NACS proves again and again that B2B trade shows don’t have to be boring.

Some of the creative staff at SSCS have worked in professions other than the retail petroleum industry. We’ve been participants in a more than a few trade shows, as a result: not the high profile consumer-facing shows with a large entertainment component—such as consumer electronics or fashion—we’re talking about bread-and-butter business to business (B2B) trade shows.

As a result, we’re no strangers to “concrete” legs, aching backs, bleary eyes, gurgling stomachs, and any number of other noises responsible for waking us up too soon.

Fortunately, these minor physical inconveniences do nothing to distract from the bona fide positives of attending a trade show: exposure to new products and programs, industry education, renewing connections and making new networking opportunities. Oh, yeah, and selling products and solutions.

Which brings us to NACS. If you’ve always been in the retail petroleum industry, and NACS has been your go-to national show for years, it may be easy to take for granted how fun it is compared to other B2B shows. These tend to be overwhelmingly niche in what they present: essentials for some that don’t translate into points of interest for others: piping, paint booths, industrial sized waste disposals…you get the picture.

NACS is anything but niche. Because the target audience is made up of petroleum retailers with a strong convenience store presence, the appeal to the consumer is strong, and as you well know, we’re all consumers at heart. Consumers need a hook to try something new, which often requires a component of entertainment not unlike what you’d find at a more consumer-focused show.

So while it’s not exactly a comic book convention, you will find any number of interesting characters: Bigfoot, Minions, Yumbees, people-sized Oreos, anthropomorphic chickens—the list goes on and on. In addition, there’s no shortage of less fantastical creatures like sports figures and media personalities.

Those working the company booth at NACS also benefit from a main component of the show’s mix: food, drinks, and snacks that consumers (hopefully) go wild over. Chicken, pizza, jerked meats, candy, frosted dispensed beverages in outrageous flavors—FREE SAMPLES!—and that’s about one percent of the food you’ll find on the bustling show floor, which seems to go on for miles in all directions.

This emphasis on food permeates the “Cool New Products” part of the show, where purveyors of consumables present their newest wares. Not to say that there aren’t other important new products that are anything but digestible, but from the perspective of John Q. Public, nothing speaks more forcefully than insanely inventive food ideas delivered in the most eye-popping way.

Of course, you’ll find plenty of automation, too, as the convenience store industry has really stepped up its game in the light of the quest for being faster and more accurate. Being a technology provider ourselves, we’re probably pretty biased, but this is one of our favorite aspects of the show, because we get exposed to products and ideas that we have to consider as we move forward developing our software.

If you went to NACS, we hope you had a good time, and we certainly hoped you had a chance to visit Booth #3767 and our friendly team of accomplished sales professionals. See you next year!