The Metamorphosis To Agile Customer Service

There is growing urgency among eBusiness leaders to consider the impact of agile commerce on customer service. In the weeks since my colleague Brian Walker’s “Welcome To The Era Of Agile Commerce” was published, I have had many conversations with eBusiness executives and leading customer service vendors to discuss on agile commerce’s implications to customer service.  The result of these conversations is my recently published document called “The Metamorphosis To Agile Customer Service."

Technology has had a dramatic impact on when, where, and how consumers want customer service:

  • The number of connected devices is increasing. Today 59% of US online adults have more than one device that is connected to the Internet. One in five US online adults — or 37 million people — own five or more devices that are connected to the Internet. (For more insight into this, see our January 25, 2011m "Welcome To The Multichannel Multi-Connection World" report.)
  • Consumers are connected everywhere. Mobile phones are nearly ubiquitous: According to Forrester's US Mobile Technographics®, 88% of US adults own mobile phones, and 21% of US adults are Superconnecteds who use their phones for information, research, and commerce.
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hybris & iCongo Come Together: What It Means

 

Today hybris announced its acquisition of iCongo in a creative deal which sees private equity firm Huntsman Gay convert its stake in iCongo into a significant stake in the newly combined companies. The deal combines complementary capabilities and customer bases, while also mitigating challenges each firm faced alone while strengthening a joint balance sheet for the combined $90-100 million in approximate revenues these firms will make up. The deal also changes a number of dynamics important to customers not only of hybris and iCongo, but also of Endeca and many services providers. A few key takeaways and thoughts:

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Tesco’s Homeplus Innovates With Agile Commerce

When I first saw the video below of how Tesco’s Korean subsidiary Homeplus had tested a "virtual supermarket" in Seoul’s Hangangjin subway station I was impressed with the customer-centric use of mobile technology to innovate the shopping experience. The test included using basic posters with QR codes to enable the customer to create an order for delivery while on their way home.

Now we have learned that Homeplus is extending the trial to other Seoul subway stations next month with a view to rolling the format out across South Korea within two years.

What makes this possible? First and foremost an investment in a services-oriented architecture that Tesco began years ago, along with a consumer market well adapted to using mobile technology in their day-to-day life, and an operational capability to pick the items and faciliate delivery. It is intriguing to see how this test paints a future where physical displays – be they printed or digital – can be used to enhance the cross-touchpoint research, purchase, and service. Ideally these need to be highly integrated to the commerce platform to support real-time price, inventory availability, promotion, and content updates that enable full cross touch-point commerce, with this yet another interface to support shopping.

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We're Hiring! Analyst Serving eBusiness and Channel Strategy, Amsterdam

After six years at Forrester, Alexander Hesse has decided to leave Forrester to take on a new challenge in a different field. It's always a sad day when you lose a respected colleague and I wish Alex the very best.

We're looking for a new senior analyst to join our eBusiness and channel strategy team, preferably based in Amsterdam. We're looking for someone with strong views on eBusiness and channel strategy, an analytical mind, and experience of the complexities of retail financial services and of different European markets to help our clients make the right business decisions and shape their firms' strategies. 

If this sounds like you, or like someone you know, please contact me at bensor@forrester.com or you can apply directly from the job description.

CXM Solutions Visible On The Not-So-Distant Horizon

Customer experience management (CXM) solutions are emerging on the eBusiness technology solution horizon. These solutions promise to enable businesses to manage and optimize the customer experience across customer touchpoints through a combination of content management, search, customer targeting, analytics, personalization, and optimization capabilities. As digital experiences have grown more complex and the need to target and personalize the customer experience across the Web, mobile, contact center, and stores or branches becomes more and more critical, siloed systems that limit the eBusiness & Channel Strategy capability are failing to keep up. My latest report looks at the emergence of these solutions and how they are quickly evolving to support:

  • Leveraging cross-channel data for targeted offers. New CXM technologies bring the merchant, site manager, and marketer together with business rules to provide targeted and personalized offers to the customer across touchpoints including the call center. Leveraging web and offline advertising, traffic, sales, and CRM data to enable improved targeting of the customer.
  • Personalized experiences across touchpoints. As customer touchpoints proliferate, screen size shrinks, and consumers are increasingly distracted, CXM solutions will incorporate personalization tools to drive product recommendations, offers, and content to drive conversion across channels in a personalized, automated, and scalable fashion.
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Navigating The Maze Of Mobile Commerce Solutions

Have you been sitting on the mobile commerce fence? Ready to make the jump? Good for you, but you may not be prepared for the maze of solutions and vendors at hand to help you implement your mCommerce strategy. The number of vendors and diversity of solutions in the market is quite staggering, and the search for the right solution may feel like shopping in a busy Moroccan market, with an overwhelming choice of wares and vendors bargaining hard for your dollars. Leaving with the right purchase is a daunting task.

However, before you rush into evaluating solutions and signing contracts, eBusiness professionals must take a step back and look at the different implementation paths open to them for mobile commerce. These are:

  1. Using technology from your existing eCommerce platform vendor.
  2. Outsourcing to your interactive agency or systems integration firm.
  3. Building it all in-house.
  4. Leveraging a mobile commerce point solution.

In my latest report, a market overview of mobile commerce solutions for retail, I look at 14 established mobile commerce point solutions that have particular strengths and a proven record of accomplishment in the retail sector. These vendors between them empower the mobile commerce sites and apps for an exhaustive list of who’s who in US and European retail. The report focuses on the respective strengths of the solutions with respect to the needs of retailers. The vendors we looked at were:

  • Branding Brand
  • Digby
  • Endeca Technologies
  • Global Bay Mobile Technologies
  • Kony Solutions
  • Moovweb
  • Netbiscuits
  • No Need 4 Mirrors
  • Sevenval
  • Siteminis
  • Skava
  • Unbound Commerce
  • Usablenet
  • Worklight
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Ever Buy Your Cornflakes Online? If You Live In The UK You Might.

Following my blog post from a couple of weeks ago where I wrote about the need to take a local approach in Europe, I’d like to take a few minutes to say something about the first of our country-specific reports.

It was natural to start with the UK Online Retail Overview, 2011, for two reasons. The first is that I live in the UK, so it’s the market and retail environment that I’m most familiar with, but secondly and more importantly, it’s the largest online market in Europe. Based on the figures in our European Online Retail Forecast, the UK online retail market will be worth £28.6 billion in 2011; this represents 9.4% of the overall national retail market, almost double the online penetration of any other European country.

So there are some big numbers but also some interesting trends to examine.

The UK market is increasingly dominated by multichannel retailers. While there are a range of notable online pure play success stories (Amazon.com, Asos, Net a Porter, and Play, to name a few), we are seeing an increasing level of sophistication in how the major high-street retailers are integrating their on- and offline properties. Initiatives like Click and Collect are now commonplace, and the pace of innovation isn’t slowing, with new initiatives such as Argos’ 90 minute Shutl delivery service being a prime example. So there are plenty of examples here to be inspired by.

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