Coterie’s Virtual Trade Show is Off to a Flying Start
With large-scale physical events canceled as a result of COVID, Informa Markets Fashion and wholesale e-commerce platform NuORDER partnered up to offer Coterie Digital: an eight-week long online experience. With over 1,200 vendors on the platform under Informa’s brands—Coterie, Children’s Club, MICAM Americas, Magic, and Project—this new venture is the industry’s largest ever virtual trade show. Informa’s chief commercial officer Tom Nastos told the Daily about what to expect from the innovative online marketplace.
We hear yesterday was a successful first day for Coterie Digital!
Yes, we launched the digital platform yesterday and on day one, we had over 13,000 retail connection requests. We found that to be a good sign of what’s to come. The platform will be open until Nov. 1, and we’re happy to have over 1,200 brands participating. It’s plenty of time for everyone to discover and shop.
Congrats! What was the process like trying to organize the first ever digital version of Coterie?
We were analyzing our digital strategy probably a year and a half before we actually launched this. The process started significantly earlier, but we realized we have to move it along a little faster because of COVID. I think all the teams were very focused and organized and it took a great deal of effort, which the teams did exceedingly well. The response to the marketplace was really strong; I think that for both the retailers and the brands, when you have a good strong response, everyone wants to participate.
Is this the first time anything like this has ever been done?
To my knowledge, yes. The size and scale: it’s pretty much unprecedented! Our marketplace is about five times larger than everyone else’s combined.
What’s Coterie Digital’s USP?
What’s different about us is that many of the other groups really just provide a directory and a workflow solution. Ours is a marketplace; you have five different shows you can shop, which makes it a great site to visit constantly. It’ll also be constantly updated—because it’s on for 60 days—so there will always be new products, new things to discover, new conversations, and new forums available for buyers. Literally every week, it extends, and there’s also educational opportunities.
What are some pros about the digital version, versus the usual three-day event in New York?
The great thing about what we’re doing is that you can shop at your convenience, when it works for you and your schedule. You can contact all of these brands, visit their virtual showrooms, look at their line sheet and products. As you’re doing business, you can also come back to discover new brands. It gives you the opportunity to see a marketplace and help you navigate what’s best for your retail establishment.
Tell us about why you paired with NuORDER, they also have Nordstrom and Bloomingdale’s as clients right?
We looked at many many companies throughout the industry and what we discovered was that most of these companies were workflow solutions, but none of them were marketplaces. We really did a deep dive into the technology and interviewed brands and retailers, and ultimately our view was that the NuORDER technology and reputation was quite strong so that led us to working with them. We wanted to do what was effective. What took time was carefully interviewing our brands and retailers to really have a clear understanding of what their needs are—today and going forward. We have to always be forward looking.
How are NuORDER’s digital features enhancing the experience?
You log on, you’re able to first see the familiar brands and events: Coterie, Magic, and so forward. You select the event and you are then taken to a landing page; within this, it gives you multiple options. There’s an educational component, a learning page if you want to participate in seminars or webinars and see what’s important. Secondly, there’s discovery, where we’re providing discovery cues for retailers—such as, I’m interested in resort apparel, outerwear, or whatever product it may be. Then a shopping component. There’s multiple ways to shop, like by category or by brand.
Do you think brands will reach more buyers than ever before with this two-month digital show?
I’m anticipating that retailers and brands will connect with current partners first and see what’s new for the next season. But since this is a marketplace and people have the ability to market and retailers can discover new potential suppliers, brands have the opportunity to market to tens of thousands of retailers and explain what they are all about. I think the combination will lead to greater discovery on both sides.
Will there always be a digital element to Coterie going forward?
I think this season is unique. There’s always a point of newness, which is where the physical will always come into play. Coterie happens for three days, twice a year—when you discover new vendors and build a relationship. I think you’re going to want to be there to build those relationships, but it will be modified in some way. The digital platform will allow you to continue the conversation and discover new products as the calendar continues, allowing for greater efficiencies.
So next year could be a hybrid?
COVID has sped up everyone’s ambitions for digital. I don’t think there’s any going back. Ultimately we’re moving to a model that will be physical shows—everyone universally has asked for a physical shows!—but they will be digitally enabled. That’s where the ‘phygital’ [physical-meets-digital] comes in, something we didn’t have before. Digital will always support the physical. It’s going to be continually refined, but digital is a great branding opportunity and a way to have a permanent community hub.