< Back to all posts

eCommerce

Brian Beck & Alex Graf at EXCITE

Spryker CEO Alex Graf recently sat down with B2B Commerce expert Brian Beck to discuss their observations and takeaways from the EXCITE Commerce conference…Brian attended in Miami, and Alex attended in Berlin.

08. Nov 2021
6 min read
Share this Article
  • B2B Marketplace Alex Graf

    What was the most surprising observation about ecommerce platform customers that you had at EXCITE last week?

  • Profit Margin or Customer Loyalty Brian Beck

    What surprised me the most at the EXCITE conference was the innovative application of composible commerce to meet buyer needs. In Miami, we heard from a company called Mercado Mayco, the largest distributor in Mexico serving Tienditas - or small corner markets, mostly operated out of the business owners' homes. There are tens of thousands of these businesses located in neighborhoods throughout Mexico, all micro-enterprises and many operating only as cash-based businesses. Conventionally, we might think of these folks as very unlikely candidates to become customers that would utilize Ecommerce for purchasing. However, it turns out that, while these small business entrepreneurs don't have computers or laptops, they ALL have the latest mobile devices. By deploying a mobile optimized experience utilizing the composible commerce approach, Mercado Mayco is able to enable Ecommerce capabilities and reach these customers via digital means, enabling easy re-ordering through optical scanning tools and other time-saving features. If this isn't a message to our traditional B2B industry that doesn't think their industry and customers are ready to embrace Ecommerce, I don't know what is. It is time for ACTION.

  • Profit Margin or Customer Loyalty Alex Graf

    I was surprised how well new business strategies were discussed. At a similar event five years ago many customers would have asked for more tech features. Now they have developed requirements such as more flexibility, more speed, and more business models. That shows the commerce industry is heading in the right direction. I also have to agree with Brian. Cases like Mercado Mayco with a mobile first approach are outstanding. You usually won't find this kind of thinking in Europe where many B2B customers already entered the Desktop era some years ago and now have a hard time thinking mobile first.

  • B2B Marketplace Alex Graf

    Given that the pandemic has accelerated ecommerce adoption--how are enterprises making progress at transforming their businesses?

  • Profit Margin or Customer Loyalty Brian Beck

    The majority of companies have not yet made enough progress. The number one reason companies haven't acted on Ecommerce is their leaders’ lack of commitment digitally enabling their organization. ‘Business as usual’ has been just good enough and the traditional sales team just loud enough to dissuade massive changes. Well, the pandemic changed things for many firms, particularly in the B2B market. At the EXCITE conference, I felt more urgency! I heard CEOs telling stories of their companies now embracing change. Forward thinking CEOs are seeking out new models, such as deploying company-owned marketplaces, launching direct to buyer Ecommerce, and aggressively pursuing selling on third-party marketplaces such as Amazon. The leaders that seize control of their destiny now will win in the end. Those that still are resisting change are in great peril over the next decade.

  • Profit Margin or Customer Loyalty Alex Graf

    Excellent observation about B2B Brian. For B2C, I see two buckets. In Bucket #1 B2C enterprises were already active in ecommerce before the pandemic and have accelerated their transformation towards e-commerce. In Bucket #2, enterprises were sleepy before Covid, in chaos during Covid and still without a proper transformation plan after Covid. I prefer to work with Bucket #1, which wer incidentally most B2C companies who attended EXCITE. In B2B there are no buckets--most companies learned for the first time in their history that sales can be done via Zoom and with collaboration tools, so the need for an onsite salesforce is lower now while the appetite for digital projects is much higher. That's true for almost all B2B companies that I know.

  • B2B Marketplace Alex Graf

    After attending EXCITE, when do you think this frenzy and interest in ecommerce as a transformational capability will slow down?

  • Profit Margin or Customer Loyalty Brian Beck

    This activity and intensity will not slow down or die, it will mature. I work principally with companies in the B2B market, and we see a familiar pattern from the B2C Ecommerce industry evolving. What we saw on the consumer side was 15 years of frenetic activity, where new entrants and digitally native brands emerged and forever changed categories. Think of Amazon, Dollar Shave Club, Netflix, Wayfair, and others. Some traditional brands and retailers evolved and adapted, investing heavily in Ecommerce and Omni-channel, and today lead their categories. Look to the examples of Home Depot, Sephora, Starbucks, and Apple. Others under invested and became mired in their inability to innovate and execute. Does anyone want to be Sears? This dynamic is here now in B2B markets, and we have 10 to 15 years of intense activity ahead of us. When the dust settles, enterprises that have invested in people, solutions, and 'future proofing' their business will win. We will see new entrants that don't exist today - I believe many of these will be industry-vertical marketplaces that will displace mid-market distributors. Many others will lose. So we are in for a decade or more of fast paced change. Hold on tight!

  • Profit Margin or Customer Loyalty Alex Graf

    After EXCITE, I believe there is a much more critical issue than when commerce will slow down. I am wondering why many companies still show interest in expensive and outdated brick and mortar strategies--which are strategies without a future. The market has spoken already! The momentum in digital commerce is so strong, we should focus on delivering the best digital experiences in the next 3-5 years and then we will figure out what's next.

  • B2B Marketplace Alex Graf

    As we compare the vibe with customers gathered at EXCITE Miami and EXCITE Berlin, are there any major differences in how North American or EMEA-based enterprises are attacking the ecommerce opportunities?

  • Profit Margin or Customer Loyalty Brian Beck

    Let's have Alex respond first to this one. I think he may have better perspective here. The EU B2B companies may have a leg up on the US.... what do you think, Alex?

  • Profit Margin or Customer Loyalty Alex Graf

    Yes, thanks to my podcast I had the opportunity to speak to many different execs from both sides. In Some markets in Europe we kind of see mainly strategies that are meant to find an alternative to Amazon. Even the markets where Amazon is not active in Europe focus on the same thinking. “Will Amazon do it better than I can do it?”. But we have many big retailers now that are way more successful than Amazon in their categories like Zalando for Fashion. On the other hand many fashion retailers still see Amazon winning in North America and believe in the ability of Walmart to find a better e-commerce strategy. What do I learn from that? Opportunities are everywhere, Amazon has not won anything, it dominates in some segments now but can be beaten with smarter strategies everywhere. That's true for both markets.

Author Brian Beck is one of the world’s leading authorities in B2B Ecommerce and a 20+ year veteran of the field.

Connect on LinkedIn

Profit Margin or Customer Loyalty

A commerce industry visionary with more than 20 years of experience analyzing business trends and providing valuable insights to business leaders through numerous articles and books, including the industry benchmark The E-Commerce BookOften a speaker at commerce and technology events, he also runs his own very successful blog and podcast Kassenzone. Prior to founding Spryker, Alex co-founded numerous companies including Etribes, Europe’s leading Amazon agency Factor A, and Hamburg born AboutYou.

Connect on LinkedIn

Profit Margin or Customer Loyalty
  • B2B
  • eCommerce
  • Event
Share this Article