How will digital transform trade shows?
The National Retail Federation (NRF) and Shoptalk are among the many organizations that have seemingly recreated their trade shows overnight as virtual events.
NRF is moving its in-person 2021 Big Show in New York City to early June and instead hosting a virtual event on January 12-14, 19 and 21-22.
The January event promises “robust content combined with a digital exposition,” but offered no further details. This week, from July 20 to 22, NRF will host NRF NXT ALL ACCESS, a free virtual version of its digital retailing conference that used to be called Shop.org. The event’s landing page promises “nine keynote and case study sessions, a virtual Expo with the latest tech solutions and numerous ways to connect with peers and partners through our online platform.”
In mid-June, Shoptalk cancelled its September in-person event in Las Vegas to launch Shoptalk’s Retail Meetup, an online-only event in October that marks a shift away from speaker presentations.
Aided by proprietary technology, workflows, scheduling algorithms and integrated interactive video capabilities, attendees will be able to participate in up to 36 mostly 15-minute one-to-one and group video meetings and conversations as well as gain unlimited post-event introductions for unscheduled meetings. With a 4 hour and 15 minute session each day, the event promises access to more than 20,000 virtual meetings in a total running time of less than 13 hours.
Numerous other experimental approaches are being launched.
Informa is replacing its in-person shows, including MAGIC, Project and Coterie, with an online program running throughout September and October. The company said in a statement, “With a full eight-week run time, retail buyers will be able to leisurely explore a full library of shoppable editorials and engaging educational content, from tastemaker-curated roundups and retail discovery sessions to timely industry insights.”
In-person events are expected to fully return once restrictions on large gatherings and travel ends, but hybrid online/digital approaches are expected to continue.
“The event industry is 10 years behind the retail industry in terms of digitization,” Anil Aggarwal, Shoptalk’s founder, told Retail Leader. “The future for events will be omnichannel as the retail industry knows well.”
- NRF announces new format, theme and timing for NRF 2021: Retail’s Big Show – National Retail Federation
- About NRF NXT ALL ACCESS
- Shoptalk Launches “Shoptalk’s Retail Meetup” As Retail Industry’s First Digitally Native Event, To Be Held Online On Tuesday-Thursday, October 20-22, 2020 – Shoptalk/PRNewswire
- Digital Innovation Leads as MAGIC Cancels Live Event in Las Vegas and Powers Forward with Comprehensive Digital Trade Event Launch – Informa Markets Fashion
- Shoptalk Re-Imagines the Future of Retail Events, Again – Retail Leader
- Leaders from FFANY, Micam Americas and Atlanta Shoe Market on the Reality of Trade Shows in 2020 – Footwear News
- Will Business Travelers Still Flock To Trade Shows And Conventions Despite COVID-19? – Forbes
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Which parts of the traditional trade show (i.e., discovery, one-on-one engagement, networking, educational content) may benefit from a greater online component? What will be clearly missing from digital events?