7 Ecommerce Forecasts for B2B Marketers

Some of the most interesting ideas at the recent annual ecommerce summit by MITX should be food for thought for B2B marketers:

  • About how branding is shape-shifting;
  • The scary numbers of online journey hijacking,  
  • And why some ‘truths’ are dead in the water.  

On that note, here are some emerging trends worth watching. 

#1: Bonding, not branding.  
A handful of leaders are remaking stores to sell less, live more: Come on in, sit a while, join your friends, play some pool. Don’t worry if you don’t buy anything. Just hang out. Eat in our stores. Let us be part of your life, and of course, bring your friends, and #share it. They’re drawing crowds, and the cool kids. Watch for this to come to large-scale conferences. 

#2. Redefine what you sell.  
These new stores are lending space to other vendors, who may – or may not – pay to be there. And some commerce giants are testing real-world shopping – without the stores, dissolving what it means to be online, or have a physical presence. For instance, Pinterest’s HQ in New York hosts 4:30 fashion drops. At this daily grab bag, 35% of the merch ends up going home with someone. The frenzy of finding something exciting is simply added value.  

#3. Busting through walls to solve intractable problems.  
The biggest issue with buying online fashion is that people no one knows what will fit, so they buy five and return four. Popups are showing up to provide spontaneous pocket-size fitting rooms, sometimes on a street corner. 

On the surface, these three shifts may not seem to apply to B2B, but they will: Because solving problems is what we do. And surprising people in unexpected ways may be the next source of spill-over from B2C. 

And now, for the underside. 

Underside #1. Affiliate marketing. This link-driven commerce ecosystem is a $7 billion market and is besieged by customer hijacking. You know those ads that pop up on a site and redirect you or ‘interrupt’ the user experience? It’s a big deal – siphoning off a significant number of leads and live customers. Not surprisingly, rivals are forced to play each other’s games for parity, or risk being the only victim.  This take-it-if-you-can free-for-all is spawning an anti-hijacking market, and Namogoo says that15 percent to 25 percent of browsers are infected with this malware. Spotting and preventing incursions, can lead to a two percent to five percent increase in conversion, and a five to nine percent decrease in cart abandonment, according to the company. That can translate into a five to seven percent increase in revenue. Look for this on B2B screens near you, soon. 

Underside #2. Nice values don’t count. It turns out that sustainability is a hard sell in retail. People like the concept but are still shopping fast-fashion. This means that if you’re tempted to lead with feel-good values, you might want to rethink how you frame them. It’s better to live them than sell them. 

Underside #3Unacceptable data gaps. Even groovy retailers aren’t nailing the true digital trail. Men’s clothier Ministry of Supply, vaunted for its tech-centric clothing and a pretty cool 3-D printer knocking out sweaters as you watch, has taught its sales team how to sell the experience first. And they learned to ship from stores for better inventory management. But they haven’t yet been able to tie store-based purchases to online commerce profiles, unless the customer gives up their email for an electronic receipt.  

What to talk trends and how B2B marketers can jump on board? Give us call – we’re always happy to nerd out over coffee.