As the new trade show season gears up, the echo of shelter in place is more distant than ever.

The impact of the pandemic on trade shows is but a memory—at least that’s what the SSCS sales reps who attended the M-PACT Show last week had to say. Activity at the Indianapolis event was brisk, with a significant number of attendees going into the show with a notion of what they wanted to buy. This probably speaks to the growing awareness and preparedness of the convenience store entrepreneur, who has become quite the smart shopper.

“It’s kind of like we never left,” was the general conclusion of our reps. “Like the virtual shows of the COVID era never happened. It was great to see the aisles full of people.”

As for SSCS, the booth traffic was substantial, and meeting with new prospects and reuniting with current customers was the order of the day. Sometimes the two activities converged—much to our benefit—as our users could provide in person, concrete examples to prospects about how SSCS made them more successful, in some cases providing some over-the-shoulder wisdom as visitors demoed our software.

M-PACT, more formally the annual Midwest Fuel and Convenience Trade Show, attracted close to 5,000 attendees this year. The event is a collaboration of four state energy marketer associations from Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, and Ohio. Sure, a substantial regional trade show is a big part of it, but the sponsoring organizations schedule plenty of educational presentations, panel discussions, and demonstrations to keep attendees up on current industry events. It’s a good opportunity for fuel brands to meet with their users, too; the show’s got a little something for everyone in today’s fuel and convenience supply chain.

It’s not always easy to predict trends from a walk on the trade show floor, but staffing and recruiting challenges appeared to be on everybody’s minds, with the show providing a fuel slate of HR courses. How to deal with the volatility of fuel prices as a retailer also was a point of emphasis. And, of course, we’re always interested in other evolving technologies, such as those on the POS side, so we can prepare for their possible integration into our back office system, Computerized Daily Book.

SSCS appreciated the chance to attend the M-PACT, and looks forward to a promising trade show season in what looks like a promising year for the industry as a whole. It’s an impressive show, and a must for any c-store professional who wants to get out in front of industry trends and gain some operational insights in the process. If we didn’t see you this time, don’t worry, there’s always the next!