Digital PE trade show ideal way to sell and shop

Online market offers 100 stands, for locally-produced goods only

An example of the floorplan for the virtual trade show, ShopLocalPE, starting on Wednesday
REMOTE SHOPPING: An example of the floorplan for the virtual trade show, ShopLocalPE, starting on Wednesday

A ShopLocalPE trade show has gone digital, which includes festive season goods and visitor-to-exhibitor communication.

The virtual event, established by Port Elizabeth resident Caroline Morgan, starts on Wednesday and runs until December 16.

“This platform isn’t the cleverest thing I’ve created; it’s probably the simplest.

“But that’s what people want — an easy way to browse an online market without having to have any technical knowledge,” she said.

The platform, called Showcase It Online, is a virtual trade show programme, which can run either permanently or for a set period.

The landing page shows a floor plan with exhibitor names or logos.

Clicking on a stand takes the visitor to the exhibitor’s online stand.

“This page shows product images and information, allows for info-pack downloads and includes several ways to contact the exhibitor to place an order or ask a question.

“This event is heavily geared towards festive season shopping, it’s more about bags and biscuits than tyres and toilet paper. It must be locally made,” Morgan said.

“You must produce your goods in Port Elizabeth or surrounds, or be a local agent [franchisee] for a South African business.

“So no imported stuff, no services, and you can’t be based outside the Nelson Mandela Bay area.

“What you sell must be available for free delivery or collection in Port Elizabeth.”

The platform allows for different stand packages, visitor-to-exhibitor communication, product images and video clips.

There are about 100 stands available, with eight people having booked their slots already.

Depending on the package the exhibitor has selected, the page can include video clips and even virtual meeting options.

“Crucially, the system runs in any browser, desktop or mobile — there is nothing to install or download.

“Ease of use is a fundamental principle.”

Morgan said the platform would also be used for a hybrid conference for the Orthopaedic Association taking place in Cape Town later in November.

“ShopLocalPE enables local products to be showcased, and local shoppers to support them.”

The price to exhibit at the trade show starts at R950, which includes a basic stand page.

A double stand is available for R1,700, which includes more offerings.

“In times of Covid-19, there are restrictions that prevent large trade shows from taking place.

“The limit on the number of people allowed in the venue can make a trade show economically unviable,” Morgan said.

She added that many people were reluctant to be in a crowded space such as a busy trade show.

“An online trade show can run in place of or alongside a smaller version of a live trade show.”

She said many smaller businesses either had no website or very little traffic.

“An online trade show gives them the exposure they are looking for, as well as increasing the search engine ranking of their site should they have one.”

She said the city had many shows but the lockdown had stopped them from trading for most of 2020.

“While a few have reopened, many people are reluctant to visit crowded spaces.

“We’ve become quickly accustomed to online shopping.”


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