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B2B Online Chicago 2024 Recap Blog

B2B Online Chicago 2024 Recap: AI, Channel Optimization, Digital Showrooms and More…

Held at the luxurious Chicago Marriott Downtown Magnificent Mile from May 6-8, B2B Online 2024 attracted hundreds of senior executives from leading manufacturers and distributors. The event focused on how businesses can leverage digital strategies to enhance customer experience, streamline operations, and drive growth. Attendees had the opportunity to engage in over 50 sessions, including keynote speeches, panel discussions, and interactive workshops, all designed to provide actionable insights and innovative solutions.

The theme for this year was “Driving Digital Transformation in B2B Commerce,” reflecting the urgent need for businesses to adapt to the digital age. As B2B buyers increasingly expect the same level of service and convenience as B2C consumers, companies must innovate and embrace new technologies to stay competitive.

Key Themes at the Show

B2B Onlie 2024 Live Polling Panel

Interactive Live Polling Panel at B2B Online Chicago 2024 focusing on the topic of Aligning Marketing Strategies with Business Goals in B2B Ecommerce

Several key themes emerged during the B2B Online 2024 show, highlighting the priorities and challenges faced by the industry:

1. The Use of Artificial Intelligence in E-commerce

Right on-theme with the transformational focus, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is revolutionizing the B2B e-commerce space by offering personalized experiences, predictive analytics, and automation. Sessions explored how AI can enhance customer interactions, optimize supply chains, and provide actionable insights. Companies are leveraging AI to analyze vast amounts of data, predict customer behavior, and automate routine tasks, thereby increasing efficiency and customer satisfaction.

2. Having a Defined Marketplace Strategy

The importance of a well-defined marketplace strategy was a major focus. Marketplaces are evolving into sophisticated platforms that offer a wide range of services beyond simple transactions. Speakers discussed strategies for building and maintaining successful marketplaces, including the importance of a robust technology foundation, continuous innovation, and strategic partnerships. A successful marketplace strategy can help businesses expand their reach, enhance customer experience, and drive growth.

3. Embracing Customer Centricity

Customer-centricity was emphasized as a critical component of success in B2B e-commerce. Businesses are prioritizing customer experience by understanding customer needs, personalizing interactions, and delivering seamless omnichannel experiences. Discussions highlighted the importance of listening to customer feedback, leveraging data to gain deeper insights, and creating tailored solutions that meet specific customer needs.

4. Investing in Digital Transformation

Digital transformation is essential for staying ahead in the rapidly evolving B2B landscape. Companies should leverage the latest technologies, such as AI and automation, to enhance operational efficiency and drive innovation. Sessions covered best practices for integrating new technologies into existing systems, overcoming common challenges, and measuring the impact of digital transformation initiatives.

5. Optimizing Online Sales Channels Including Digital Showrooms

Optimizing online sales channels was a key theme, with a particular focus on the concept of digital showrooms. Digital showrooms offer a co-browsing experience that allows customers to explore products in a virtual environment, interact with sales representatives, and make informed purchasing decisions. This approach enhances the online buying experience by providing a more interactive and personalized journey. Attendees explored strategies for implementing digital showrooms, optimizing e-commerce platforms, and utilizing advanced CRM systems to drive sales.

McFadyen Digital Highlights

McFadyen Digital made a significant impact at B2B Online 2024, showcasing their expertise in creating transformative online marketplaces and e-commerce solutions. The company’s presence was marked by and exhibition presence, and insightful presentations, and an exclusive VIP networking dinner co-hosted by Mirakl.

Tom McFadyen’s Session About B2B Channel Optimization

A standout moment was Tom McFadyen’s session, “Mastering Channel Strategies: Optimizing B2B Ecommerce, Marketplace, Dropship, DTC, and More.” As CEO of McFadyen Digital, Tom shared his vision for how manufacturers and distributors can increase sales across new channels while driving channel collaboration instead of channel conflict.  He also covered the need to have a comprehensive marketplace strategy, whether pushing offerings to other marketplaces or pulling third-party sellers into an owned marketplace,  how to sell direct-to-consumer without damaging existing channel sales, and the key differences between marketplace and dropship.

This session provided a lot of actionable information on what it means to be a platform business vs. a pipeline business and how multi-channel sales and marketing optimization are the path forward for these B2B sellers. Digitizing the sales experience doesn’t mean everything has to be online, but it does mean that everything has to harmonize with online aspects. Be sure to check out the on-demand version of this session and subscribe to the McFadyen Digital Youtube Channel for more valuable content.

VIP Executive Dinner at Eataly

McFadyen Digital hosted a VIP Executive dinner at Eataly Chicago on Monday night, in collaboration with Mirakl. This exclusive event provided an intimate setting for senior executives to network, share insights, and discuss the future of B2B e-commerce. The Mirakl and McFadyen teams enjoyed spending time with our honored guests at this incredible venue, giving us all a taste of Italy in the middle of one of America’s great cities.

Event Team  and Exhibition

The McFadyen Digital team was well-represented at B2B Online 2024, with several key members in attendance and an exhibition space a Kiosk #1 in the main hallway. The company’s presence included CEO Tom McFadyen, who led the session on channel optimization, as well as other senior executives and experts who attended various sessions, networking events, and held meetings with clients, prospects, and partners throughout the event. Their presence underscores McFadyen Digital’s commitment to driving innovation and excellence in the B2B ecommerce space and to always be engaging with the community that keeps us engaged, educated, and energized.

Key Takeaways

B2B Online 2024 was a remarkable event that provided valuable insights and inspiration for all attendees. The key takeaways from the show include:

1. Embrace A Customer-Centric Approach 

Businesses must prioritize customer experience and satisfaction to remain competitive in the digital age. This involves understanding customer needs, personalizing interactions, and delivering seamless omnichannel experiences.

2. Invest in Digital Transformation

Digital transformation is essential for staying ahead in the rapidly evolving B2B landscape. Companies should leverage the latest technologies, such as AI and automation, to enhance operational efficiency and drive innovation.

3. Optimize Online Sales Channels

A digital-first approach to sales is crucial for meeting the expectations of modern B2B buyers. This includes optimizing e-commerce platforms, utilizing advanced CRM systems, and providing efficient self-service options.

4. Leverage Data for Strategic Decisions

Data is a powerful tool for driving strategic decision-making. Businesses should focus on collecting, analyzing, and visualizing data to gain valuable insights and make informed decisions.


B2B Online 2024 was a resounding success, offering a wealth of knowledge and inspiration for the future of B2B commerce. The event underscored the importance of digital transformation, customer-centric strategies, and data-driven decision-making. McFadyen Digital’s contributions, particularly Tom McFadyen’s insights on the future of marketplaces, were a highlight of the show.

As we look ahead, it’s clear that the B2B landscape will continue to evolve rapidly. Companies that embrace innovation, prioritize customer experience, and leverage data effectively will be well-positioned to thrive in this dynamic environment. B2B Online 2024 has set the stage for an exciting future, and we look forward to seeing how these trends and insights shape the industry in the years to come.

if you need any help with your digital commerce strategy or technology platforms, our experts stand by and are ready to assist. Please reach out to us at info@mcfadyen.com and put our 37 years of experience to work for you.

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