Annual trade shows don’t have to end once their exhibit floors shut down. Now buyers and sellers can continue to interact and close deals long after the last exhibit booth is disassembled and vendor staff have headed out the exits.
That’s the trend behind digital marketplaces designed to complement physical exhibitions, and now there’s one coming to the nascent electronic cigarette industry.
When the World Vapor Expo, an annual exhibition of vendors that supply e-cigarette and related products and services, conducts its next event at the Miami Beach Convention Center in May, it will also kick off its first complementary digital marketplace at ShopGlobalVapor.com. Running on Internet-hosted software from Balluun, a provider of online trade show technology, ShopGlobalVapor will launch online just before the physical exhibition starts on May 29. It will then permanently remain accessible to online visitors, says Mark Evans Jr., co-founder of World Vapor Expo.
World Vapor Expo expects to have more than 130 exhibitors at its 2015 exhibition, according to WorldVaporExpo.com. On the new ShopGlobalVapor.com, buyers and sellers will be able to network online before the physical event to arrange in-person meetings and continue to interact and conduct purchase transactions online following the Miami Beach event. ShopGlobalVapor.com will run on Balluun 365 marketplace software from Balluun, which maintains offices in Zurich; Foster City, CA; and New York.
World Vapor Expo will earn revenue through ShopGlobaVapor in several ways: charging exhibitors and visitors subscription fees to access the site; selling exhibitors online ads that appear in the marketplace; charging exhibitors fees for premium services related to how they can display products and interact with customers; and charging a percentage of transaction value when online exhibitors complete online sales to customers. Neither World Vapor nor Balluun commented on the level of those percentages.
Balluun licenses its marketplace software to trade show organizers, and works with the organizers to sign on exhibitors under a software subscription model. The license fee for trade organizers is typically “in the thousands” and the subscription fees for exhibitors range from about $50 to $200 per user per month, depending on the level services exhibitors use in such areas as customer service and technical support, Balluun vice president of marketing Larry Chao says.
Balluun also operates digital marketplaces that complement physical events put on by Advanstar Communications Inc., which covers several industries including fashion apparel, automotive and health care; and the Toy Industry Association Inc.
In addition, Balluun operates a separate online directory of trade show events covering dozens of industries.
Balluun, which launched in 2012, raised $8.7 million in Series B funding last year from investors led by Finoris AG, bringing its total funding to $12.5 million.
Sign up for a free subscription to B2BecNews, a weekly newsletter that covers technology and business trends in the growing B2B e-commerce industry. B2BecNews is published by Vertical Web Media LLC, which also publishes the monthly trade magazine Internet Retailer.