Commerce Insights: Patrick Deloy talks ecommerce ahead of Dreamforce
Ahead of Salesforce's annual flagship conference, Dreamforce, Isobar Commerce Asia Pacific Managing Director, Patrick Deloy, shares his thoughts on key 2017 e-commerce trends which will continue to develop into 2018, the B2B and B2C e-commerce markets, and the globalisation of e-commerce and what that means for businesses and brands.
One of the key themes at Dreamforce this year will be e-commerce. What e-commerce trends have you identified as key milestones in 2017?
I believe that when we look at the e-commerce market as a whole and Salesforce in particular we will continue to see an ecosystem that is becoming more integrated in regards to systems and services. Salesforce is becoming especially successful in combining the right tools (e-commerce platform, CRM & sales cloud, service tool, marketing platform, DMP etc) to provide a seamlessly integrated toolset for online merchants and B2B retailers.
The expectation of retailers is a more unified and automated ecosystem that works across platforms and channels without the need of much manual intervention. This in turn maximizes the availability of data of user interactions across different channels which are processed through increasingly intelligent algorithms that analyze and predict customer preferences in order for online merchants to proactively recommend, market and sell and create a personalized shopping experience.
The other larger trend which we will continue to see in 2018 is the ever growing importance of mobile commerce. This does not only mean that a fully responsive and mobile-optimized site should be the first priority of any e-commerce retailer, but also that integrations with other features native to mobile will grow in importance, including utilizing GPS features, mobile camera (also for AR applications), voice recognition and assistance, chats & chatbots (through Facebook and other applications), and the access to native apps including payment processing.
By the end of 2017, B2C e-commerce sales will hit $2.3 trillion worldwide. B2B e-commerce, on the other hand, will reach $7.7 trillion. Why is the B2B e-commerce market dwarfing B2C?
Given the wide range of transactional scenarios that e-commerce is utilized and associated with these days it becomes increasingly difficult to clearly separate B2C and B2B e-commerce and it’s many intermediary forms such as B2B2C, B2B2B, etc. As such, there are different opinions on the relative size of both the B2C and B2B e-commerce market and what based on what criteria an e-commerce site is categorized as either.
As for the large prevalence (and the even larger market potential) of B2B e-commerce it should be noted that from a business perspective, while both B2B and B2C e-commerce aim at attracting new customers and increase customer lifetime value, B2B e-commerce implementations also target specific operational efficiencies and improvements and hence are not just seen as CAPEX, but as a real investment into future cost savings. In the coming years, companies will absolutely expect their business partners to transact digitally and implement common B2B e-commerce features.
57% of shoppers made an online purchase in the past 6 months from an overseas retailer. What opportunities does this provide brands?
Despite recent attempts to halt or partially roll back “globalization”, online merchants in particular have long ago faced the realization that nowadays not just business but also consumers purchase globally and across borders.
While this poses a potential threat to business models of retailers and distributors that have previously segmented their markets and product pricing it provides plenty of opportunities for online retailers with a good and globally accessible e-commerce website, a local approach to language/content/currency/payment/social and other local market best practices, and a solid worldwide fulfilment strategy that enables an efficient inventory strategy.
Given the rise and success of Amazon & Alibaba, what strategy should online retailers adopt in order to keep their self-owned/D2C e-commerce site relevant?
The market power and increasing velocity of innovation by the globally leading e-commerce companies Amazon and Alibaba make it seem that competing with these giants is a futile exercise. However, it should be recognized that Amazon, Alibaba and others have helped to pave the way for many standards that both e-commerce retailers as well as consumers have grown accustomed to.
Examples in this regard are Amazon’s penchant to optimize fulfillment and delivery processes to shorten delivery time and lower costs, better predict their customer’s behavior and preferences through intelligent systems and big data, and Alibaba’s payment processing through Alipay which has become indispensable in China and other markets.
For e-commerce retailers, learning from the best practices (and failures) of processes and technologies adopted by the leading e-commerce retailers while adapting to their specific business, market and customer group will be one of the keys to stay relevant.
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