I have been wanting to write a blog on this topic since the inception of COVID-19, having read in the news about so many supply chain disruptions it has triggered. Components and parts from international suppliers from China, in particular, have halted production, or caused disruptions in manufacturing or assembly of products such as in the automotive industry, for example.
In June 2020, the World Economic Forum discussed this phenomenon, its negative impact on global GDP and the need to develop plans to build a more resilient global supply chain moving forward. The topic of global supply chain resiliency is gaining attention in business and academic circles.
So, what does this have to do with B2B exhibitions? I would say, ‘Everything!’ B2B exhibitions are the meeting places of professional communities. They are where BUYERS and SELLERS convene to conduct business, among other activities. Where better to discuss this critically important topic to help an industry build effective and resilient supply chain approaches?
COVID-19 is just one possible supply chain disruptor. Look at what happened to the Colonial Pipeline in the U.S. in early May. There are many possible triggers for supply chain disruption: pandemics/health crises, trade wars, wars, other geopolitical challenges, cyberattacks, sustainability concerns, weather and others. In a world that is so interdependent, solutions for more resilient global supply chain systems are best discussed, addressed in meeting places that bring industries together: trade shows and annual conferences are where meaningful discussions can take place to frame the challenges and build consensus around solutions.
There is another important opportunity to seize: cultivate and grow domestic supplier options. This is an opportunity to cultivate and nurture new domestic business start-ups that could be alternatives to international suppliers. Expand the diversity of buyer options. Could this be a pavilion at a trade show? Many events, such as the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) have locations on the show floor highlighting new businesses, known as Eureka Park. Might such a concept be featured on promoting local and domestic suppliers that can help manufacturers diversify their supplier sources to protect against possible, unexpected disruptions in supply chains due to unforeseen circumstances? Driving new business growth can help build a more robust show floor. New business start-ups that gain a foothold could be an event’s future, bellwether exhibitors.