Must the show go on?

As teams carve their way through the mammoth halls of Premier Vision, Texworld and last week at Pure and Magic in Las Vegas we’ve been listening to conversations around the differences in footfall & presentations over the past few years and what it means for both retailers and suppliers. I was asked today if the RangeRoom platform is disrupting the likes of shows like Pure… it was a great question and not the first time that it’s come up.

The answer: Absolutely, without a shadow of a doubt.

Trade shows have been around for a long time, they preceded the digital age and so have been without parallel, particularly from a functional point of view. This is changing.

In a world where industries are innovating at what sometimes feels like an extreme rate to appeal to their customers, (particularly in the digital space) why wouldn’t we see the same happening in the B2B space? Vast networks of teams are under real pressure from all sides (resources, margin points, time and of course money) to produce products, quickly. With the default expectation set to ‘Fast Fashion’ mode teams should expect to be supported by emerging innovation, the same way that other industries do. As creatives interested in innovation it’s rare that we take inspiration from solely our own industry – if you’re open to new ideas, it doesn’t really matter where you find them. The question is do we feel like we’re coming up short in the innovation race?

I’m not talking about the amazing ideas around 3D printing or Augmented and Virtual reality – which sometimes feel like exotic luxuries in an industry that serves a mass market. Fashion prides itself on communicating and executing to the latest trends, which are often digested at breakneck speed – but can we say the same for how we innovate in our ‘day-to-day work’? Isn’t it time to start walking the walk and not just talking the talk?

The priorities of many businesses aren’t always the investment in innovative technologies, even when those that would help them compete more effectively, succeed and maintain their USP.

Digital isn’t a fad, it’s here and increasingly it’s a part of our lives. So why is it then that teams and brands find digital innovation around a process they live and breath every day a stretch? Even when more digital platforms (like RangeRoom) are looking to enhance and service the imaginative and visual nature that creative teams are craving. This was a topic I explore in this piece about innovation.

These same creatives (who by the way are also modern consumers) have expectations of technology, informed by the best intuitive design, in the form of their daily companion – the smartphone. That vital ‘friend’ that connects them to their networks, records & shares moments – from their nearest & dearests, or the latest exhibition to a vintage find, an agent of discovery, a shopping channel that also helps manage personal and work life, a news and entertainment portal…just for starters. So why should this expectation change just because we have work to do? Surely it’s the responsibility of companies and industries to innovate so their workers can be as productive as possible in their work hours?

This creative/design element is, after all, where brands’ USP is developed and originated, so it should be nurtured and supported as much as possible? Especially as creatives often feel they’ve missed out on software that addresses and enhances the design & product development process because the majority of software developed has only addressed either the logistical or data entry side of the business.

Apart from companies like WGSN – who, when originated by Marc Worth and his brother Julian in ’97, who was one of the first innovators in the creative space and saw clearly how a digital platform would grow in relevancy and would slot seamlessly into the work practices of global design teams.

It’s in this same space that Instagram and Pinterest have become destinations for the most relevant presentation of brands, influences, influencers and newness and which are directly challenging shows like Pure, which were for a long time the place we’d find ‘newness’. Shows like Premiere Vision and Magic strive to look at the experiential and community-driven appeal and are not solely focused on ‘hard’ transactions. This gives visitors more reason to join shows to meet up, think about bigger picture ideas – especially as teams are looking more at software which will enhance their processes and relationships at the same time. More retailers are cutting back on travel budgets and going direct to suppliers for sourcing needs.

So will we be visiting shows and if so what will be the most important work achieved in these environments? How do you feel your trips to the trade shows are changing – where and how do you do most of your sourcing?  Do you think there are new ways of working that you’d like to explore? If this is a topic that you’d like to find out more about why not read this piece about renewal? We’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic.

Title image  by Charisse Kenion on Unsplash
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