This sponsored post is produced by SPS Commerce. 

The world of retail sourcing is changing as new online methods and communities for finding products are under development.

In the past, retailers used to go to tradeshows and special venues to find the newest offerings in their sector, spending several days out of town and letting work pile up on their desk. It was an acceptable practice, because there were set times of the year when new products would be released and available to retailers, which often kicked off new shopping seasons (like Christmas or Memorial Day). This made it easy to schedule and work around, and retailers grew accustomed to following those pre-planned schedules.

On the downside, it meant that retailers could really only hear about those new products during a few select times each year. Attending tradeshows is time-consuming and can get expensive, and once you returned to the office, several days of work were waiting for you — on top of the new work you brought back with you. Yet it was a necessary process, because this was the only way to find new products to sell in the coming year.

Nowadays, many of these tradeshows and merchant-only venues are turning into online communities. Thanks to high-speed Internet and digital photos and videos, retailers can ditch tradeshows and other industry and events and instead browse online retailer communities at their leisure. (This is also a good argument about the importance of good product information).

The digital consumer is pushing retailers to carry more items to create the endless aisle across its omnichannel. Today’s e-commerce retailers are always looking for new products and more often, they are using online communities to find them. Learn how to source more efficiently for the omnichannel at SPS Omnichannel 2014.

A retail sourcing community is also a more streamlined way to find new products, because it eliminates all of the meetings you normally have at a tradeshow. If you normally have 10 to 12 meetings per day at a three-day show, that’s as much as 30 hours spent in meetings. What if you could spend half that time looking at twice as much information?

For suppliers this is also a money saver, because the cost of a trade show presence is usually never less than $10,000, and that’s just for a single show. What if you have to attend, three, five, or 10 of these events per year? That can be pretty pricey just for a few days of meetings. This lets you reach people constantly, at any time of year, without ever having to leave town, let alone the office.

As a big believer in online communities, SPS Commerce offers Retail Universe, a connection to the world’s top retailers, suppliers, and third-party logistics providers. It lets suppliers promote their products and capabilities to potential retail customers, lets retailers find the suppliers that can provide the products and delivery seamlessly into their current lineup, and to discover new products based on your needs and business attributes.

Sponsored posts are content that has been produced by a company that is either paying for the post or has a business relationship with VentureBeat, and they’re always clearly marked. The content of news stories produced by our editorial team is never influenced by advertisers or sponsors in any way. For more information, contact