Matchmaking services and digital connections are stepping in to fill the void left by expos and conferences, and several show promise as brands look for new ways to connect with buyers and suppliers.
Though there’s nothing as slick as today’s dating apps, I’ve found several creative ways to choose partners for my business. As an owner of Savvy Green Eco Clean cleaning products and a brand consultant, I’m looking for alternatives to Expo West, Natural & Organic Products EU, Fancy Food Show, Supply Side and other canceled events. Natural, organic, wellness and health consumer products, including my clients, are shifting to online meeting platforms, virtual conferences and webinars until it becomes safer for in-person events.
Here are five ways brands can find new customers and stores, domestically and for export:
Supplier Connect is an online tool by Diversified Communications UK (publisher of Natural ProductsGlobal) that works like a global online directory for the international natural and organic community. Exhibitors in the cancelled 2020 London Natural & Organic Products EU Event, the Madrid Organic Food Iberia Event and the Malmo Nordic Organic Expo were given the opportunity to list in Supplier Connect. I have a listing for my consulting services, Mary Beth Allen Brand Marketing, on Natural Products Global Supplier Connect and it helps potential partners around the world find me and take advantage of my services.
“At this time of both opportunity and challenge for our industry, we hope that Supplier Connect will be a valuable tool for companies searching out exciting new products and services, maintaining continuity of supply of products and ingredients, and reaching new customers,” said NPG publisher Dominic Roberjot.
For more information or to sign up go to https://www.naturalproductsglobal.com/supplier-connect-sign-up/
Tell your brand story and showcase your products to the right buyers on a RangeMe brand page so buyers can discover key product, brand, and company information all in one convenient place. Submit your products directly to retailers. Suppliers can use the free option or get added features with a paid Premium subscription. Buyers shop for new and needed products and services.
My Savvy Green products have been listed on the RangeMe platform for a few years. We continue to receive views and opportunities to reach out to new customers including stores like The Vitamin Shoppe, HyVee and Publix. Check out the many retailers on RangeMe.
Have face-to-face virtual meetings with others in your business category through the ECRM Virtual Connect Platform, which brings together retailers, suppliers, owner/operators and service providers. With pre-scheduled meetings by category, this site works like a matchmaking service to allow planning, guidance and networking for buyers and sellers. My company, Savvy Green, is exploring the Virtual Household, Housewares and Seasonal GM Program for our category, Laundry Care.
“To date we’ve held six category-specific virtual sessions, hosting more than 7,000 face-to-face meetings on the ECRM Connect platform,” said Joseph Tarnowski, VP of Content for ECRM. “It’s clear from the feedback of our participants that ECRM has delivered on its promise of a virtual solution that enables buyers and sellers to continue conducting business during this time of restricted travel. Moving forward, the virtual sessions, along with our Efficient Supplier Introductions and the RangeMe product discovery platform, will ensure our customers can connect whenever, wherever and however best suits their needs.”
An example of the line-up for the balance of the year:
- July 14-16 – Store Brand Health & Beauty Care Program
- July 21-23 – Foodservice Program
- July 29-31- Beverage Program
- Aug 17-18 – Coffee, Tea and Cocoa Fall Program
- Nov 9-12 – Plant-Based Food & Beverage Program
Due to the cancellation of Expo East and West this year New Hope Network and Natural Products Expo are launching Spark Change, for digital product discovery, education, and connection. Beginning August 26, brands and innovators will have the opportunity to get in front of retail buyers, consumer influencers, investors and others via digital storytelling and product sampling. Retailers and others will be able to easily navigate new innovation based on theme, trend and product category—and meet the people behind these offerings. The entire community will have access to interactive and actionable conference education and digital networking.
Are you ready to export but not sure where to start? The US Commercial Service offers on-line and customized resources and tools to help plan your export strategy and evaluate potential foreign business partners. My local Commercial Service Manager connected my brand, Savvy Green, to the UK counterpart for connections to find the right distributor.
Remember, if you are interested in export opportunities, the US Commercial Service and your local state Trade and Small Business organizations are offering trade grants for virtual matchmaking and support to US companies. International trade events are setting up supplier connections for exhibitors and attendees of cancelled trade events. Significantly reduced fees are being offered to many US key export and investment services customers until September 30, 2020.