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Digital Marketplaces Could Solve a Huge Problem For Wholesale Buyers at Live Trade Shows
Could Solve a Huge Problem
for Wholesale Buyers at Live
Brought to you by: EventTechBrief.com
Wholesale buyers -
Particularly those in the
gift, home goods, furniture,
and apparel industries -
have a huge pain point.
At times, it can be excruciatingly tedious for them to search a large exhibition floor for
products and companies that meet their specific buying criteria. Product directories are
only marginally helpful and pre-show Google searches yield poor results.
By borrowing from the ecommerce
playbook, trade show organizers and a
handful of platform developers are
coming to the rescue.
Dan Merns was one of the buyers who wrestled with
the inefficiencies of large trade shows.
As a buyer for retail giant Bed, Bath & Beyond, he
struggled with having enough time to find new
products when much of his show schedule was taken
up by pre-arranged meetings.
Plus, he often wanted to simply research a new
product or category to get some basic information
prior to having a conversation with a salesperson,
but the tools were not available.
To provide attendees with a
way to research products
efficiently before a trade
show or instantly qualify
exhibitors from the show
floor, Merns developed
a white-label digital
marketplace designed to
Buyers with access to MerchantFuse can
Search & Filter Products
and follow exhibitors
The platform can also be ecommerce enabled
if the show organizer desires that capability.
They can also sell advertising or
collect transaction fees. Exhibitors
can enjoy additional exposure
while avoiding the hassle of
recreating another online store.
MerchantFuse synchronizes with
exhibitors’ existing ecommerce
Buyers aren’t the only participants
who benefit from event-specific
digital marketplaces. With
MerchantFuse, for example,
organizers can access data and
analytics, such as trending
products or search terms.
Advanstar’s digital marketplace, ShopTheFloor, combines brands and products
from fifteen of the organization’s apparel shows. Vince Tsai, senior vice president,
general manager of ShopTheFloor, agrees that such platforms offer multiple
benefits to buyers and brands.
“Buyers have a lot to think about. We felt there was an
opportunity to aggregate [product discovery and wholesale
buying] into an online platform. And, if a buyer can’t make it
to the show, he can still see the trends online.”
ShopTheFloor is one half of a two-part technology strategy that Advanstar has
developed to streamline and digitize the wholesale buying process. An iOS order-
taking app works in conjunction with the digital marketplace. It provides exhibitors
with the ability to take orders digitally so that they can be entered more easily into
the company’s ERP (enterprise resource planning) system later or to enter orders
directly into the ERP from the show floor.
- Vince Tsai, ShopTheFloor
Both MerchantFuse and Advanstar have thought
carefully about how product discovery happens
both in real life and online. In an effort to ease the
pain and boost the opportunity at wholesale
merchandise trade shows, the companies are
developing ways to swap the inefficiency of one
platform for the efficiency of the other without
destroying the value and integrity of either.
Tsai has no concerns that ShopTheFloor and other marketplaces that follow
will negatively impact the company’s live events. “ShopTheFloor enhances the
live shows. It’s a great opportunity [for buyers] to find new products online so
that when they come to the show, they can be more efficient,” he explains. For
exhibitors, he says, “It’s an opportunity for them to get their products exposed
to new buyers and have the ability to digitize the buying process.”
Digital event marketplaces appear to be the next chapter in the
ever-evolving story of how and where live events and digital
platforms can coexist and converge.
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