Businesses got online fast as a new way to remain competitive during the pandemic. In our recent Alibaba.com US B2B Small and Medium Business (SMB) Survey, we polled 5,015 US B2B SMBs and found that 93% of B2B companies are now conducting some portion of their business online.
This rapid digital adoption made us rethink in-person events. The cancellation of trade shows eliminated a critical customer acquisition channel. We launched the Alibaba.com Online Trade Shows USA to make it easier for buyers and sellers to connect, grow, and do business from anywhere and everywhere.
The most recent category-specific online trade show focused on beauty and personal care products. The show received over 800,000 views across all social media platforms. Attendees heard from top private label manufacturers, brands, and CBD-based businesses. If you did not attend the event, you can still benefit from the top takeaways from three of the keynote speakers.
Interested in attending an upcoming Alibaba.com Online Trade Show? Register for the next category-specific event.
Day one: private label manufacturers
Keynote presentation: Amanda E. Johnson, Co-founder and COO, Mented Cosmetics
Navigating the complexities of supply chain disruptions
Nude isn't a color — it's a concept. Mented Cosmetics was born from this idea. There was no good solution for a nude lipstick for women of color. Beauty companies lacked highly pigmented products that varied in shade range, leaving out an entire part of the population.
Amanda E. Johnson and KJ Miller founded Mented Cosmetics in January 2017 and launched with six nude and neutral lipsticks (that they made themselves after watching YouTube tutorials), unapologetically placing women of all hues at the forefront. Three and a half years later, Amanda and KJ have a booming direct-to-consumer (DTC) business and have expanded into every major beauty category. In Amanda's keynote presentation, she shared lessons she learned while building her business from the ground up:
- Find and vet good vendors
Your company will only be as successful as the vendors you work with. It's important to get it right, and when it's not a fit, move on quickly. Your vendor must be reliable. You need to create an internal process to validate and approve every batch you receive and give exact feedback when it's not right so you can get what you need.
- Vendor strategy
When you're starting out, you just need to find great vendors to work with. But overtime, you need to cultivate a strategy. You need to think about:
- Diversification: No vendor is great at everything. Diversify your vendors based on their product expertise. They'll have more innovation in that field, and you'll pass that on to your customers.
- Payment terms: If you've been giving steady and increasing business to your vendors and your business is ready for the next stage, your vendors should acknowledge that. Do a vendor review that shows your increasing orders and let your ending ask be payment terms. You need to think about your cash flow as you scale, so you need to find a solution.
- Demand planning
Create functioning demand-planning models that tell you exactly how many products you need and how many non-finished goods you'll need as well. Make sure you are data oriented and know your numbers when forecasting. Your demand-planning strategy is constantly evolving and crucial to your success.
Day two: branded goods
Keynote presentation: Tishay Alston, Founder, Bond and Seek
Growing your social audience: strategies to increase impressions and engagement for social accounts
Branding. What is it and why is it important? With over four years of social media management and brand strategy experience, Tishay shared her knowledge on building a brand with the online trade show audience.
What is branding?
Branding more than just a logo and color palette. It's what separates you from your competitors. It makes you stand out in your market. Your brand is your promise to your customer, and it tells them what they can expect from your products and services.
Why is branding important?
Strong branding helps generate new customers and gives your brand a familiar look. It creates overall trust, making customers feel comfortable, as they go through a subconscious visual experience when looking at your website or social media.
Building a brand strategy
Tishay shared her personal favorite brand strategy — the 4 C's:
- Character - What is your personality and tone of voice? You need to resonate with consumers and get them to notice your products through emotion. This helps separate you from competitors. It's necessary to keep the tone of voice consistent across all platforms so your customers know what to expect.
- Commitment - What are you selling, who are you selling it to, and who is your ideal market? When building a brand, don't try to target “everyone.” Be specific about your overall demographic.
- Credibility - Why should consumers believe in you? Share testimonials, reviews, or famous endorsements. If you're just starting out and don't have these to back your brand up, focus on an impeccable design for your brand packaging and highlight your degrees or certifications to build trust.
- Contacts - Who else is serving your market and what separates you from them? There should be a clear difference between you and your competitors.
Day three: CBD-based businesses
Keynote presentation: Dr. Jenelle Kim, Founder and Lead Formulator, JBK Wellness
The future of beauty: why you should pay attention to CBD
Dr. Jenelle Kim, Founder and lead formulator at JBK Labs, shared with attendees an overview of the fast-growing beauty industry and why CBD products are leading the way.
CBD is by no means a new discovery. It's thought to be one of the first crops cultivated back in 8000 B.C.E. and remains one of the 50 fundamental herbs of Chinese medicine to help calm the mind, balance digestive disorders, and improve skin and hair health.
The global beauty industry is currently a US $532 billion business and is expected to grow to US $800 billion by the year 2025. Sales of CBD products alone account for much of this growth. In 2019, CBD products hit US $5 billion in sales, and the latest reports show this number increasing to US $23.7 billion by 2023.
According to Dr. Kim, CBD oil is used in beauty and skincare products for four main reasons:
- Powerful antioxidant properties: the antioxidants in CBD help protect the skin from free radicals like smoke, UV rays, toxins, and environmental pollutants.
- Anti-inflammatory properties: CBD powerfully calms and soothes the skin.
- Balances troubled skin: troubled skin involves the overproduction of sebum in the sebaceous glands. CBD can help balance the sebum, affecting the output of oils and inhibiting lipid production, making it an effective preventative for acne.
- Nourishing properties: CBD has long been used for its ultra-hydrating and emollient effects.
As research continues, you can expect to see more and more beauty companies incorporating CBD into their products and formulations.
Here's a quick look at each day's exhibitors:
- Choice All Natural
- Advanced Bioderma Corporation
- Devoted Creations
- My AlpStory
- All Natural Health & Beauty
- XJ Beauty
- Cosmetic Solutions
- Orcé Cosmetics
- Ora's Amazing Herbal
- Tropical Isle Living
- Earthen SkinCare
- Estala Skin Care
- Demeter Fragrance Library
- Cannabidiol Life
- Health Naturally LLC
- Avient Biosciences
- NuuMe Organics
- Physicians Grade
- Strength of Hope
- BodyChek Wellness
- Cannabis Ventures
- Remedy Processors
- CBD Luxe
Hire a great supply chain team. You know a lot about your industry, and don't discount that, but there are experts. Hire supply chain experts who can help you set up your demand forecast, find new warehouses, and introduce you to better freight forwarders. A robust supply chain team is just as important as a robust marketing team.