Catch these Spring Fair 2018 Events Before They Sell Out

As well as all the thousands of exhibitors and tens of thousands of products to check out at Spring Fair 2018, there’s something else going on at this year’s show.

The ‘Events Timetable’ boasts a priceless array of seminars, workshops and chances to meet with a host of experts one-on-one.

You can get advice and guidance on everything from accounts and legal questions to digital marketing and eCommerce.

And the best news? It’s totally free!

Bespoke advice that you’d normally pay hundreds or thousands of pounds for is there for those who are willing to book a space or turn up early to claim their seat.

As always, Spring Fair organisers have packed the Events Calendar until it’s ready to burst. But today I’m giving you a quick summary of the things I think you should make a priority when you visit Spring Fair 2018.


The Trends Video

Before you start buying at Spring Fair, the Trends Video gives you a chance to hear from WGSN, Pinterest and more about what’s big now and what will be the bestsellers and trends for 2018 and beyond!

This information is exclusive to Spring Fair, so you won’t be able to get it anywhere else. The video lasts a few minutes and will be shown on repeat.

Shown every morning between 9am – 10am it’s a great opportunity to get informed before you hit the stands.


Workshops at the Inside Retail Hub

The Spring Fair 2018 Events Calendar has laid on some great hands-on workshops.

These sessions will be only available for a limited number of visitors, and admittance will be on a “first come, first served” basis.

If you see a workshop you like, add a reminder to your dairy or mobile phone so you don’t miss out on the opportunity.

Here are some workshops that might take your interest.


WORKSHOP: Top tips on negotiating with low buying power

Sunday 4th February 2018 – 4pm -5pm

Jennifer Preston has a wealth of buying experience, having once been a buyer at Primark with huge buying power and now ruining her own store ‘That’s Clever’. In this workshop Jennifer will explain how buying has changed as a reflection of the new retail landscape, by covering the following points:

  • How to curate collections through research.
  • Finding out as much as you can about potential products without impacting on buyer-supplier relationships.
  • Challenges Jennifer’s come across and top tips for dealing with these.

Jennifer Preston, Product Manager – That’s Clever


WORKSHOP: How to achieve (affordable!) personalised packaging for your customers (for all business sizes)

Monday 5th February 2018 – 4pm -5pm

A recent survey from Sealed Air found that branded packaging creates a 64% increase in positive feedback compared to unbranded packaging.More than a third of respondents also believed premium packaging impacts brand perception. Despite the demand for branded packaging, the Macfarlane Unboxing Survey 2017, found that only 62% of retailers are branding packs. Premium packaging is the first physical interaction online shoppers have with the brand, emphasising the significance of packaging on the customer experience. Sourcing branded packaging can be a challenge for start-up businesses that do not yet have the minimum order volume that most packaging manufacturers demand, but in this workshop, Macfarlane Online will show businesses how they can achieve truly affordable custom printed packaging options with very low order volumes delivered within 5 days.

Claire Summersby, Partnership Marketing Manager – The Alexir Partnership and Mark Selby, eCommerce Director – Macfarlane Packaging


WORKSHOP: How to Create a Digital Marketing Plan

Wednesday 7th February 2018 – 4pm -5pm

And last of all is my own workshop! I’m a bit biased here of course but if you’re keen to get a grip on your marketing and increase your sales in the year ahead this workshop is for you. In the session we’ll be walking through the steps of creating a digital marketing plan.

  • You’ll map out a digital marketing calendar for your business. •
  • Establish goals for your marketing campaigns that will increase sales.
  • •Plus you’ll learn the must-have 3 steps that will save you time and money when marketing online.

Charlotte Biggs, Card & Gift Network


Seminars at the Inside Retail Hub

If you’re not quite ready to get hands-on, seminars are a great way to soak up some wisdom and inspiration.

Perfect for those just starting out or those who are expanding into a new area, there are going to be lots of fascinating presentations.

Here are a few not to miss this year:


Seminar: Social Media and Digital Marketing for Retailers

Sunday 4th February 2018 – 1:00pm – 1:45pm

From choosing the correct platform for your website to recognising the power of social media, learn how to harness the power of the internet while still maintaining the balance between running your physical shop. Hear about the importance of photography, staying current and essential digital marketing tips which will keep your customers coming back for more. Chris will also be talking about the benefits of working with your local community and his role as the Chairman of Cudworth Businesses & Community Together.

Chris Fox, Marketing Manager and Editor & Writer at Gift Shop Hub – Wishes of Cudworth


Seminar: David and Goliath, How Independent Retailers Can Take on the Giants and Win

Monday 5th February 2018 – 3:00pm – 3:45pm

Ian takes an in depth look at the plight of the independent retailer. He will describe how Independent Retailers are facing their toughest challenge since the rise of the national chain stores in the 1930’s. Today, giant online retailers and national chain stores have an insatiable need to gobble up market share on an unprecedented level. As outlined in his book he will identify five key problems facing independent retailers today: • Small bricks-and-mortar retailers have become convenient showrooms for the internet giants. • Customers view and handle the products; they seek advice and expertise from the staff and then buy the exact same product online at a fraction of the cost. • With higher overheads and fewer resources, how can you compete, thrive and build a prosperous business? • Traditional methods of retailing no longer apply in today’s global market. • Retailers don’t have enough hours in the day to find new customers who are willing to pay a sensible price for their products and services. Ian will explain that the only way independent retailers can survive in this changing market place is to become specialist retailers. When you specialise, you immediately separate yourself from your competitors. As a result, you attract more of the right kind of customers, which leads to increased sales. Join Ian as he shares the five key elements that define specialist retailers and sets them apart from the giants. Only when all five of these elements are functioning in harmony can retailers enjoy the benefits of being a specialist retailer.

Ian Retallick, Entrepreneur, Author and Speaker – Inca Lighting


Seminar: Combining your online and offline retail business through digital marketing

Tuesday 6th February 2018 – 3:00pm – 3:45pm

With over 20 years’ experience as a client, Stuart Alldis has established a clear branding & digital development strategy that cuts through the jargon and helps all types of businesses stand out from their competition. Learn how to engage with customers through your brand, how to utilise digital marketing to increase your reach and awareness and how to approach website and mobile app development to avoid the pitfalls.

Stuart Alldis, Founder – Creative Digital Agency


Seminar: Forget past performance; how to guarantee more online sales in the future

Wednesday 7th February 2018 – 11:00am – 11:45am

Small businesses often try to push themselves and their online marketing forward without a clear direction, just bigger or better, but anyone spending money on building a brand and/or product range online should have a goal. Simon Pryce will discuss the importance of that goal, in order to understand how that helps develop the correct strategy. Setting measurements and ensuring constant analysis is the only way to determine this and Simon will take you through it, step-by-step.

Simon Pryce, Founder – Skylight Media


Seminar: Start your retail business in a weekend

Thursday 8th February 2018 – 11:00am – 11:45am  & 1:00pm -1:45pm.

Do you have an idea for a retail business? Confused about where to start? Does the thought of writing a business plan fill you with dread? This is the seminar for you, we will show you an effective way to get started and develop your idea into a successful, sustainable business without extensive business plans and market research upfront. All you need an idea, an iPhone and the determination to succeed.

Jonathan Dowden, Product Manager – Mobile – Sage UK


Meet the Experts

Last but not least is probably the most valuable of all the expert advice you can get at Spring Fair 2018. Valuable because it gives you the chance to get in-depth, bespoke advice for your business.

The ‘Meet the Experts’ sessions are 20 minutes, 1-2-1, with an expert of your choice. The sessions do need to be booked in advance and usually sell out before the show, so it’s worth claiming your spot before they’re all gone.

It’s also worth making sure you show up on time to your appointment as there’s usually a lot of people who wait on the day to scoop up any free slots if it looks like you’re not showing up!

This is my 3rd year doing ‘Meet the Experts’ so you can book a session with me. I’ll be there Tuesday and Wednesday 1pm-4pm answering any questions you have on digital marketing, eCommerce or anything card and gift related.

And there’s lots of super talented people joining me. The Meet the Experts panels will be running every day. 10am -1pm and 1pm -4pm (excluding the last day where there will only be the morning session).

There are lots of fab people to seek wisdom from, here are a few of my favourites:

  • Chris Fox, Marketing Manager and Editor & Writer at Gift Shop Hub and Wishes of Cudworth.
  • Julie Holden, National Membership Manager – BIRA
  • Bobby Lane, Partner and Award-Winning Accountant – Blick Rothenberg
  • Simon Pryce, Founder – Skylight Media
  • Tom Fleetwood, Digital Marketing Consultant – SocialB
  • Steve Folwell, Founder – Love Space
  • Paul Strong and Danny Cleaton, Director – Hoopla Marketing
  • Rob Wallwork and Robin Johnston, Specialist Retail Lawyers – Buckles Solicitors


Find out More

Spring Fair 2018 runs from the 4th-8th February at Birmingham’s NEC. To register for your free ticket, check out the full event timetable and start booking your events please visit the Spring Fair website.