B2B and B2C Ecommerce Trends Witnessed at Internet Retailer 2016

Published August 3, 2016

The B2B Ecommerce: ‘The Future is Digital’ pre-conference workshop was my favorite part of the Internet Retailer 2016 conference. It offered intriguing content and some fresh faces I hadn’t heard speak before.

The B2B Ecommerce day started with Michael Mayer, Director of E-Business Strategy & Commerce from Crescent Electric Supply Company. Crescent is a century old distributor working to integrate ecommerce into business operations. Michael told about initial lack of adoption. Customers did not receive communication about the benefits of the platform. The sales force did not work with ecommerce process. Crescent management then created in person training for both internal and external parties. Sales needed education on new ways to create and add higher levels of value. The system then had prebuilt, custom part lists and procurement system integration. He says they are creating value both for the customer and the organization.

Next up was Andy Hoar from Forrester Research. He says adoption of B2B ecommerce will be at a much higher rate of growth than B2C. His team at Forrester Research projects that by 2030 online as a percentage of B2C~14%, online as a percentage of B2B ~40%. Andy says that the roles of the manufacturers and suppliers in selling are changing. Their research shows that 45% in B2B would prefer to buy from the manufacturer than distributors. 27% would pay slightly more to buy direct. Most customers trust manufacturers more than a distributor. Amazon.com is now surpassing Google for B2B product searches.

This is how B2B companies think about their ecommerce:

Versus Competitors: 46% Better 36% Same/Comparable 18% Worse

Versus Amazon: 20% Better 17% Same/Comparable 63% Worse

According to Prentis Wilson, VP, Amazon Business, price transparency is increasing. Pricing is sometimes lower on Amazon.com’s consumer site and Amazon Business gets inquiries about this.  Amazon business has a sales force to complement the ecommerce site.

Adrienne Hartman, Director of Ecommerce & Customer Insights at J.J. Keller & Associates talked about how B2B Ecommerce cannot be solved only by software alone. (I agree with her) She also talked about using Google Manufacturing Center. She encourages you to ask, “How well can buyers use your site?” It is clear that her words come from an employee of an organization with a strong culture.

Gene Alvarez from Gartner Inc talked about his vision of the B2B Ecommerce. He is an intense presenter. Dwayne Doshier from Insite Software had a session about the sales representatives and ecommerce.

In the expo hall, I sensed an increase in logistics and a decrease in marketing booths. It is uncertain if that is due to sales efforts of the conference or a larger industry shift.

There was buzz about the acquisition of Demandware by Salesforce and Marketlive’s purchase by a private equity firm.

I present the following organizations as best of show at IRCE2016:

Dealmoon – The deals site for the Asian female has industry leading conversion rates. They are a fun, vibrant group.

Ranksense – New SEO tool that corrects technical SEO issues via CDN.

FuelX – FuelX is a direct response video advertising platform with a strong performance element.

ZoozZooz provides a payments platform designed to help merchants maximize their payments performance.

What trends do you see in ecommerce?


David Dalka is the Business Model Editor at the Wiglaf Journal.