The Mobile Commerce Train: Coming But Not Here Yet

After social commerce, mobile commerce is the most heavily debated topic-du-jour among retailers these days. One thing that both social and mobile commerce have in common is that they are both small. Teeny in fact. Forrester’s Mobile Commerce Forecast, 2011 To 2016, which launched today, shows that retailers can expect 2% of their online web sales (yes, I said web sales which means a minuscule percent of overall retail) to be transacted through mobile devices in 2011.  While we also expect mobile commerce sales to grow 40% each year for the next five years, we’re still talking small numbers overall (7% of web sales penetration by 2016).  Why so small you may ask.  After all, aren’t smartphones changing the way we consume web content?  Some things to consider:

  • Tablets. We don’t include tablet shopping in our definition of mobile shopping, but the creation (and subsequent explosion in sales) of this device is probably the single biggest inhibitor to the growth of “mobile commerce.”  Data that we gathered with Bizrate Insights (to be released separately and soon) indicates that most tablet owners also own smartphones, and many of those people naturally prefer to shop on the device that has the larger screen when given the choice.
  • Shopping never leads web behavior. In any list of activities that people do on the Internet, shopping nearly always ranks below things like “reading news” or “using social networks.” Even those activities are not universal among the smartphone set, so it would be premature to expect that shopping would rank high on the list (which it, of course, doesn’t). 
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The Data Digest: Urban China’s Mobile Internet Use Is Double That Of The US

While it is no news that China leads the world’s online population, hitting 477 million users as of March 2011, it is interesting to look at the uptake of mobile Internet in urban China and see how that compares with other regions. Forrester’s Technographics® data shows that urban China is chasing Japan closely, with 43% of mobile phone users reporting they access the mobile Internet at least monthly. This number doubles that of the US (although the US number represents all Americans, rural and urban), which ranked as the third market in this study. While my gut feeling tells me that urban China’s mobile Internet adoption is comparable to that of the developed markets, this result is still striking because the smartphone market in China did not kick off officially until the end of 2009.

Just last month, China Mobile, the dominant mobile service provider with 60% national market share, announced its plan to lower rates for both calls and data plans by an average of at least 15%. And on Monday, China Daily reported that the number of China’s microbloggers was forecast to reach 100 million this year and will increase to 253 million by 2013.*

The booming popularity of microblogging in China, coupled with the fact that mobile Internet is becoming more affordable, means that urban Chinese will not forgo the convenience that mobile Internet provides. We know another wave of growth is approaching. It is just the matter of how high the wave can reach.

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Identifying Your Online Marketing Suite Requirements

The online marketing suite has been a major focus of my writing and speaking engagements in 2011. I'm thankful to have had the opportunity to dive into this exciting and important topic from a variety of angles. Since my first blog post on this topic in February, we have published The Road To The Online Marketing Suite to define a development road map and maturity model for the online marketing suite and How The Online Marketing Suite Affects the Marketing Technology Playbook to look at the long-term implications of the online marketing suite on the marketing ecosystem.

In the wake of these reports, we found that the online marketing suite resonates strongly with Forrester's clients. Organizations definitely have an appetite for a framework to coordinate the content, execution, and analytics that comprise interactive marketing. But time and time again in client meetings, inquiry calls, and at events I've heard the same set of questions: What technologies, skills, and processes does my company need? Which approach should my company take to the online marketing suite? Where should my company start on its online marketing suite journey? 

These are topics we will continue to explore, and to get started we published How To Identify Online Marketing Suite Requirements this week. This research provides a needs assessment framework designed to help organizations craft their strategy for implementing the online marketing suite.

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Mobile Insurance Seeding New (And Surprising) Business Alliances

In the interviews we just wrapped up with insurance thought leaders, one thing’s certain: Mobile is going to play a BIG role in the future of insurance. Alongside another topic (about which you’ll hear more later), mobile, and its role in enabling policyholders along with underwriters, agents, commercial underwriters, and the claim supply chain, animated virtually every conversation we had. One area in particular — mobile partnerships — spurred some great discussion on the outlook for new mobile products and collaborations that might be in the offing.

Alongside Tokio Marine’s intriguing mobile one-time insurance for sporting events and travel, we uncovered a unique life insurance purchasing model in South Africa. What was it that caught our attention? Econet Wireless and First Mutual Life in South Africa have teamed up to produce Ecolife, a life insurance product purchased by prepaid subscribers using mobile airtime. The customer only has to purchase US$3 to receive coverage, and the amount of coverage increases with every additional dollar (up to $10,000 coverage). First Mutual Life’s attempt to reach the sizable population of South Africans without a traditional bank account has seen rampant successthus far.

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Online Video Retail Success Stories

Increase your conversion rates overnight!

Really?

That’s amazing. How can I get a piece of that pie? 

Call it what you will -- V-Tail, vCommerce, or just plain online video -- we are seeing some pretty bold claims around the use of video in eCommerce. Claims from platform vendors, press, and even some case studies and success stories from large retailers who are seeing some significant successes when they integrate video content into the online shopping experience.

But there’s the key. Integrate. Of course it isn’t as simple as sticking a few videos on your existing dot-com site and hey presto, conversion rates skyrocket. Video needs to support the sales process in a way that makes sense to your customers, that supports your brand values, and that enhances the shopping experience.

There are a growing number of ways to source video content, and an increasing number of players in the market who will all tell you that they have the answer. From user-generated content to automatically generated video. From content delivery networks to social media. There are a bewildering number of options out there.

Video absolutely can deliver firm benefits :

  • It can increase page views by driving traffic to your site.
  • It can enhance the time people spend lingering on your site, giving you more opportunity to market to them.
  • It can help to increase conversion.
  • It can reduce your returns.
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Why Marketing To Millennials Online Is Tricky

For my last report, I took a deep dive into the complex attitudes and online behaviors of Generation Y (ages 18-31) through the lens of an interactive marketer. Let's just say that marketers face a lot of challenges when it comes to targeting this demographic. Millennials are digital natives, influence family purchasing decisions, and expect your marketing to be personal and contextual. In addition, online millennial marketing requires a skillful approach across multiple channels and devices. While this may sound complicated and/or expensive, it doesn't have to be. In fact, lots of brands are tapping into internal experts and specialty agencies to market more effectively. In  Marketing To Millennials: The Next Generation Of Purchasing Power, you'll find some key data that helps marketers to better understand online consumer behavior, attitudes, and adoption.  You'll also see some concrete examples of brands targeting Millennials well and those that are investing in them early to build brand awareness. You can read the report here.

Join The Tweet Jam On Customer Loyalty

 

Guest post by Emily Murphy (@ekmurphy) on behalf of Forrester’s research team serving Customer Intelligence Professionals.

A few weeks ago, Zach Hofer-Shall led a tweet jam on social influence. It garnered such a good response that we decided to take another Customer Intelligence approach to the #IMChat. But this week -- at 2 p.m. Eastern time on Tuesday, June 14th -- we’re going to talk about a different hot topic: customer loyalty.

Personally, I would consider myself something of a loyalty program junkie. I sign up for lots of programs and willingly share loads of information about my preferences and interests. But in my experience, most loyalty programs don’t do much with that information. I get discounts and accrue rewards, but the offers are rarely customized to my interests or past transactions.

In this tweet jam, I want to get a sense of your experience with loyalty programs. More specifically, we’ll address the following questions:

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What Amazon Should Do With Its Kindle iPad App

 

This week, the iPad app world is frantically sorting through some recent changes in its environment. Last Monday, Apple quietly altered its app approval policies in a way that will make publishers much happier. Specifically, Apple has relaxed control over whether apps can access content paid for outside of the App Store’s purchase APIs. The company has also allowed publishers to price however they want, both outside and inside of the app.

In the same week, FT.com released a subscription-based HTML5 web app intended for iPad users that bypasses Apple entirely, giving the publisher its own path to market that does not depend on or enrich Apple directly. The coincidence of these two events is not lost on most of us industry observers and is the topic of a Forrester report issued by my colleague Nick Thomas last Friday. In it, Nick explains why the FT’s move is probably the first of many such moves by the most recognized publishers, even with Apple’s newly announced policy reversal.

But while publishers figure out their next steps for their content apps, there’s one app that no one is talking about but I believe everyone should have their eye on. It’s the Amazon Kindle app. This app violates even Apple’s revised policies and will soon face a day of reckoning when Apple's June 30th deadline for compliance comes up. 

I don’t claim to know Amazon's plans, but I will claim to tell Amazon what it should do:

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Give Your Colleagues Three Compliments For Every Criticism

Teams perform better when they have more positive interactions than negative interactions. Why? Some might assume that teams that perform well have more to be positive about, so they end up having more positive interactions. But psychologists find that it’s actually the other way around: Positivity drives performance.

I’ve been reading up on positive psychology recently to understand how leaders should communicate with their employees to drive customer experience performance. My most recent read was The Happiness Advantage by Harvard’s Shawn Achor (highly recommended). The book describes one particular concept that I find helpful in planning internal communications: the Losada Line, named after its creator, Marcial Losada.

Losada’s research has found that high-performance teams tend to have at least 2.9013 more positive interactions than negative interactions. Fall below that line and people get mired in problems. Rise above it, and they think more creatively and productively, leading to better performance. Losada has subsequently used this concept to help companies improve their business results by changing how they communicate. For example, he helped a large mining company overcome significant process inefficiencies by getting managers to look for encouragement opportunities even while the company was suffering. The group’s positivity ratio moved from 1.15:1 to 3.56:1, and its performance skyrocketed soon after.

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Join The Tweet Jam On Customer Loyalty

Guest post by Emily Murphy (@ekmurphy):

A few weeks ago, Zach Hofer-Shall led a tweet jam on social influence. It garnered such a good response that we decided to take another Customer Intelligence approach to the #IMChat. But this week -- at 2 p.m. Eastern time on Tuesday, June 14th -- we’re going to talk about a different hot topic: customer loyalty.

Personally, I would consider myself something of a loyalty program junkie. I sign up for lots of programs and willingly share loads of information about my preferences and interests. But in my experience, most loyalty programs don’t do much with that information. I get discounts and accrue rewards, but the offers are rarely customized to my interests or past transactions.

In this tweet jam, I want to get a sense of your experience with loyalty programs. More specifically, we’ll address the following questions:

  1. What are your favorite loyalty programs? Why?
  2. What makes a loyalty program unsuccessful?
  3. What is the impact of social media on loyalty?
  4. What role do you see gamification playing in loyalty?
  5. How do you measure loyalty?
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