With eBay Live gone and the smaller eBay On Location events far from taking its place, we wondered what remaining e-commerce tradeshows and events are the most value to online merchants. To find out, we spoke to prominent merchants and drew from our own travels to industry events.
eBay Radio Party & Conference
In fact, nearly everyone we spoke with recommends this event. Debbie Levitt, CEO of eBay consulting firm As Was, says it’s the only event she plans to attend this year. Between 150 to 200 eBay sellers, “who are true fans of the eBay Radio Show,” attended last year’s event, according to e-commerce guru John Lawson.
The site describes the event as “two full days of learning to grow and improve your business on eBay— especially how to earn and maintain Top-rated Seller status. Your favorite eBay experts, authors, and ecommerce gurus— with fresh new topics to educate and inspire you… plus networking… fun… and your chance to be on the radio—with live broadcasts both days—reunite with old friends, and make new ones at our seller-to-seller conference.”
Stephanie Inge, founder of the Dallas eBaybes & eMales group describes the event as very educational and intimate.You’re bound to find this a cost-effective event, as long as you stay away from the slot machines
“They have a handful of vendors to provide information and demonstrations for some of eBay’s third-party solutions,” she notes. “I really enjoy the laid back atmosphere, and the more intimate setting that lends itself to getting to know other eBay sellers.”
That captivating couple from eBay Radio—Griff and Lee—help host the event. This year, the conference returns to Las Vegas’ Flamingo Hotel, June 20 to June 21, and registration is a bargain at just $75. Even a hotel room at the Flamingo is inexpensive: $85 per night. You’re bound to find this a cost-effective event, as long as you stay away from the slot machines!
Internet Retailer Conference and Exhibition
If you’re seeking an event that provides abundant learning opportunities along with the chance to meet with hundreds of vendors, the Internet Retailer Conference and Exhibition, held annually in Chicago, seems your best bet. It provides a smorgasbord of information, according to Lawson.
This year, it will be “by far the world’s largest e-commerce event,” according to Internet Retailer. More than 7,500 “e-retailing executives” are expected to attend, while the 250,000-square-foot exhibit hall will host 570 companies. Speakers will address the following topics and more:
- Social media
- Mobile commerce
- Web merchandising
- Improving back-end operations
- Boosting conversions and profitability
“I only go to one tradeshow, and that is ASD,” says Cynthia Lizana of TexCynGoods. Certainly for sourcing opportunities, the ASD show (formerly known as ASD/AMD) can’t be beat. It’s held at both Las Vegas and New York locations.
ASD describes itself as a 50-year-old consumer tradeshow. It represents the combination of two organizations that banded together to create “a tradeshow and product expo group for the general merchandise market.”
ASD’s site notes that the Las Vegas event showcases more than 2,800 vendors. We’ve been there, and we can tell you the ocean of vendors exhibiting is vast and impressive. You’ll find vendors exhibiting in the following merchandise categories:
- Gift & Home
- Fashion Accessories
- Health & Beauty
- Toys & Novelties
- Closeouts & Liquidation
The largest and best known of the two ASD events is ASD Las Vegas, which this year will be held March 25 to March 28 at the Las Vegas Convention Center. ASD New York will be held Sept. 9 to Sept. 11 at the Jacob Javits Convention Center. There is no cost to attend either show if you’re a qualified merchant (be prepared to show “business identification”).
Channel Advisor Catalyst ConferenceIf it’s true, as Lawson says, that you ‘become who you hang out with,’ then SMBs may want to attend this event to see what their larger counterparts can teach them
Several merchants recommended the ChannelAdvisor Catalyst Conference, which will be held in Las Vegas this year. We’ll mention straight out that the price point ($599 for retailers) may make the show too pricey for many merchants.
What is ChannelAdvisor Catalyst? First let’s discuss the host, ChannelAdvisor, in case you’re unfamiliar with the company.
ChannelAdvisor provides e-commerce software and technology solutions to merchants selling on a variety of platforms. The company tends to cater to larger merchants moving a lot of inventory. The annual Catalyst event “brings together some of the most innovative minds in the industry—industry executives, analysts, leading solution providers and other thought leaders—to discuss current and upcoming trends, exchange best practices, learn about new products and other innovations, and receive expert-led training on ChannelAdvisor products and services,” according to the event’s site.
The theme for this year’s ChannelAdvisor Catalyst event is “new commerce,” defined as “commerce anytime, anyplace and on any device.” It represents the “convergence of channels and is the intersection of e-commerce, local, mobile and social.”
The event is being held from April 16 to April 18 at Las Vegas’ Mandalay Bay.
Again, the show is expensive, as ChannelAdvisor’s customers are generally large e-merchants. Small and medium-size businesses (SMBs) may be wondering if they should attend. But, as Lawson tells us, “you can’t learn if you just stay in your zone.”
He’s found the information presented by ChannelAdvisor CEO Scot Wingo, as well as the Amazon and eBay representatives who attend, to be very valuable. If it’s true, as Lawson says, that you “become who you hang out with,” then SMBs may want to attend this event to see what their larger counterparts can teach them.
The larger e-commerce tradeshows are great if you want to connect with a lot of people while getting a macro overview of the e-commerce industry. But in looking for events, “lots of sellers are gravitating to their respective trades (electronics shows, jewelry, etc.),” says long-time e-commerce merchant David Yaskulka.
To track them down you’ll need to visit sites such as Events in America, where you can hone in events by keyword. If you’re looking for international events, Alibaba.com provides a searchable database of tradeshows by industry.
Local meet-ups, Chamber of Commerce, SBA Meetings
Brandon Dupsky, who owns the site OnFair.com, is one of the merchants we spoke with who bemoaned the smaller number of networking opportunities for small and medium sized e-commerce businesses these days.
“I’m frustrated enough at this point that I might end up contacting 50 of my closest e-commerce friends for an informal but productive e-commerce gathering at my house (wife’s approval pending) for some backyard burgers, beers and business.”
Hosting your own gathering, as Dupsky suggests, is one solution. But there are also local events already on the docket that may be worth your time. You just have to seek them out.
Simpson mentioned the Kansas Jubilee Conference that’s geared to e-commerce merchants in the Midwest. It’s being held Oct. 26 to Oct. 27 at Fort Hays State University in Hays, KS. More information should be available through the site soon.
Of course, there’s always your local chamber of commerce and small business administration—which may either host meetings themselves or direct you to some. These may be more geared to businesspeople, in general, and not just e-commerce merchants. But for small businesses and entrepreneurs such general business meetings can be very helpful, as they provide help with the fundamentals of running a business, says Lawson. To locate other local events check the Meet-up Group site.
We started this article lamenting that eBay Live was no more. But as you can see, that doesn’t mean you don’t have fantastic opportunities for meeting with other e-commerce merchants and vendors!