A trade show is out to change the show experience by turning to the Web.
Contemporary exhibition Trafik is aiming to make it easier for buyers and exhibitors to place orders and view lines by moving the process online during the show, which takes place in Miami this week.
The idea is to make the event more efficient for buyers and exhibitors, said Dan Caplin, director of operations. Buyers can view lines and place orders from either the show floor or their hotel rooms.
The site is accessible to preregistered buyers and exhibitors only, and exhibitors must give permission for buyers to view their collections online. Once in, buyers may search by any criteria, including style, delivery date, color and fabric.
"They can make notes on an item, mark favorites, be able to plan and go into the trade show experience with knowledge of what they want to see and check out further," Caplin said.
The exhibition floor is equipped with Wi-Fi access and each booth has a power outlet, so anyone with a laptop can access the site. Printing stations dot the floor, so orders can be processed at the booths. Vendors can send orders to buyers' BlackBerrys or other devices through an e-mail attachment, and buyers also can log in from their hotel rooms or other locations to review purchases and submit changes.
The software makes it easier to place orders in a booth. Brands can print a catalogue with bar codes from their online collection. Buyers can scan the bar codes and create orders online that can be printed out at the booth.
So far, 22 showrooms have uploaded approximately 2,000 items from 45 lines. There are 175 exhibitors, and attendance is up about 25 percent over previous shows, said Caplin.
Caplin, who helped come up with the idea for the software, is a partner in and has a minority stake in the company that created it, which is called ExchangeFrame. He said the site is meant to enhance the trade show, not replace it. "What's so important about our business is to see the construction of a garment," he said. "What we're seeing here is a better way to plan."
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