How to get the most out of textile trade shows

In fabric and garment, touch and feel are highly important, garment fairs are often proved instrumental for the companies to get new clients, similarly one can see a demo of various technology together.

To bring the Indian textile and garment industry to the current level, various trade shows, and exhibitions have played an extremely important role. Even today when social media is one of the biggest and most effective platforms for trade promotion and the virtual world has disrupted the same, physical trade shows have more importance. These events are the only way to meet existing and prospective clients (local as well as global), exchange new ideas, get first-hand experience of various products and technologies, understand market directions, and much more in just 3 to 4 days with reasonable expenditures.

In fabric and garment, touch and feel are highly important, garment fairs have often proved instrumental for the companies to get new clients, similarly one can see a demo of various technology together. But over the years, I have noticed that the participants in various Indian exhibitions are not able to utilise the full potential of these events. The same is with a large chunk of visitors at these shows.

Good thing is that some of the event organisers are trying to bring a variety of stakeholders under one roof during the event without having any impact on the show’s niche and specialisation. Such a concept needs to improve as even today India is missing a successful event where its cotton or yarn to garments can be explored by the global buying community and the entire value chain can be presented as India’s strength. With comparison to the textile and garment sector, handicraft companies still have better-organsied shows with good exhibition venues having perfect infrastructure, good buyer visitation, lot of valued seminars and other business networking opportunities for them.

This is the high time to come out with such international shows with new benchmarks as the world is recovering from Covid, the international scenario is in India’s favor and buyers are looking to India, companies are willing to invest in new opportunities, government is supporting … what else we need.

Shows in India are mainly organized by two types of organisers, first by trade associations, and secondly by professional trade show organisers. These shows often get various types of Government support also. In past, there were a few attempts that brought the major part of the supply chain but not proved beneficial at all there were various reasons and everybody knows those reasons. We need strong leadership at this level who can take together all stakeholders and work with any vested interest.

Coming to some comparatively small shows I must say that there are a lot of improvements required at the level of organisers, exhibitors as well as visitors. Having a hostess at the booth or counter who even doesn’t know about the organization is not justified at all, she is not there to just collect the business card of visitors. Sharing brochures of company profiles with every visitor doesn’t really serve the purpose. You are spending a reasonable amount on participation, travel, and investing your time but not carrying enough samples or visiting cards shows that you are unprofessional. These are trade shows to explore business opportunities, not the picnic spot where one is visiting with the children. There are many more such practices, which need to improve. I have seen all this at the events at various established hubs across India and that too with international participation.

Pre-registration to use of very basic technology like digital business cards are there which can help to bring out the best from any small or big exhibition. The local government should also come forward to support in terms of proper exhibition centers which should develop with a futuristic approach as the size of the industry is growing. These centers should not have enough space for booths, even for parking, auditoriums, café, and all such facilities which are required to make sure a comfortable and advanced exhibition centre. Its connectivity should also be comfortable for all, be it person coming with own arrangement of using public transport. Various Indian clusters currently don’t have such a venue and they are dependent on makeshift arrangements for every event.

Having a strong infrastructure will not only have big support to the industry, but it will have a positive impact on overseas business associates also. Any point or issue related to the export industry is also a matter of image for the country when a foreign exhibitor or visitor comes to India.

(The authors own a garment manufacturing setup in a rural area, which employs mostly women workers)

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