Spielwarenmesse: What do retailers want from exhibitors? - Interview with Andreas Schaefer

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Movers & shakers

What do retailers want from exhibitors? - Interview with Andreas Schaefer

from Spielwarenmesse eG

In an open letter, Ernst Kick, CEO of Spielwarenmesse eG, called on Spielwarenmesse® exhibitors to design open stands. After all, business at trade fairs thrives on actually meeting people. Reason enough for us to ask Andreas Schäfer, Managing Director of idee+spiel, what retailers really want from exhibitors so that they can organise their visit to the expo efficiently.

Spielwarenmesse®: Mr Schäfer, what do retailers need so they can enjoy an efficient visit to the fair?

Portrait photo of Andreas Schaefer, idee+spiel GmbH, Managing director
Andreas Schaefer, idee+spiel GmbH, Managing director

Andreas Schaefer: Early planning of a visit to the trade fair is the be-all and end-all. To this end, we help our retailers with the all-round planning of their visit to the fair. But the "cost-benefit" factor also plays a decisive role. Retailers have to organise their trip to the trade fair within a reasonable budget. In order to achieve this, favourable travel conditions, inexpensive food and lodging as well as reasonable admission prices to the trade fair all play a key part. And at the trade fair, one thing is paramount: we show what we have! Because some exhibitors are currently sealing themselves off.

How do idee+spiel support their members in preparing for the trade fair? Do you have special offers for specialist retailers with little trade fair experience?

A. S.: We show our retailers the advantages of visiting a fair and offer them an information and communication platform in our Business Centre at the fair where they can "refuel" – both physically and in terms of content! In addition, we produce an annual booklet of vouchers for retailers in which the special expo conditions of our suppliers are set out in such a way that they can make best use of them. This allows retailers to plan their visit to the trade fair in advance in such a way that they can make purchases as cost-effectively as possible. Subsidized admission tickets are also part of our offer. All this makes a visit to the expo a profitable business trip!

What particularly annoys you when you think of the habits of some exhibitors at trade fairs?

A. S.: There are a few suppliers who completely seal themselves off. You can only visit their stand if you've signed comprehensive declarations of commitment. The time required alone isn't enough to ensure an efficient visit to the expo. What's more, some exhibitors differentiate between direct customers and customers who order through wholesalers. The latter are left out because a visit to the stand is reserved for direct customers only. This is really annoying! 

And what do you appreciate about exhibitors' trade fair presentations in terms of retailer needs?

A. S.: Seeing a broad spectrum at the expo in Nuremberg helps us to assess trends better. The numerous opportunities to find new product ideas are the main reason why we visit the fair. This naturally gives our product group managers a really good insight into new products – which is indispensable for Christmas sales. At the same time, contacts are made or cultivated – something which is also of enormous importance for the following business year.

What procedure would you suggest to exhibitors if they set great store by their own retailer accreditation for a visit to their expo stand?

A. S.: The Spielwarenmesse is a trade fair to which only trade visitors are admitted. So if a retailer is a member of an association group, it should automatically gain access to the exhibitors' stands.

In your view, how can exhibitors at trade fairs protect their new products from curious eyes that intend to imitate them?

A. S.: To know whether a new product is good, it has to be made accessible to the specialist public. However, very few new products are actually copied. Even if it does happen, the copycat will have to spend a lot of time on it. My tip is that it's better to personally present 3 to 4 top secret articles in a separate room rather than to completely isolate yourself.

What else would you like exhibitors to do for specialist retailers?

A. S.: Concrete trade fair offers with benefits as well as some great new goods so as to be able to sell them well later.

What are your personal tips for trade visitors so that they can experience a successful visit to the trade fair?

A. S.: A visit to an expo should last at least 2-3 days, during which you should plan avisit to important suppliers and allow enough space for people to browse for new articles and suppliers. Naturally, a visit to our idee+spiel Business Centre should be on the agenda, too – then it will certainly be a worthwhile trade fair visit.

Mr Schaefer, thank you for your suggestions.

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