According to a letter from the Global Association of the Exhibition Industry written to the European Commission in March, more than 500 trade shows have been canceled or postponed since the start of the Coronavirus outbreak, causing estimated losses of $11.1 billion in Europe and $14.6 billion in Asia/Pacific. Businesses faced an existential crisis. Multinational organizations could have survived without attending trade shows for one season, but small to medium-sized companies were left without an important marketing platform.
There’s a digital equivalent for almost everything and that even in times of crisis technology can help you pivot and continue your road to success. All over the world, events started to go digital and in a matter of weeks virtual showrooms have turned from a “nice to have” feature to one that can completely change how the audience sees you.
At first, transferring the experience of a real-world showroom into digital format may seem impossible, but technology has come a long way. Digital experiences are more immersive than ever before and, thanks to virtual showrooms, you can maintain engagement and visibility even if you’re not interacting face to face.
What Are Virtual Showrooms?
Virtual Showrooms are the digital equivalent of your company’s booth during a trade show. They are interactive panorama tours that allow your online visitors to explore your products from the comfort of their own home or office.
Virtual showrooms can easily be uploaded to your website, build strong social media and by adding interactive 3D features you can offer visitors immersive experiences that add value.
How Can Virtual Showrooms Help Your Business?
Virtual showrooms are a relatively new phenomenon and you may be tempted to think that their advantages apply only to the recent business landscape. But while it may be true that virtual showrooms can help you increase your visibility, they can actually serve your business beyond that too.
With virtual showrooms, you show your customers that you’re still there. That, even in a world of canceled exhibitions, you found a way to be present, adapt, and interact with them.
Virtual showrooms boost your exposure and, whether you choose to showcase them on your website or social media, they’ll help you stand out and leverage business opportunities, even in a sensitive time.
Virtual showrooms aren’t a simple presentation of your products and services. They feature a complex 3D-panoramic environment with many interactive and visual options that allow users to have a closer look at what you do in a way that mimics the real experience as much as possible.
At first, visitors see a virtual showroom with stands, banners, and showcased products. Then, through interactive features, they can click on each element to learn more about each different product, watch 360 videos of them, read detailed product descriptions, and so on. It’s even possible to watch a webinar about a specific product or have immerse experiences that drive value.
Besides, studies show that 30% of people are more likely to engage with a person in a virtual showroom, which means you can access a wider pool of qualified leads who prefer digital experiences.
Lead generation and conversion
For businesses, generating and converting leads remain a top priority, even if the landscape might not seem that favorable. Apart from social media and email marketing, virtual showroom stand out as a modern, hybrid solution that combines the immersion of real-world trade shows with the convenience of digital solutions.
Virtual stands offer a user-friendly, lead-nurturing environment because virtual stands don’t just present your products – they allow users to interact with them, have their questions answered, and learn how the products work.
By going even further and including features such as live chat and shoppable buttons, you increase the chances of expanding the customer journey beyond the showroom, so that visitors end up becoming paying customers soon after interacting with the showroom.
Needless to say, every visitor who checks out your virtual showroom. becomes a lead you can later reach out to by email with an e-book or personalized offer.
For all their benefits, real-world trade shows can be expensive. They require thousands in travel, accommodation, company materials, and logistics, which may not always be feasible, especially for SMEs who aren’t sure how many people would attend anyway.
While some trade shows are still worth going to thanks to their networking opportunities, virtual showrooms and digital trade shows are a more affordable alternative. This way, you can continue to attend a couple of major exhibitions every year, and reap the benefits of virtual showrooms the rest of the time.
When Can You Use Virtual Showrooms?
In light of the Coronavirus pandemic, there has been an increase in virtual showrooms, so the first application that comes to mind is an alternative to canceled trade shows. Thanks to virtual showrooms, you can still be present and highlight your main services, but there are many other occasions where virtual stands can be useful.
For example, if you’re not sure about the visitor numbers to your exhibit booth or you’re having budget constraints, virtual showrooms can be a cost-effective alternative. Or, if you’re unable to get to an international exhibit for logistics reasons, you can always have these videos as a backup.
All in all, virtual showrooms are an excellent way to expand your trade show options. You can explore new markets and, even after the COVID-19 pandemic is over, they can help you reach out to an international customer base.