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How eCommerce merchants can get the most out of industry events

Are you a merchant or retailer who leaves industry events a bit… well… unsatisfied? Perhaps you’ve stopped going to online events all together due to ‘Zoom fatigue’, or because you always wind up feeling you’ve wasted your time?

Well – fear not! We’ve rounded up our top tips for attending events – virtual and in-person – for you to really get the maximum benefit from turning up.

Set aside time in your regular schedule to stay in the know

Trends change fast – especially in the digital space. Where you can, try to dictate time to attending just the key industry events on a quarterly basis. Even if it’s two days a quarter – you know your team now has permission to attend. You don’t have to attend every event that’s promoted your way – there’s a lot of noise out there. Look at what the value add will be and take up space in your calendar accordingly!

Not available during the event? Make sure you still register – if you’re not available you can often still get recordings after the event is over to watch at your leisure!

Ask your agency for advice

Strapped for time? If you have an agency, ask them to handpick the events and talks you should attend, or if you’re not available to attend a key date, to tell you what they learned. As well as accessing valuable insight, you’ll know whether your agency is truly at the forefront of trends and changes in eCommerce – or whether they’re just winging it..!

Plan your schedule beforehand

Get the most out of your day – and minimise stress – by planning ahead, and curating the sessions you’ll want to attend. This is second nature when at an in-person event, but it’s equally important at a virtual one too, to ensure you don’t miss the talks and keynotes most relevant to you. Some even let you build your own custom calendar within their platform!

Too many overlapping sessions you want to attend? That brings us to our next tip…

Team up with your colleagues to absorb more, and trade insight later

Splitting key sessions between members of your team is a great way to absorb more in less time – and means more opportunities to ask questions live during Q&A sessions! If several members of your team are planning to attend an event with multiple talk tracks running simultaneously, see if you can work together to cover more sessions.

As well as enabling you to absorb more information in less time, this could also be a great team building exercise – a great way to build rapport with your team! You could also arrange quick-fire presentations where you all share your learnings, which is a great opportunity for anyone in your team to practice their public speaking skills in a low-pressure environment.

Dedicate time to networking with your peers

The virtual events space has come a long way in the last year or so – and while the networking functionality on most platforms isn’t the same as an in-person experience, it’s worth dedicating some time to using the networking tools. Most platforms have in-built tools for networking – some even pair you up 1:1 randomly based on your chosen criteria – but don’t underestimate the power of social media too. Using and interacting with the event hashtag on Twitter can often connect you with like-minded attendees who you could learn something from!

An industry event is a great opportunity to connect with your peers – it’s the perfect place to find others in similar roles to you who are open to sharing insight. Knowing others in your industry or working in similar roles has plenty of benefits – from sharing recommendations on partners and platforms, to comparing successes… and maybe the not-so-successes..! Having contacts across the industry also comes in useful when you’re looking to hire new talent, or looking for a new opportunity yourself, because you could find new recruits or roles that you may not otherwise have heard of.

Ask questions – don’t be shy!

Almost every speaker will have time set aside for Q&A during their talk – and even if they don’t, there’s almost always a colleague waiting to answer your questions in the live chat. This is your opportunity to ask an expert directly to expand on their topic, or answer your burning questions – so don’t hold back!

Look out for useful guides and eBooks

Many solution providers offer free downloadable guides and eBooks as incentives at industry events – usually just in exchange for your email address. While it’s true that not all of them are helpful, many brands put a lot of time and resource into these guides – and there can be a lot of knowledge within their digital pages. Keep an eye out for any that include research and data from consumers, because those often tend to be the most helpful at staying abreast of trends and changes within the industry.

Follow inspiring speakers for future insight

Attended the talk of a speaker you really found insightful? Don’t forget to stop by their LinkedIn and follow them! You can also check to see if they have a newsletter for insight direct to your inbox.

Look for speaking opportunities

Most eCommerce industry events are crying out for merchant speakers – whether it’s for standalone talks or industry panels, there’s usually opportunities somewhere for merchants with successes to celebrate. As well as generating positive PR for your brand, a speaking slot could also get your brand seen by your next potential star hire – or a brilliant collaborator…

Do it your way

If you take one thing away from this post, our best advice is: you do you. If you want to watch them in the background, listen in the car, watch one talk and go away – it doesn’t matter, because you’re learning something beyond your day-to-day job, and that’ll get you ahead over your peers that only learn on the job.