Global Sources tapped Peter Zapf as its new COO in January, giving the media executive increased responsibility for revenue growth and operational strategy at the Hong Kong-based company.
He will oversee online, event and print assets that connect buyers to qualified suppliers in China.
“I'll be working on strategic planning for each business unit and across the different units so we can leverage synergies whenever possible,” Zapf said. “We want to continue to strengthen our position in the market.”
The company is in the process of significantly expanding its event offerings, growing a revenue stream that once contributed little to the company's bottom line but that now provides about 35% of overall revenue, Zapf said.
“We're showing growth in virtually all of our shows,” he said.
In January, Global Sources increased the number of Global Sourcing Fairs held in Shanghai, a move that came on the heels of launches last year in South Africa and Singapore. This month, it will launch China Sourcing Fairs in Hong Kong to support its movement last year into new solar and medical verticals, and also roll out online trade shows to support existing face-to-face events.
“This is a big step forward,” Zapf said. “We have information on our current show sites [and some] exhibitor lists; but we are really going to be expanding that. It's going to be a great opportunity for our exhibitors to leverage their spend at the physical shows [to] drive additional leads and expand [their] branding.”
Zapf expects to see increased demand for private sourcing events drive growth over the next year as well. The events connect such large retailers as OfficeMax with qualified suppliers, condensing what can be a time-consuming dance into a single day of meetings.
Online properties are also poised for growth, Zapf said.
An ongoing review of Web performance allows the company to adapt its Web offerings to better meet the needs of its customers, as well as fine-tune its outreach through tools including email marketing, Google remarketing and social media, he said.
“We have more than 60,000 Facebook followers, so we have our toes in the water,” he said. “The ROI of it is acceptable. But because users don't go to social media sites looking to solve their b-to-b problems, it's a bit of a problem to scale to metrics.”
The company expects the development of new entities, including virtual trade shows, to provide cross-promotional opportunities. “A piece of the strategy is to bring even more visitors to our online sites using new online properties,” Zapf said.
The Web also provides a medium to build Global Sources' reputation for matching qualified buyers with sellers in what can be a challenging marketplace, he said. The company saw more than 127 million requests for information from buyers to verified suppliers on its Web properties last year.
“We have positioned ourselves at the upper end of the market, and that's working fairly well for us with both our supplier and our buyer audiences,” Zapf said. “We want to continue reinforcing that.”