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Thursday, November 4, 2021

CONXEMAR Round-up Part 2: Channel Fatigue

Team Dealboard recently attended CONXEMAR, the International Fair of Frozen Seafood organized by the Spanish Association of Wholesalers, Importers, Processors and Exporters of Fisheries and Aquaculture Products. While there, we engaged in 120 conversations with representatives from over 100 companies in the seafood industry. We share our observations about the CONXEMAR event, the current state of the seafood industry, and the impact of COVID in this multi-part series.

One outcome of the COVID-19 pandemic has been the rise of videoconferencing. Almost overnight, in the middle of March, 2020, businesses, organizations and families across the world pivoted to video conferencing as a primary means of communication. The ramp-up was astounding – years worth of digital transformation achieved in mere months; millions of people adopting new systems within weeks for both business and personal use.

But, as we discussed in our last post, videoconferencing is no substitute for human contact. And, the other ways we used to communicate – WhatsApp, Skype, mobile phone, email and more – haven’t gone away. Where previously we had, say, 6-8 ways to get in touch with someone, now we have 10-20 with the acceptance of Zoom, Microsoft Teams and other videoconferencing facilities. How many channels are too many, and what happens when we reach channel overload?

Our conversations at CONXEMAR indicate that the seafood industry has reached channel overload, and it’s causing a lot of overhead. With only very few exceptions, teams buying or selling seafood products are using multiple ways to contact each other, to build relationships and to negotiate and finalize transactions. We heard time and time again about how frustrating and inefficient it is to juggle all of these different methods at the same time. Across all of our conversations, we didn’t hear even one person say “I use all of these channels because I love them all.”

To make matters worse, none of the commonly used communication channels is really optimized for the unique conditions of the seafood industry. Alibaba might be OK for selling retail goods to the general public, but try posting your products there to attract wholesalers, and you’ll quickly find you’re sharing more information with more unknown and untrusted parties than you'd like.

We’ve added channels, but haven’t taken any of the old ones away yet. Have you experienced channel fatigue? How are you coping?

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