Service Providers See Opportunities In 2012

In the Dec.-Jan. issue of Multichannel Merchant magazine, we focus on the many opportunities in 2012 for multichannel marketers as told to us by a wide range of sources. Here is a sample of what some of those opportunities are for next year.

Nate Gilmore, vice president of marketing and business development at Shipwire Order Fulfillment says the multichannel growth space is huge right now, and he sees the following trends for 2012:

– Manufacturers going direct and becoming their own multichannel sellers.

Social commerce only works for some.

– Global expansion is still huge for most businesses.

Gilmore says Facebook is a hot button issue as “everybody from small suppliers/manufacturers to Walmart” is investigating whether Facebook will be a huge new marketplace.

“Facebook has created a great location for consumers to collect and gather, so now the merchants are trying to figure out whether it will result in buying behavior,” he says. “It’s still very early, so I really see f-commerce today as a lot of testing. But, I think there is some urgency on the part of larger sellers. They don’t want to miss the boat and have a competitor get a solid toehold, so there is a lot of experimentation.”

Gilmore thinks smaller niche product manufacturers and sellers of trendy or fan-based products will gain the best results during the early days of Facebook. “Facebook is all about social connections reinforcing a buyer’s decision to buy something. Niche brands are better at connecting with fans.”

Multichannel trends:

  • The developing world and Asia are going to be big for ecommerce in the coming years. The issue there is product authenticity, especially for consumer brands. Brands are getting a ton of new outlets to directly touch customers. Expect them to test the monetization of these direct-to consumer strategies.
  • Mobile is bridging the information gap between offline and online. Offline buyers and now armed with online shopping tools thanks to their phones. Offline retailers are getting price squeezed.
  • Larger multichannel retailers are getting tax savvy. Many jurisdictions and politicians are getting involved to try and protect local offline retailers from the price differences of online retailers that might not charge tax to a customer. Think about it, no tax is between 7-10% of the product price. It offsets the shipping cost. This is one of the online retailer’s best differentiators; so expect them to fight hard to keep it.
  • Holiday is getting sooner and sooner.
  • The word of the decade for a multichannel seller will be “volatility”. “We’re in a perfect storm of change in consumer behaviors, global ecommerce, mobile and consumer credit crunches. You can’t pick up the paper today and walk away assured that major global consumer markets are ripe for investing. So businesses have to be more nimble and put down bets much more carefully.”

Manufacturers Selling Multichannel:

In the small and mid-market space we’re seeing a trend toward vertical integration; we see this often with hot new consumer products. Brands have more ability to find customers than they did in the past. They are going to capitalize on those. Outsourced ecommerce, contact center and fulfillment services have leveled the playing field.

Continue Reading Part 2: More opportunities in 2012 for multichannel marketers

Jim Tierney ( is a senior writer for Multichannel Merchant. You can connect with him on Twitter (TierneyMCM) and LinkedIn, or call him at 203-358-4265.

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