‘We believe virtual is going to be the preference for many buyers moving forward,’ says ECRM CEO

Until spring 2020, ECRM’s​ business was all about bringing together buyers and suppliers – in person – for pre-arranged meetings at physical locations around the country, industry speed-dating, if you like.

And then the world changed, recalls Farrar, who was speaking to FoodNavigator-USA ahead of ECRM’s Global Market: Food & Beverage event​ – a virtual event running June 28-July 2 featuring buyers and suppliers from 40+ countries.

“Expo West was canceled, and no one knew what was going to happen next.So wegot together and by the end of that week, we had conceptualized our first virtual offering called ‘Efficient Supplier Introductions​,’ where up to 10 suppliers could present one at a time, to any number of interested buyers.

“Our development team worked around the clock to develop a proprietary platform ECRM Connect​ – which provides a hub for all the information parties need to know beforehand, a digital meeting platform, an area to store notes during virtual appointments, and reminders for follow-ups after the meetings –and we had our first event in May.”

‘They’re getting their work done in the morning, doing meetings in the afternoon, and then they don’t have to travel anywhere’

If you’re thinking this sounds like a glorified Zoom call, think again, said Farrar, who said ECRM transferred the ‘high-touch​’ approach it had applied to its offline programs to its online programs​, doing all the spadework in advance, ensuring all parties’ goals are aligned, and that all the pieces are in place in advance of the meetings, from samples to presentation materials.

Once buyers decide to take part, we walk through their requirements and objectives and match them with the products and capabilities of the suppliers and create a curated meeting schedule. We do the leg work beforehand to source and qualify each company to ensure the categories and business capabilities of participating buyers and sellers are aligned.”

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