(This article has been updated for 2018 conferences!)
In the daily grind of tweaking keywords, responding to reviews, and all the other details of growing your business, it's easy to become glued to your computer screen. We get it. But there's huge value in attending an ecommerce expo specifically for online sellers.
It's not just that you can learn secrets not yet revealed on the Amazon Sellers Forum, blog posts, or Reddit articles. Most people selling on Amazon realize, sooner or later, that if they want sustainable growth, they've got to get out and actually talk to other business owners who've found long-term success.
Virtual conferences only scrape at the full benefits. Five reasons to attend a live ecommerce conference include:
1. New mentors and collaborators. Meeting other business owners who can provide mutual help may be the most important reason to show up IRL. The person next to you in the elevator may have dealt with a similar problem or spent a past life producing the widgets you want to source. Make friends who might hold a key to your future success.
2. Insight and ideas. Get intel on pending changes or trends or confirm your own hunches. Some of the best and most productive discussions at a good Amazon seller convention take place in a hallway or over a drink, when business owners can toss around new ideas and, like rocks in a tumbler, polish them until they shine. Then you can take that gem home and use it.
3. Cross-pollination. It's a well-known tenet of creativity that the intersection of otherwise unrelated things is where innovative ideas are born. So put yourself in intersections where every seller around you has experience and ideas from their business that might have a new application in yours. An internet retail conference is the single best place -- with other online sellers there for the same reason.
4. Inspiration. When you've been battling dragons, a trade show can be energizing. In addition to finding specific answers to problems, simply being with so many established Amazon sellers can give you fresh perspective and enthusiasm.
5. Visibility. Nobody who speaks at a virtual conference knows who's on the other end of the Internet watching. If you want to get noticed--by Amazon and successful peers--it helps to become a face, personality, and memory. Then you can build the promotional value of a reputation.
With so many great reasons to go, even the most reluctant business owners typically find that once they start attending Amazon seller conventions, they want to keep going back. But there are definitely too many trade shows to choose from! Choose based on your experience level, proximity, and conference focus. Here are our top recommendations, with those you can still attend this year listed first. (We're skipping most "invitation only" seller summits, because why rub it in -- but if that privilege pops up in your inbox, go!)
This one-day Amazon seller convention is hosted by Bezo's crew just for Amazon FBA sellers, so it doesn't get more specific. The first Boost last year turned off some sellers as self-congratulatory but gave many others access to Amazon representatives and experienced sellers they'd never otherwise connect with. Our advice is to know why you're going--it's not the place to plot revolution, but you could learn a lot about sponsored products. If you move fast, you can still attend in New Orleans on June 20, 2018. (Would-be attendees must be approved, but FBA sellers who ask often get in.)
One of just a few conferences especially for established Amazon sellers, the Prosper Show is a sellers' summit especially for those who already have intermediate or advanced know-how. The educational content includes up-to-the-minute strategies and insights from industry leaders, including former Amazon insiders. Exhibits take a backseat to focused educational tracks and pre-conference workshops. The fourth annual event will be in 2019, with dates and location still to be set; this year's event was held at the Las Vegas Convention Center in March.
Unlike the Prosper Show, Sellers Summit appeals to both advanced sellers and novices, with separate educational tracks in a practical, small-group workshop format. There's also a masters' session only for established Amazon sellers doing more than $250,000 in annual sales. Like the Prosper Show, Sellers Summit doesn't address platforms other than Amazon, though it does include content for sellers who are interested in developing more Amazon FBA business or creating their own private ecommerce store. The 2018 event was held in May. 2019 dates and location are still to be set. You can still buy digital access to 2018 sessions until July 1.
2018 marks the fifth annual version of this ecommerce expo, which is billed as "for sellers by sellers." The conference addresses other internet retailing platforms as well as Amazon, with content for both experienced sellers and novices. More-or-less central in Minneapolis, it brings speakers and sellers from across the country July 20-21, 2018.
This 3-day event in the Netherlands is invitation only, at least to start, and limited to just a few hundred intermediate sellers looking to go to the next level. It’s sponsored by Amazing.com, focuses on support for networking, and takes place August 10-12, so if you haven’t received an invitation, it can’t hurt to ask.
Skubana hosts this one-day ecommerce conference for “high-volume, multi-channel” sellers looking to grow their businesses even farther. Details are still firming for 2018 but it’s expected October 4 and will focus strictly on education, insights, and networking for advanced sellers.
This extravaganza especially for private labelers takes place twice a year in Hong Kong. (October 2018 dates are still TBD.) Thousands of exhibitors woo intermediate or advanced sellers and help plot new product strategies and sources. While not Amazon-specific, there's no better one-stop trade show for sourcing and building relationships with suppliers.
If you can't get to Asia, Retail Global is a highly rated international option that'll be easier for North American private labelers to reach in 2018, since it'll be held in Las Vegas October 9-11. The broad internet retail content includes a track for advanced Amazon sellers.
This is one of the largest ecommerce expos, with thousands of attendees and more than 600 exhibitors. It's neither specific to Amazon nor cozy, but with dozens of educational sessions, there's sure to be a topic that's perfect for you. You may just have to work a bit harder at networking than at a smaller, more casual conference. The next will be in Chicago June 25-29, 2019.
This New York-based sellers group has created a small-but-potent spring seller meetup where you're sure to make contacts and learn secrets, from tweaking keywords to optimizing sponsored products ads. Keep an eye on planning for a possible 2019 workshop.
This graduate-level sellers' summit is put on by a large service provider to help experienced business owners already doing six figures selling on Amazon to continue to learn and grow their businesses. The last was in May in Atlanta, but you can still buy digital access.
Held twice a year in the U.S. in East and West versions (with international options complete for 2018), Etail is a large trade show for everyone from startups to established Amazon sellers to companies with private ecommerce platforms. Your next chance is August 6-9 in Boston.
So there you have it! Our Top 10 Picks. Let us know what you think? Know of a conference that we did not include? Leave us a comment and we just might add your recommendations into a larger list.