WWD: Do Internet business exchanges stand a chance of getting retailers and apparel makers to change the way they’ve long sourced fashion goods, trading information from remote locations through a new medium, rather than in a showroom or perhaps a local deli?
Walter Loeb, retail consultant, Loeb Associates: “I think many of the business-to-business apparel exchanges online will merge and there will be some benefits in terms of sourcing basic supplies and materials.
“As for sourcing finished product on the Internet, I think there will be security problems. Firewalls [on B2B Web sites] are not adequate to insure security.
“But there are some specialized exchanges, like, which I think have more viability because their customers understand the concept. Also, 7th Online is one finished-product B2B I like because they have a concept that permits a relationship, a direct contact between the buyer and supplier of merchandise.
“Ultimately, I think the B2B sector is viable and one that will grow very fast in 2001 because it can eliminate employees, cut costs and increase efficiencies.”

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