I'm thrilled to be blogging from Forrester's 2010 Consumer Forum at the Hilton Chicago in downtown Chicago. We've got a crowd of 600+ folks on-site and are excited for another great event.
We've heard time and again that organizations need help responding to empowered consumers, and we're aiming to address that head on with our event this year.
During these two days on the main stage, our roster includes fantastic stories of firms that have empowered their customers and employees, such as Vail Resorts, Southwest Airlines, the NHL, ESPN, and Kellogg. Plus, Forrester's very own Charles Golvin, Josh Bernoff, and Ted Schadler will present keynotes. There's more! We're also running 20 track sessions and countless one-on-one meetings with 30+ analysts. We're packing in as much great content as we can to make this a fantastic event.
If you can’t attend, be sure to check out the highlights of the speeches and the Twitter stream below. And join us next year! We'll have an equally exciting lineup of speakers and content in 2011.
After years of looking at how the online markets of Asia Pacific are emerging from an online shopping perspective, we are thrilled to announce our first online retail forecast for China, Japan, South Korea, India and Australia.* Some findings from the forecast:
Japan still takes the top spot in the region. Japan retains its dominance in the region with some $45 billion in online retail sales this year. Indeed, while China’s combined B2C and C2C spending surpasses B2C spending in Japan, Japan is still the leader in traditional online retail sales. And despite the fact that online consumers in Japan are purchasing across a wide variety of categories, some category purchases like beauty have shifted online in Japan in a way they have not in the US or Europe.
China’s growth rates will propel it ahead of Japan in the very near future. China’s combined B2C and C2C sales — the two are nearly impossible to separate** — are poised to reach $49 billion in 2010. China’s CAGR will be double that of the US, Western Europe and Japan, and it’s clear that China will be the eCommerce market most likely to rival that of the US.
Australia’s robust growth will be driven by an increasingly vibrant online retail sector. The online marketplace in Australia is marked today by a large number of cross-border transactions, but there is growing momentum among local players. Though less than half the size of the online retail markets in Japan and China, Australia’s growth rates are slightly higher than those of Japan and its US and Western European counterparts.
Demand for eCommerce solutions continues to be strong. This is fueled by homegrown and older applications under strain from growing businesses, by strategic multichannel initiatives, and by the cost to maintain these legacy systems. As evidence, 57% of online retailers have increased their eCommerce technology spending in 2010, and 27% of US online retailers are planning to replatform in the next 18 months.
This is a transformative time in eCommerce. Platform solutions are changing rapidly. New solutions are coming available, and the current platforms are maturing quickly into multichannel solutions. We are very close to seeing the “e” drop from eCommerce Platform. And we are seeing that in our client inquiries and projects as well as seeing it in the evolving platform products.
A few months ago I wrote here about our benchmark of the sales content and functionality of UK banks' sales sites. My colleague Vanessa Niemeyer has just published a benchmark of the big four Australian banks' sales sites. Crushingly for an Englishman, the Australians beat us. The four Australian banks achieved an average score of 56 (out of 100), compared with an average of 48 for the British banks.*
National Australia Bank (NAB) came top, just ahead of Westpac in second place, with Commonwealth Bank of Australia not far behind. The Australian banks demonstrate a series of good practices in their application processes, such as cross-selling during the application and automated confirmations. We highlight many of the good practices that the eBusiness teams at the Australian banks have developed in the report which is available for Forrester clients here.
Many of my colleagues in the eBusiness & Channel Strategy team at Forrester have been working extremely hard for the past few weeks, preparing for next week's Consumer Forum, which is taking place at the Hilton in Chicago on October 28th and 29th. Among my colleagues who are presenting their latest research are Brian Walker, Diane Clarkson and Zia Daniell Wigder, while Carrie Johnson is hosting the entire event. I'm sure it will be two days well spent.
One trend over the past year has been a growing interest in markets outside of North America and Europe. We're getting an increasing number of inquiries about markets in Asia-Pacific, Latin America and the Middle East - companies are anxious to map out their strategies for major eCommerce markets like Japan and China, as well as others such as Brazil and Russia. Retailers with an offline presence in affluent markets like the Gulf States are considering supplementing their traditional retail channels with an online one.
If you're looking to expand into any of these areas of the world, I wrote up some observations which were just published in Internet Retailer yesterday. Have a look if you're interested in emerging trends among online buyers in China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, Brazil and the UAE.
The relationship between social media and customer service is no longer just flirting; it’s getting serious. Among US retailers, 23% offer customer service via community forums and another 27% plan to implement; 16% offer customer service via Twitter and another 21% plan to implement. We’re starting to see Twitter listed in an online Contact Us support section (see Xbox and Rogers).
The essence of social media is having conversations. Customers want to talk about their experiences. These experiences relate to customer service -- complaints, compliments, looking to peers for support. Savvy eBusiness professionals are leveraging social media to offer social customer service in several forms, including facilitating (i.e., helping customers assist each other), resolving (i.e., using social media such as Twitter to resolve customer service issues), and redirecting (i.e., using social media to listen and redirect customer service issues to appropriate customer service channels for resolution).
This is fundamentally changing how companies approach social media and challenging notions of who “owns” social media. Social media was born and nurtured in marketing and PR departments, but its customer service objectives come with uniquely customer service requirements including alignment with customer service objectives and metrics, integration into customer service technology, and support skills.
I was so glad to read Malcolm Gladwell’s piece in the New Yorker, because as a Facebook bear, I often feel alone in the wilderness. Finally, I thought, a widely respected contrarian on the topic of social networks! He says the “revolution won’t happen on Twitter.” And I say “no one's revenue will come from Facebook.”
While there is no shortage of bragging about how many people in the world are on Facebook, sadly none of them have generated any significant revenue for other companies. That may very well be The Social Network's bane. I spend much of my day talking with, surveying and interviewing retailers and the general consensus I hear about social networks is that they just don’t drive revenue. Nearly 60% of retailers agree that the returns on social marketing efforts are unclear. Retailers tell us Facebook fans don’t buy after becoming fans, they don’t click on the posts that retailers make, and no one visits or buys from the Facebook stores (unless that’s the only place where your merchandise is available). I contrast social networks with search, which even 10 years ago was regarded as one of the most effective marketing tactics out there even when few retailers were using it. The State of Retailing Online Report from way back in 2001 had 88% of retailers saying paid search was effective. To this day, search continues to retain that honor. Social networks? Not so much. Only 7% of retailers say it’s an effective customer acquisition source.
I have had various discussions with banking executives about whether they should invest in personal financial management (PFM) during the last months. One thing that often hinders the discussion is that people think of different functionality when discussing it. Some refer to PFM mainly as account aggregation; others think of it as transaction categorization and budgeting tools. Still others think of savings goal tracking or peer comparisons. Discussion like “shall we invest in PFM” are therefore not very constructive.
A framework that Forrester developed nearly a decade ago provides a useful structure to guide a more constructive discussion. Instead of asking whether they should offer PFM, executives should instead ask whether they can help their customers with four main questions:
What do I own? (account aggregation, total financial status)
How am I doing? (transaction categorization, budgeting, savings goal tracking, peer comparisons)
What should I do? (personalized recommendations based on transaction data)
How can I take action? (personalized recommendations that are directly actionable)
If you are a Forrester client and want to read more about our take on PFM from a European perspective, I encourage you to read my latest report about this topic.