Want to learn how to succeed at tradeshows and establish your store or brand in the ever-evolving footwear industry? We asked fashion industry maven and President of Footwear for UBM Fashion, Leslie Gallin, for her top tips for building a footwear empire in 2017. Read her eye-opening advice below.
As a fashion and footwear industry veteran of many years, how do you see business changing in the industry and at the tradeshow?
Gallin: Years ago, when we started a brand, we all looked immediately to go to the trade market, not really concentrating on who the end user (the customer) would be. Today, it is about identifying who your end user is and knowing how they live, what they like and how they shop. Then you need to have brick-and-mortar outlets covered, an online presence for transactional sales and information and a social media presence.
While this all sounds daunting, what we have learned is the tradeshow is more important than ever to establish those in-person relationships, build accounts and educate yourself on the most up to date things happening in the industry.
Why is NOW the time to be at a footwear tradeshow?
Gallin: The tradeshow is the best possible environment to learn, meet customers and glean insight on how to build a stronger business in today’s highly technical world. The old view was that the trade event was mainly transactional.
Today, it is about networking, relationship building, product and brand awareness and education. One needs to be in the room with footwear retail, trade, and charity organizations—and the tradeshow is the best place to connect with every part of the industry.
What do brands (both emerging and established) need to know to be successful on the show floor?
Gallin: Do your homework. Before the show, identify the retailers you want to sell to. Realistically speaking, if you’re a brand launching you should not start out looking for the major department stores. You need to build your brand with independent retailers. They will be your best showcase and brand ambassadors. Be able to tell the story of your brand.
Also, get on ShopTheFloor, our secure digital platform for approved buyers only. It’s is a virtual showroom offered for free to all exhibitors at our events. And most importantly, make sure you have financing, back end business support and do not make shoes and ship without deposits.
How is technology and social media impacting the future of footwear?
Gallin: Change is always uncomfortable, but the beauty of technology today is everyone can play. It’s a building process. Think of it this way, it’s your canvas to tell your brand story. It’s an amazing way to educate the end consumer and let retailers know what your brand is about. Yes, it takes time and you will need to have an overarching strategy but you can hire a young college person to take on daily posting. Your main goal should be to drive the consumer to your retailers to experience your brand live, and then to your website to learn and see more.
If you could give the footwear community one piece of advice what would it be?
Gallin: You must be active in the industry. Being in the room will help you build credibility, connections and opportunities for your businesses. I guarantee you will walk away with a nugget or two which will help you run your business better. I cannot stress how important it is today to be present at shows and industry meetings.
What can buyers and brands expect at your next show?
Gallin: We are all about the experience for our upcoming shows. We want to stimulate and offer new ideas for both sides of the aisle. Also, now is the perfect time for retailers to discover the best new and up-and-coming brands at our shows because all our brands have been vetted. I encourage retailers to attend and buy beautiful product for your stores. Your customer will respond at the cash register.
For more information on UBM FASHION’s footwear shows, visit: ubmfashion.com.