This year’s shift from in-person trade shows to virtual showrooms has transformed the way that the footwear industry does business. Informa Markets Fashion, in collaboration with digital wholesale platform NuOrder, has collected data from its 2020 digital trade event and found that 20% of total registration came from new buyers and retailers, while 760,000 new products were showcased.
Although some physical elements were lost in the move to virtual events, the use of digital infrastructure has allowed for organizers to collect a range of data that might otherwise be unknown. With all activity taking place within the NuOrder platform, it is possible to detect a range of information, from the most searched for products to the level of engagement for each brand and style.
“While the demand for digital tools and more robust technology was accelerated by COVID-19, the industry’s digital adoption also allows us to uncover extremely useful industry trends and behaviors,” says Heath Wells, Co-founder and Co-CEO of NuORDER. “Through this data, we’re able to see retailers’ and brands’ immediate response to changing market needs, which helps inform the fashion industry.”
During the Informa digital event, which ran from Sept. 1 – Nov. 1 2020, data shows that 1,100 brands presented collections to an audience of over 20,000 qualified buyers from over 97 countries. This virtual gathering of the industry prompted 55,000 connections between brands and buyers, which Informa describes as an example of “ the market’s eagerness to reconnect, react to shifting industry demands, and regain traction in order to overcome previous setbacks.”
One in five attendees this year was a newcomer to Informa’s trade events, reflecting the rise of new brands and the changing retail landscape. The power of e-commerce to prompt greater brand discovery was demonstrated through the NuOrder platform: attendees were able to explore virtual editorials and education sessions, produced by Informa, which generated 14,000 engagements and featured over 562 brands.
The data also showed a broader shift in the interests of the market: Dropshipping was the most-searched attribute (22.5%), with increasing numbers of retailers looking for alternative ways to sell and distribute product. Due to the unpredictability of inventory this year and changes in consumer demand, dropshipping has become an appealing option for merchants who want to reduce the risk of their merchandise.
“By embracing a new way to connect and do business through our digital platform, the industry is now able to more quickly and easily come together on a global scale,” says Kelly Helfman, Commercial President of Informa Markets Fashion. “With this rebound in globalized commerce, brands and buyers can capitalize on newer business opportunities with even greater scale through a larger variety of vendors and products.
Sustainability was the second most-searched brand attribute (17%) across all categories and markets. Having gained traction prior to 2020, sustainabiity and ethical responsibility have received renewed attention this year as consumers and brands alike grow more aware of the complexities of the supply chain.
Access to this data can help brands and retailers better prepare for future trade events, by identifying trends in the market that might have been hard to pin down during physical-only shows. Even as the in-person events resume, which Informa has announced will take place in the second half of 2021, the digital component will remain in order to provide a more complete, omnichannel experience.
“Continuing forward and as we synthesize more data with the return of Informa Markets Fashion’s digital events in the upcoming fashion buying cycles, these data models will continually be enriched – offering the fashion industry actionable market insights,” said Wells.