With questions surrounding the feasibility of physical trade shows scheduled for the fall, events company Informa Markets is teaming up with ecommerce technology provider NuOrder to launch a digital show this fall for the fashion apparel industry.

Trade show company Informa Markets and ecommerce technology provider NuOrder are teaming up for a digital trade show for the fashion apparel industry starting Sept. 1.

We believe that the future of fashion wholesale is a synergy of physical and digital shows.
Nancy Walsh, president
Informa Markets Fashion
NancyWalsh-InformaMarkets-Fashion

Nancy Walsh, president, Informa Markets Fashion

The digital trade show will run for eight weeks through Oct. 31. Informa Markets and NuOrder say they are launching the show as a way to attract new attendees and cement existing relationships with sellers and buyers at a time when industry-wide events are being canceled or postponed by the coronavirus pandemic.

Marketing to exhibitors began this week and will be expanded to potential attendees the week of June 22, says Nancy Walsh, president of Informa Markets Fashion. Marketing channels used to promote the show will include email, social media, the internet, and telemarketing, Walsh says.

2,000 brands, 500,000 retailers

NuOrder, a provider of a wholesale ecommerce platform, has a network of 2,000 premium brands and 500,000 retailers, many of whom are likely to attend the digital event.

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Informa operates and creates content for more than 450 international B2B events and brands in markets including Fashion & Apparel, Healthcare & Pharmaceuticals, Infrastructure, Construction & Real Estate, Hospitality, Food & Beverage, and Health & Nutrition. Its branded shows include Magic, Coterie, Project and Project Women’s. Informa and NuOrder announced their partnership in May.

The digital trade show will include custom digital catalogs for vendors, line sheets, in-platform ordering and a 360-degree Virtual Showroom experience to enable vendors to tell their brand story and virtually present new collections. Buyers will be able to access the show at no cost and vendors will pay a fee of a few thousand dollars, says Heath Wells, co-founder and co-CEO of NuOrder.

Looking toward a synergy of digital and traditional

“We wanted a partner that could better enable brands and retailers to come together outside the traditional show environment,” says Walsh, who joined Informa earlier this year from Reed Exhibitions North America where she served as president. “While this is not a replacement for an actual show—fashion, in particular, is a very tactile business and buyers want to feel fabrics in their own hands and see colors with their own eyes—we also believe that the future of fashion wholesale is a synergy of physical and digital (environments).”

HeathWells-NuOrder

Heath Wells, co-founder and co-CEO, NuOrder

Vendors can upload their catalog to NuOrder’s platform, which attendees can then browse on preview pages. Retailers looking to take a deeper dive into a vendor’s catalog must register with the vendor. Registration is intended to vet retailers before entering a vendor’s virtual showroom to ensure retailers are viewing relevant products,  Wells says.

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The registration process includes answering a series of questions that identify the retailer and their business, and what categories of apparel they sell. Retailers accepted by the vendor can view the vendor’s entire catalog and order online Vendors will be able to offer the same payment options and terms, such as negotiated pricing, volume discounts and credit terms, as they do for purchases made on their ecommerce site.

“Negotiated pricing, etc. will be baked into the platform,” says Wells. “Sellers will be able to offer the same payment options they normally do.”

Tracking buyers’ browsing patterns

NuOrder will track buyer browsing patterns and pages views on its platform to enhance the buyer experience during its virtual trade shows by suggesting relevant items based on a buyer’s onsite behavior patterns, Wells says

While plans for future digital trade shows are in the works, Walsh says Informa does not have a clear picture yet whether its physical shows scheduled for later in the year can be held as scheduled or will be moved to a later date. Informa has already pushed back the dates of its Magic trade show in Las Vegas from mid-August to the end of September. The semi-annual show is a flagship event for Informa.

“Right now, some of our physical shows for later in the year are up in the air,” says Walsh says, who adds the company is in communication with officials from the Center for Disease control about how to proceed with staging actual shows.

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Walsh notes that retailer sentiment for attending trade shows in person remains relatively strong, citing a survey of retailers in which 50% of respondents expressed interest in attending an actual show.

Looking ahead, Wells and Walsh agree that while digital trade shows will become a permanent part of the B2B landscape and that there may even be year-round digital marketplaces, physical trade shows will remain long-term as buyers will still want to meet at industry events in person.

“We see (digital shows) as an important next step in the evolution of our business, and the fashion industry as a whole,” Walsh says. “Digital shows are part of an omnichannel strategy for vendors and retailers.”

Peter Lucas is a Highland Park, Illinois-based freelance journalist covering business and technology.  

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