B2B eCommerce is growing, and it’s growing quickly. In fact, at Forrester we estimate that it will reach more than $1 trillion in the US by 2020, double the size of B2C eCommerce. B2B buyers are rapidly gearing their researching and purchasing activities toward true digital platforms. B2B sellers are similarly shifting their resources toward providing an eCommerce portal to better reach and engage with their customers.
Forrester's ForecastView team recently conducted a pioneering study on the B2B eCommerce market where we explored nine product categories and their evolution toward online buying. We define B2B eCommerce as a digital, transactional exchange between companies that takes place over a website. We exclude spending that flows through traditional electronic data interchange (EDI) channels or back channels. The majority of B2B spending takes place through wholesaler and distributor channels, which provide a varying array of value-added services such as storage, packaging, sorting, and labeling. The future landscape of B2B commerce is changing on several fronts that could potentially impact how wholesalers and distributors traditionally do business, especially online:
There’s an increased need for automation. As independent establishments continue to merge and give way to larger firms, companies seek to cut distribution costs through their increasing purchase power and economies of scale (see figure below). This alleviates the need for distributors and wholesalers but requires a more automated mechanism to handle larger volumes.
When we think of obstacles financial services firms need to overcome in order to win, retain, and serve customers, one of the largest ones that come to mind is trust and transparency. For financial services firms these attributes are key to boosting deeper customer engagement with wealth management clients and grow share of wallet in retail banking.
Those that have successfully done this in the past need to adapt to the mindset and needs of the modern digital customer. In our recent report, we explore the effectiveness of using varying video channels to not only pull customers in, but build the relationship of the financial partner. “Hey, we’re in this together” is what we all want to hear from the person holding our money, right?
Three ways financial firms are finding customer success through video:
1. Instant access to a human. One of the realities with serving the modern consumer is that they will want immediate access to you, and sometimes a quick balance check is not going to cut it. Consider deploying a video chat solution for your high net worth customers.
2. Assure them of your knowledge and understanding of the market. Your customers don’t know what they don’t know, that is why they are turning to you. A best practice video on choosing the right home insurance policy creates the empathy people crave, much more than a text filled webpage.
3. Brand videos. Financial firms know our cousin’s husbands name. Showing us what you are about, what your values and promises are, create a valuable but often lost connection with the customer.
I am launching an upcoming TechRadar methodology report that will look at the technologies that enable enterprises to deploy, monitor and manage mobile applications and company-owned devices, as well best practices to help refine our research.
I've identified eight technologies in this space:
Beta Distribution Tools
Enterprise Application Stores
Enterprise Mobile Management
Image Management and Configuration
Mobile Application Management
Mobile Application Performance Management
Mobile Device Management
Mobile Operations Management
Ultimately, we hope to accurately predict the long-term viability and business value of each technology over the next 5-10 years.
Your level of insight would be invaluable for me to complete this research. If you are interested in participating, feel free to leave a comment below or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and I will send you the details.
In appreciation for your time, we will provide you with a courtesy copy of the final report. Credit for your company’s participation will also be attributed unless you wish to remain anonymous.
Back in February, I published a brief on Demystifying Real-Time Interaction Management, where I reviewed evolving requirements for building a contextual marketing engine, capable of engaging empowered customers across real-time channels. These requirements include: customer recognition, contextual understanding, decision arbitration, offer orchestration, and measurement and optimization.
As promised then, I have been researching the RTIM space, and you can now read my latest report Market Overview: Real-Time Interaction Management, published last week. In this market overview, I look at four distinct – yet all critical – approaches to RTIM:
1. Enterprise marketing technologies address all five RTIM requirements, though offerings vary widely by vendors who focus on enterprise marketing software suites (EMSS), cross-channel campaign management (CCCM), marketing automation, business process management (BPM), customer relationship management (CRM, and loyalty programs.
2. Advanced analytics is a prerequisite for successful RTIM execution, addressing all requirements except offer orchestration. The broad analytics spectrum includes customer profiles, predictive models, and digital intelligence for web analytics, tag management, and identity management.
3. Digital marketing solutions address personalization for websites and social media channels, and include advertising technologies such as data management platform (DMP) and demand-side platform functionality for paid media targeting and re-targeting.
Small business is booming in the US. The US Small Business Administration declared this week as “National Small Business Week” to promote the role that small business plays in the US economy. Why should insurance companies pay close attention to the needs of small business? For starters, small businesses mean:
Big economic impact. Small business spells substantial opportunity. These small businesses comprise about 49% of private sector employment, and about 43% of private sector payrolls.[i] And as small business grow, that growth translates into the need for more insurance to cover employees, vehicles, and other liabilities.
New revenue streams. With self-driving vehicles tests planned in 30 cities by 2017, there’s trouble ahead for the industry’s cash cow, private passenger auto insurance.[ii] Small business insurance is one revenue stream that insurers can increase to counterbalance premium declines.
Well, the 2016 US presidential race has begun in earnest. Every day a new candidate enters the race on the quest to headline the Republican or Democratic ticket. I am a bit of a political junkie: not because I am a policy wonk, but because I am a marketing wonk. I love (ok, sometimes hate) to watch the unfolding strategies to win the ‘hearts and minds’ of the electorate. What interests me most is the struggle to stay ‘on message’. The candidate wants the dialogue to be about the ‘brand message’: “Don’t Swap Horses When Crossing Streams”, Lincoln, 1864; “Return to Normalcy”, Harding, 1920; “Are you better off than you were 4 years ago”, Reagan, 1980; and, of course, “Yes, We Can” Obama, 2008. But, it’s tough. Political discourse requires a political platform of messages on issues and topics that are targeted to micro-constituencies. Political operatives, surrogates and donors can get it all terribly muddled. And when they inevitably do, the damage control often rises to an art form.
It’s something any B2B marketing exec can relate to. Keeping everybody on message is never an easy task. Despite the hours spent in claustrophobic conference rooms discussing mission and vision and value propositions, key stakeholders just seem to go rogue when communicating in practice: the CEO wings it in press interviews; the SVP of engineering explores the nuances of fascinating, but irrelevant features with a prospective buyer; marketing managers write content that misaligns benefits and customer problems; agencies propose promotional taglines that are slick but won't stick; and sales reps create their own special spiel (and use it faithfully regardless of client context).
Our team was also present at Forrester’s two Marketing Leadership Forums held in New York and London. In addition to giving topic presentations there, we ran a 90-minute consulting workshop for over 100 B2B marketers in New York advising attendees on how to formulate their target personas and potential content for thought leadership programs and providing methodology and tools.
This week, Kim Celestre is presenting to thousands of marketers at the National Automotive Parts Association Expo in Las Vegas (yes, that is also B2B!). In fact, at our last research meeting, we discussed what’s the same across all different B2B industries and what varies. Here are some highlights from that discussion, some of which will appear in future reports. We hear that all B2B marketers feel that:
Digitally empowered buyers are disenfranchising sales (see this report)
To paraphrase the great humorist Mark Twain, rumors of the death of passwords have been greatly exaggerated. While people lament the challenges and problems posed by passwords, they remain a core authentication and security technology.
My colleague Andras Cser and I have been fielding so many client inquiries around passwords that we are undertaking a quantitative, anonymous survey from end user organizations to gauge their current password policies and usage. This online survey asks about your organization’s current password policies and challenge as well as the future role of passwords in your organization. We also are using the survey to gain perspectives on the future of passwords and how other technologies might replace passwords completely.
The survey is completely confidential, but participants who provide contact details will receive a complimentary copy of the report when it’s published later this year.
Last week, I stayed in two different hotels in the greater Atlanta area. One was a Ritz-Carlton, and the other a Marriott.* Hearing those two brand names, you might be tempted to assume that the guest experience at the Ritz was far better than the one at the Marriott. But it wasn’t — at least not for me.
Don’t get me wrong, the Ritz was beautiful. But one aspect of the experience there drove me nuts. Every time that I stepped off the elevator into the lobby I was swarmed by no fewer than three extremely friendly, extremely eager employees. They bombarded me with questions about whether I wanted coffee (which I don’t drink), a donut, help with my luggage, or anything else my heart desired. Now in theory, I love that the staff was so attentive. But they missed a pretty important need of mine — the need for personal space. When I travel for work, I want to be greeted by friendly people. And I want to know that I can easily find an employee if and when I need help. But otherwise, I prefer to be left to my own devices. That’s exactly what I got at the Marriott.
In doing research on why big data is not enough and customer insights teams are disconnected from business operations, Brian Hopkins and I came across three hugely important things happening:
Firms are adopting systems of insight -- insights teams with business, data, and developer skills using an insights-to-execution process and taking advantage of a new insights architecture. This is what our new big idea report is about.
Service providers are building insights practices with reusable technology, reusable insights models (including some with cognitive capabilities), and reusable engagement models for an industry or business function. Deloitte Digital and now IBM specialize in this, but many other service providers are recrafting their analytics practices to jump in.