The Spring and Autumn Fair events are one of the largest wholesale trade events for the home and gift industries. The show highlights new products, showcases top brands, offers retail insight, and aims to give you the inspiration you need for your business.
The 2017 event took place from the 3rd-6th September at the NEC Birmingham and took over 5 halls of the exhibition center, which really shows how big Autumn Fair is!
We were lucky enough to exhibit for the ‘Retail Solutions’ sector at this year’s Autumn Fair, so whilst we were there we explored what was going on throughout the event. There was plenty to see, from catwalk shows to toy demos, and seminars to 1-2-1’s with industry experts.
Whether you attended Autumn Fair or didn’t manage to get to the event this year, this blog shares the highlights and valuable advice for merchants to takeaway.
1. Will you be left behind by the Amazon-dominated online environment of the future?
Amazon is always a hot topic of conversation so it’s not surprising that it was on Autumn Fair’s agenda. John Romanoski, Head of UK Business Development at MMP Living, shared his advice for effectively selling on Amazon based off his own success.
MMP Living are a top Amazon seller who have been trading for 12 years. They began as a toy company selling on the Amazon US marketplace and have since expanded their product range and began to sell on Amazon in the UK and Germany. The business uses Fulfilled by Amazon and has over 15,000 unique SKUs on the marketplace.
John began by sharing statistics on how Amazon continues to grow in comparison to other big US retailers, such as Walmart, Macy’s, Target etc., and how the 2016 Ecommerce Foundation stats show the importance of selling online, especially with Amazon, including how:
- 82% of the UK has purchased online. That’s 56,646,694 e-shoppers!
- Total online shopping increased by 17.8% in 2016
- 54% of shoppers begin their purchasing journey online
- 26% are subscribed to Amazon Prime. That’s 14,728,140 online shoppers!
John then went on to explain how selling on Amazon is no walk in the park and it comes with its challenges, especially when you’re growing at speed. He highlighted that the 5 key challenges include: logistics, brand control, competition, pricing and relationship building.
When it comes to selling on Amazon, merchants have 3 choices and every method comes with pros and cons. John summarized the methods:
1. Direct with Amazon Retail
Amazon are there to sell your products, they do all of the work and you just act as the supplier. The advantage of this method is that it’s very low-touch on the merchant but the disadvantage is that you can’t make as much money.
2. Fulfilled by Amazon (FBA)
You send your stock to Amazon and it sits in their warehouses, ready for Amazon to fulfill to the buyer. FBA is a popular method for selling on Amazon because you can utilize marketing from Amazon, which gets your products in front of more shoppers. If you opt for FBA, your profit margins will be tighter and you have to stay on top of everything to keep Amazon happy.
3. Fulfilled by Merchant (FMA)
You do everything yourself with FMA so it means you’re in control and Amazon only takes commission. The downside of this method is that you won’t get any promotion from Amazon, which means you need to be ready to do your own marketing or expect to see lower order volumes.
Overall, John offered some great guidance for those looking to begin selling on Amazon and gave current Amazon sellers something to think about. Our favorite pieces of advice include:
- Ensure you communicate with your suppliers.
- Get your mail order packaging right so you don’t get penalized by Amazon.
- Work on pricing - you need to make sure your margins are profitable.
- Make sure your customers are happy. Customers look at reviews!
- Get involved with the Pan EU project, which allows you to sell internationally at ease. Amazon will ship your products in their UK warehouses to the EU.
- Be prepared to make changes as Amazon is a fast-moving and constantly changing company.
2. Your 2018 Digital Marketing Plan: Pushing profit margins and reducing marketing spend
Amy Hobson, Partner at SocialB, offered truly valuable marketing advice to a large audience at the Inside Retail Hub, so we felt we had to include it in our top seminars. Amy spoke of the steps to success, the strategies that can be utilized to enhance your digital channels, and the key 7 areas to a successful website.
When it comes to digital marketing, Amy outlined that the main steps for success include defining your goals, setting KPIs, looking at historical analysis, planning ahead and utilizing multichannel marketing. Amy recommends using a strategy sheet to map out your content and social strategies across your multiple marketing channels. This can then be used to plan ahead and also to look back to see the cause of any spikes in success.
Marketing strategies for 2018
The seminar focused on how paid advertising, SEO, email marketing and influencers can be the key to your most successful year yet. You may already be using some or all of these techniques but you may not have heard of all of these quick fire tips!
Paid advertising including PPC
Many retailers tend to spend a fortune on advertising without truly seeing the benefit. The key is to define what you want to achieve and work out how much you’re willing to spend. Once you’ve worked out those two aspects, you should then monitor your ads closely to ensure you’re getting the most out of your money. Take a look at the products you’re advertising - are you advertising popular products that you know will sell? Make sure you’re targeting the right keywords with high-volume traffic and target the right audiences. If you have a local presence, why not promote your business locally?
As you probably already know, SEO is vital to any business. Search engines are looking for so much from your website including relevancy, the quality of content, user experience, site speed, meta description, title tags, tagged images, internal linking, cross-device compatibility and social media. It’s incredibly important that you’re ticking all the boxes and that you keep your content fresh, images up-to-date and you get the right keywords on your pages. Make sure you do your keyword research!
Some people think that email marketing is a waste of time or a thing of the past, but email marketing is still such a crucial marketing technique, but only when it’s done right! Amy’s top tips include segmenting your audience, personalizing the message, providing interesting and relevant content, and utilizing great imagery to catch attention.
Influencer Marketing has really taken off over the last few years with the rise of industry bloggers, especially in the fashion, beauty, home and baby industries. Amy shared how it can be very effective on Instagram and Twitter with influencers sharing your products. Just be sure to personalize your outreach to each influencer - a blanket email will never cut it. It’s also important not to offer money straightaway - that’s a big no no!
To finish up, here’s our top two takeaways from the seminar:
- Amy shared how each consumer needs to see your brand 11 or 12 times before finally making a purchase so it’s important to be seen across multiple channels, multiple times.
- GDPR is going to have a big impact on email marketing as people will be required to sign up and then also confirm their signup in order for you to send marketing emails to them. If you’ve not already put a plan in place, now’s the time to get ready.
Brightpearl Customers at Autumn Fair 2017
We were incredibly excited to see some of our customers exhibiting at Autumn Fair and it was great to hear the event was going well for so many businesses. Here’s how 3 of our favorites from the show got on...
The Irish Fairy Door Company
The Irish Fair Door Company had great success at Autumn Fair 2017. They told us how their products are gaining a lot of attention as fairy doors are so unique. The Irish Fairy Door Company has really found their niche! With recent endorsement from Kourtney Kardashian, The Irish Fairy Door Company is set to have a super successful year!
Tilley and Grace
Jewellery and accessories brand, Tilley and Grace shared how it’s a great opportunity for them to meet up with their existing clients face-to-face. With wholesale being such a key part of their business, they regularly attend trade shows which gives them the opportunity to build a personal relationship with their clients and hopefully acquire new ones too!
Coles Pen Company
Coles Pen Company are one of the leading independent pen distributors in the UK and are the sole distributor of top brands including Yoropen, Laban and Visconti. Coles Pen Company had an exquisite range of pens on display at Autumn Fair.
Did you exhibit or attend Autumn Fair 2017? Or if you didn’t make it this year, would you consider getting involved in trade shows in the future? Let us know your highlights or thoughts in the comments section below.