In a Digital World, Are Retail Trade Shows Still Relevant?

Online marketplaces are popping up left and right, and many retailers are taking advantage of the digital deals. With thousands of search results at buyers’ fingertips, some may no longer feel the need to travel to trade shows and scour the racks. As more business-to-business transactions head online, will trade shows become a thing of the past? We don’t think so.

Compare Products Side-by-Side

Whenever purchasing merchandise online, many of us probably feel like we’re taking a leap of faith, hoping the product looks as good on vendor’s website as it will in your store. Especially if you’re a new retailer, getting hands-on time with apparel, footwear, and accessories at trade shows will boost your confidence in your orders.

Trade shows also make it easy for retailers to compare similar products in-person. Many retailers use the OFFPRICE App to mark the booths they’d like to return to later and save pictures of their favorite products. Instead of zooming in or guessing what the details of a product are, why not see the real thing in person?

At any trade show, the return policies will vary by vendor. If you’re going to place an order, you want to do your best to make sure the colors, sizes, and quality match what you have in mind. Trade shows offer retailers the power of touch, which is the best way to decide if a product is worth your money.

International Vendors Under One Roof

As a retailer, you may have found a vendor you like online, and you even planned a trip to their warehouse to check out their products. While the online marketplace was helpful for connecting you to the vendor, you’d have to make separate trips across the country to see your favorites. Trade shows give retailers the opportunity to meet with a variety of vendors in one location—at OFFPRICE, that’s over 500 exhibitors.

At trade shows in the off-price channel, buyers and vendors alike are capitalizing on short-term opportunities. Exhibitors have products they’d like to move quickly, and they’re often willing to make a deal. Because the pressure is on, vendors have a fear of missing out. They’re making the most of your face-to-face time, and you can cut out the tedious phone and email tag; get the answers you’re looking for; and place more orders in a shorter amount of time.

The Accidental Discoveries

The best part of trade shows are the happy accidents! Just by walking up and down the aisles, buyers find new products they haven’t seen—or searched for—before. At lunch or in a lounge area, a buyer could easily strike up a conversation with someone who turns out to be a valuable contact, either for business or as a peer. Buyers network, share tips and experiences that they wouldn’t have gotten from sitting and shopping at their desk.

According to Trade Show Executive, 66 percent of all trade show attendees are motivated by the opportunity for education and knowledge.

Stay In-the-Scene

If a vendor really understands your brand and your company, you will be top-of-mind when an opportunity arises. “Trade shows are kind of like circulars,” says Nikki Baird, Managing Partner for RSR Research. “If you don’t do them, people forget about you or think you’re going out of business (this applies equally to attendees as exhibitors).”

For vendors, meeting face-to-face is more advantageous than being another 3-second stop on a buyer’s online search. According to Statista, 81 percent of audience members remember booths they visit at U.S. trade shows. Vendors have the chance to make an impression and prove to you why they’re different than the rest.

If you keep yourself immersed in the industry, you can keep a closer eye on your competition and upcoming trends. The more information you can collect while being social, the more informed business decisions you can make as a retailer.

Worth the Investment

“If you’ve done the pre-show marketing work leading up to the show, the potential that a trade show offers your business can far exceed the investment,” says Timothy Carter, a Contributor for Business 2 Community. “With proper research and planning, trade shows are one of the most cost-effective sources of leads and sales possible.”

Carter goes on to explain that unlike traditional marketing efforts, trade shows put everyone on a more level playing field. Exhibitors are under one roof and have as equal of a chance as their neighbor for sparking interest from buyers passing by. “From locally owned small business to multinational corporations, everyone has access to the same attendees at a trade show,” says Carter.

Successful vendors try to target their marketing efforts as much as possible. After all, why should you waste dollars marketing to customers who would never be interested in your products? Retailers who have gone through the trouble of traveling to a trade show are there to buy, meaning vendors have thousands of their top prospects right there in the room with them.

Register to attend the OFFPRICE Show February 10-13 in Las Vegas to begin making the most of your time spent shopping. 

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