Nicolaus Gedat of nmedia and Philipp Ferger of Messe Frankfurt have achieved something special with the Nextrade platform, which goes live in September. The aim of the platform is to make it easier in future for retailers to order goods from suppliers. In the following interview they explain what makes Nextrade so attractive to suppliers and, in particular, to retailers and what the long-term plans are. Gedat founded nmedia 21 years ago and he and the company are responsible for the technology behind nmedia. Philipp Ferger is Group Show Director at Messe Frankfurt and was appointed Joint Managing Director of nmedia this year. Messe Frankfurt acts as marketing and sales partner for Nextrade.
Mr Gedat, could you please give us a brief overview of what Nextrade does?
Gedat: Many retailers don’t have a merchandise management system or don’t use it for their purchase orders. With Nextrade, we offer another possibility for ordering electronically because we have noticed that the individual B2B shops of suppliers are not used in that way. Retailers don’t want to place their orders in 30, 40 or 50 different systems. And we bundle these systems together to create the Nextrade B2B shop.
What functions does the platform offer retailers?
Gedat: Nextrade differs from BTC online merchants in two particular respects. Firstly, it is a closed shop. Only retailers authorised by us have access. Secondly, Nextrade is not ONE shop – each supplier has individual shops for each brand and country. The product mix and prices often differ from country to country. A retailer also acts differently to a consumer. The retailer makes one order per supplier and does not buy from several suppliers at the same time. Of course, it is also possible to find specific products using a full-text search.
Ferger: The theme of sustainability, for example, is currently very much in demand. Using the search functions, retailers who want sustainable products can search specifically for them: for example, straws made of wood. If suppliers have maintained the data for their products properly, the retailer will immediately find suppliers with the right products.
What do these suppliers’ shops look like and what conditions does a retailer have to meet in order to be allowed to ‘enter’ a supplier’s shop on Nextrade?
Gedat: The shops are the same in terms of functionality and usability for all suppliers on Nextrade. It’s just that the look is, of course, adapted to the particular brand. The suppliers can also post all their marketing material, such as pictures, videos, remainders, details of trade fairs at which they are currently exhibiting and special offers. Basically, all the information a trading partner needs from a supplier.
Ferger: A retailer must first of all be activated by the individual supplier before they can order goods from this supplier. Each supplier shop has its own rights management system for its customers.
Mr Ferger, how does Messe Frankfurt fit in here and what role do individual trade fairs such as Tendence, Ambiente, Christmasworld and Paperworld play?
Ferger: Over recent years, retailers’ ordering activities have increasingly shifted to the digital domain. That’s why we got into this area and decided to invest. The medium-term objective is to have all Ambiente exhibitors in this marketplace and thus enable retailers to benefit from Ambiente 365 days a year. A retailer can still order directly at the trade fair, but no longer has to. We are responding to this trend, because if we don’t, someone else will.
These days, retailers lose 20% of sales of their standard product assortment because they did not reorder the goods early enough.
Things are looking increasingly bad for the retail trade. Can Nextrade make a difference?
Gedat: We certainly can’t save any retailers, but Nextrade is a very big help. It can take a long time for a product presented as an innovation at a trade fair to be actually sold at point of sale – Nextrade makes this easier. Retailers have the latest products from current assortments at point of sale more quickly. These days, retailers lose 20% of sales of their standard product assortment because they did not reorder the goods early enough. Ordering must therefore be made simpler.
What has been the response so far?
Gedat: Within four months, we have received more than 80,000 items from over 40 suppliers for Nextrade, without any advertising activities and without the software being ready. Neither of us would have been able to do that on our own. This has never happened in the industry before.
At Tendence, you presented the pilot version. When can retailers and suppliers register?
Gedat: We will be launching a light version of Nextrade in September. Of course, suppliers can contact us now.
Ferger: Interested retailers can also go to the site and register.
How many retailers and suppliers do you expect in the long term?
Ferger: In the autumn of this year we will start marketing with very precisely targeted sales campaigns and have the objective of attracting 1,500 to 2,000 suppliers.
So you want to quickly attract all exhibitors and visitors at Ambiente and other Messe Frankfurt consumer goods fairs to Nextrade. What are your plans for internationalisation?
Gedat: This year we will be focusing primarily on Germany, Austria and Switzerland. But next year we also want to attract retailers and suppliers throughout Europe, because they too are keen to look beyond the borders of their own countries. What happens after that, I can’t say yet.
Ferger: The goal is to expand worldwide in the long term.
Many thanks for the interview.