eCommerce revenues are soaring around the globe. This year, the US, Western Europe, and China alone will generate over $800 billion in online retail sales. Growth rates, too, remain staggering in many countries: China’s massive online retail market will more than double between 2013 and 2018, as will Brazil’s. India’s much smaller market will grow by eight-fold during this timeframe.
However, a litany of businesses have failed as they attempted to tap into shoppers outside of their home markets, with many large US and European brands factoring prominently on the list of casualties. eCommerce is no exception: Numerous eCommerce businesses have taken the plunge into new markets, only to find their offerings didn’t resonate with local consumers or they were outsmarted by much savvier local rivals.
What separates successful global eCommerce businesses from their counterparts? Which tactics have proven particularly effective for brands aiming to extend their reach into new markets? What are some of the most common challenges businesses tend to encounter? Our newly published eCommerce globalization playbook helps brands through the thorny process of global expansion. Clients can read our playbook for insights on how to:
Discover and quantify international revenue opportunities. Our playbook includes reports outlining the global opportunity and identifying how eCommerce markets typically develop with time. Our online retail forecasts for the US and Canada, Western Europe, Asia Pacific, and Latin America provide a quantitative look at market sizes and eCommerce trends in these regions.
Recently the New York Times called Google Plus a ‘ghost town,’ and most marketers agree. I understand why. Even if you believe Google’s own user count (many don’t), Google Plus has only one-quarter as many global users as Facebook. Nielsen says that while Facebook users spend more than six hours per month on site, Plus users spend only seven minutes per month on site. Put simply, Google Plus isn’t the Facebook killer some hoped it would be.
But that doesn’t mean marketers should ignore Plus. Far from it: I believe every marketer should use Google Plus.
First, Google Plus has more users than you think. Yes, it pales in comparison to Facebook — but so do most other social sites. Rather than trust Google’s own user data, we decided to run our own survey. We asked more than 60,000 US online adults which social sites they used — and 22% told us they visited Google Plus each month. That’s the same number who told us they use Twitter, and more than told us they use LinkedIn, Pinterest, or Instagram. That means you can build a real follower base on Google Plus: On average, top brands have collected 90% as many fans on Plus as on Twitter. (In fact, the brands we studied have more followers on Google Plus than on YouTube, Pinterest and Instagram combined.)
In my February 2014 report: Left–Shift Technology Monitoring For Success In The Age Of The Customer I explore what the near future will bring for technology monitoring approaches and solutions. Today, for the typical I&O organization, successful technology or service delivery monitoring focuses on two main areas. Firstly, availability, so ensuring the technology underpinning business services is up and available when needed and secondly, performance, so making sure that technology utilized (applications and associated workloads) is fast enough for the business service it supports.
There is a major problem with this approach though. As the famous author Harper Lee stated “We know all men are not created equal” and the same can be said about your customers and employees – they are not all equal and the rapid pace of consumer technology innovation in areas such as mobile means that they will utilize technology in different ways to support productivity or to engage with your enterprise as a customer. Our relationship with technology is changing rapidly. It is becoming more intimate and personal, meaning that datacenter centric monitoring approaches that focus on availability and performance alone, while still essential, are only the beginning of what is required for a holistic technology monitoring strategy.
So you need some work done that you’ve never had done before or you need to buy something you’ve never bought before. What should you pay? That can be a tough question. What seems reasonable? Sometimes we set arbitrary rules. It’s OK if it’s under $50 or under $100. But that’s just a reassurance that you’re not getting ripped off too badly. Certainly the best way to avoid that outcome is to know how much that service or thing is worth, or at least know what others have paid for the same thing.
Fortunately now, in the age of the customer, that’s easier to find out. Price information for most consumer goods is easier to come by, making the buying process more efficient. But what about governments? We’ve all heard about the $600 toilet seat or the $400 hammer. Stories of government spending excess and mismanagement abound. Some are urban legends or misrepresentations. Others have legs — such as the recent reports of Boeing overcharging the US Army. While these incidents are likely not things of the past, open data initiatives have made significant progress in exposing spending data and improving transparency. Citizens can visit sites such as USAspending.gov for US federal government spending or "Where Does My Money Go?" for details on UK national government spending, and most large cities publish spending as well.
My colleague Thomas Husson and I put together our 2014 mobile predictions. (See Report) One of the key predictions is:
Mobile will sit at the epicenter of mind-blowing exit events. The kernels of activity we saw in 2013 around mobile transactions will explode in 2014.
Those media companies that can't build audiences fast enough to capture spend of the Global 1000 will also look to acquisitions (think $3 billion for Snapchat).
What is mind-blowing is that neither Snapchat nor Instagram had a revenue stream when the bid or acquisition was announced.
In 2014, mobile companies with real revenue streams will go public. King.com (Candy Crush Saga) filed for an IPO with an estimated valuation of $1 billion based
on generating a couple of million dollars a day in revenue. What does King.com do? It monetizes mobile moments by taking advantage of the consumer's addiction to competition.
Mobile is moving so fast that that number is already dated. King started trading publicly on the NYSE Wednesday and part of the release was $1.9B in reported revenue in 2013 - way more than reported 8 months ago.
What happened this week?
1) Intel completed its acquisition of Basis Science - a wearable device - for a reported $100M to $150M. (See TechCrunch, VentureBeat)
Macro trends in technology and shifting customer behavior are giving rise to the connected business — which is not defined by technology but is rather a new style of doing business. CIOs will be responsible for introducing technology solutions that help break down silos, boost cross-team collaboration, drive the end-to-end customer experience, and engage more deeply with customers. In order to succeed, CIOs must go beyond technology enablement and support organizational and cultural transformation.
With Jeroen Tas, one of the most renowned technology visionaries in Europe, as its CIO, Philips made a number of strategic decisions to transform itself into a connected business. Forrester believes that CIOs should familiarize themselves with Philips’ strategic, operational, and cultural transformation and learn from it, as Philips offers CIOs valuable lessons in planning the transition to a connected business:
Philips embraces digital propositions at the expense of standalone products. Philips maps out customer journeys and ensures that its products turn into plug-ins for broader digital propositions. The firm connects all of its propositions through data, communities, and collaboration, allowing it to understand who the customers are and how they use products. Philips decides how it needs to develop its portfolio based on these customer journey maps, opening up new business models.
Interdisciplinary teams help open up new revenue streams. The old model — all marketing people sitting together, all IT people sitting together, all supply-chain people sitting together — is outdated. Interdisciplinary teams force people to speak each other’s language. At Philips, interdisciplinary teams have also resulted in much higher job satisfaction.
As mobile messaging apps become increasingly popular across the globe, China’s WeChat (the top mobile social app in China, which has reportedly surpassed 600 million users) is often compared with other mobile messaging apps, such as WhatsApp and Japan’s Line. Of all such apps, WeChat has the most complicated features; it goes beyond messaging and keeps adding new features and further evolving existing ones. Among the many possibilities, three stand out:
Exploring location-based business. Chinese consumers have been using WeChat’s QR code functionality for a while to get discounts and rewards from offline stores. WeChat also has an advanced scanning feature, the street view scanner (available for the Chinese version of WeChat 5.0 or higher only). The scanner not only shows street names but also nearby stores, restaurants, movie theaters, and other locations. WeChat has recently cooperated with Dianping (China’s Yelp) to upgrade its location check-in feature on Moments (WeChat’s timeline, on which users share photos and texts) from cities to specific stores. WeChat’s successful cooperation with taxi-hailing app Didi Dache has also enhanced its location-based capabilities. All of these features pave the way for WeChat to be able to provide location-based marketing.
Asia Pacific firms are gradually beginning to understand how important big data is for responding to rising customer expectations and becoming customer-obsessed to gain a competitive edge in the age of the customer. Data from our Forrsights Budgets And Priorities Survey, Q4 2013 shows that 40% of organizations across Asia Pacific expect to increase their spending on big data solutions in 2014.
In addition to traditional structured data (from ERP and other core transactional systems), organizations are increasing seeking insight from unstructured data originating in both internal (IM, email) and external (social networks, sensors) sources to enhance the business value of data. But these initiatives pose a significant challenge to security and risk professionals:
Protecting sensitive data from fraudsters. Today’s fraudsters are active both inside and outside of firms, working to steal business-critical data. Inadequately secured and poorly controlled big data environments can potentially make the job of these malicious actors easier by reducing the number of systems or entry points that they must compromise in order to steal the data they need.For example, the personal data of 20 million South Koreans (40% of the country’s population) was stolen by a contract worker at the Korea Credit Bureau.
For the past two weeks, I’ve been on the other side of the planet, spending a few days each in four very different cities: Sydney, Singapore, Beijing, and Shanghai. While Sydney was much like I remembered it — an exotic version of San Francisco but with better weather — the Singapore skyline had changed drastically and now appears to be a science-fiction version of the seaport I remembered. (If you think I’m kidding, just do a search on “Marina Bay Sands Hotel.”)
In contrast to Sydney and Singapore, I hadn’t been to either Beijing or Shanghai before. I was blown away by how vibrant those cities are and how much prosperity is on display: If the Chinese economy is truly slowing down, you wouldn’t know it from all the luxury cars on the road.
Despite all the diversity I saw on my trip, for me, there was one constant across all four cities: the high level of interest in customer experience.
In Sydney, I gave talks about customer experience to three different groups of 20 to 40 people each. Even though the attendees came from very diverse companies — like insurers, quick-serve restaurants, technology vendors, and giant professional services firms — all three groups asked questions that showed this wasn’t their first CX rodeo.
I also gave a speech to the digital team at a major bank, and as a bonus, I got to see the company’s chief experience officer give a talk. Frankly, there are a lot of US and European banks that could learn from that large, enthusiastic, clued-in group.
My time in Singapore started out with a customer experience ecosystem mapping workshop for around 35 people. This was also a diverse group, with varying levels of customer experience expertise, even among attendees from the same company. They all picked up on the concepts, though, and generated an impressive amount of insight.