Australian Online Shoppers Are Ready For Mobile Commerce

For a moment, allow me to speak as an Australian consumer, rather than as an eBusiness analyst. As a consumer, let me say this: In Australia, in 2011, I am truly surprised when I visit a favorite shopping site using my iPhone, only to find I must zoom, pan, and squint to achieve anything useful. It's not a good experience, and it makes it harder for me to shop. The contrast with the great experience I have with the best mobile shopping apps and sites could not be greater.

It turns out I'm not the only Australian online shopper to use mobile apps and the mobile web, according to my new report, "Mobile Technographics: Australian Online Shoppers." In fact, it turns out that Australian online shoppers tend to be sophisticated mobile users — even more advanced than the wider community of Australian Internet users as a whole. And for Australians who regularly shop online in certain product categories, the average level of sophisticated mobile behavior is even higher. For example:

  • 84% of Australian online adults who have mobile phones use them for more than voice — uses that range from SMS to consuming mobile video.
  • 49% of Australian adult mobile phone owners who regularly shop online for apparel, footwear, or accessories are also in Forrester's Entertainers category, meaning they buy content, apps, or personalized services for entertainment on their mobile phones at least weekly.
  • 38% of Australian adult mobile phone owners who regularly shop online for computer hardware, software, or peripherals are also in Forrester's Connectors category, meaning they use mobile email at least once a month, or they use another efficiency or productivity application like mapping.
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Agile Commerce Is For Life, Not Just For Christmas

 

EBay is now the latest entrant into the field of retail experimenters that are trialing the concept of a “virtual store.” 

EBay joins Occado and Tesco in embracing the increasing number of Multidevice Buyers in the UK who use their smartphones not only to inform their offline shopping journeys, but to buy products as well. EBay’s pop-up store in the heart of London promises to allow shoppers to browse products in person and purchase via a QR-code-driven mobile shopping experience. 

While eBay's store is very deliberately designed as a temporary pop-up, others are approaching the same challenge in a completely different way. House of Fraser recently launched a concept store in Aberdeen that carries no stock but offers shoppers the opportunity to sip a free cappuccino while they browse House of Fraser’s website on dedicated Internet stations.   

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Benchmark Your eBusiness Strategy And Results

I'm so excited to announce that today we have launched Forrester's new free eBusiness benchmarking tool. With the tool you can compare your key performance metrics against your peers'. Plug in the answers to a few questions about your eBusiness budget and metrics and our tool will instantly compare your answers to similar size companies for five key benchmarks:

  1. The size of your annual eBusiness budget 
  2. The number of staff dedicated to your online division
  3. The percent of overall sales that occur online
  4. The size of your eBusiness team
  5. The percent of customer service interactions that occur online

The tool will not only show side-by-side results, it'll also produce a nifty PDF for you to print out and show to your colleagues. But wait there's more! We have a suite of research that helps our clients act on results, outlining how to improve those five key metrics to keep up with competitors and align with best practices. We've summarized all of our advice on how to use the benchmark tool and to improve results in an accompanying report called "Benchmark Your eBusiness Strategy And Results" (sound familiar?) and I encourage you to read it. 

We also have a whole body of research that we think help turbo charge your eBusiness results.

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The Battle For The Digital Wallet

Over the past couple of years I have been intrigued by the concept of a 'digital wallet' that will combine mobile payments with a variety of other benefits for customers. The more people I talk to, the more convinced I am that mobile digital wallets will mark a big shift in retail payments. A mobile digital wallet is more than just a mobile payment system because it combines:

  • Mobile payment. Digital wallets are likely combine several different payments systems into a single service, including mobile contactless payments, online (i.e. web) payments, and over-the-network mobile payments, making it easy for customers to make a variety of different types of payment from a mobile device.
  • Barcode scanning. Scanning barcodes or QR codes will let customers get more information about products, and let them pay for items on their phones before showing an on-screen receipt to leave the store.
  • Loyalty rewards. Instead of carrying (and sometimes forgetting) a separate loyalty card, digital wallets will track customers’ spending and offer merchant-funded rewards, either on the phone or at the point of sale.
  • Coupons and offers. Digital wallets are likely to offer customers coupons and location-based offers.
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The New Normal – Light Spending, Heavy Coupon Usage

A few days ago, online coupon site Retailmenot.com released results from its inaugural holiday edition Shoppers Trend Report. A combination of consumer trend data pulled from activity on Retailmenot.com and a survey by Ipsos regarding near-term consumer sentiments, the report corroborates much of what Forrester recently predicted for this year’s holiday shopping season:

  • Growth in overall retail spend will be positive but small. According to the Shoppers Trend Report, only 11% of consumers surveyed intend to increase their holiday spending.  Similarly, the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Forrester predict the U.S. will see only a marginal increase of 2.8% growth in overall retail spending this holiday season. 
  • Coupon use is on the rise. 58% of US online adults say that they are more price-conscious today than they were a year ago.  Not surprisingly, Experian Hitwise has seen downstream traffic from retailers to couponing sites grow 69% in the last three years. Similarly, Retailmenot.com has seen online coupon usage increase 23% in the months leading up to the holiday season.  Seems if there’s a deal lurking out there on the internet, price conscious consumers are out to find it.
  • Free shipping is preferred by online shoppers. 59%of US online adults say that they shop online more often with retailers that offer free shipping.  In fact, according to the Shoppers Trend Report, free shipping is the coupon promotional offer most favored by consumers – preferred by 26% of all shoppers.
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Selecting The Right Virtual Agent Vendor For Your eBusiness

What do Aetna, the US Army, L’Oreal, and the London 2012 Olympic Games have in common? Each of these diverse organizations has deployed a virtual agent.

Virtual agents are software services that provide automated assistance by simulating a two-way conversation with customers. And they have come a long way from Clippy the dancing paper clip. The technology has demonstrated its ability to achieve business benefits, including improving efficiencies by deflecting calls to the contact center, managing initial customer contact by collecting information to populate a service ticket, and heightening the efficiency of contact reps when a case is escalated to live help

Selecting the right virtual agent vendor can be a complex undertaking because it can have an impact on multiple functional areas, including eBusiness, business processes, IT, customer experience, and, potentially, legal and governance.

To help navigate this process, we have published a new report, Five Essential eBusiness Criteria For A Successful Virtual Agent Vendor Selection.

Unlike traditional keyword search, which focuses on words or word patterns, virtual agents use some form of natural language processing (NLP) that derives intent by utilizing complex algorithms. 

One of the questions that I am most commonly asked by eBusiness professionals is how to assess how well a virtual agent understands conversation. 

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Mobile Banking: Just Another Channel Or Fundamental Strategic Shift?

In the past week I’ve have the privilege of talking to (or listening to) executives responsible for mobile banking at some of Europe’s biggest banks, including Bankinter, Barclays Bank, La Caixa, Lloyds TSB, Nordea and RBS, at Forrester’s Marketing & Strategy Forum and at a conference on Next Generation Mobile Banking hosted by The Banker. I’ve also spoken privately to many other executives over the past few months, including at Forrester’s eBusiness Council meeting this week.

Without naming names, I’m struck by the sharply different perspectives these executives have. Simplistically, their view of mobile banking falls into two camps:

                Mobile is just another channel. These executives see mobile banking as a way of letting customers do old things, like checking their account balance, in new ways.

                Mobile will revolutionize retail banking. These executives believe that mobility could turn the retail banking industry upside down, by enabling customers to do entirely new things like scanning bills to make payments, responding to location-based offers, and receiving rewards at the point of sale.

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Growing Momentum Around eCommerce In Brazil

Back in September, I wrote up a few of my findings from meetings with companies in the eCommerce space in Rio and São Paulo. We’re fielding an increasing number of questions about Brazil, and indeed, while eCommerce in Brazil today is still heavily dominated by local companies, the landscape is starting to include more international players:

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2D Bar Codes Are Everywhere, But Are They Having An Impact?

2D bar codes  are on buses, in newspapers and magazines, storefronts, product packaging, store shelves, bus stops, mailings from political candidates, and subways. Retail stores like Best Buy, Home Depot and Lowe’s have corporate programs for 2D codes. Honestly, it is hard to name a place that I haven’t seen a 2D bar code. Hard to say if there are more codes — or more consumers scanning the codes. I think it is the former. As with many things mobile, this is more of a supply-side-driven phenomenon than demand-side.

Why are there so many codes? They are one of many mobile technologies that facilitate the connection of consumers to relevant content when they need it. Scanning bar codes simplifies the experience of discovering content or initiating an action on a cell phone like sending a message or adding a contact to a phone. Brands are doing all they can to educate consumers about what codes are and how to use them. Budweiser, for example, has designed an entire TV commercial around tags from Spyderlink on its Bud Light cartons. See the video.

Plastering codes everywhere, however, is working —  adoption among US adults has increased from only 1% last year to 5% this year. Adoption among smartphone owners is three times that. While adoption is relatively low today, the strong growth in usage of the codes by brands and consumers alike indicates a bright future for brands looking to deepen their engagement with consumers. Bar codes don’t facilitate just marketing —  they will be used 360 degrees around a customer’s journey —  from branding or consideration through to purchase and replenishment.

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Microsoft Folds Its Hand And Abandons Commerce Server: What It Means

With other enterprise players such as IBM, Oracle, hybris, eBay and others at the table betting heavy on commerce solutions, Microsoft announced today that it is folding Commerce Server and leaving its shrinking pile of chips behind. While others have invested heavily through acquisitions, product investment, partner recruiting, and have been increasing their focus on commerce, Microsoft will walk away and hand over the product to a third party –Ascentium. Oh how much the game has changed; in 1999 Microsoft was the one with the tall chips.

Ascentium, a Bellevue, WA based digital agency and commerce services provider, will be taking over all the intellectual property rights, future product development, marketing, and support of Commerce Server from Microsoft.

What it means for Microsoft Commerce Server clients:

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