E/D/E “Branchentreff total” 2022: European activities in Leipzig
After a break of around three years due to the pandemic, the time finally came again on 6th and 7th September 2022: E/D/E members and contract suppliers celebrated their reunion at the E/D/E “Branchentreff total” (industry meeting) in Leipzig in presence and held intensive discussions. With hybrid communication offers and a focus on important topics of the future of the industry such as digitisation, internationality and sustainability, E/D/E gave new impulses and at the same time strengthened the proven industry meeting concept as THE platform for many personal encounters. A strong presence of members and suppliers from other European countries underlines the relevance of the event.
Wuppertal/Leipzig – “Finally, Branchentreff again!” was the unanimous tenor of industry and trade on 6th and 7th September in Leipzig during the important event of the industrial B2B sector with all top decision-makers. Over the course of more than 20 years, E/D/E has further optimised the industry get-together concept of a so-called “trade fair in reverse”. Brand manufacturers visit the dealers every 30 minutes for a personal exchange to initiate or further develop business relationships. After three years of mainly smaller, virtual meetings, this is exactly what finally took place again in Leipzig in face-to-face encounters with over 1400 participants. “The joy of seeing each other again and the positive mood among the participants showed us once again that the space offered for valuable exchange is what makes the industry meeting so fascinating. With the ‘Branchentreff’ we have created an opportunity for personal discussions, the quality of which we have all sorely missed in the last three years. Because the dynamics that arise face-to-face are unfortunately too often lost in the digital space,” summarises Dr Andreas Trautwein, Chairman of the E/D/E Management Board. Nevertheless, technology offers expanded opportunities. In line with the cross-divisional strategy and organisational development process EVOLUTION, video meeting rooms were used for the first time at the industry get-together to make hybrid discussions possible. In this way, specialists from the trading companies who had stayed at home could also be integrated virtually into the discussions with the industry.
The new Member Management Division, created in 2020, was also represented at the industry meeting for the first time. “With Member Management, we have succeeded in decisively strengthening the service relationship between the distributors and E/D/E, as all E/D/E service areas can now be addressed by the respective member in a one-to-one responsibility and tailored to the individual requirements,” says Dr Christoph Grote, who is responsible for this division among other things in the E/D/E management.
Defying the crisis with optimism and smart decisions
A central topic of discussion was already obvious before the event: How do both distributors and suppliers deal with the current and upcoming challenges resulting from the overlapping crises and their accompanying phenomena? Because after record sales in large parts of the industry in the pandemic years 2020 and 2021, both members and suppliers are preparing for a challenging year in 2023 with massively rising energy costs, dysfunctional supply chains and a simultaneously weakening propensity to consume. Again, many participants agreed that what is needed is a mix of optimism and smart economic decisions.
The currently rising energy costs were one of the reasons why the E/D/E’s division building services offered its suppliers the opportunity to showcase suppliers the opportunity to present economical products. “Especially in building services, modern products offer an enormous amount of savings potential. The current times are a good opportunity to retrofit in these areas. At the same time, users are making a valuable contribution to the protection of important resources,” says Peter Jüngst, E/D/E Managing Director responsible for building services, steel, logistics and construction equipment.
Artificial intelligence takes data management into the next generation
In the run-up to the “Branchentreff”, E/D/E and EBH AG informed around 40 suppliers and members about relevant news on the topic of data management. Whether in merchandise management, in the online shop, in publications or in planner and processor software – well-structured, up-to-date and systematically maintained article data, both analogue and digital, is an important prerequisite for smoothly running sales processes.
In order to meet this demand, E/D/E has been operating and developing the electronic Data Centre eDC for several years, with which the data is refined according to a comprehensive classification standard optimised for the industrial B2B sector. E/D/E has optimised the entire process, from data transfer to classification and processing, right through to the output for the trading companies, in order to be able to make more data available to the market even faster than before. State-of-the-art technology is used in the process. “Our new, E/D/E-owned supplier data portal works with the use of artificial intelligence for the data feed, which carries out the allocation to the eDC classification and can handle a high number of product data and updates – and at the highest level in terms of quality,” explains Joachim Hiemeyer, Managing Director marketing and digital services at E/D/E. In the second step, this simplifies data maintenance according to eDC classification, and the last important step is then to send the data out to the retailers. “A new, cloud-based portal is already under construction. With the objective of making the ready-prepared master and product data available to the dealers with more agility and flexibility for their sales channels – online or offline,” announces Joachim Hiemeyer and explains: “With the current further development, we are gradually pursuing the intention of being able to maintain all relevant B2B assortments at eDC level.”
EDE International strongly represented on site
This year, EDE International was much more prominently represented than before with members from 16 countries. For many years, the “Branchentreff” has been an important place of exchange for German-speaking members from other European countries, such as the Netherlands, Austria, Switzerland, Belgium and Italy. Many members from non-German-speaking countries, including Poland, Romania, Turkey, Hungary, and Slovakia, participated for the first time this year.
And even though the home of E/D/E and thus the bulk of the affiliated members is to be found in Germany, Annegret Franzen, Managing Director EDE International, is delighted with the development. “A total of 30 members from abroad were on site at the ‘Branchentreff’ and we received consistently positive feedback on our event. And the suppliers also took advantage of the physical proximity to the international members to make their products known beyond national borders and to establish new distribution channels,” reports Annegret Franzen. And she continues: “This expansion was made possible by the effective and targeted planning of the talks and participation of the right contacts in advance. We will continue to expand this qualitative development in the future – together with the international members and suppliers.”
Safety in association with ETRIS BANK
For Uwe Müller, Managing Director of ETRIS BANK, it was the first E/D/E industry get-together. “My team and I were able to have very valuable and pleasant discussions with many existing and even more potential new customers – and in a compact way, because the next customer was only one stand away,” he reports. Above all, the discussion partners were looking for information on factoring and the advantages of this service. Because not only in the peak phase of the pandemic with the accompanying uncertainties,factoring was met with high demand at the association. “Factoring is currently even more in demand due to the energy crisis that has arisen and its effects,” explains Uwe Müller and continues: “With one hundred percent del credere cover, it takes away our customers’ worries about their debtors defaulting on payments. With our ‘flex-factoring’, the customer controls his liquidity gain very individually.” The total factoring market in Germany grew by 24.5 per cent to €182.4 billion in the first half of 2022. This shows that this financing instrument has arrived in the SME sector. With factoring and other banking services, E/D/E’s own ETRIS BANK, as an entrepreneurial bank, is always at the side of its SME customers to ensure their long-term future viability.