As a subscription box owner, one of the crucial pieces to the business is having products for your boxes each month. Whether you make your products or source them from another vendor, Market is a great place to not only gather inspiration but make connections with new sources.
No matter if you have been before or not, it can be intimidating, and this year was definitely full of unknowns, so I wanted to share a few things you should know before attending Market and my experiences from my first Market trip this year.
I traveled to Atlanta, Georgia for the Total Home & Gift Market at AmericasMart for the first time in a year due to the global pandemic. I was anxious to see how it has been affected by all of this and didn't know what to expect.
I was pleasantly surprised by the safety measure put in place. There weren't long lines at registration. They provided digital badges this year and you weren't required to wear a physical badge. This eliminated an entire step. There were temperature checks set up in a giant room. Every day you had to have your temperature checked and issued a wristband for the day.
Everywhere we went the cleaning crew was cleaning and sanitizing the halls, the escalators, and all the common areas. It was great to see.
The crowds were definitely down. It felt like 1/3 of the normal crowd...which was actually awesome! The sad thing was how many vendor showrooms were closed or empty. It didn't have the same vibe.
I'm used to drinks and snacks all over the place, live music, and just a super fun atmosphere. It was missing big time. Actually, it was hard to find food to eat for lunch or a quick snack.
I've put together some of my top tips to help you navigate Market successfully and not get overwhelmed.
Make sure you pre-register for any Market event you would like to attend. You can do this on their websites. Do this as soon as you can. Even if you aren't sure you can go. Get registered so you have easy access credentials when you go. Printing out the electronic badges and getting updated Market info is super important.
2. Take A Rolling Bag
Yes, there are tons of bags given out at Market, but a rolling bag will save your shoulders and back!
If you are like me, you will want to pick up catalogs and booklets from your favorite vendors to look through later. They get HEAVY!
I also have some important staples I load in this bag each morning. Water bottle, snack, business cards, notepad, phone charger, extra pair of shoes, and of course my wallet.
3. Make A Plan
Going into Market with no idea what you want to buy can instantly become overwhelming. Everything starts looking the same, you can't make decisions, and you realize you've wasted a whole bunch of time because you have no idea what you are looking for.
Even if you don't know EXACTLY what you want, creating some monthly themes for your boxes upfront will help you make some decisions.
Layout what the next 6 months to a year look like for your business. What items do you want for your shop? What items do you want for your boxes?
Mapping that out ahead of time will save you some time.
4. Open Accounts
One of the most important things about Market is getting your foot in the door with vendors. It's very easy to open accounts with companies while you are there vs the process of applying and opening accounts after the fact.
Most vendors have an "opening order amount." This is the minimum amount you need to purchase to place your first order with a company. Re-order amounts are usually smaller.
If you see a vendor that has a lot of great things you might want to have in your boxes in the future. Go in, ask questions, create an account and do an opening order for some other products. This will get your foot in the door with companies and then you can develop a relationship with them later for your subscription box products.
5. Build Relationships
Market is really just a huge networking event. When writing an order with a new company, ask to speak with someone from the company. In large showrooms, many of the people writing orders are reps from the showroom and not actually from that company. If you can speak to someone from that company you start building relationships.
Typically a rep can't handle an order my size, so I need to speak with the company representative directly. You also have to remember the companies pay a commission to those reps. So that 15% commission could be given back to you in the form of a discount if you go through the company directly and not the showroom.
6. Follow Up
You spent a lot of time networking and making connections during your time at Market. Send some emails thanking them for their time, follow up on future orders, or just introducing yourself and starting a conversation.
The quicker you can do this, the more they will remember you and continue building a deeper relationship with you and your business.
I was so lucky to be able to go, and was even able to go Live and answer everyones questions on my How to Start a Subscription Box with Sarah FB page! Make sure to watch that HERE