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MAGIC Vegas: a trade show survival guide

BY Crystal Gilliam 14 Aug, "15

Heading to one of fashion’s biggest trade shows of the year, but a little overwhelmed by all there is to do? We’ve got MAGIC’s measurements. We have some tips for both vendors and buyers, and have put together a collection of links and information explaining all the ins and outs of the show. Whether this is your first time attending, or you’re a seasoned vendor, here's some info to get awesome results from your crazy days in Las Vegas.

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Before you visit MAGIC, we suggest you answer one question for your business:

What is your main goal in attending MAGIC this year?

Vendors, are you looking to boost sales and reach new customers? Are you attending mostly for sourcing or looking to get your products in more places? Buyers, are you going to spot new fashion trends, meet new people in the industry or find new suppliers? If you’re thinking of exhibiting at MAGIC in the future, maybe this year's goal is to scope it all out.

MAGIC is a massive gathering of fashion insiders: buyers, vendors and even manufacturers, so getting focused on your main goal will be a big help. Figure out exactly why you’re going then get started on your game plan.

Who’s in town?

Who will be there? Everyone in the fashion industry - from those just starting out, to the big guys. MAGIC attracts more than 60,000 industry insiders to Las Vegas twice a year in February and August. Eleven markets within MAGIC cater to different trends, and people from over 120 countries. Most major fashion labels will be exhibiting and featuring mostly spring/summer 2016 fashion lines for men, women, juniors, children, accessories and footwear, plus resources. Find a complete list of vendors at Shop the Floor.

MAGIC begins on August 16, 2015 with sourcing, and the general trade show runs from August 17 - August 19, 2015 at the Las Vegas and Mandalay Bay Convention Centers.

For Buyers: what you need to know about MAGIC

Preparing for your trip

Registration is free for retailers or requires a fee for non-retailers who are interested in going. Register online here.

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Check out MAGIC’s Planning Resources. They have show opening hours, information about Las Vegas and lists of what you should bring with you.

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This list includes:

  • Re-sale certificate and tax ID number
  • Projections, otb (open-to-buy) and calendar appointments
  • Business cards, to carry with you always
  • Notebook, pens and calculators
  • Order sheets
  • Mini stapler to staple cards to order sheets or cards into your notebook
  • Large tote bag for all the line sheets
  • Cell phone and charger
  • Laptop for checking e-mails and working orders at night.

Also, before you go, try to schedule meetings with your most important vendors. With all that’s going on at MAGIC, scheduled appointments guarantee you won't miss anyone you need to see.

Download the MAGIC app to help you navigate the whole show. It includes Floor Plans, an Exhibitor Database, Seminar and Event Listings, MyShow Planner, General Show Info, and offline access. It will be your guide during the event!

You’ve made it to Vegas, now what?

After you’ve decided your main goals, made your vendor appointments and narrowed down the list of vendors to visit, it’s time to explore MAGIC. Check out MAGIC’s show planner. From here you can search for exhibitors, see a detailed list of seminars and events, see detailed floor plans and maps, access the My Show Planner, and check out the website.

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My Show Planner is an awesome tool to help you really customize your visit to MAGIC. Add events to your own personalized calendar, have a look at detailed maps and save key vendors and exhibitors that you want to visit, and print your agenda from there.

Use the maps section of the My Show Planner to see detailed maps that you can customize and navigate easily.

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Aside from checking out all your favorite vendors, MAGIC has a series of events and seminars planned throughout the trade show on topics from sourcing, upcoming trends and growing your business to customer service, accessory trends and how to get more customers. Check out the Events and Seminars schedule to plan which ones you’ll attend.

Now it's about navigating your expectations and the trade show itself:

Dos and Don’ts of MAGIC:

Do be ready to negotiate!

Vendors are open to negotiating, as long as you make a well-researched reasonable offer. Think of it as a chance to talk directly to your business partners to come up with a deal that is good for both of you. Make sure you know exactly what you want and what your own terms are before entering into negotiations with buyers. Keep in mind that you may be more successful with larger quantities. Speak with lots of vendors before making your decision. Here are a few more tips for negotiation.

Do go if you’re looking for Spring and Summer fashion

This August, MAGIC is all about warmer temps and seeing the sun - almost everyone will be showing their spring and summer 2016 lines. Catch the February shows if you’re looking for fall and winter fashions.

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Do your research before you go

Especially if this is your first time, you should be well-prepared before you go to MAGIC. It’s a massive trade show covering men’s, women’s, children’s, junior’s, footwear and accessories - and it’s virtually impossible to walk in and just sort of wander around. Make plans before you arrive, using MAGIC's resources. Also, think about your requirements and preferences: local vs. international production, price vs. quality, etc. Set your standards and open-to-buys before you attend the show to make sure you know what you want while attending.

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Do be ready to network!

A huge advantage of a trade show is the face to face interaction with everyone you want to do business with. Be ready to make contacts, introduce yourself, talk about your own business and expand your network within the industry.

Do follow up!

Don't let what happens in Vegas, stay in Vegas. After MAGIC, follow up with all the contacts you made and deals you’ve worked out. It’s a huge show, with lots of interactions, a little contact when it’s all over can make the difference.

Don’t hesitate to question the people you’re doing business with.

MAGIC has provided a great list of questions to consider when starting to work with new vendors. They include establishing good relationships, demanding quality, asking about seasonal product availability and knowing brands before you invest. Also, they advise making sure that there are no hidden costs in the price, such as import/export taxes and to not feel pressured by minimum orders - there are always options such as broken packs or lower prices for minimum orders.

Don’t go to Sourcing at MAGIC if you’re a start-up.

Skip sourcing, as it is really mostly for established brands that will be making major orders. Focus on the rest of the show instead and head to sourcing when you’re more set up in the industry.

Don’t forget to download your MAGIC app.

This MAGIC App will make navigation so much easier. Download it.

Don’t forget your comfortable shoes!

Seriously, if the fashion world tells you to bring comfortable shoes, you bring comfortable shoes.

Guides for Buyers

MAGIC has an extensive collection of Buyer’s Guides, which can all be found here. Each of these buyers guides includes a map of where to find that specific fashion, sections to check out depending on what specifically you’re looking for, and a planner to help you plan your day-to-day and hour-to-hour plan. Download the PDFs that are relevant to you, they’ll be extremely helpful for researching the different areas.

Here’s a breakdown:

  1. Men’s Buyer’s Guide
  2. Women’s Buyer’s Guide
  3. Children’s Buyer’s Guide
  4. Footwear Buyer’s Guide
  5. Sourcing Buyer’s Guide

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For vendors exhibiting at MAGIC

Most of our tips so far have been on the buyer’s side - what if you’re an exhibitor? MAGIC has a complete section of online resources for you too. Have you seen the Exhibitor Service Manuals? How about the Exhibitor Maps? These maps show a detailed floor plan and move-in and move-out schemes for each area.

There are some questions you, as a supplier, can expect to hear at a trade show. They include questions like “what is your minimum order quantity?” and “where is this made?”, or "how do you assure quality in your products?".  Before the tradeshow, think of what the buyer will want to know from their perspective, and be ready for their questions before they even ask. 

Make it happen at MAGIC

Ready to head out into a whirlwind of long days at MAGIC? Go for it, download your MAGIC app on your phone, grab your order sheets and keep your goals in mind. Good luck in Vegas!

Image Credits: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6  

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See Also:

How to rock a trade show
Tips for successful supplier relationship management
Insider tips from a China-based sourcing agent

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