How to Plan a Successful Virtual Retail Event

bar chart made of coins going up

Among all other industries, the retail industry has been one to experience drastic growth in 2020. In fact, according to Statista, global retail ecommerce sales for B2B are predicted to reach $1.1 trillion in 2021.

While these numbers are only expected to go up as we move forward, it is not as simple as sitting back and enjoying the inflow of cash. Competition in the digital world is more intense, advertising rates are higher, and consumer behaviors are radically changing.

Keeping up with latest trends and finding unique and creative ways to create exceptional online experiences for customers is paramount to growing in the retail industry in 2021. This is where virtual retail events can help. 

It is said that retailers that have already invested in e-commerce have an advantage over retailers that have to transition the demand from offline to online. However, all it takes is the right kind of planning in order to rise up and make the most noise in the industry.

Without further ado, this article is where you’ll find all the ways to plan a successful virtual retail event in 2021 and beyond.

1. Learn from success stories

There are plenty of resources and retail businesses out there that are leveraging digital platforms and finding effective ways to quickly transition in-person events. Knowing what’s going on and what is gaining traction will prevent you from being left behind.

Harbor Wholesale

Harbor Wholesale, one of America’s largest independent food distributors in the North West, recently beat all of its previous sales records by hosting a virtual retail event. Going online for the first time allowed them to benefit from a number of immersive features, resulting in a surge in new customers.

Click here to read more about Harbor Wholesale’s success story.

harbour wholesale virtual retail event exhibit hall

Solid Solutions

Solid Solutions is one of the world’s largest SOLIDWORKS resellers, accounting for almost 80% of all the SOLIDWORKDS CAD softwares in the UK and Ireland. Their first virtual retail event resulted in a 30% increase in attendees as compared to their physical events. Not only were they able to demonstrate the latest version of their software to a global audience, but as a business, were also able to share a wider portfolio to generate higher sales.

Click here to read more about Solid Solutions’ success story.

solid solutions virtual auditorium

2. Develop a solid strategy

Just like any other event, your virtual retail event will require you to set clear, measurable, and attainable objectives. Build on your strategy from there. Every decision you make and every action your team takes should primarily be based on your ultimate goal.

Learn how you can establish a dynamic event strategy from the ultimate guide to a virtual event.

3. Choose the right virtual event platform

With virtual event providers parading left, right, and center, finding the best match can sometimes be challenging. However, the one you partner with, to a great extent, impacts the success of your event. This, in turn, being a crucial decision for your retail event.

Read more: Thoughts to consider as you choose a virtual event platform.

4. Customer experience is all that matters

You’re not just offering a standard webpage with a set of options to click and choose from. You’re enacting a full-fledged event experience. Make sure you set up an immersive environment that depicts a cohesive brand story and resonates with consumer behaviors.

5. Invite sponsors

Sponsors are important, regardless of whether your event is virtual or physical. Give them a chance to network with new businesses, create new relationships and showcase their brands at your virtual retail event. 

vFairs offers a set of sponsorship options that will allow them to earn varying levels of visibility and access at your retail event. In return for having them at your event, your sponsors can help you gain visibility in their respective spaces.

6. Make it inclusive and accessible

The online nature of your event frees it of all kinds of physical barriers. Individuals who were previously excluded from opportunities due to their disabilities can now access your event from the comfort of their homes. This increases attendance at your retail event, and therefore, improves results.

Read more about the accessibility features that vFairs offers in order to make navigating around your retail event a seamless process.  

Not just that, being independent of all geographical barriers gives you the opportunity to host an inclusive event and promote diversity. In today’s age, a number of organizations, such as Diversity in Ed, are working towards the mission to provide equal opportunity to all individuals, irrespective of their background or ethnicity.

Long story short, hosting your retail event online can widen your reach and tap a number of global opportunities, not just for your brand, but for all those participating.

ethnic and disabled people in the global community

7. Engagement is key

At any retail event, success depends upon the level of engagement that eventually leads to higher conversions. It is of high importance to have a conversation with your virtual event provider, enquiring about the engagement features that they offer. Some of the most effective ways to opt for are as follows:

  • Webinars play a great role in enabling two-way communication. Either live or pre-recorded, your webinars can be followed by an interactive Q&A session for audiences to actively participate in the event.
  • Live chat tools allow exhibitors to interact with attendees, either 1:1 or in group chatrooms. This adds a personal touch to your virtual event, while eliminating the hassle of waiting in long queues to communicate with booth reps.
  • Gamifying your retail event makes things exciting, needless to say. This will not only help keep your audience engaged, but will also incentive certain favorable actions. You want to increase the number of visits at a virtual booth, go ahead and place an object for them to look for at the respective booth.

8. Make contingency plans

Just like physical events, there’s always room for last minute difficulties at virtual events too. In order to seamlessly manage crises, it is important to have a trustworthy partner who will go above and beyond to ensure your event does not fall apart.

info desk virtual retail event

9. Don’t stop after the event is over

The best thing about hosting a virtual retail event is that the content you create is evergreen. Repurpose video snippets, polls, documents/videos, webinar sessions, and all other content pieces and make them available to your audience, even after your event is over.

10. Measure results for future events

The detailed reports that your virtual event provider generates not only help you measure the success at your current retail event, but help you set targets, and understand trends to improve results. After all, big data helps you create personalized experiences – something that is essential in the retail industry.  

Virtual Retail Events: Way Forward

With e-commerce being a fairly mature aspect of retail by now, it is safe to say that this industry has been digital since a long time, and it was only a matter of time before players derived benefits from associated opportunities such as virtual events.

Alex Fitzgerald, Manager of Consumer Practice at Kearney says, “If you think about long-term shifts, this is an acceleration towards digital. We were already seeing it, but this just changes it to beyond just commerce to really solidify the role that digital can play in engagement.”

In times to come, therefore, the retail industry is only predicted to see an exponential increase in growth, especially with the abrupt push it experienced during the global pandemic in 2020. So, if you’re looking to go all out, and make the most out of these perks, now would be a great time to personalize the retail landscape. 

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How to Plan a Successful Virtual Retail Event

Huda Zaman

Huda is a Product Marketing Manager at vFairs.She believes in the power of storytelling paired with creative visuals that brings brands to life, and compels both, current and potential customers. Along with sharing corporate brands’ stories, she is equally passionate about the personal brand. Which to her, means creating body-positive spaces, encouraging acceptance of one’s self as well as others.

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