Andy Hoar, a leading B2B e-commerce expert and CEO of consulting firm Paradigm B2B, shared his expectations for the inaugural B2B Next conference and exhibition in an interview this week with B2BecNews.
B2B Next will launch as a three-day event starting on Sept. 24 at the Sheraton Grand Chicago, a conference hotel in the city’s downtown area near Lake Michigan. It is being produced by a partnership formed by Hoar and Vertical Web Media LLC, the publisher of B2BecNews and Internet Retailer and the creator of IRCE, the world’s largest e-commerce conference and exhibition. (IRCE is now owned by Emerald Expositions LLC.)
In the interview, Hoar notes that business executives today face pressure to meet the demands of customers who increasingly go online to research products, and expect to quickly find and purchase what they need. He elaborates on how B2B Next will provide through workshops and in-depth sessions, practical advice that business executives will be able to use to develop and carry out successful B2B e-commerce strategies.
Q: B2B e-commerce already dwarfs retail e-commerce, with about $900 billion in sales in the U.S. alone and expected to soon surpass $1 trillion. Why is it so big and growing?
AH: Customers are increasingly demanding online self-service to complement full-service.
In addition, companies realize that they can reduce the cost to serve customers, drive incremental revenue and improve customer loyalty. It’s not often that you get a “three-fer” like that.
Q: Why B2B Next?
AH: Even with all the growth in B2B e-commerce, e-commerce still accounts for a small percentage of overall B2B sales. That leaves plenty of room for companies to grow via e-commerce. That all warrants a new annual conference and exhibition that will help companies build strategies, network with peers and review the latest B2B e-commerce technology applications as they plan online growth.
What also makes this joint venture different is that we expect to maintain an ongoing dialogue with B2B e-commerce professionals, not just host a once-a-year event.
Q: What will B2B Next offer attendees?
AH: For years B2B e-commerce professionals and software and services companies have been asking for a show that offers high-quality, actionable content. B2B Next will not only tell attendees why they need to excel in B2B e-commerce, but show them how, with future-focused, immediately applicable content and hands-on workshops that will turn insights into concrete plans.
B2B companies know they have to vastly expand their digital business, but many don’t know where to start or how to move to the next level. Our goal is to enable large and medium-sized B2B companies to acquire the highest quality insights from peers and industry experts and to meet partners with demonstrated expertise producing differentiated customer experiences.
Q: Why is it urgent for companies to get into B2B e-commerce now?
AH: Competitors in complementary spaces are adding lines of business and entering adjacent businesses. Amazon.com is also a looming threat—both from a selling and fulfillment perspective.
In addition, the customer experience bar keeps rising, and customer defection is much easier than it used to be—it’s now often just one click away.
Q: You routinely meet with many businesses. What are you hearing from companies that underscores the need for B2B Next?
AH: They’re saying they need high-quality content that they can apply immediately to their business, and we know that stats and stories alone fall short. This is why we’re putting heavy emphasis at the event on case studies and workshop-based learning, so that attendees can walk away with the “how” in addition to the “why.”
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