Exhibition Review: A Unique Blend of AI-Powered Innovations and Engaging Experience
The exhibition I attended this year was a day trip to the NEC, conveniently accessible for visitors flying into Birmingham. Compared to their previous event, which faced challenges due to COVID, this exhibition featured fewer stands. However, the overall quality of the stands had noticeably improved. While there were fewer stands, the event made up for it with a variety of intriguing talks held in side theatres. Alot of these talks were thinly veiled sales pitches. The fireside chat seminars were or better quality and content. The content presented was of superior quality, although the middle section of the exhibition floor, where some talks took place, was marred by excessive noise, making it difficult for presenters to communicate or be heard.
What struck me the most was the prevalence of AI integration, with approximately 80% of the stands showcasing some form of AI-related technology. It was remarkable to witness the sudden awakening by store owners to the power of AI in generating more sales and automating websites. Even Chat GPT itself helped bring attention to AI’s capabilities.
Highlights of some notable exhibitors from the exhibition.
One stand that caught my attention was called “Nibble,” an AI-powered automatic price haggling chatbot. This innovative software allows customers to state their bottom price for a product and then suggests an offer price while advising the customer to ask for a discount. The chatbot engages in a haggle with the customer, aiming to preserve the maximum profit margin for the store owner while ensuring customer satisfaction. Nipple, a small start-up company, presented a unique offering in this space. Excellent for placing in sale and clearance categories.
Another intriguing exhibitor was “UPP,” an AI-powered platform designed specifically for Google Performance Max Ads. Their capabilities in utilizing AI to optimize existing Google Performance Max Ads were quite impressive. However, it was clear that AI-related businesses dominated the event, with some exhibitors integrating AI into their existing products. UPP, for instance, required a high volume of data to function optimally, making it suitable for large-scale Google shopping performance.
We know AI works well with high volume traffic where predicting behaviour becomes more accurate.
Among the regular e-commerce platforms, a new player called “Shopline” stood out. This company primarily focuses on social selling, targeting the Asian market, particularly in Hong Kong, Indonesia, Taiwan, and other regions where social shopping is prominent. Shopline offers a young and promising sales platform, integrating e-commerce seamlessly into social media platforms. Their innovative approach includes an art cart and a checkout feature, demonstrating the true revolution in e-commerce.
Interestingly, there was only one price comparison website exhibitor at the show: Price Tracker. I had previously encountered them at other shows and reviewed their perturb platform. Price Tracker enables businesses to monitor their competitors’ pricing ranges and swiftly react to price changes, ensuring they stay ahead of the competition. Considering that web scrapers and price comparison tools contribute significantly to e-commerce website traffic, Price Tracker’s solution becomes even more valuable.
There was an absence of the larger payment providers – the market is saturated and its smaller players looking to beat the competition on fees. However there were some B2B specific BNPL ( Buy Now Pay Later ) operators. Smaller stands but going after a niche that I guess may have less credit issues and certainly higher values than its retail counter part. I would have thought a bank overdraft was the version of BNPL but I suppose if you are not of the traditional banking parish then this is possibly a good quick way to get fast finance for you business to buy in some stock. The stock would need a decent margin to cover the cost of BNPL finance.
Overall, this year’s exhibition was noticeably smaller than previous editions. Surprisingly, this turned out to be a positive aspect, as it allowed for easier navigation among exhibitors. The exhibitors themselves were more proactive in engaging with visitors, fostering a more interactive and engaging experience. Those who skipped the event due to its smaller scale missed out on a valuable opportunity. It became clear that attending exhibitions, even if solely to discover new suppliers, products, or services, can prove highly beneficial. Additionally, such events offer a conducive environment for networking and meeting clients away from the confines and noise of the office.
The seminars and theaters were well-organized, with informative and well-delivered presentations. However, the decision to place theaters in the middle of the exhibition floor, where presenters struggled to be heard over the general noise, seemed questionable. It would have been wiser to create a separate space where presenters could deliver their talks without distraction.
In conclusion, I would attend this event again – its a 1/2 day event at most.