Best Practices for Rethinking Trade Shows Digitally

May 11, 2020

As more and more in-person gatherings across the retail industry have been canceled or postponed due to COVID-19, tradeshows and events are forced to rethink the way they reach customers and provide a seamless experience for the brand's buyers in this new way of working.  For many businesses, not having access to these gatherings for the opportunity to promote their brand seems like an unmanageable challenge. But the show must go on. Many shows have already turned to digital alternatives to continue wholesale business in this new landscape. 

Here are some best practices we can offer tradeshow organizations when thinking about how to reimagine the experience from in-person to digital: 

Give People What They’re Used To

E-commerce has been around for multiple decades now and is a major success. And its success is largely due to the fact that e-commerce did not try to replicate the in-person buying experience, but rather to reimagine it. Today, we have adapted to online stores and are all very familiar with searching and sorting. The virtual tradeshow, with its end goal of sales transactions, should leverage the same functionality we’ve all come to expect as internet shoppers - it shouldn’t demand we learn something new. And of course, since we can’t touch and feel, products must include rich visuals, such as the option of 360 degree style images.

Prioritize Customization

We’re living in the era of mass personalization. Customization strikes a chord with your buyers in a way that few other methods can achieve, and digital solutions make it simple and easy. Provide brands with options to tailor what buyers can see, the communications sent to buyers and order settings like currency and terms and conditions. This will help them capture and engage buyer attention to close deals. 

Create Once, Use Often

Investment and setup costs, both in terms of time and money, have been holding our industry back from digitization up to this point. Consider the scalability of the platform that will power your show. A retailer will want a wholesale platform that brands are already using - and more importantly one that doesn’t cost the brand significant setup fees to join up with them as a business partner. Similarly, brands will want to make a single investment in creating a virtual showroom on a platform being used by major tradeshows and retailers around the world.

No one ever expected that 2020 would be a world without the shows we rely on for getting business done. But maybe it will be the year where we discover new ways of connecting with one another, and even more efficient ways of transacting. Happy shopping!

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