Three Keys to Making Trade Shows Successful For Lingerie Retailers

By Ali Cudby


All of a sudden, CURVExpo, the American lingerie trade show, is upon us! Where did summer go?

Retailers are busy making appointments and considering strategies for surviving New York in August without melting.

Vendors have made their last minute adjustments to samples, finalized line sheets and are now focused on making sure the product fits the models (and burning the sage in hopes that those models show up, looking just like they did in the casting session.)

In a previous column, we looked at the Curve event itself and the highlights of this year’s New York and Las Vegas shows.

Let’s review three keys to making the time spent at a trade show valuable. The goal is to ensure the precious moments away from your retail environment pay off for the business.

1)     Arrive With A Plan

Walking into a trade show causes eyeball overload, even for a seasoned vet. Without an action plan, it’s easy to get distracted, which can translate into unfocused buying.

Ideally, you will arrive with an articulated Buying Strategy and a clear sense of your Open to Buy. Understanding your needs for the coming six months, across the key categories for your business is crucial. Just a few of the aspects you want broken out, month by month, will be your needs by:

  • Categories
  • Styles
  • Colors
  • Sizes
  • Trends

Knowing which vendors are over-and under-performing in your business is also helpful. Spending some time crunching numbers in advance of the shows will pay off in how your approach the booths and view the product.

2)     Stay Focused, But Be Open

It’s helpful to begin by walking the show floor, to get a sense of the overall trends – colors, styles, etc. You want to begin to build a merchandising story in your mind that will gel as you go deeper with each vendor and, ultimately, write orders.

Be on the lookout for any new vendors that catch your eye. You may not have a lot of room in your line-up, so who might top the list of potential additions to your product mix?

Deciding to write orders at the show is up to you. It’s easy to get sucked into the energy of a show and the enthusiasm of a good sales person. One strategy is to write AS IF you would submit the order at the show, but take your order home with you and review everything once you’re in a distraction-free zone.

3)     Create a Story with Lingerie

Writing orders is much more than SKUs and size ranges. It’s your opportunity to share an adventure in lingerie with your customers.

This is where the fun and creativity come into play, as you plan the color and style stories that will captivate every customer who walks through the door of your store – whether that door is bricks-and-mortar, or virtual.

Keep your ideal customers in mind and enjoy the process! The combination of your strategic buying and your passion will come through to every customer, and will make the cash register ring!

I’ll be at CurveNY, hope to see you there

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