It’s a challenging landscape for new B2B events at the moment. With budgets feeling the squeeze, marketing managers may be loathe to try the less well-established shows, wary of the ROI they can deliver.

Certainly, this is not a problem faced by Retail Business Technology Expo/Cards and Payments Solutions, which has doubled in size in its second year. Some of the Aspectus PR B2B Technology and Financial Services team headed down to Earls Court this week to find out what was fuelling the buzz.

As one might expect, there was a big focus on innovation, but also lots of attention being given to analytics, especially on creating actionable information from a vast amount of data, as well as the benefits of using managed IT services. Here it seems there is a significant trend towards outsourcing specialist support in key areas such as data mining and analytics, to allow retailers to focus on core business areas.

While recent retail figures are yet to show any convincing move towards economic recovery, this is clearly an industry that’s moving forward and developing apace, and there are lots of companies promoting the innovative aspects of the industry with strong stories to tell.

The challenge, as ever, is nailing the differentiator and the elevator pitch in what is an increasingly crowded market. While most retail technology vendors operating in this space have moved on from the old days of doggedly focusing on product features rather than practical business benefits, some have started to veer towards the extreme opposite, where the focus on benefits obscures the answer to the simple question: ‘tell me what you do’.

Surely that must be the starting point for all communication, regardless of the sector you’re in?

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