Exhibitions crucial to find right sourcing partners for business: Study

By 30 Oct 2020

Assessing the impact of the pandemic on industries, the biggest challenge businesses will face is business continuity as several industries are reeling under the effects of a disrupted sourcing and supply chain. According to a study conducted by Messe Frankfurt Trade Fairs, those who held off purchases do so no longer due to cash flow issues, a prime consequence of the pandemic in the earlier months, but rather because they can't find the right suppliers.

The result of the June 2020 leg of the study

A market survey of more than 1,000 professionals from across the country was conducted in June and September 2020 to examine the shifting business climate and the state of mind of the most senior buyers at Messe Frankfurt India trade fairs during this period.

The key objective of the Senior Management Survey was to gauge the business and purchase behaviour amidst the pandemic that has affected businesses of MFI stakeholders and the cross-collaboration that Messe Frankfurt India can enable through its virtual tools through emphasis on sourcing alternatives or the need and intention to visit exhibitions for trading.

The study covered a wide range of industry sectors from the automotive, textiles, building technologies and consumer goods, showing that 88 percent respondents relied on exhibitions to help them with their purchase decisions. Over 90% respondents affirmed that trade fairs allow them to touch and feel the product as well as to build a relationship with the sellers which are key factors for making an effective purchasing decision.

While there has been a strong shift with regards to the purchasing behaviour from June (53%) to September (63%) with a rise of 10% in purchasing activity, most buyers cannot find right suppliers while others cannot find stocks (12.97%), cannot import (13.81%), as per company policies (20.08%), or would like to wait for exhibitions (24.27%).

Even as other sourcing alternatives such as online events, webinar and WhatsApp are picking up, 59% buyers are finding it difficult to make purchasing decisions during Covid-19. As purchasing activity has increased across the board, willingness to attend exhibitions also saw an increase with respondents looking at visiting the next exhibition “as soon as possible” registering the highest increase of 10% points.

In this regard, the role of the exhibition industry will also become much more significant in terms of rebuilding customer connections, supporting the exchange of knowledge and technology as well as restoring business continuity and growth in the economy.

Given the current environment and the increased intent of visiting trade fairs, Messe Frankfurt has been strongly focusing towards developing standard protocols and a framework for enhanced measures for hygiene and safety at their exhibitions and conferences in India.

It was also interesting to note that while only 16% respondents attended online exhibitions in June 2020, this trend has quickly shifted to 29% in September 2020 showcasing that hybrid exhibitions will play a vital role in future.

Raj Manek, managing director, Messe Frankfurt Trade Fairs India, said, “Technology will play a significant role in enhancing the experience of physical exhibitions in future, so as organisers we are using this as an opportunity to build our digital tools more rapidly and open up new avenues for business that can intelligently complement our existing trade shows. As a group that has been into the trade fair business since centuries, we strongly believe that business relations and personal encounters at exhibitions will be irreplaceable but offering a hybrid platform will become a standard feature at our physical events, so that we continue to enable our customers to expand reach and transform virtual connections into face-to-face interactions.”

Known for its trade fair history of 780 years, Messe Frankfurt is the world’s largest trade fair, congress and event organiser with its own exhibition grounds. The Indian subsidiary, with a portfolio of 20 trade fair brands and over 30 conferences, hosts some of the country’s leading trade fairs such as LED Expo (Mumbai & Delhi), Light India, Media Expo (Mumbai & Delhi), Techtextil India, ACMA Automechanika New Delhi, Rail India conference, NGV India Summit among others, covering the automotive, automation, lighting, technology, textiles, consumer goods, entertainment, media and creative industries.

Globally, Messe Frankfurt has ‘restarted’ exhibitions with the opening of Intertextile Shenzhen Apparel Fabrics and Yarn Expo in July 2020 in China and the Summer Nordstil in September 2020 in Germany.

“The survey results also go on to show the crucial role exhibitions can play in enabling Indian businesses to find right sourcing partners amidst the current environment and more so in the post-Covid era.” Manek concluded.

The government of India has issued new guidelines under the Unlock 5.0, allowing Business to Business (B2B) exhibitions to resume with effect from 15 October 2020, with new SOPs as issued by Department of Commerce.

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