A traditional trade show is giving its customers what they want: more digital ways to find trading partners and do business.
International Market Centers, which operates three major trade shows for the home furnishings, gifts and apparel industries, is investing $100 million to launch IMC Digital Innovations, or IMC_di, as a business-to-business ecommerce division that mixes traditional in-person and digital commerce by offering integrated online sales and marketing software tools, “in-showroom” product-data-scanning tools and a global online marketplace. The goal, says Mob Maricich, CEO of IMC, is to let buyers and sellers conduct business transactions, either in person or remotely online, and maintain records of those transactions in a single account always available on the web.
“This new digital platform will enhance and extend IMC’s physical markets—connecting hundreds of thousands of buyers and sellers—and will open new business opportunities for customers,” Maricich says. In its traditional trade show business, IMC operates some 20 million square feet of trade show space in three venues in Atlanta, Las Vegas and High Point, North Carolina.
IMC-di expects to make the new digital marketplace for online and in-person transactions within a year, when it will also more than double its initial staff of 47 employees, including software designers and marketers.
IMC_di includes two businesses that IMC recently acquired: Pharos, a former division of gifts industry ecommerce software provider Whereoware, and RepZio. Pharos provides sales and marketing management software designed for the gifts and home furnishings industries; RepZio is a provider of B2B digital marketplace and sales management software for sales managers and sales reps. Some of the sales and marketing management tools are already available from IMC-di.
IMC has named Eric Dean, the chairman and co-founder of Whereoware, as president of IMC_di. RepZio co-founders Max and Alex Fraser will join Brandon Ward, head of digital services at IMC, as the senior vice presidents of IMC_di.
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