eCommerce trade shows like InternetRetailing Expo (IRX) are a rare opportunity to hear from and network with experts from across the digital retail industry. Attendees can supercharge their marketing strategy by learning from peers, sourcing new technologies, and getting up to speed on the latest trends.
With the range of digital marketing technologies expanding to include multichannel personalization, artificial intelligence (AI), and real-time data tools, there’s a lot to take in!
Here are our tips to get the most value out of your time at exhibitions:
Before the event
1. Define your goals
With so many opportunities to learn, it’s easy to get carried away – so it’s important to define your objectives.
If there’s a specific business objective you need to fulfil – whether that’s streamlining your mobile experience, or deepening your personalization strategy – earmark the products and services that could help you meet that goal. Consider attending expert workshops and clinics to get a more thorough understanding of the available technologies.
If your aim is to weigh up your ecommerce strategy against industry best practice, prioritize educational sessions and networking to find out how your peers are achieving success.
If you simply want to stay abreast of the latest trends and make sure you aren’t missing any tricks, focus on speaker events and technology showcases.
2. Work out what you need to know
You’re likely to come across a huge variety of product and service offerings, all with their own specialities and features. It’s easy to get carried away by details that may not be relevant to your objectives. By showing up with a set list of questions based on your specific needs, you can weigh up different providers side by side.
3. Do your research
Armed with your objectives and standard questions, you can start to plan your time at the exhibition. Don’t be put off by long lists of exhibitors: most events will allow you to sort vendors by their product or service offering.
Once you know your goals, you can start to research who is exhibiting and decide who you want to talk to. Sign up to the event’s newsletter, and do your research on vendors’ websites to find out what they’ll be bringing to the show.
4. Book meetings in advance
Get the most out of your conversations by booking key meetings with exhibitors ahead of time. This allows both parties to come prepared and get the most out of the conversation. Exhibitors want to personalize their conversations to help you collect the most relevant and valuable information for your needs. If you’re attending a big expo with multiple halls, take a look at exhibitors’ stand numbers and try not to book successive meetings far apart.
5. Set aside time for learning
Trade shows are an opportunity to hear from industry experts, top technology providers, and peers, all in one place. If your aim is to get up to speed on the latest trends, check the show’s website in advance and make a note of any educational talks or workshops you want to attend. Prioritize sessions which will help you meet your business or personal goals. Check times in advance to allow you to plan the rest of your day.
6. Plan your time
Even if you don’t plan on booking meetings, a schedule will allow you to effectively manage your priorities, so you don’t miss out on seeing important exhibitors or education sessions. Note the exhibitors you absolutely must see, and keep a longlist of stands to visit if you have enough time.
Try to front-load your most important meetings early in the show, when you’re feeling fresh - especially if you’ll be attending more than one day.
At the show
7. Make notes!
It’s easy to get swept up in valuable conversations without stopping to note your findings. But taking brief notes – whether on paper, a smartphone or tablet – will help you get more value out of conversations and compare vendors side by side at the end of the day. Photos and videos are also great tools to refresh your memory of things you didn’t manage to capture in your notes.
8. Don’t let networking turn into small talk
Trade shows are the perfect opportunity to build relationships with peers and experts in the retail industry. But remember to stay focused on your goals and avoid getting bogged down in small talk. Don’t forget to exchange business cards and connect via LinkedIn so you can stay up to date long after the show has finished.
9. Set aside time to go off-piste
Dedicate some time to wandering, and talk to exhibitors you don't have on your radar. Some of the most valuable conversations come from the unexpected sources. And you may come across a new technology, company or partner that could help you in a way you hadn’t expected.
After the event
10. You aren’t done yet!
You’ll finish the day with plenty of notes, photos, and business cards. It’s a good idea to organize and type up your findings while you still remember what happened. Over the next few days, take the time to connect with people you met on LinkedIn - or follow up via email if appropriate - while the meeting is fresh in everyone’s mind.
Attending IRX 2019? Book a consultation with Fresh Relevance to enhance your cross-channel personalization strategy: