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Online Trade Fairs – The Latest “HEY” Thing in Business Marketing & Sourcing

Posted by Viral Trivedi on January 20, 2009



Agreeing to the unusual & dissimilar natures of this blog journal and that of the post below, this piece of writing is very much poles apart to what this blog has ever contained or may have ever been expected to enclose. However, I did not really have any better place than here to store this editorial which evolved into itself whilst my recent research on the said subject, for the company I work with. And then anyways, I thought, “why not publicize it rather than just storing”; let the information spread. Let there be learning. I thank all the readers who would spend the value of their time in reading through the lengthy perspective below, which is my personal opinion on the subject matter. Selected text from within the article has been published in a textile magazine. Feedback as well as critical comments shall see a kind welcome (not sure of how far would I acknowledge the same, due to the lazy syndrome that I’m affected by.J) …..

Online expos have rapidly created a niche for themselves and have impressed the business world with their identity remarkably evolving as “the generation next expos”. Promising to hold a great deal of lasting success, online trade fairs are an end-to-end delivery of business right on the desktop. These virtual avatars of their traditional versions are almost as similar in terms of the overall objective-set, but are on the internet medium and do extend for quite a longer stretch of time in comparison; a lot cost effective too, along with the bunch of other benefits which we’ll look at later. Hence, besides serving independently by itself as an individual setup for specific product lines and services, online trade fairs unconventionally serve to enhance the virtual aspect of, or digitize the existing physical conferences, exhibitions, business networking events, and trade shows. Dramatically, these virtual models are fast becoming the vital elements of cost-effective branding & marketing so as to offer a sophisticated though unconventional mode for efficient marshalling of company products and services.

Trade fairs in general, are organized gatherings of buyers and sellers established precisely to create an environment where the two sides can meet and establish communication for furthering their business objectives. Bringing together a community in an industry, to reach out to specific target audiences from either fronts i.e. the supplier and buyer, in an existing region and across the globe, online exhibitions cast a thorough platform for suppliers to market their products and solutions in the virtual community and serves as an information resource for visitors. This breeds a virtual resource to serve as the exclusively consolidated location where there are virtual exhibitor store-fronts, and archival materials like product catalogues, company profiles and perhaps, white papers, case studies etc. With all these marketing and informative tools together with this highly interactive medium of online trade shows, exhibitors and visitors can communicate online, conduct business networking with prospects, achieve branding and marketing ambitions, and review current trends, innovations and latest products or ideas, respectively. Everything is done online.

Online Exhibitions prepare a smooth foreground for offline business activities too. That said, online trade fairs act as functional consultants for companies and also help achieve their pre-sales objectives by way of accomplishing lead maturity to a great extent; also, mostly, closing of deals as well take place directly at the events. In this e-age when everything is going virtual and getting online… perhaps, it would be a primitive strategy now, to solely depend on just the offline task management for commerce and trade. Or, if that statement finds a less valuable place in the agreement process for some readers, it would be better to call it this way then … it would indeed be a modernized approach or let’s say up-to-the-mark strategy, to lay equal dependence on virtual activities too, like that as the online trade fairs, just by the side of offline activities. Gone are the past times and in today’s new times, new strategies, new methods have emerged to add up to the olden classics. No doubts, offline exhibitions are still a vast-positive deal, and they will continue to be so. However, online exhibitions are the new faces of their same offline counterparts. This trend of online exhibitions has raved up with the adoption of more online practices to organize events with a lot of better features, procreating good amount of benefits on the go. Unlike the offline world, online medium has its drawbacks of lacking in physical interaction, which includes a handshake or meeting face to face and hugging, for that matter. But it is also true that the absence of the possibility to greet and meet in that manner doesn’t stop business. One would not mind the bargain if it’s really coming at such reasonable bag of benefits, after all. Incidentally, the online world only aims at offering an upgradation to its offline counterpart, primarily. And hence, there lives no argument between the both. Instead, there is a mutual alliance amongst, as logically observed. And so, online trade fairs and the offline fairs go hand in hand, without invading an inch of each other’s areas.

And then, online trade fairs or the virtual exhibitions are not just all about full-fledge trade events alone. There also is a different shape of it; it is, “offering support and pre-launch aid to the offline exhibitions’. Now with this different spread, there is a silver lining on the classification of online trade fairs. To further explain this, let us consider a common practice of the exhibition industry. Going a little back in time to when there were no online trade fairs, there used to be some shortcomings. Like for example, as commented by the President of Reed Exhibitions Asia Pacific, Paul Beh, in the Reed China Beijing Summit, “You won’t say a toilet is fine when many people are queuing for it” (Source: The metaphor is indicative of the long queuing of visitors that used to be seen at offline exhibitions some time ago. That has been handled now with the help of online exhibitions and perhaps, some other tactics too. Trade Fair organizers as well as exhibitors and visitors of the event have reached to a level of quality consciousness. They don’t want this long queuing to annoy the smooth functioning of the event and thereby hampering the business objectives to whatever little extent it may be. Queuing is also a waste of time. Subsequently, the online counterpart of these offline exhibitions is a nice bargain to organize things well before the launch of event, as practiced by the exhibition organizers. Online exhibitions also conveniently serve the pre-purpose of summing up the leads and hence estimate the number of prospective buyers likely to visit the event.

Well, sufficient talks have been done of the amount of boost and support that online events can help their offline equivalents gain. Now coming back to the original topic of discussion, let us touch upon the functioning and benefits of online trade fairs. Covering the very current stroke of the whole world, “RECESSION”, when all businesses are affected of jeopardy, it demands of extreme care and thoughtfulness on expenditures. In these times, when spending after business generation endeavors is a key concern and marketing budgets are critical, it becomes very important to plan investments wisely. When the times are tough today and companies have to closely watch their expenditures and take wiser decisions on business sourcing links, online trade fairs are becoming the most preferred medium. Online business fairs aka e-expos for sourcing and networking offer cost effectiveness, and are response driven along with the other value added provisions. On those lines, preliminary business payment outflows cannot be completely disregarded and has to be continued. But that outflow has to be done prudently. And so, investing into online business activities is more promising to secure profit margins by curbing the investments and keeping the earnings assured. Investment in terms of trust and economically cost effective amounts on virtual exhibitions would be a wise decision.

To understand briefly the entire process of what happens in case of online exhibitions, let us look at the take on proceedings. For an online exhibition catering to a specific industry sector, the organizers (like build an event website for the view of exhibitors and visitors. There, these two entities (exhibitors and visitors) who will participate in the event get to learn about the event info and other specifications. Exhibitors are invited for registration and payment. Exhibitors register and pay the amount to acquire their exhibition stalls. Organizers like fibre2fashion study exhibitors’ company profiles and product lines. On basis of lead maturity models, business matching is done instantly to scout for specific potential buyers for specific exhibitors. On launch of the event, buyers are invited to visit different exhibitors’ stalls and communicate. Ongoing, buyer profiles and enquiries are handled and recorded immaculately to distribute them evenly to matching suppliers from within the event exhibitors. Buyers are able to download supplier catalogues to study and contact them. Likewise, exhibitors are able to respond to buying enquiries ongoing as well as later. After continuing mutual communications online and then offline, the buyers and suppliers reach to the stage of productivity in the demand and supply order. At the end of the online fair, a comprehensive buyers’ and supplier’s guide is prepared to be distributed across the board of exhibitors and others for future business references. Thanks to online exhibitions.

One more thing, online exhibitions are all about generating business opportunities simply sitting on computers. In such an arrangement, one has the leverage of not even needing to leave offices especially during the difficult times when physical traveling has become costlier as well as risky. All that is required to be done is to understand how effectively online exhibitions can enable communication with potential customers and target an evenly larger audience that is central to one’s business. Be it branding or direct/indirect business sourcing and networking, online exhibitions offer virtual tools to add to or to substitute participation in offline exhibitions and can certainly help in the process of achieving business objectives; that, barring some businesses or products and services.

Earlier it used to be, or it may still be a worry for the offline trade show organizers that their online counterparts, the virtual exhibitions might completely substitute the former models. However, people’s understanding about it is changing and now online expos have clearly begun to be viewed as supplements or complements to the live physical events. Conceptually, both are alike. They are gatherings of buyers and sellers. Today, when the global meltdown is a major knock on the world business, an era of worry has been launched, when exhibitors and visitors appear to be less interested in devoting as much time and money. Hence, the stand of online exhibitions has ever more become practicable. After all, “returns” is what matters. And with virtual trade shows, the returns are sure shot to mobilize more mileage in terms of greater lead generation capacity, bigger global reach, and extensively longer duration. All of this, at an even lesser comparative cost, attached therewith a bunch of many more beneficial features. With internet being the medium here, the capacity to draw greater number of audiences which again is target specific, increases promisingly. A maximum of online exhibitions offer a replica of the offline exhibit floor just like at the offline trade shows. However, depending on the style of organizer and demand of the nature of industry sector, there are also simple forms of virtual exhibitions with the most simplistic company listings, product images, videos, and chat interface to extra sophisticated ones embracing people icons and even meeting rooms.

For example, my employer, (whom I highly respect and think highly of), which is the world’s largest online B2B vertical, hosts online expos for its clients from various sectors from within the textile-apparel-fashion and allied industries. Fibre2fashion has kept the format of their virtual expos as simple as possible owing to the less hi-fi requisitions of that industry and its clients. Fibre2fashion offers a host of various other products and services and has recently begun with the online exhibition concept. In fibre2fashion’s online supplements, there is an online environment, just a replica of the physical trade shows, which goes online and stays online for the specified period of time, a month or more. Creating a niche for like-natured exhibitors and visitors to come on board and do business, these online expos run 24/7, letting them to connect with several others for mutual business goals without travel, extraditing the geographical constraints to exchange valuable information, etc. Celebrated as one of the most promising tools for generation of a quantum of qualified leads, these virtual trade fairs offer the required platform for business entities to come together in attendance from their individual desktops, to view online product presentations, chat and raise enquiries, and arrange for further meets or directly finalize business deals.

Moreover, trade expos on the internet also let entry to exhibitors with limitations of funds and/or locomotion. They could also offer to let participate willing exhibitors in the event if they could never participate in similar live events due to xyz reasons including natural, business, or geographical reasons. Online exhibitions are booming with the response as received from suppliers as well as buyers. However, one important point to be carefully understood is that these virtual models of their physical counterparts are not a competitive threat, but are just coming up as to provide a choice for what type of environment do the participants want, to display and view products, to attend or exhibit, given the positive and convenient factors against their existing limitations. Virtual exhibitions are not jeopardy but an appendage to the offline trade fairs in progressing towards enabling global business ambitions; they are the modern marketing vehicles to suit to the changing appetite of the business world, today. Without a doubt, online exhibitions are the new age cinematic representations parallel to their offline versions. As well, these “generation next expos” have gone forward to a point where anything and everything that can be done in a regular traditional trade fair can be done at the online floor.



7 Responses to “Online Trade Fairs – The Latest “HEY” Thing in Business Marketing & Sourcing”

  1. Ben Waugh said

    I’ve been reading along for a while now. I just wanted to drop you a comment to say keep up the good work.

  2. […] Online Trade Fairs – The Latest “HEY” Thing in Business Marketing … […]

  3. Viral,

    One very good and important information about the net business and net trade, covering the important aspect of non-movement of physical or geographical of the traders and buyers to accomplish their targets. The new concept, I hope, may be very well accepted among the present day scenario. And now we can say that the world is very small. Thanks to the modern technologies.

    God Bless.

  4. Sahaj said

    This was totally awesome. Good Read. Keep writing.


  5. Nikhil said

    Prose? On your blog? 😀
    Who are you and what have you done with Shiwani?? 😀

  6. shiwuz said

    @Nikhil: a little bit of variety always helps, who’d agree more than you ?! 🙂

  7. shiwuz said

    @ Ben and Sahaj: Thanks on behalf of the author of the article… you can also visit him @ … he has done some amazing work there, so make sure u still stay loyal to my blog after visiting his 😀

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