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PV’s Digital Marketplace Carves Out Niche Filling Trade Show Void

Premiere Vision’s digital Marketplace is more relevant than ever in the coronavirus era.

Now in its third season, PV’s online Marketplace has grown and evolved, taking on urgent important as the global coronavirus pandemic forced the trade show organizer to postpone events or cancel them outright.

Add to that travel restrictions, social distancing and other economic complications from COVID-19, and the utility of the Marketplace as an online B2B platform for the fashion industry becomes even more vital.

When Marketplace director Gaël Séguillon joined PV to launch the digital component in September 2018, the biggest challenge he faced was digitizing exhibitor catalogs, he told Sourcing Journal. All exhibitors at any of the Première Vision shows are automatically included in the Marketplace.

Buyers, designers, stylists and similar professionals have free access to materials such as photo and trend galleries and suppliers’ shops. Exhibitors have the chance to put their samples online and conduct transactions with a secured payment system.

“When we started, less than 5 percent of our exhibitors had a digital database,” Séguillon said. “They were not really mature in that way and the main point for us was to convince them to be able to shoot their product and put in online, and then to give us all the technical data to be able to post the information to be able to define the product. So, this was the most difficult aspect.”

Ever PV show contains a trend area that has also evolved, with all photos now taken at PV’s own studio in Paris, he added. Between 5,000 and 7,000 items are photographed each season.

Exhibitors in the Marketplace proffer fabrics, leather, trims, accessories and yarns, and now offer 20,000 items online. Séguillon said about 1,200 companies feature their material on the site, with another 800 or so listed in the directory.

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“We are up to around 10,000 unique visitors a month and we average around 500 orders and around the same number of sample requests,” he said. “The Marketplace system is quite open and while many transactions take place on it, many transactions also take place offline.”

Getting the Marketplace to the point it is now has been an uphill battle, Séguillon said, as it serves an industry that isn’t always so technically savvy. Plus, PV wanted to make it as modern and user friendly as possible, while also establishing the Marketplace as a place not just to display materials, but also to conduct business.

“What changed now with COVID-19 is that instead of having to convince company to participate in the Marketplace, we have companies coming to us every day wanting to learn how to do what is necessary to be on it,” he said. “So, the main difference is that companies have quickly realized that the way of doing business has changed, and how they can reach so many countries and companies through the Marketplace.”

Marketplace fees are included in the cost of exhibiting at one of PV’s fairs, Séguillon noted. There are additional fees to add on extra collections or products not shown at the fair, but those have now been waived in light of the coronavirus crisis.

The Marketplace is also becoming its own B2B vehicle. Thirty percent of customers registered on the Marketplace have never previously visited the shows.

“This has helped our exhibitors open up their business to new customers,” Séguillon said. “What we’re working on new is to be able to have things like 3D visualization that gives a more precise feeling of the product in an online setting. We are also experimenting to have the ability to see on your smartphones how the fabrics move without being able to touch it.”