order, you can also see the stock firsthand and check it’s quality before handing over your money!
  • Meet with visitors
    Perhaps less obvious than meet with exhibitors, trade shows are also a great opportunity to meet with your fellow business owners. You can make dozens of new contacts, and network your business to other attendees who are in a similar market to yourself easily; after all, everyone is here to do just that!
    Chatting to other visitors is a surefire way to get the inside scoop on the best trade events too!
  • Make time for Trade Events
    Most good trade shows will offer a range of events over the course of the show such as seminars, talks, lectures and casual drinks receptions. Pick out the best ones beforehand, and make time to attend- Not only are they excellent free learning opportunities from the top minds in business, but they’re once again great tools for networking.
  • Give yourself enough time
    It’s virtually impossible to get around the larger shows in a single day as it is, much less with all of the conversations with exhibitors factored in!
    Plan for roughly half a day talking to your pre-booked exhibitors and half a day of wandering and attending the events. You’ll likely find that there aren’t enough hours in a day, and you’ll probably want to stay for the entire run of the show!
  • Follow your leads
    Everyone who attends shows regularly is guilty of coming home with a tonne of business cards, flyers and leaflets for possible new contacts which we forget about almost immediately!
    Make sure that you go through them all as soon as you’re back, and follow them up in the coming days and weeks. These contacts are the whole point, so don’t let all your legwork go to waste!


  • Rush
    If you do your forward planning well, there’s absolutely no need to rush around trying to see everything. Stick to your schedule and you’ll have plenty of time to enjoy yourself and see what you need to see (and more besides!).
  • Stick to what you know
    Outside of the time where you’re meeting your pre-selected exhibitors, keep an open mind and have a look at things that you maybe wouldn’t have considered looking at before. You might not make orders for different things, but you may get some ideas about how to keep your business, store and stock fresh and exciting for your customers. You can’t ever learn too much, and it’s never a bad thing to challenge your ideas of what your brand is all about!
  • Keep quiet
    To some extent, nowadays we’re hardwired to keep our heads down and power walk past people who are trying to sell us things, but you should challenge yourself to stop and engage with as many sellers as possible. You never know what the outcome of a conversation could be, or which valuable new contacts you could stand to make!
  • Stretch yourself too thin
    It’s tempting to book yourself into every event, and make dozens of vendor appointments, but there is only so much that you can do. Pace yourself, get as much done as you can but don’t meticulously watch the clock. Conversations will inevitably run on, and sometimes things get pushed back… That’s ok, just stick with it and have a great time!

    We think that you’ll fall in love with trade shows- They’re an amazing part of commerce culture, and an excellent avenue to take for those who are looking to constantly push their business and keep their brand contemporary and interesting.

    We’ll be at the Autumn Fair, Hall 4, Stand 4E40-F41, from the 4th to the 7th of September 2016; we hope to see you there!
    Register now for your VIP guest ticket, with thanks from us! Visit www.autumnfair.com/vipguest