One of the best things about conference season is the opportunity to review the newest tech offerings in the marketplace all in one spot – the conference exhibit hall. With so many solutions on showcase, it can sometimes get overwhelming. You might find yourself wishing you had a compass for navigating the sea of choice. Some conferences acknowledge this issue wholeheartedly and offer help to attendees in an effort to maximize their experience during the show. As an example, in addition to the expo hall at IRCE 2019, a workshop outlining best practices for choosing the right tech was hosted on June 25th. If you attended, it should have added great value for you as you reflect on vendor and solution fit for your organization.

Once you narrow down specific vendors to check out during your floor walk, it’s important to also have a plan on what to talk about when you stop at a booth. Simply grabbing all the collateral you can find and then moving on doesn’t necessarily get you the most valuable information. Speaking with a business development representative will most likely point you in the right direction.

As a customer engagement vendor in the retail marketplace, we recently reflected on questions we’ve been asked at our past booth showcases that were of most value to us and our visitors. Here are a few standouts, which you should consider asking while walking the expo floor.

  1. Is this solution’s past success replicable for my business problem?

    As you select vendors of interest, consider whether the problems these vendors solve for their other clients are actually applicable to your business needs. The solutions might be really cool, but may not be the right fit for your organization. Make sure to ask whether or not the solution showcased at the booth has at least one example the rep can talk through over and above what’s on paper. Also ask how flexible the solution is, as no 2 retailers are exactly alike.

    Winning example: At a previous conference, a retail executive with an ecommerce conversion concern asked us to elaborate on how our solution converts browsers into buyers. To help clarify our fit, we shared a conversion case study and continued the conversation to identify what flexible features made sense for their situation. Ultimately, the retailer was able to see how we created incremental orders as well as improved “Add to Cart” conversion rates with our individualized offers. Without the core conversation at the booth, this retailer may not have realized we could help them improve in this area.

  1. What visibility does this solution give me into my business performance?

    Every vendor knows you want to make intelligent, data-driven decisions about your business. Before you even put pen to paper, best in class teams should be able to easily talk about reporting, measurement and data access. Get all of those questions out of the way at the conference booth. If and when you’re operational, ensure delivery of what was promised during that first conversation!

    Key Application: We arm our business development team with our approach to business modelling and reporting results. This means they can engage on the subject of measurement and business performance right at the booth. Since you can’t spend all day with them, they want to make sure the conversation about your data and measurement is uncomplicated, because it should be.

  1. Does this solution work with my current tech stack, or will I have to replace what I already have?

    Vendors on the showcase floor should be prepared to describe which solutions they can plug into and what will require additional work, if any. The right vendor will work to understand your organization’s goals and will be considerate of the velocity at which your organization can make change. Offering choice between plug in solutions and replacement solutions is now table stakes in our opinion. Vendors who can talk through options with you during a first conversation at a conference should give you confidence your time is being well spent.

    Winning example: Exchange Solutions does offer solutions ranging from “plug-and-play” all the way to “rip-and-replace”. Understanding a retailer’s complicated ecommerce architecture and providing a lower-touch implementation recommendation for our individualized offers, we were able to help our client see positive results after a 6 week configuration period where the work was on our side. Factors for selection were speed to market and low-touch implementation. We were able to provide a solution where the retailer simply inserted a tag in Google Tag Manager to get the program quickly initiated.

Starting your information gathering process at a conference, such as IRCE 2019, is a great opportunity to learn as much as you can in a short period of time. Utilize the opportunity to connect with business development professionals in the right ways. They are motivated to give you relevant information for your business, if you’re willing to share key input to determine the best fit for the both of you. Exchange Solutions may not be on the showroom floor this year, but we’re happy to connect with you at the conference to understand your business needs. You never know, we may be able to guide you to the right partner through our network, or even through our own solutions. Connect with Xavier Torres from our team on LinkedIn to start a conversation.