Nampo Virtual Expo a launching pad for future trends

Nampo Virtual Expo a launching pad for future trends

For the first time in its 54-year history, the NAMPO Agricultural Trade Show went virtual from 9 to 12 September 2020. ROWAN WATT-PRINGLE was virtually there to find out more.

Twelve months ago, if someone had told you that public events would be shifted into the virtual world because of a global pandemic, you might have scoffed at the idea. But as we adjust to the ‘new normal’, the NAMPO Virtual Expo showed that large events can still make an impact online.

Personally, I was pleasantly surprised at the slick layout and functionality of the online expo, with the exhibitors presented to visitors in a 3D virtual exhibition centre with three different halls. All a visitor needed to do was click on a stand and be presented with a host of information from the exhibitor, including promotional videos, useful links, product posters and more. Many exhibitors were available to chat in real-time with visitors to their stands, while others sent scheduled follow-up emails to check whether a visitor required any further information or assistance.

A digital TV channel, AgriXtra, streamed directly alongside the expo, offering a variety of content including interviews with industry players, while discussion panels and a packed programme of informative webinars also provided a range of platforms through which visitors could experience the event.

Those taking part in the virtual expo generally seemed impressed with how it was staged. Riaan van der Walt, Shell Downstream SA’s Business Development Manager for Agriculture and Transport, believes the virtual event will have a place in coming years: “NAMPO 2020 certainly met my expectations. It didn’t have the vibe or visual sense of magnitude of the usual event, but it was a fun, enriching and eye-opening experience.” He explains that this can open up a whole new world of entrepreneurship, sales, marketing and engagement. “I think trade shows need to – and definitely will – embrace this digital angle moving forward. NAMPO will probably have to sit and brainstorm how to incorporate the virtual platform with their original Trade Fair,” van der Walt says. “I personally think there is a place for both. We had visitors from abroad, including Germany, UK, Namibia and Botswana, at our stand, indicating that a virtual platform makes the event more accessible to a wider audience.”

Van der Walt does, however, highlight a lack of active engagement in the online chat rooms, possibly due to the format being so new to everyone involved, noting that exhibitors will have to follow up on leads rather than being actively engaged by customers. Despite this, he says that the attendance list has presented plenty of leads and prospects – ranging from various agricultural sectors to transport and logistics owners – with whom Shell plans to actively engage.

Junique Knoetze, national agriculture product manager for Aramex South Africa, was thrilled that the company had a chance to take part in the virtual expo. “It was both exhilarating and scary during these unprecedented times to be the only dedicated transport and logistics company at Nampo,” she says. “No one knew what to expect, but it definitely paid off. I believe that the show ignited the sense of togetherness as fellow South Africans. We truly are in this together and the engagement with the visitors and exhibitors made me realise that even more.”

Knoetze says that Aramex received plenty of positive feedback and the company is excited to be offering its full range of supply chain logistics solutions to the agri sector, from export and import logistics to screening prospective international buyers. “This was Aramex’s first virtual opportunity and our expectations were high from the start, but ended up being exceeded. Look out for Aramex at Nampo 2021!” she enthuses.

Total Agri’s B2B2C Sales Manager, Leon Steyn, meanwhile, reinforces the point that the Expo represents an exciting launching pad for future events: “Our Agri webinars were well received and were relatively successful, but virtual exhibitions are a new phenomenon for us in SA,” Steyn explains, continuing, “Nampo Virtual is still in its infancy, however, I do see a great future as it develops. This is a new dawn and the new normal for reaching customers. Virtual webinars are another great way to share products and services with a wider audience, and I was glad to be part of it.”

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Focus on Transport

FOCUS on Transport and Logistics is one of the oldest and most respected transport and logistics publications in southern Africa.
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