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Earlier this week, on my way to Munich for the direct-to-consumer (DTC) digital commerce platform Tradebyte’s ECD event, I knew precisely two people on the guest list. On my way home, this figure had probably increased tenfold!

Had I worked directly in the retail space (there were a few instances of needing to explain to people that I didn’t work for THAT Liberty), I suspect this number would have been far higher. It was a perfect example of how a tech platform can connect its community of customers, partners and the wider industry in a mutually beneficial way – while having a lot of fun. And a firm reminder of how valuable events like this can be.

The event, aptly titled Engage, Connect, Digitize (ECD), was more than a tradeshow. It offered attendees a unique opportunity to learn about and discuss the opportunities and challenges of DTC marketplaces, while also fostering connections that would help them navigate the complexities of the European market. The focus was less on sales pitches and demos, and more on industry learning and meaningful interactions.

The event’s agenda was packed with insightful sessions featuring speakers from e-commerce and fashion and lifestyle giants such as Adidas, Timex, Zalando, and eBay. These sessions were spread across four different stages, offering attendees a variety of learning and interaction opportunities. Over 200 one-to-one meetings were officially scheduled in advance, and I’m certain that many more informal conversations took place, enriching the event’s networking aspect.

Discussion of a new generation of digital commerce featuring AI-enabled personalisation, social shopping and a shift towards creating deeper customer experiences that move beyond simple transactions was high on the agenda.

The importance of quality and sustainability was also frequently mentioned, with some terrifying statistics about the number of unnecessary parcels and returns and the associated carbon footprint, as well as a logical link to the growing importance of recommerce. The labyrinth of European marketplace requirements, consumer preferences, stock management, fulfilment and logistics, and the need for partners that can bring simplicity were also popular topics.

The tagline for the ECD is Play Digital – and they do like to play! From the hilarious tongue-in-cheek gen-AI inspired opening sequence, culminating in event host Alexander Otto’s live performance of AI-written ‘ECD song’ (also perfectly pitched – handy that he was a musician in a former life), through to the comedic compering, impressive catering and brilliant dancefloor-filler aftershow party, a huge amount of care and detail had gone into looking after their guests and making sure they had a good time. Which we did!

This was their seventh event, so they’ve had some practice finding the perfect pitch for ECDs – and I don’t think I can give them credit for the glorious sunshine that shone down on us all in the Wappenhalle gardens over lunch. But I sense that Tradebyte’s interaction style with its industry is engrained in its DNA as a company – dynamic, collaborative, warm, and welcoming. I’m looking forward to London’s October event already!

Jen Hibberd

Jen is a Director at Liberty Communications

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