Many parts of traditional networking are on pause because of COVID-19’s disruption. Trade shows, a main customer acquisition channel for B2B small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), are on hold for the foreseeable future. Although B2B sales have historically taken place offline, a new era of trade is upon us. B2B SMBs are digitizing their operations and turning to ecommerce.
This past Tuesday, June 9, 2020, we hosted a virtual fireside chat with CEO of Totally Products Daniel Rosenfield and Owner and Founder of Angry Supplements Diego Bavaro, two Alibaba.com US sellers in the supplement industry. Both Daniel and Diego will exhibit at the US Supplements & Nutrition Online Trade Show. They shared their excitement about the upcoming trade show, their thoughts on rapid digitization, and how they are meeting new customers in the digital age. Check out some of the highlights from the chat below.
Question: Can you tell us a little about how your companies started and how you met?
Daniel (Totally Products): I actually came from the financial sector. After the 2008 financial crisis, I decided to enter an industry that aligned with my interests. I got into the supplements niche and started with one product that I soon grew to 100-200 products. Totally Products has really grown from the early days. Now, I’m having fun and making some money along the way.
Before COVID-19, Diego and I would attend 12-15 trade shows a year. I always say, if you meet at least one quality buyer or seller, it makes the show. Meeting Diego at Expo East made the show worth it for me. We partnered early on and since then, we’ve seen seven figures in sales together. We’re two brands in the same space, but it’s not a competition. There’s plenty of fish in the sea. There’s so much business out there that it’s almost impossible to compete. All you need is .001% of all business and you’re making a fortune.
Diego (Angry Supplements): I started small in the beginning. I was selling products on a table in a gym, but I’ve grown a lot from there. I started attending trade shows and that’s where I met my first big buyer. I went from having one product to over 50.
Question: We’ve seen a jump in online sales during the COVID-19 pandemic. Can you highlight the need to digitize during this time?
Daniel: Digitizing a business is an ongoing thing. The world is rapidly growing so you need to constantly adapt to sell your products. A large portion of my business was from trade shows. Ecommerce is still new to me — I’ve only gotten online in the past five years. When COVID-19 hit, a lot of my US buyers stopped purchasing. Fortunately, because I built the foundation with Alibaba.com, I’ve had a lot of international customers give me that push to get through the last three months. In fact, over the past three months, I’ve made more sales than usual. I’ve virus-proofed my future with Alibaba.com.
Diego: I agree with Daniel that trade shows were a main source of business before COVID-19, but April was our best month ever because of online sales. We actually needed to hire two new employees to help with all of the orders.
Question: At trade shows, getting business cards and networking with fellow attendees is crucial. Can you talk about how you will continue that networking in the digital age and some of the benefits of attending an online trade show?
Daniel: When you go to a trade show, you only see 25% of the vendors and customers. It’s almost impossible to see everybody because there is so much going on. Not everyone will see your booth. When I saw that Alibaba.com was having the US Supplements & Nutrition Online Trade Show, I got really excited. I’m honored and privileged to be speaking at the event. It’s the chance to meet the people I want to meet at an accelerated rate with better-organized traffic. It’s the start of something revolutionary.
Diego: We’re living in a new era. We don’t know when trade shows will go back to normal. But at trade shows, when you have a physical booth, you have limited traffic. With virtual trade shows, we are going to have more quality traffic. Our booths won’t be hidden among the thousands of other vendors at the Alibaba.com US Supplements & Nutrition Online Trade Show.
If you’re interested in attending an Alibaba.com US Online Trade Show, register here.
Watch this week's fireside chat with Preston Moore of Hyatt Life Sciences to learn how one Kansas-based SMB supplement manufacturer made a positive pivot in the face of COVID-19. View our other fireside chats here.
Once you make a sale, follow up with emails, catalogs, and phone calls so the customer makes repeat purchases.