With Nextrade and Conzoom Solutions, Messe Frankfurt is launching two new online platforms specially designed to meet the requirements and needs of commerce. While Nextrade presents itself as a comprehensive B2B marketplace for the consumer goods sector, Conzoom Solutions reflects Messe Frankfurt’s entire portfolio in the consumer goods sector and offers retailers assistance in marketing, trends and POS design. We spoke with Phillip Ferger, Head of Tendence and Nordstil and second Managing Director of nmedia, about what the new platforms offer sellers and suppliers and what Messe Frankfurt is seeking to achieve with these projects.

Mr Ferger, Messe Frankfurt has developed two digital commerce platforms. What exactly are you offering with Conzoom Solutions and Nextrade?

With Conzoom Solutions and Nextrade, we offer sellers and exhibitors added value to the original trade fair business 365 days a year. With these platforms, we are responding to the fact that our target groups and their business are becoming increasingly digital. This is reflected, among other things, in changed visitor behaviour. Visitors come to trade fairs on fewer days than in the past. We can also see that order activity at trade fairs is declining and, like information procurement in recent years, has increasingly shifted to the digital domain.

And this is where Conzoom Solutions comes in?

Exactly, because Conzoom Solutions bundles the contents of all the major consumer-goods fairs such as Ambiente, Christmasworld, Creativeworld, Nordstil and Tendence and makes this valuable information and marketing tools available to registered sellers throughout the year. We want to support German and other European sellers in the consumer goods sector secure a knowledge lead, profit from best practices and develop ideas, with which they can actively attract customers to stay and buy.

We have divided the content into four areas: Trade fairs, Insights, Learning and Point of sale. In the “Trade Fairs” section, companies will find an overview of local and international fairs, at which they can obtain new impetus from Messe Frankfurt’s huge portfolio of consumer goods. The “Insights” section provides retailers with information on studies, management reports and trend presentations such as where the consumer goods market is heading or which trends are currently emerging in the retail sector. Conzoom Solutions offers free workshops and practical seminars under the heading “Learning”. And the “Point of sale” section provides inspiring ideas for attention-grabbing campaigns and events at the point of sale as well as tips for creative presentations, with which retailers can inspire their customers right in the store.

And Nextrade comes into play when it comes to the goods ordering process. What exactly is this new platform?

Nextrade is a uniform, digital folder and data management system for suppliers and sellers that is operated by nmedia GmbH as an expert for electronic data interchange (EDI). Messe Frankfurt acts as Nextrade’s sales and marketing partner and also holds a minority share in nmedia GmbH.

What does Messe Frankfurt hope to achieve with Nextrade?

In recent years, the ordering activities of sellers have increasingly shifted to the digital domain. This is why we have delved into this subject. Nextrade could be described as a kind of virtual trade fair where exhibitors can present their products in addition to their actual presence at the fair and dealers can order them. Thus Nextrade serves to extend a trade fair to 365 days a year.

What exactly does Nextrade offer suppliers and retailers?

The advantage of the platform is that suppliers and sellers digitally use a single system, in which orders can be placed at any time of the day or night and current and new customers can be served. In the past, this was rather problematic, because sellers do not feel like making their purchases in 30, 40 or 50 different systems. However, this complex purchasing process often leads to retailers not being able to order goods quickly enough. However, this is a problem for specialist sellers. For example, they can lose 20 percent of their turnover for their standard offering if they do not reorder goods early enough. We therefore thought ordering has to be easier and are now bringing together a large number of shops in Nextrade.

Nextrade offers suppliers the opportunity to make brands and products tangible for buyers with images and information. Each supplier has their own shop within Nextrade and can decide who has access to this shop. The shops have the same features and usability for all suppliers. Only the look can be adapted to the respective brand.

The system offers simple, digital and convenient product assortment maintenance across all suppliers. Retailers can easily search for items and then see all the supplier shops that have this item in their assortment. In addition, retailers can download all images and information on the products ordered for marketing purposes.

How much does it cost to use the platform?

Suppliers wishing to participate in the new B2B marketplace pay a basic fee of 600 euros per year and a small transaction commission. However, the basic fee is waived for the first two years if the supplier is an exhibitor at Ambiente. The service is free of charge for retailers.

How are users responding to Nextrade and what number of users are you targeting with the platform?

Within the first four months, we were able to gain over 40 suppliers for Nextrade with over 80,000 articles, and that without any acquisitions. In the autumn of this year, we will launch very targeted sales campaigns and have set ourselves the target of gaining between 1,500 and 2,000 suppliers. As far as retailers are concerned, we will be focusing primarily on Germany, Austria and Switzerland this year. But next year we also want to attract retailers all over Europe, because they also want to look beyond the borders of their countries.

 What other goals are you pursuing with Nextrade for the future?

Planning includes rolling out Nextrade in 178 countries and thus globally. Our goal is to become the world’s leading digital B2B marketplace in the home & living business. Our goals with Nextrade are ambitious, but realistic from our point of view. The launch is certainly promising.

Mr Ferger, thank you very much for the interview.