Are Physical Conventions Bitchin’ … or Balls?

Are Physical Conventions Bitchin’ … or Balls?

From the 20th to the 22nd of February, 2022, the convention halls of Olympia London were home to Top Drawer, a home and gift trade show boasting over 1,500 exhibitors – and one SEO Bitch.

For three days, design-led brands proudly displayed their artistic creations to a community of creative buyers, all of whom were on the hunt for hot new products to put in their stores. 

While I fit into neither of those categories, I was also at the convention, roaming the halls in my dope new green velvet suit, telling everyone about how I offer SEO for small creative businesses. Top Drawer was the perfect opportunity for me to meet some of my clients in person for the first time, as remote working has become the default in the pandemic-fuelled world. 

The pandemic had its impact on the show itself, forcing a re-schedule from its initial mid-January placement to late February – a move not entirely appreciated by many people, who bemoaned the show’s new alignment with school half-term.

During my exploration of the show, I found that the brand’s experiences themselves seemed quite disparate – while some people were disappointed by the turn-out, others were constantly scribbling down orders.

Back in the day, an event like Top Drawer would have been the most prominent – if not the only  way for a brand to get their products in front of buyers. Get them all right up in their faces, using everything at their disposal to stand out alongside the many other local producers.

The story seems to be changing as the impact of online wholesale marketplaces like Faire, Ankorstore and Abound becomes apparent. Throughout my wanderings of the convention hall, staring in awe at the immense collections of gorgeous homewares and greeting cards, I couldn’t help but overhear a number of conversations about the marketplaces.

Ankorstore in particular was out in force at the event, with marketplace representatives handing out tote bags, talking to creatives and hosting after-event drinks, all in the effort to get more small businesses to consider using their platform to sell their wares.

It’s clear that there is a lot of money to be made from getting yourself set up on these wholesale markets. Faire boasts 50,000 brands and over a quarter million retailers, most of which are in the USA, though their UK and European reach is growing too.

Their commission structure is 25% for the first order and 15% for all reorders, though if you have existing customers that sign up via a direct link, you can get 0% commission on these orders made through the platform. It’s always hard to deal with the idea that you need to pay commission for sales, when it seems like you still have to do all the hard work of designing, producing, packing, and shipping the items.

Sure, you could do this sort of marketing outreach on your own – sit down at the computer for hours upon hours, research stores that might like your product, send them cold emails with catalogues – but then you still need to have the platform for them to buy through, whether its an e-commerce website or the old fashioned excel invoicing system. The easier it is for people to buy from you, the better, and that’s what these online marketplaces endeavour to do.

Once you’re on a wholesale marketplace, it’s on you to make it as easy as possible for the buyers to find your products on the marketplace. The platforms have their own category systems which are incredibly important, but as the number of sellers on the platform grows, so too does the competition and the amount of stuff on there. 

Increasingly, buyers are using the search function to find what they’re looking for, and this is where the SEO of your product descriptions need to be on point. Yep, that’s where I come in. Remember how in my blog about keywords I said that Google is blind? So are the marketplace search engines.

You can have the most beautiful products and photos of them on the marketplace but if you do not correctly use keywords in your product titles, product descriptions, and alt texts, you will get lost.

Okay, so now you know what needs to be done. If you’re not sure about the content that you’ve already put up on Faire, Abound or Ankorstore, you can hire me to do an SEO Audit of your store and product listings. I’ll check it all out and provide a list of personalised recommendations of ways that you can improve your presence.

You could also dive directly into the Faire Optimisation Package  which is perfect if you already know that your product listings need some serious re-writing. I’ll do the SEO Audit as described above, plus write new Shop Page content and optimised product listing text for 20 of your products – whichever 20 you want.

These will be provided to you in a Word document for you to upload at your leisure, or you can take advantage of my Virtual Assistant service and I can update them all on your behalf.

If you’re not on Faire, Ankorstore or Abound at all yet, I can set up your product listings from scratch, too. Just reach out to me via the contact page and we’ll figure out how to best get started.

I know I went off on a tangent a little bit there, though I think that’s what happened to a lot of conversations over Top Drawer. While the influx of online marketplaces could spell opportunity for creative businesses, it’ll be interesting to see if conventions continue to be an important fixture in the homewares and gift industry moving forward. Let’s find out! See you at PG Live?

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