What Is a Virtual Swag Store? Benefits & Examples for B2B Events

Impress event attendees and attain higher ROI by setting up a virtual swag store at your next business conference.
Virtual Swag Store for Conferences & Events

Any seasoned event marketer knows how important it is to nail the right swag for events. Done correctly, swag can be a great way of connecting with potential customers and building brand recognition. Yet many event teams struggle to maintain a strong ROI through complex swag campaigns.

Does this sound familiar?

A marketing team brainstorms swag ideas and selects a few options well before the event. They estimate an order size, hoping their forecasts are correct. Teams then navigate through complicated shipping, set-up, and distribution processes at the event.

… All while being uncertain that attendees will actually like their items.

Have you ever finished a trade show with leftover boxes full of branded coffee tumblers or pens? Unsuccessful swag campaigns cost marketing departments tens of thousands of dollars and time spent. Not to mention office closets full of unused inventory.

It’s time to transition to virtual swag stores — a simple solution that eliminates messy logistics while offering items that your leads are actually excited about. Virtual swag helps brands create personalized relationships with event attendees. These relationships lead to higher conversion rates and stronger brand loyalty.

What’s Wrong With Event Swag?

There are many messy pain points when it comes to managing physical swag at events. To name some:

1. Logistics

Let’s say your brand wants to give out t-shirts with a company logo to all attendees— great! Time to design a t-shirt from an online retailer, order eight different shirt sizes and cuts, estimate an order size, arrange to ship to your event location, and physically move and set up the t-shirt booth. All this, before ever interacting with conference attendees. “Swag logistics” are time-consuming at best, and an organizational nightmare at worst. Instead of spending valuable time connecting with leads, brand reps supervise boxes of plastic goodies.

2. Waste

These complicated logistics waste valuable marketing team hours. Not only that, but traditional swag production models can generate a lot of waste.

Unless you have an item that truly delights your target audience, those conference face masks or tote bags will end up in a landfill very soon. 92% of consumers are more likely to trust a company that supports environmental issues. It’s important to take the eco-impact of your swag program into account.

3. Lack of Personalization

Account-Based Marketing (ABM) and big data have become more important than ever for marketing teams in the last few years.

The trend is clear: personalization is key. Consumers are exposed to nearly 10,000 ads every day. Brands should provide swag designed at the individual level to cut through the noise. When focusing on mass-appeal items like t-shirts or chapstick, they miss opportunities for more personal connections.

4. High Risk, Little Reward

What if your conference swag strategy flops? The only thing worse than hundreds of unused merch items at the end of an event is the price tag that goes along with it. Virtual swag stores can offer the same benefits with none of the inventory risks.

What Is a Virtual Swag Store?

A virtual swag store is an e-commerce experience provided by corporate gifting platforms where individuals receive unique gift codes that they can redeem for physical or virtual items. Event attendees can select anything from an Amazon gift card, to a new yoga mat, or a sample tasting from a local chocolatier.

In short, you skip the headaches of managing countless boxes of conference swag.

Marketing teams can now simply send attendees cards with a link to their online swag redemption page. Individuals select from a curated list of swag items and input their information to receive the gift. From there, the gifting platform (such as Alyce), handles all order and delivery logistics to the recipient. Marketing teams can set up gifting campaigns within the platform, view the success of their swag, and track KPIs.

Swag Select Card Example - Alyce & 6sense
An example of a swag redemption card that we did for 6sense.

Marketing teams can send swag codes through email, gift bags, or just about any other medium you can think of. Imagine receiving a personalized swag code at a conference booth, as a giveaway prize, or after attending an online event.

TUTORIAL: Creating a Gift Redemption Card Campaign in Alyce🎁

Benefits of Virtual Swag

With virtual gift storefronts, marketing teams can benefit from successful swag campaigns with none of the risks involved. It offers a better attendee experience for everyone.

Virtual swag interfaces mimic the ways that consumers prefer to shop. Online shopping metrics are rising quickly, and over 68% of Americans shop online. Virtual swag shops adapt to a growing retail trend that consumers are already comfortable with.

Attendees prefer virtual swag because it’s more convenient. Carrying around a bulky swag bag all day during a conference or fitting it into your suitcase Tetris-style for the flight home can be annoying. Virtual swag simplifies the gifting process for your leads: it can be as easy as pocketing a card with a QR code.

Attendees can select the swag they want from an event on their terms with Alyce.
Attendees can pick the swag they want from your event on their terms with Alyce.

Reduces wasted budget and unwanted swag

The right amount of inventory, every time. No more estimating inventory, crossing your fingers that you ordered the exact right number of items to maximize profits. With virtual gifting platforms, you only pay for gifts that your prospects accept.

Gifting platforms also eliminate “swag logistics.” No more purchasing, holding, and shipping inventory. Event planners can then focus on delivering a more holistic event experience versus arranging FedEx deliveries.

Fits into a modern demand generation strategy

Virtual swag can automate your event follow-up. Individuals can book a follow-up meeting or ask questions about their experience when redeeming swag! Easily funnel event information into your marketing and sales platforms.

With virtual gifting, you can connect with your target audience twice! At most conferences and events, you’ll be competing with dozens of other brands for your audience’s attention. It can be difficult to stand out. However, when your lead selects a physical swag item from a virtual swag bag, they’ll automatically interact with your brand a second time when their item arrives in the mail. By selecting a gift themselves, your audience will already have a baseline level of engagement. By the time their package arrives in the mail, they’ll be an even warmer lead.

Lastly, marketing teams now have access to crucial data about their swag campaigns. Easily see at-a-glance how your swag campaign boosts KPIs. With B2B gifting platforms like Alyce, data dashboards are automatically created with any new gifting campaign. Teams can track created gift codes, accepted codes, meetings booked, and other conversion stats in one solution.

Sets your brand apart from the competition

The average event has approximately 14 sponsors. Whoa. With over a dozen other companies competing for your prospect’s attention at each event, virtual swag programs are a way to stand out in a memorable way. Offer leads a unique item they truly want and look forward to using. After all, they picked it out themselves!

Our Revenue Marketing leader Nina Butler shared with Goldcast why it’s crucial to connect with recipients on a deeper level.

“Surprise and delight with moments of unexpected happiness…that’s what’s going to be the sticky factor. That’s what’s going to differentiate the experiences your brand creates from those your competitors create.”

RELATED: Building a B2B Brand That Stands Out 💪

5 Creative Virtual Swag Gift Ideas To Try

To get the wheels turning on possible swag ideas for conference attendees, aim to be a bit unconventional. You could use gift cards (no complaints there!), but the more thoughtful and relevant to your brand or the event, the better.

  1. Food delivery gift cards — For those traveling to in-person events, they often skip a meal or two and would appreciate having a bite made possible by you.
  2. Office decor — Forget the pens. Help your booth attendees have a conversation starter on their next Zoom meeting (perhaps with your AE?). Plants, art, or just creative gadgets can be a hit.
  3. Smart devices — Ask any Google Home or Amazon Alexa user, they can never have enough smart speakers. Let them pick out which smart device for their home while heading back home.
  4. Backpacks — Instead of a branded tote bag, opt for a quality backpack or messenger bag for their laptop. Some people have bulky gaming systems and others prefer to pack light. It’s an easy choice for your swag store.
  5. Healthy snack crates — Add a themed snack delivery that can be arranged when they get back home rather than just a food gift card. Eating right on the go hasn’t been any easier.

The Alyce virtual swag store puts recipients first no matter which items you pick. For some, they already have enough “stuff.”  In that case, add a charitable donation to your swag selections and know that you’re connecting with people in a more meaningful, sustainable way.

Conferences Are Just the Start

In-person events are a no-brainer when it comes to offering online swag options. But there are dozens more applications for these customizable gift codes.

The pandemic accelerated the adoption of online events. Looking ahead, 45% of B2B events will be virtual. Easily generate attendee gift codes for virtual conferences, webinars, and other virtual events in a matter of minutes.

Here’s a new idea. Add a “pick anything” gift to a spin-to-win prize wheel to reward visitors to your booth or e-commerce storefront. It’s a modern spin on a classicly enjoyable activity.

Virtual gifting can also level up your sales and customer success processes. Gifting strategies cut through the noise and offer your target audience something that they truly value, making virtual gifting an ideal fit for effective sales, marketing, and customer loyalty initiatives.

RELATED: 14 Gifting Ideas For Your Next Marketing Campaign📈

Example: Next time a sales team wants to make a great first impression on a decision-maker, send a code for a gift selection after a meeting. Leverage AI and personalization to make a memorable impact.

6sense, an account engagement program, generated over a 537% ROI through using Alyce’s personal gifting platform. We collaborated with 6sense to offer virtual event swag codes for attendees to choose what they wanted.

A pop-up swag store at the in-person 6sense Breakthrough conference.
A pop-up swag store at the in-person 6sense customer conference.

For example, 6sense’s customer success team can now instantly send promotional products whenever a customer reaches a new milestone or celebrates a round of funding. Alyce’s personalized gifting functionality helped them strengthen relationships in a genuine way.

Make Your Next B2B Conference the Best One Ever

Gone are the days of event organizers wasting time and budget on thousands of water bottles that are soon forgotten about. Gain flexibility, cost savings, and delight your event attendees by offering a virtual swag storefront.

Virtual conference swag programs are highly customizable and propel your team to the future of corporate gifting. While in-person events are ramping up again, brands frequently interact with target audiences online through webinars, social media, and more. Virtual gifting platforms allow your team to scale and transform swag, gifting, and incentive programs while remaining cost-effective.

Swag Select from Alyce reduces your logistics burden while delighting prospects.

April 7, 2022
Joe M.

Joe Manna is the content manager for Alyce who obsesses over the Oxford comma, embraces the em dash, and thrives on engaging and informative content. He's savvy with B2B marketing and has helped companies large and small serve more customers. His 5-to-9™ interests include visiting the beach, listening to podcasts, and being the best dad and husband he can be.