Trade shows in some shape or form have been around since ancient times, but they’re far from being a thing of the past. According to the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR), trade shows are still growing. In 2013, CEIR charted a steady increase in attendance for 9 quarters in a row; forecasting predicts continued growth from 2013 to 2015.
It’s easy to see why: trade shows are crucial tools for both exhibitors and attendees, especially in eCommerce and retail. As eCommerce continues to develop, the market is flooded with options, competition, and new developments. Trade shows provide a one-stop shop to keep up with industry trends and develop new contacts.
Although trade shows present some inherent challenges due to travel time and costs (and let’s be honest, all-around sticker shock), we believe the benefits easily outweigh the expense, even for smaller retailers. It’s an investment, to be sure – yet one with a high rate of return.
Here are the top five reasons all marketers should attend trade shows:
1. Keep on top of industry trends
Trade shows are the epicenters of development: industry professionals from all over the globe gather to showcase new products. Take note of what’s creating the most buzz on the show floor, and you’ll have the edge on what’s coming next. You’ll also have a chance to gain competitive insight when it comes to market data and trends. All this information is invaluable when it comes to strategizing for your business and making sure you stay ahead of the curve.
2. Compare and source products & services
In a survey conducted by Skyline Exhibits and EXPO Magazine, 91 percent of retailers said trade shows are essential for comparing products and meeting suppliers. You have the chance to speak with vendors one-on-one about their products to find the best fit for what you need. Plus, don’t underestimate the power of face time with suppliers – trade shows are a good way to develop relationships.
3. Network, network, network
Speaking of relationships, don’t limit your interactions to just potential vendors. Most trade shows provide plenty of time for attendees to network with each other, and for good reason. Often, the biggest insights come from the people who share your goals and interests – a conversation with another retailer might lead to new ideas, or even new partnership opportunities.
4. Access to thought leaders
As trade shows have gotten bigger and better, there has been a growing focus on lectures and presentations. Take advantage of the workshops, talks, and keynote speaker sessions at trade shows – thought leaders are classified as such for a reason, after all. You’ll be able to hear success stories and thoughts on the latest trends, all information that will help you reach success in your own business.
5. Save time and minimize costs
Yes, really. Despite the aforementioned sticker shock associated with trade shows, consider the alternative. Researching, comparing, and connecting with various vendors all take time and money, just in smaller increments over a longer period of time. With trade shows, you’re able to walk the floor to get a quick snapshot of the latest and greatest out there – not to mention all of the suppliers are vying for your attention.
At Retention Science, we’re gearing up for the 2014 Shop.org Summit in Seattle, from September 29 – October 1. As we prepare our giveaways and product demos, we’re most excited about the opportunity to meet and speak with marketers in the retail industry. Come and visit us at booth #142 for your free Retention Marketing assessment!