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Tradeshows: Go virtual or wait for a physical one?



Tradeshows (a.k.a Roadshows or Line Presentations) are an integral part of every fashion brand’s sales strategy. As the world is struggling with COVID-19, the apparel industry is one of the most hit industries in this pandemic. While recent opening of market and industries did give an hope to apparel brands, it is still a tough decision to organize physical tradeshows. In such dilemma, one strategy can be to organize a virtual tradeshow to take orders. Lets compare benefits and drawbacks in both physical and virtual tradeshows.

Benefits of Virtual Tradeshow

1. Cost

While physical tradeshows involves a lot of organizing cost, virtual tradeshow can be organized in a fraction of cost. This makes sense to organize a virtual one now given the uncertainty of things returning back to normal soon. This will help in better production planning for the next season.

2. Flexibility

Virtual Tradeshows can be stretched a number of days and can be scheduled in different time frame for different retailers. In the current scenario, this flexibility can increase chances of more interaction between brand team and retail partners. This also help retail partners to mitigate the risk of COVID infection during travel.

3. Speed

With COVID taking almost 5 months of every one, preparation time for physical tradeshows is considerably less this time. Also, the competition has started taking orders from retailers. Virtual Tradeshows also provide edge here in preparation time. Apart from Product Line samples and its photoshoot, the rest preparations can be done digitally in a much speedy format. A typical virtual tradeshow takes less than 10 days to go live.

4. Ease of Booking

With limited time in physical tradeshows, retail partners were having less time to do proper analysis of their needs. This results in buying out inventory which remained unsold in their region resulting in loss for the brand to liquidate it by facilitate heavy discounts. Now with ample time of booking along with a wider range of data at their screens, retail partners can take more accurate decisions than physical tradeshows.

Drawbacks of Virtual Tradeshow

1. Unable to Experience Fabric

It is imperative that physical touch of fabrics can’t be provided on digital screens. Though brands are finding ways to navigate around this like shipping swatches to retail partners. Also, by providing high-def images and 360 degree views in Virtual Tradeshow, brands try to mitigate this challenge and able to provide a near real world experience when it comes to product.

2. Lack of Charisma

Physical tradeshows do provide a charisma which online platforms can’t match. Due to this physical tradeshows may result in marginal higher sales but this issue is less of a concern in COVID era where people are reluctant to visit crowded places and safety is foremost concern. Moreover, Virtual Tradeshows are trying to mitigate this too by providing video flows at every level so that retail partners can feel connected throughout their booking journey along with the options present in virtual tradeshow platforms to contact brand’s product or sales team live via video call.

Thus, we feel even if Virtual Tradeshow can’t replicate the feel of physical one, just waiting to conduct a physical tradeshow won’t solve the problem at hand. Also, the technology has made it possible for a virtual tradeshow be a much more intuitive and immersive one rather than a plain e-commerce portal.

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