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Why trade shows are valuable for new online-only retailers

Written by Spencer Durrant on November 24, 2015 in Strategies & Tips

11740419464_1d7ecdf4e5_b.jpgTrade shows are hugely important in the retail world, and owners of brick-and-mortar stores know how much valuable insight can be gained by attending these shows. 

But do trade shows hold the same value for new online-only retailers as they do for those running a physical store, or even experienced online retailers? 

The short answer is yes, but let's take a look at a few specific reasons why trade shows are valuable for new online-only retailers. 

See the product in person

The most obvious upside to going to a trade show is that you'll be able to see the products you're selling in person. You can evaluate the quality, and might even find another supplier at the trade show with better pricing on the same product. For a new online retailer, knowing your products inside and out will be key to helping you sell them to customers. After all, how can you convince customers to buy a product that you don't really believe in yourself? 

Meet suppliers 

A huge part of being successful as an online-only retailer is having good relationships with your suppliers. When you're new to the retail world, you won't have a reputation to fall back on - you have to create one for yourself. By attending trade shows, you can meet suppliers face-to-face, establish good working relationships with them, and prove that you're serious about being in the retail business. And who knows? Meeting the right suppliers and creating a good relationships with them may even enable you to get better pricing deals, or access to newer products. Either way, this is another important aspect of the online-only retail business that new retailers need to be aware of. 

Learn what's trending

Another important aspect of attending trade shows is the insight you'll gain into product trends. As any retailer who's been in the business for very long can tell you, getting firsthand insight into trending products is invaluable. It allows you to provide customers with products they want before the market becomes saturated. That, in turn, can help make your store seem more valuable and "ahead of the curve," which is something that customers value tremendously. 

Get new product inspiration

You may think that you have your product line all figured out and are an expert in your niche. But when you visit a trade show, you may find inspiration for new products to add to your store. Your product assortment is something that should constantly be growing and updating to meet the demands of your customer base. A trade show can help you find new products that fit right in your niche, and hopefully resonate with your customers. 


There are a lot of reasons for new online-only retailers to visit trade shows, but regardless of what you may have heard, they provide a lot of unique value. From finding trending products to new products, there's a lot to learn for new retailers by attending niche-specific trade shows.


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Photo courtesy Intel Free Press.

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