Buy Wholesale Products:
Finding Suppliers at Trade Shows

Using Trade Shows to Source and Buy Wholesale Products

Through the years, trade shows have been an important launching platform for sourcing and introducing thousands of new products. They often serve as a starting point for buyers to find, network and select the right suppliers with whom to do business. Marketing experts often recommend the use of trade shows as part of any product-based business sourcing strategy.

According to trade show expert Anthony Trollope, "Even with the prominence of the Internet as a sourcing tool to buy wholesale products, trade shows are as important as ever for building supplier partnerships and introducing new products to buyers." Trollope is the managing director of The Wholesale Forums, a trade networking community and marketplace for suppliers and importers.



Trollope further explains that companies have much to benefit from meeting prospective partners face-to-face and should focus on agreeing to deals at the trade show. This will cut down on the back and forth communication that is spent via email and phone calls.

Buyers visiting shows appreciate the opportunity to ask in-person about a full range of product details ranging from price-per-piece to production to the logistics behind transactions. This builds trust and solidifies relationships that can extend well beyond the event.

Following are tips on how to leverage trade show participation to meet quality suppliers and buy wholesale products.

  • Do pre-show research – It helps to know who to speak with once you get to the exhibition hall. A few days before the event, check the profiles of all exhibitors and note who you want to meet. A lot of show organizers are now making direct enquiry forms available to buyers through their websites. Use these ahead of time to arrange meetings with suppliers because often they will be booked up early by other buyers and competitors.

  • Investigate suppliers – Start by looking at the suppliers you have identified. See if they have participated in past exhibitions and correlate whether each supplier is a new or a seasoned exhibitor. Get booth numbers, product pricing and product information ahead of time whenever possible.
  • Think carefully about placing orders at the show – Although placing wholesale orders at a trade show can be opportunistic in terms of pricing and delivery, do your homework to ensure you are fully aware of the purchase criteria and obligations.

  • Circle the show floor multiple times – With the exception of large trade shows where this would take you all day, try to walk the trade show aisles three times with different objectives each time.

    The purpose of your first lap around the exhibition hall should be to get to know the exhibitors and what they are offering. Your second walk around should be to examine the exhibitors by category and find suppliers to shortlist. Use your third lap to conduct more in-depth interviews with shortlisted suppliers.

  • Review your notes – See if you have gathered sufficient information about suppliers and products to meet your needs. Would you be comfortable placing an order right away to buy wholesale products? Do you feel at ease with each supplier and have all the contact information you need for follow-up?

  • Communicate after the show – If you have placed an order during the trade show, follow-up withing three days of the event's close to ensure your order has been processed. (And if not, you may want to consider changing suppliers.) If you have not made your purchase, then follow-up as appropriate and ensure you get the pricing, delivery and service you require before you decide to buy wholesale products.


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