How eCommerce businesses can use trade shows, events, and pop-ups to sell offline

As an eCommerce brand owner, retailer, or wholesaler, you have done all of the hard SEO work, spent a sizable chunk of your marketing budget on PPC (paid per click) advertising - in short, you’ve become an expert at selling online. While selling online is definitely the future of retail and wholesale, remember offline channels can be just as valuable - especially, trade shows, events and pop-up shops.

From finding new customers to checking in with existing ones, offline events can help you move into previously untapped markets, increase brand awareness and become a touchpoint for your business to online customers. Offline events help you create “real world” connections to your business and brand.

With all these benefits, what are some of the best options for selling offline? Here are 3 potentially successful options.

1. Trade shows

Whatever type of products or services your company provides, there is a strong likelihood that some form of trade show relevant to your brand will be going on somewhere. Apart from calculating the costs of attending a specific show against the projected benefits to your business, location is always going to be a key consideration. This is a quandary that numerous online business marketing teams are faced with because, by their very nature, many eCommerce based companies have potentially global markets to service.

Unless your operation is in the unique position of supplying a local market, you should be eying up trade shows that expose your business and brand to the widest possible audience.

If you are dealing in wholesale, then trade shows should be a no-brainer, because they are the places where your retailers are going to be looking for the products that they need, at the prices they want to pay.

2. Events

For online businesses that are looking for an uncomplicated, cost-effective, and high impact way to meet existing and potential clients in the offline world, creating an event or joining an existing one can be an ideal solution.

Whether you are prepared to take the reins and organize your own event or piggy-back onto one that another business is organizing, there is plenty to be gained. While it may be tempting to go into an event looking to recoup your costs or even turn a profit, the benefits of this type of marketing are not always instantly measurable. You may get some immediate contacts, events can be more about brand awareness and long term influence.

One of the biggest benefits that an event can provide to your online business is through partnering with another company that already has a strong and loyal brand following. Through acquiring space at event such as these, you will position your company directly in the face of “ready to order” clients.

3. Pop-up shops

From sole proprietors to eCommerce giants such as eBay, companies of all sizes can and have benefited from pop-ups. The strength in their success probably lies in the fact that they do exactly what their description alludes to; they “pop-up”. Empty shops and other short-term unoccupied retail spaces are utilized to market one or more business, often between long-term lease contracts or prior to upcoming property refurbishments.

pop up shops and other offline events

Pop-up shops are short term commitments that can help you test new products, a new look, or a new market. Because of this short time period, you can easily make decisions and re-evaluate your strategy based on instant results.

To pop or not?

It may work for eBay and others; will it work for you though? The thing about pop-up shops is that they target the high street, and that is primarily a retail market. However, not all venues of this type are focused on shops in the traditional sense of the word.

A pop-up could be located virtually anywhere that your potential customers are likely to visit. For example, a jewelry shop could pop up at a seasonal market, or a clothing retailer at a yoga studio usually has visits from your target audience.

From a stand or concession area within a related business to the last minute cancellation at an existing trade event or trade show, you can adopt a responsive and flexible attitude towards your offline marketing. To make a pop-up shop really successful for your brand, make sure that even though your location is temporary, your impression on customers is definitely not.

Fashion retailer Grana gave one major piece of advice from their pop-up shop experience in Singapore:

“We stay true to our brand bible and make sure that the pop-up isn’t all just about the products, but speaks authentically about our values (value-consciousness) and an appreciation for quality. Pop-ups give us a chance to create lasting impressions with our customers. - Grana

Taking the advantage

The hard reality is that wherever your business is missing out on sales and enhanced brand awareness opportunities, you can guarantee that your competitors will be more than happy to help themselves by picking up the slack.

Businesses in any industry, especially wholesalers and brand owners, can benefit to some degree from offline sales, by applying some or all of the tried and tested mediums described above.  

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See Also: 

Best tips for training, managing and motivating wholesale sales teams

5 things to consider when expanding your wholesale distribution business

How batch tracking can lessen the impact of product recalls