Is Your Omnichannel Fulfillment Program Profitable?

Adam Silverman

In the race to keep up with skyrocketing consumer expectations around omnichannel commerce experiences, many retailers moved quickly to roll out omnichannel fulfillment capabilities without fully understanding the incremental expense of operating these programs. Today, retail executives are beginning to shift their focus towards profitability: moving from implementing to optimizing their omnichannel fulfillment initiatives.

In our new report Build A Profitable Omnichannel Fulfillment Program, we asked a number of eBusiness leaders and industry experts to share the processes, tools, and best practices they used to assemble profitable omnichannel fulfillment programs. Our research indicates that retailers can optimize their omnichannel fulfillment capabilities by:

  • Enabling product visibility and order orchestration. Omnichannel fulfillment initiatives—think endless aisle, ship-from-store, click and collect—are completely dependent on the ability for customers, associates, and retail selling systems to be able to accurately pinpoint the location of every product across the enterprise. Further, having a robust distributed order management system (OMS) can help retailers reduce the cost of fulfilling orders by orchestrating across all stores and distribution centers.
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Five things your Microsoft sales person doesn’t want you to know

Mark Bartrick

I love Costa Coffee shops. Not only do they keep my caffeine levels sustained but their ambience always seems to get my creative juices flowing. Here’s one of my more recent ruminations: wouldn’t it be great if software companies always did the right thing for their customers?

Imagine this world for a moment:

●     Software vendors only ever selling you what you need.

●     Software vendors offering pricing and discounting that is always fair, logical, and transparent.

●     Software vendor sales people who openly admit that a competitive product may actually be a better fit for their customer as opposed to trying to shoehorn in their own products at every opportunity.

Unfortunately that’s not the way the software world works — at least not for the mega vendors.

And speaking of mega vendors, Microsoft’s fiscal year wraps up at the end of June so I thought it would be timely to share with you some insight into what you might soon be facing. Here are five things that your Microsoft sales person doesn’t want you to know:

1.       Enterprise Agreement price hikes: If you have an Enterprise Agreement (EA) renewal coming up then Microsoft will be expecting to dump a price hike on you of at least 10%. This is because your EA price-locked your Microsoft products when you signed it, and it has protected you from all the various product price rises that have occurred in the last three years. But when you renew your EA, all those lovely price rises catch up and form the basis of how your next EA is priced. Hence the hike.

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Loyal Agents Have Big Impact On Insurance Carrier Business

Ellen Carney

Understanding agent attitudes toward their insurance carrier partners is crucial in earning independent agent loyalty—and driving sales.  Why?  Because despite predictions that direct-to-consumer insurance sales would doom the insurance agent, nearly 20 years after the advent of online insurance selling, millions of consumers and small businesses continue to rely on their local insurance agencies. Consider that when it comes to their agents, US consumers:

  • Buy from.  Even after all that money direct insurers spend on TV ads, consumers are still buying from insurance agencies. In a survey of 10,000 online Americans, we found that 84% of home insurance buyers stated that they bought from an agent; 82% did the same for their car insurance, while 57% of life insurance buyers said that they did.
  • Trust in.  When we asked in the same survey about attitudes toward financial services providers, more than 70% of life insurance buyers and about two-thirds of non-life insurance buyers we surveyed agreed with the statement “I completely trust my agent”.  And that trust runs deep for some customers, especially for 25-34 year olds we surveyed.
  • Stick with.   And after buying from an agent, consumers tend to stick with their them We asked US online adults how long they had been buying certain coverage from their agents. The average relationships with their auto, home, and life agencies were 12.9, 12.5, and 16.3 years Consumer steadfastness with an agent is often longer than that loyalty to a spouse:  the average American marriage that ends in divorce lasts eight years.  And no surprise, the tenure with direct insurers is much shorter than that with agent-centric insurers.   
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Infrastructure As Code, The Missing Element In The I&O Agenda

Robert Stroud

For many years, infrastructure and operations (I&O) professionals have been dedicated to delivering services at lower costs and ever greater efficiency, but the business technology (BT) agenda requires innovation that delivers top-line growth.

 

The evolution and success of digital business models is leading I&O organizations to disrupt their traditional infrastructure models to pursue cloud strategies and new infrastructure architectures and mindsets that closely resemble cloud models.

 

Such a cloud-first strategy supports the business agenda for agility, rapid innovation, and delivery of solutions. This drives customer acquisition and retention and extends the focus beyond ad hoc projects to their complete technology stack. The transition to cloud-first mandates a transition for infrastructure delivery, management, and maintenance to support its delivery and consumption as a reusable software component. Such infrastructure can be virtual or physical and consumed as required, without lengthy build and deployment cycles.

 

Growing cloud maturity, the move of systems of record to the cloud (see my blog “Driving Systems of Records to the Cloud, your focus for 2016!)container growth, extensive automation, and availability of "infrastructure as code" change the roles within I&O, as far less traditional administration is needed. I&O must transition from investing in traditional administration to the design, selection, and management of the tooling it needs for composable infrastructure.

 

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Having The Right Team Players Won The Big Game. Do You Have The Right Team To Do The Same?

Sheryl Pattek

Super Bowl 50 is finally behind us. Forget the lackluster commercials — led by the silly puppy monkey baby— and the amazing technology feats that accompanied the NFL experience in downtown San Francisco. What was clear is that Americans are more obsessed with the national pastime of NFL football than ever. The leadup to Super Bowl 50 was like no other, with discussions of how the game has changed and the impact technology will have on the fan experience.

But the game is what most fans, me included, wanted to see. While it may not have been the most exciting Super Bowl of all time, one thing was clear almost from the start: Superstar and 2015 MVP Cam Newton couldn’t win the game on his own. Almost from the beginning, Denver prevailed — not because of the prowess of starting quarterback Peyton Manning, but rather because the Broncos had the right people in the right roles working together as a team to demolish the previously indestructible Carolina Panthers.

 What lessons can CMOs learn from this year’s Super Bowl?

While this may surprise you, your marketing team isn’t much different from the teams in this year’s Super Bowl. You doubtless have superstars who go the extra mile to power the marketing engine and make it succeed. But ask yourself: Do I have the right role players to keep the marketing team humming? Do I know what role players I need and what to look for when hiring them?

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B2B Marketers: Mind The Content Credibility Gap

Daniel Klein

Delivering credible, objective, and engaging content is a must for today’s B2B marketer as prospects discover, explore, and buy your solution. But what attributes and sources make content credible and objective to B2B buyers? This is a common question asked of my consulting team, and in the age of the customer — where empowered buyers rely on multiple content sources before talking with a sales team and 50% of buyers say much of the content they receive is useless — the answer is more important than ever.

To get answers to this and other key questions we receive from content marketers, Forrester surveyed over 200 IT and LOB technology buyers and influencers. I address three of the common client questions below:

 

Question One: What are the top three attributes of credible content from the perspective of a buyer/influencer?

Answer:

WIM: Marketers should audit their existing content assets against these attributes to ensure their library is stocked with credible content. With nearly two-thirds of respondents indicating that vendors give them too much material to sort through, authorship by a qualified expert/analyst allows content assets to stand out and get noticed. Including data in your assets gives them factual grounding and signifies that the information being shared is not simply opinion or conjecture. In fact, 47% of respondents rated papers (content) backed by data as high value, compared with only 11% who said the same thing of papers not backed by data. Finally, be selective in when and where you include product or brand mentions in your content.  Including them in too many of your content assets, especially thought leadership pieces, can undermine the credibility of your content.

 

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Co-creating Customer Experiences? Match Objectives To Desired Outcomes

Ron Rogowski

One of the most enjoyable and fulfilling things about helping Forrester clients become customer-obsessed is leading an experience co-creation workshop.  Forrester defines co-creation as the active participation of employees, customers, and stakeholders working together to design new experiences. It’s a technique that helps companies define the right experience for their customers and provides critical information that supports human-centered design.

A typical co-creation session puts Forrester consultants, our clients, and our clients’ customers in a room for a whole day. Together we work through a set of creative exercises designed to expose customer needs, perceptions, and expectations for an ideal experience. Sometimes these sessions are targeted at getting high-level, sentiment-based feedback, such as: What do our customers want from this experience? What does our current state experience look like compared to the ideal? Other times, our clients want more concrete solutions or recommendations such as:  What new experience should we offer? What features should go into our new mobile app? To see it in action, check out this video summary, produced by Western Union, showcasing a workshop we hosted together last year to co-create a new mobile experience.

While co-creation can provide direction on customer expectations and feedback on specific designs, we’ve learned that teams run into trouble when they try to do both of these things in the same session. Why? Because exploratory research and prototyping are two different activities that happen at distinct stages of a user-centered design process. Let’s examine the user-centered design process illustrated below:

 

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What To Expect From Mobile World Congress 2016?

Thomas Husson

From February 22 to 25, Barcelona will be the center of the business world. Do not expect a specific industry focus but expect announcements impacting any industry: from payments to automotive. Why? Because “mobile is everything”.

 

 

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Introducing Forrester's Omnichannel Commerce Playbook

Brendan Witcher

Today we announce the launch of our brand new Omnichannel Commerce Playbook! In its many forms, omnichannel is quickly resetting customer expectations, and redefining what it means to deliver seamless, fully-integrated commerce across the enterprise. This playbook provides a structured framework to help eBusiness leaders strategically  plan, launch, and maintain omnichannel capabilities and services.   

Customers today forge paths to purchase that seamlessly cross channels, screens and stores.  For example, U.S. consumers in 2015 spent a whopping $1.5 trillion in-store that originally started or were influenced along the way by digital touchpoints. Retailers who offer omnichannel fulfillment are directly responding to customer expectations for this seamless experience. As such, services like ‘buy online, pick up in store’ and ‘ship-to-store’ drive store traffic and provide significant, measurable benefits to retailers and customers alike.

However, omnichannel commerce goes far beyond fulfillment; the full spectrum of omnichannel capabilities encompasses marketing, merchandising, and even customer service. This playbook helps eBusiness professionals analyze and deliver the omnichannel services that are right for their customers, including how to measure their impact and then optimize over time.

The Omnichannel Commerce Playbook will help you:

1. Analyze the business impact of omnichannel integration. Understanding how to identify and quantify the projected net value of omnichannel capabilities and services translates into a strong business case that drives an organization's overall omnichannel strategy and road map.

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Selecting Professional Service Provider For Your Business Intelligence/Information Management/Analytics/Big Data Projects

Boris Evelson

You've done all the right things by following your enterprise vendor selection methodology. You created an RFI and sent it out to all of the vendors on your "approved" list. You then filtered out the responses based on your requirements, and sent out a detailed RFP. You created a detailed scoring methodology, reviewed the proposals, listened to the in-person presentations, and filtered out everyone but the top respondents. But you still ended up with more than one. What do you do?

If you shortlisted two or more market leaders (see Forrester's latest evaluation)  I would not agonize over who has better methodologies, reference architectures, training, project execution and risk management, etc. They all have top of the line capabilities in all of the above. Rather, I'd concentrate on the following specifics
 
People
  • The vendor who proposed more specific named individuals to the project, and you reviewed and liked their resumes, gets an edge over a vendor who only proposed general roles to be staffed at the time of the project kick off.
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