TradeScope has staged a number of online trade shows in the last 4 months. Some of the participants claim that the format is better than a standard trade show. They are certainly more cost-effective and less time-consuming for all concerned.
The TradeScope format is straightforward. Our North American producers create company profiles which are are made visible to our European buyers, either as an e-mailed document or on a password-accessed website. Our buyers can then choose which producers they wish to meet with, and virtual meetings are scheduled accordingly. Obviously, some buyers may favour certain producers, and some producers may secure less interest and meetings. To counter that, TradeScope forewarns its buyers that an extra meeting or two will be added to their preferences, thereby levelling out demand across producers.
Product samples make our virtual format even stronger. For instance, matchmaking improves markedly when European companies receive samples three weeks before the event, and make their choices according to whichever products they like.
Brexit hurdles can be overcome
Brexit has put a spanner in the works of moving products to the EU from the UK. Many EU countries have erected customs hurdles for products coming from the UK, including free samples. If repacking and trans-shipment to EU destinations is part of the equation, then UK buyers should set up an EU base. TradeScope utilises its German office for this type of operation.
We think this virtual format could replace in-person and trade fair meetings for some time to come. Fingers crossed, trade shows will be back in action by the autumn of 2021. However, TradeScope is not putting all its clients' eggs in that basket just yet – through recent experience, we're confident that we have the expertise to yield excellent results from the virtual format. In fact, we think some combination of the virtual and trade show formats will be the 'new normal' for the foreseeable future.