For the past 8 months or so, I have been away from the US (or India for that matter). I have been living entirely off of eCommerce and digital streaming.
Even though I have resigned to virtual living, the virtual conference was still strange. I had to start my day at 10 PM and meet new faces every 15 minutes until 2 AM. Every "meeting" started with how strange that damned thing was. I gushed, pitched, lamented and exhaled the word 'awesome' a hundred times each night and woke up the next morning bleary-eyed.
But I have never had reality hit so hard every 15 minutes.
In all, between 3 of us in PipeCandy, we took about 30 meetings - mostly with CPGs and brands. All of them want to go D2C. Most of them don't know-how. From sheet music to mobile phone cases that stand for women empowerment - everybody is thinking D2C. Outside the conference, I've also been speaking to micro-fulfillment companies, strategy consulting folks and been reading about awesome companies my friends are building in the creator space.
Now that I have had the time to reflect and have largely recovered from the sleep deficit (I slept at 9 PM yesterday. Yay!), I realize I don't know much anymore. For my own sake, I thought I'd make a list of things I don't know.
Who knows what the hell is up with B2B eCommerce
We got yelled at last week for slipping in a line in our research report for a customer that mentioned that B2B eCommerce is likely to be 4x the size of B2C. Now their investors want details and nobody knows where to even begin. Who is the Shopify of B2B eCommerce?
When the late teens come to the workforce, will they expect the world to be like one of those alternate universes in 'Rick & Morty'? Will purchase managers of valves and pressure gauges google for 'buy valves online' as a way to start their due-diligence process?
What does an eCommerce store mean anymore?
A big 4 consulting firm asked us (they always ask for one more thing) if we can help them identify the eCommerce companies making less than $100K a year. They casually slipped the word "hobbyists". With creator commerce becoming big, what does eCommerce mean? Is it a shop selling things online or a stand-up comedian with a 'pay now' button on their tik-tok feed that takes you to a Shopify website?
Why are we obsessing over the wrong problems?
Why is everyone and her analyst friend from a VC firm building a D2C discovery marketplace (to discover brands in the virtual world) when there are nearly not enough micro-fulfillment networks (to make brands accessible at the last mile)?
Who is going to tell that regulators are arming the incumbents in the name of privacy?
2021 is near and everyone (except those in ad tech) seems to have forgotten about the cookie-less world. If you can't share cookies and build identity, doesn't it bolster incumbents like Facebook and Amazon further? On one hand we want less monopolies and on the other hand we don't want data to be federated.
If you can neither advertise to a cookie nor expect footfalls in a mall, what does it mean for a brand's growth model?
Will marketplaces and traditional retailers come to rescue? Does that mean for a D2C brand their web store simply is a consumer research channel with better data integrity?
Is the VC model meant more for eCommerce infrastructure than eCommerce itself?
Nearly 50% of eCommerce investments in 2019 were actually loans given out by Clearbanc. Every bank wants to lend to an eCommerce company. Their ability to advertise or find an aisle space in 2021 is unknowable. Even if they can execute, the landscape is changing. Will 2021 see reallocation of VC investment dollars to eCom infrastructure over eCom?
Chip (of Spiceology), my friend - I should really do podcasts and get some experts to answer. I will take your nudge seriously, hopefully soon!
PipeCandy is a market intelligence platform that tracks the global eCommerce & 'direct to consumer' landscape.
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