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At JOOR, Building the Next Iteration of Virtual Trade Shows

BoF hears how the B2B wholesale platform’s latest product, JOOR Passport, enables international organisations and trade shows like ‘Showcase Japan’ to expand their global reach.
JETRO's Showcase Japan trade show on JOOR.
JETRO's Showcase Japan trade show on JOOR.
In Partnership With

B2B wholesale platform JOOR connects retailers, buyers and brands like Neiman Marcus, Dover Street Market, Tory Burch and Alexander McQueen through virtual showrooms and interactive 3D technology. JOOR also offers advanced order and assortment management, as well as real-time data and analytics tracking and insight.

Launched in 2020, JOOR Passport is the most widely used global platform powering virtual trade show and market week events around the world. Last year, JOOR hosted 17 shows with over 1,600 brands participating and 150,000 retail buyers attending, with orders from over 130 different countries and more than 500,000 items sold. Already in 2021, JOOR Passport has hosted 13 shows, with new ones being announced regularly.

Originally conceived as a trade show solution that digitises events, capturing and understanding the data for retailers and brands, JOOR Passport was created as a destination for buyers to shop global fashion events. Designed to “ensure business continuity for our partners,” JOOR powers trade shows like Cabana across the US, Seek in Europe, Ontimeshow in Shanghai, and most recently, Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO).

“The coronavirus [made it] difficult for Japanese small and medium-sized enterprises to do business overseas,” says Tetsutaro Shimogasa, director of e-commerce platform business division in digital marketing at JETRO. “By creating the JOOR Passport ‘Showcase Japan’ event, we have increased their exposure to international buyers. Brands have fed back that contact with buyers has become more efficient and helped them connect with new buyers.”

For JETRO, JOOR facilitates the global exposure of 31 Japanese brands to their now 300,000-strong international buying community. In collaboration with the trade organisation, JOOR adapted the Passport event to organise the Japanese brands across six categories — sustainability, diversity, femininity, Japanese craftsmanship, local and stay home — for increased ease of navigation for buyers and retailers.

Kristin Savilia, JOOR founder and CEO. JOOR.

Now, BoF sits down with JOOR CEO Kristin Savilia to hear more about their learnings over the year of disruption, working with JETRO for a personalised global event, and the next iteration of JOOR’s product offering and international partnerships.

Why did you launch JOOR Passport?

In the pandemic, trade shows found themselves with no way of facilitating business, interaction or connections. We felt strongly that we needed to deliver a way to do that digitally — and JOOR Passport was born. With a single log in, you can enter a Passport event and shop brands of the world. It gave trade shows business continuity and we intend to keep this digital component because it gives physical events an extended global reach.

JOOR has a brand platform where we create virtual showrooms for brands to sell. We also have the retail component — both the free version where you can just log in and shop virtually from the showrooms, or an upgraded version, used by some of the industry’s best retailers. This third component brings the two together in a trade show-like environment.

How are you responding to the evolving needs of your trade show partners?

In June last year, we had our first show with London Fashion Week. Since then, the product has completely transformed due to our partners’ and the industry’s feedback. For example, we have launched a favouriting aspect, added stronger analytics and reporting, created a preview function to see brand highlights before going into each showroom and we have enhanced some of our UI/UX to make it easier for buyers to discover and shop brands.

We rely on our trade show partners and let them guide the way — they know their customer and their audience.

We’ve also added seamless online bulk invoicing and an on-platform payment method. JOOR Payments was originally just credit card-based but, after hearing from our brands and buyers, we added SEPA (Single Euro Payments Area) and are about to add ACH (Automated Clearing House) transfer capability. In our Beta, 175 brands signed up and their payment time went from getting paid in three and a half months to three and a half days. JOOR Payments has helped our brands reduce order fall-out during these tough times.

How does JOOR Passport cater to the needs of both buyers and brands?

Brands can showcase their entire assortment as they see fit, personalised to each buyer login. A large retailer or a smaller business might then see different versions of an assortment. Through the JOOR platform, we also uniquely facilitate virtual appointments with a tool called The Edit. This tool allows brands to present their collections integrating multimedia, such as style or editorial videos, create custom styleboards and visually collaborate with their buyers to edit and finalise their assortments all online.

JOOR is a connection-based platform, which offers protection for the brand in terms of pricing and intellectual property. It works on an invitation system — and invitations go both ways. A brand can look at JOOR’s roster of retailers and invite a retailer in, or a retailer shopping the site can send a connection request. Both parties must accept before a retailer can shop.

How does JOOR Passport work with its international partners?

The categories we include come from our partners and each unique event they offer. The site itself is configurable and we work with partners on the design for each individual show. We rely on our trade show partners and let them guide the way as they have been doing this for a long time and know their customer and their audience. Our role is to provide the technology and enable participating brands to build beautiful, robust showrooms.

Recently, we worked with Japanese trade organisation JETRO to increase visibility for their brands outside of the Japanese market. Through this JOOR Passport event, JETRO’s 31 brands will be seen on a global scale with virtual showrooms on JOOR, giving them access to our 300,000 retailers. Through marketing and social media activities, we are driving traffic to the show and introducing these great brands to retailers that have been on JOOR for many years.

How do you approach entering new global marketplaces?

JOOR is headquartered in New York City and has 11 offices around the globe, including an office in Tokyo. With JETRO, we extend our presence in Japan. Knowing the language isn’t enough — we get people in the market who know the cultural nuances, to teach us and help us better understand the marketplace. We listen, we don’t just show up. We went to Japan with a strong partner, Itochu; we went into Turkey with Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Istanbul and the Istanbul Apparel Exporters Association; we went into Germany with Premium Group and in China, with Ontimeshow.

As physical events begin to return, our partners recognise our digital solution is not looking to replace physical events but instead enhance them.

Through all these activities, we learn about how to work with international retailers or brands, and our philosophy is always to be as transparent as possible. JOOR’s big thing is moving the industry forward for good, and we are proud of how that approach has helped us enable business continuity for trade shows, brands and retailers in the past year.

What expertise and learnings do you share with your partners?

We capture $1.5 billion in wholesale transaction volume per month, so the insights generated from the platform represent the industry as a whole. A key feature of our platform is called Snapshot, which is a visual, real-time view of a client’s wholesale business that appears each time a user logs into our platform. Snapshot is tailored to different levels so, if you’re a sales rep, your Snapshot will be about you. If you’re that sales rep’s boss, your Snapshot is about all of your sales reps. If you’re the CEO of the company, your Snapshot is about the company.

We have customisable and detailed reporting built into the JOOR platform. A brand can pull any data point they need to know, like how many black dresses they have sold or the delivery amount and to which retailers they are going. On the retailer side, they can see the entire market through their own filters. For example, they can see how many blue shirts they purchased for the Autumn delivery across brands to make sure that it’s well assorted. These features prevent duplication and allow for up-to-the-moment decision-making.

How do you envision the future of trade shows?

We are big fans of trade shows and know they will be back in force. As physical events begin to return, our partners recognise our digital solution is not looking to replace physical events but instead enhance them. When shows return in greater numbers, they will always have a virtual component to appeal to globally distributed and environmentally conscious audiences. Moreover, the extended reach and multi-week time span of JOOR events means more business for the shows.

JOOR has always had an iPad app for convenient use in-showroom. Our traffic before the pandemic was 75 percent mobile to 25 percent desktop, and it skewed to about 90 percent desktop when the pandemic hit. So, during the pandemic, we rebuilt our iPad app to be more robust and we are now starting to see the trend shift back to mobile usage. With the new set of features, buyers can go to a trade show, preview items in 360 and purchase them on the iPad app. All this information is instantaneously fed back to the desktop in real-time.

This is a sponsored feature paid for by JOOR as part of a BoF partnership.

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