Tradeshows: Can You Afford Not to Attend?

As e-commerce entrepreneurs we’re faced with a myriad of ways to hustle, and we do. Yet with over 10,000 trade shows in the US per year, we simply can no longer afford to ignore these market inroads. Today’s trade shows not only offer invaluable sourcing and networking opportunities, but the scope for self-education as well. As organizers vie for prospective exhibitors’ attention, offering up guest speakers and practical workshops, we capitalize by building on our knowledge base all the while setting ourselves in the right market space.

Is Attending a Trade Show Really Worth Your Valuable Time?

Whether you’re new to Amazon FBA or an advanced seller, today’s trade shows can offer you much more return for your time and effort than they did in the past. With changing business models, the market is growing exponentially. It can now totally take all of your time to spot the latest trends, and then even longer to actually calculate those that are worth pursuing. Attending industry trade shows like Think Global Retail and AWS re:Invent (both Las Vegas), or eTail (Boston and Palm Desert) not only gives you the chance to educate yourself, but to network and build relationships with fellow ecommerce merchants, firmly establishing yourself in the game.

Connect With New Suppliers

Trade shows are not only a great way to network with your peers, they’re also invaluable opportunities to shake the hands of potential suppliers and those with the right product source for your business – both domestically and internationally.

The US government’s Foreign Agricultural Service and International Buyer Program – keen to boost exports and strengthen our reach to potential customers – sponsor international buyers, sales representatives, and business owners attendance at our domestic trade shows. You can chose from The International Consumer Electronics Show (Las Vegas), International Production and Processing Expo (Atlanta), DistribuTECH (Orlando), Natural Products Expo West (Anaheim), International Home and Housewares Show (Chicago), The International Plastics Showcase (Orlando), Summer Fancy Food Show (New York), Winter Fancy Food Show (San Francisco), Outdoor Retailer Summer Market (Salt Lake City), Gulf States Horticultural Expo (Alabama) Petfood Forum (Kansas City), National Fiery Foods & Barbecue Show (Albuquerque), Natural Products Expo East (Baltimore), World Dairy Expo (Madison), Food & Nutrition Conference & Expo (Nashville), Kosherfest (Secaucus), and the Private Label Trade Show (Chicago) – just to name a few – and connect directly with the international commodities market and suppliers.

How to narrow down which shows to attend? Read the exhibitors list and select which show is right for you and your customers.

Optimize Your ROI

We all know the saying “time is money” therefore, if we’re going to put in the time and the money to attend trade shows, we want maximum ROI. Firstly pre-register, as you don’t want to miss out, and secondly you’ll get your ticket sent in the mail and save time in queues. Trade shows like ASDMarket Week (Las Vegas), and Game Developers Conference (San Francisco) may offer several hundred dollars off their full ticket prices for pre-registration. Alternatively, if you know someone who is exhibiting, they may have a spare (free) ticket.

Alternatively be on the look out for discount coupons, accommodation packages, or if just starting out, consider volunteering at the show to hustle a full or partial rebate off the ticket fee, and get in with the stall holders on the ground.

Connect With Buyers and The Industry in Their Space

To gain an understanding of your market and keep up with the multitude of overwhelming changes in the field, tradeshows are one way to remain ahead of your competition and aware of what’s new.  Tradeshows allow you to go exactly where your market is when they’re ready to do business.

For example, the American Booksellers Association (ABA) is exhibiting at all eight 2015 autumn regional trade shows of the regional booksellers associations, and typically presenting educational sessions at each. Also, The National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) is a not-for-profit association that puts on one of the world’s largest music product trade shows, the National Association of Music Merchants Show (Anaheim). The American Society of Association Executive’s Springtime Expo is the meeting industry show, not only covering destination and venues exhibitors, but meeting suppliers, transportation and marketing exhibitors as well.

Association exhibitors are reportedly welcoming ecommerce into their space, and to those who have taken the opportunity to meet them face-to-face, they’ve offered up all sorts of labeling and shipping arrangements of benefit to the reseller. This is where you need to be! 

Also, take the opportunity to attend the many keynote and breakout sessions that run outside of the mainstream programs. It’s here you’ll meet your market and customers, and can learn from experts in the field while gaining an insight into the everyday practices that are important to them. The Minnesota Telecom Alliance Convention and Trade Show, the International Master Gardener Conference (Portland), and the Cascadia Educational Conference (Ground Mound WA), all recognize the importance of these sessions for their time poor exhibitors.

So if you’re ready to really stand out from the crowd, to get that deeper level of industry understanding that will set your store apart from the noise, then do your research and hit the right trade show circuit.

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