The ShopZio virtual B2B marketplace experienced a surge in sales and number of vendors onboarded in May, trade show operator International Market Centers says.

With traditional trade shows on hold because of the coronavirus pandemic and the clock ticking on the buying season for the fourth quarter, sales on the ShopZio B2B digital marketplace operated by International Market Centers more than doubled during May, IMC says.

The digital element is becoming a more important complement to shows and is here to stay.


Eric Dean, president, IMC_di

Month-over-month sales volume on ShopZio jumped 116% in May from the previous month, the trade show company says. The average order size rose to nearly $1,100 per transaction, putting that metric on par with pre-COVID-19 spending levels, the company says. In addition, June sales on the platform are showing double-digit gains from May, says Eric Dean, president of IMC_di, which is IMC’s digital innovation division.

“ShopZio has been a great interim solution for IMC’s customers, enabling buyers and sellers to connect during a time of unprecedented business disruption,” Dean says. “We are very encouraged with the growth patterns.”

Home furnishings, which includes furniture and home décor, was the top category, accounting for 74% of sales volume, followed by giftware, which accounted for 20% of sales. The breakdown in sales by category mirrors the focus of IMC’s recently concluded High Point Virtual Market, as well as the historical strength of ShopZio, the company says.

IMC acquired the ShopZio platform, which facilitates product and resource discovery and transactional ecommerce, in January as part of its IMC_di initiative.

Furniture and home décor lead the way

“To date, mostly furniture and home décor vendors have been getting onboarded,” says Dean. “But we expect to see more giftware and apparel vendors to onboard in the next 30 days as our traditional marketplaces (for this category) begin to go online and we near the timing for our shows in Atlanta and Las Vegas.”

The Atlanta Market, which showcases gift and home products, is scheduled for August 13-18, a month later than normal. The Las Vegas Market, which features gift, home décor and furniture, is scheduled August 30-Sept 3, also a month later than usual. IMC’s August Apparel Market will take place August 3-7, as originally scheduled.

Based on the success of IMC’s recent June apparel market, which had an appointment-focused format as opposed to a trade-show format, the August apparel market is expected to run as scheduled, IMC says.

Since April, when IMC announced it would offer free subscriptions, onboarding and transactions through year-end for its customers, ShopZio’s number of vendors has more than doubled to about 240, Dean says. In addition, active SKUs total 726,287, up 75% from April. IMC customers are either tradeshow exhibitors or showroom tenants.

In the past week, 40 new vendors were onboarded to ShopZio, and the company expects to onboard about 50 new vendors a week going forward, says Dean. “We expect to have more than 1,000 vendors and millions of SKUs by the end of summer,” he adds.

Integrating multiple trade-show websites

In addition to not charging its customers fees, IMC is also not charging buyers fees. Non-IMC customers, which the company defines as brands and sales agencies, pay a $500 onboarding fee and a 3% transaction fee, the company says.

IMC also has plans in the works to integrate ShopZio with IMC’s market websites next month. The integration of ShopZio to IMC’s show websites—, and—is expected to help vendors reach new buyers, capture leads and grow sales. Retailers and designers will also be able to source products and shop. Once linked to IMC’s show websites, buyers on ShopZio will have access more than 1,000 brands and more than 2 Million SKU’s, IMC says.

“We expect our actual shows (in the near-term) will be smaller in size, but we also expect ShopZio and other digital elements to become a resource for people not in attendance and that need to build inventory for the fourth quarter,” Dean says. “The digital element is becoming a more important complement to shows and is here to stay.”

Peter Lucas is a Highland Park, Illinois-based freelance journalist covering business and technology.