Spring is a season of renewal – and not only in nature: In time for the ECD’s 5th anniversary, Tradebyte has treated it to a new look. But that is not all. In the interview, Tradebyte’s CEO Matthias Schulte and Alexander Otto, Head of Communications, speak about their plans for the ECD, reminisce about the e-commerce event’s beginnings and share their personal highlights from its five-year history.
Tradebyte: What gave you the idea for the ECD?
Matthias Schulte: We’ve always wanted to turn our business model into a congress model, not just to bring retailers together with marketplaces and platforms on a technical basis, but also personally. And as there was no relevant congress in the platform business at that time, we decided to start our own event. From the start, it was important for us that the ECD is independent from Tradebyte and gets its own branding. As Tradebyte, we stay out of the limelight at the ECD and leave the stage to the big players of the marketplace and platform business.
Alexander Otto: The original idea for the ECD came, of course, from Matthias. But I remember the moment when I started working for Tradebyte and I heard about the ECD for the first time. I didn’t properly understand why such an event was necessary. As the collaboration went on, I realized how much interest there was for an event like the ECD or – as it was called at the time – the E-Channels-Day.
That’s the perfect transition to the next question. How should we imagine the ECD, or E-Channels-Day, and what has changed?
Matthias Schulte: We still adhere to the basic idea of the first ECD. You can see this, for example, as the location is still the same even though we are in our fifth year: the Wappenhalle in Munich. Munich was important as the location, as most e-commerce events take place in Berlin and we wanted to emphasize our Bavarian origins. Then as now, we have a few principles we try to implement. The first is that the ECD isn’t a trade fair with stands in the original sense. We focus on content and added value for the visitors. Even the first ECD posed the question of how we could enable brands and retailers as well as platforms to exchange their ideas and views. That led to the idea of speed dating. The one-to-one meetings in the Meeting Lounge are still the heart of the ECD. Since the first ECD, we have continuously become more professional and we have grown, but the DNA has remained the same. It’s very important for us that our event is free of advertising and has an exclusive framework with a limit of 500 visitors in order to guarantee a quality meet & match between retailers and marketplaces.
Alexander Otto: The other day, I answered the question about what has changed like this: “Basically nothing!” Of course we’ve become bigger and more international and have improved year by year. The ECD has become more important in the e-commerce industry and nowadays we are lucky enough to have high-quality speakers and sponsors. But basically nothing has changed as the idea was well-considered from the start. Matthias had carefully thought through what he wanted and what he didn’t want, and that has proven itself. Therefore, the ECD still carries the same feelings as in its first year – just with more colour and tam-tam.
How should the ECD develop in the future?
Matthias Schulte: We’ll grow, I can tell you that. Due to the high level of visibility and importance in the industry, we’re realistically looking at a size of 700 to 800 visitors. Also, we’re turning the ECD website into a platform where the platform business and trends can be discussed independent of the event. Additionally, we’re pushing sub-formats such as the ECD Lunch to get even closer to customers and their requirements.
Alexander Otto: The entire ECD brand will be strengthened. Amongst other things, with the new “Engage. Connect. Digitize.” slogan. The ECD is going to be even more of a symbol for, let’s call it, targeted networking with business options. That’s also how it was at the ECD Lunch Benelux in Amsterdam the other day, the sub-format I’ve mentioned. With these events we also want to keep the classic ECD features. Speed dating, exclusive presentations and excellent food.
There will be a new ECD design for the jubilee year! Why did you decide on that?
Alexander Otto: We also want something new for the jubilee and therefore make the groundwork for the next few years. The re-design adjusts to what the ECD has grown into on all levels. The old logo was certainly justified but, in order to live up to itself, we wanted to fundamentally change the design. This new, wonderful look & feel was created together with the Tradebyte designer, Ella.
Matthias Schulte: A few years ago, the perspective of the ECD was more limited. As the format continues to grow into something very diverse, we decided to develop the design as well. A few years ago, with our “Play Digital!” claim, we made a statement that we don’t just concentrate on marketplaces and platforms, but also have service providers such as Spryker or MS Direct on board and are open to other topics. We offer visitors a comprehensive e-commerce package. With the new “Engage. Connect. Digitize.” slogan and a clearer logo language we are now beginning this new phase of the ECD.
What are your personal highlights from five years of the ECD?
Matthias Schulte: My personal highlight is – and that is true for all of the years – that the event was developed from the company and is organized entirely by the Tradebyte team. The whole management of the ECD is home-made. That starts with how we address visitors, acquire sponsors and manage the meetings and everything on location. We don’t employ a single hostess, no event agency. The ECD is a Tradebyte family affair and I’m very proud of that. Another highlight is, of course, the development of the Session Slot. Through our trustworthy connections in the industry, we’ve managed to get executives from big digital commerce companies to sit down and have a comfortable chat with one another. This leads to high-quality dialogues which you could never hear anywhere else. The overall atmosphere at the ECD is simply extremely open and positive. The joy and openness for talks is everywhere. That excites me every year.
Alexander Otto: It really impresses me that, as the Tradebyte team, we organize the ECD on top of our everyday jobs, that we put so many ideas into it and implement them. At the end of a successful ECD day, when we dance together with customers as one big, happy team it’s highly emotional and I’m always really grateful for this moment.
The ECD atmosphere is just overwhelming. Of course, people also want to do business on such a day, but I have never felt the warm, exuberant atmosphere of the ECD at any other event. That’s the DNA of the ECD. It’s something you only get with us.