We cannot deny the importance of the physical dimension of trade fairs, which is key for meeting and interacting with people. However, neither can we stop the digital evolution that has transformed all sectors of the economy. Micam Milano has acknowledged this need and has confirmed the physical fair trade from the 20th to the 23rd of September at Fiera Milano Rho with over 500 companies – a strong signal of the restart of the sector after the Covid-19 emergency – but it has also increased its offer by providing a digital platform, too.The platform is called ‘MICAM Milano Digital Show’ and will be online from September the 15th to November the 15th.

Thanks to the strategic partnership with NuORDER – a global leader in the design of B2B online sales solutions for the fashion sector – brands will find a unique type of support for their sales within a community of 500,000 buyers who can get in touch with companies, select products from their collections, and plan and finalise orders. Tommaso Cancellara, CEO of Micam Milano, and Tommy Fazio, NuORDER’s Fashion Director, explained this new exhibition format during a live broadcast on Instagram, which is still accessible on Micam’s social channel.

According to Tommaso Cancellara, this unique period will be remembered as one of the most innovative with respect to the transition of many processes from physical to digital, including how collections are presented. However, a distinction must be drawn between short- and medium-term goals.

“In the short term, the core event remains the physical fair – confirms Cancellara – which in September will be a safe experience in compliance with the anti-Covid protocol for both exhibitors and visitors, with thermo scanners to take people’s temperature, face masks, the daily sanitation of the fair and its stands, wider corridors, etc.. In the medium term, however, the digital offer will grow, with the future of trade fairs looking increasingly ‘phigital’, i.e. composed of a mix of the physical and the digital.

Coming to Milan must remain the core of buyers’ work, but it takes a lot of stimuli and content to induce them to take a plane to Milan from the other side of the world. During the 4-day-long fair, the entire sector is interacting in a single location where opinions are exchanged and ideas born. One should not forget that in the past Micam has welcomed over 45,000 visitors and over 1,200 exhibitors. We have become more open to sharing our experiences with others and discussing how to survive and innovate: networking is as important as ever. On the other hand, digital evolution is inevitable. Hybridisation formulas cannot be ignored: digital support can help physical work by allowing companies to stay in touch with buyers even after the fair, but it remains important to physically see the products and smell the leathers being used for their construction.

When in February we understood that it was time to push forward the digital evolution, we thought that the best choice was to partner up with a big B2B player in the sector and we chose the NuORDER platform (already used by InForma, our partner for Micam Americas), which not only connects large companies and large buyers, but also medium-small businesses – which are the backbone and pride of Micam.

The ‘Micam Milano Digital Show’ platform is very simple to use. It works like B2C platforms such as Yoox, Zalando, etc., except that given its nature as a B2B platform, it allows buyers to place large orders. There are currently 120 subscribers on the platform, and we are expecting many more”.

 Tommy Fazio explained in greater detail how NuORDER works, a platform that connects brands and buyers not only for orders but also so as to immerse retailers in the brand experience, from researching the brand to connecting with it, from deepening the experience to the act of placing an order.

Even if Fazio agrees with the importance of the physical fair, he recognises nevertheless how the pandemic made retailers discover the possibility of digitally immersing themselves in the reality of companies and connecting with brands from all over the world. “This can happen through ‘Micam Milano Digital Show’” – explains Fazio – “which allows you to place orders even without visiting the physical fair. We bring the marketplace to the buyers’ homes. Physicality is needed to experience the product, but I believe that the combination of physical and digital is the future; you visit the fair physically and then buy digitally.”

Can you explain in greater detail how the procedure works?

“The buyer enters the Digital Show and registers for free” – continues Fazio – “he builds his navigation dashboard for the visit and the purchase process, starts looking for the brand, asks to connect, receives a confirmation from the brand and this allows him to buy from them. You can explore the brand and its history even without being connected to the brand, but in order to make a purchase the link request must be accepted. Companies have an immediate overview of all the orders they have collected on the platform.

It is easier and faster for a small brand to be part of the Micam Digital Show because you simply need to send a registration request to the platform, fill in the documents, after which the tutorials explain how to create your own shopping experience. For companies that are on the platform, there are many opportunities to present products through videos, photos, stories, and a virtual showroom, that is, you can emotionally involve the visitor and let him enter the mood of the brand.

The order management side of things is equally as important, as is the search by category and brand type functionality. Nuorder provides an end-to-end solution that provides supports at all stages: from product research, to the choice of the brand, to connecting with the brand itself, to the issuing of the order and its tracking, up to the delivery of the product itself.

There is also great attention to privacy and data protection. All transactions are password protected and have security levels that are established by the brands and retailers.”