Here at Forrester, we’ve been evangelizing the concept of agile commerce for a while now, and we are working on a stream of research building on the concept and digging into exactly how leading organizations are transforming themselves to embrace the era of agile commerce. One of the questions I personally get asked is what exactly does an agile business look like? How do you recognize one?
In speaking to a number of leading practitioners in this space, I have found that there are four things that agile businesses have in common. They:
Architect the experience. Agile organizations don’t allow touchpoints to emerge randomly or operate independently from one another. They design compelling cross-touchpoint experiences that are meaningful to their customers and add value to the brand, like “Click and Collect” for a retailer or mobile-driven online check-in for an airline.
Are customer-obsessed. Agile commerce means putting the customer at the heart of every decision, bringing quantitative and qualitative customer insight to every decision, and even reorganizing around the customer life cycle to focus teams on what the customer needs, not what the channel thinks.
Enable with technology. Agility demands some key underpinning enterprise technology components, such as a commerce platform that can serve the Web, mobile, and stores. But it also requires that touchpoints are unshackled from back-end systems by a common set of commerce APIs.
While it has been covered in many other places across the Web (start with Marco Arment, then Ben Brooks), Twitter’s API changes today should worry any social marketers who use tools and technologies that interact with Twitter.
In Twitter’s announcement, they state that they are not going to penalize “Enterprise Clients” and vendors of “Social Analytics” — every quadrant but the top right of their visualization, below. However, Twitter did not clearly delineate lines between what is and is not acceptable. To continue to grow, Twitter needs to encourage a robust and healthy ecosystem, which supports both marketers and users. In order to do that, Twitter must provide much clearer guidance about the long-term stability of its APIs and its support for businesses built on top of their data. If this requires announcements of additional fees for data usage, that will be fine as long as the rules of the road are clearly laid out.
Until Twitter does so, I expect the volume of new enterprise-ready startups centered on Twitter to reduce, and existing vendors will increase their focus on other platforms and communities as CEOs and boards of directors try to reduce their risk and exposure to future changes by Twitter.
Recently, my colleagues Brian Walker and Sucharita Mulpuru released a great overview of Amazon and its role in retail. What’s clear from this report is that Amazon is affecting everyone, both retailers and consumers. In fact, it shows that for many shoppers, Amazon is increasingly their first stop on the retail path: Thirty percent of US online buyers said that they began researching their most recent online purchase on Amazon.
In Europe, we asked online Europeans about the websites that they used to research products/services in the past three months. In the UK, France, and Germany, Amazon was mentioned most often. While some local retailers hold their own, such as Argos in the UK and fnac in France, eBay is the runner-up in most of these markets.
I’ve always been an advocate of storytelling when it comes to qualitative research, as per my blog post a few months ago. Often, this means multiple slides including in-depth explanations, quotes, and visualizations (e.g., imagery, infographics, etc.) — all must-haves for telling a proper story.
But in the fast-paced world in which we live, is there still time to develop a good story? I’ve had clients who only want to see the relevant information in quick, bulleted lists with a few short quotes perhaps. Are we moving to a model where the executive summary is the report? I hope not.
We don’t say “a picture is worth a thousand words” for nothing, and this is especially true for qualitative research. What would you find more valuable? Seeing a quote from a consumer in a Word doc or seeing a PowerPoint slide of that quote along with the consumer’s picture and demographic stats? Think of how this affects teams internally. All of a sudden, this quote isn’t just one voice telling the marketing or product teams what they’re doing wrong or how they should improve. All of a sudden, they see Bob H., a father of three who’s been buying your company’s product for 20 years because he thinks it’s the best on the market. It’s easy for an organization to ignore the voices but much harder to ignore the faces.
Some leading banks have already seen the number of mobile interactions overtake the number of online interactions. The evolution of mobile devices coupled with rising smartphone and mobile banking adoption is evolving banking customers’ needs and will fundamentally change the way eBusiness professionals need to view technology and customer support. We expect mobile banking to grow rapidly over the next few years, but digital banking teams will have to overcome many challenges to stay on par with Forrester’s projected growth, or risk being left behind. In our recent report The State Of Mobile Banking 2012, we help eBusiness and channel strategy professionals understand the most important trends in mobile banking, including:
Mobile banking will soon be mainstream. Fueled by the adoption of smartphones and the growing supply of mobile banking, the use of mobile banking has grown steadily over the past few years. We expect the number of US mobile banking users to double in the next five years and reach 108 million by 2017 -- 46% of US bank account holders.
Everyday banking relationships are moving to mobile. Consumers are progressing from simply checking their account balances or locating an ATM to making bill payments or transferring money to other accounts on their mobile phones. As that happens, mobile banking is displacing use of other channels like branches and online banking.
The rapid adoption of smartphones and mobile Internet usage is changing the way US consumers shop. Although still nascent, mobile commerce is poised for exponential growth. Mobile retail and travel spending grew by 80% in 2011 and is expected to more than double by the end of this year.
There are various definitions of mobile commerce that include retail, travel, advertising, proximity payments (coming soon), and appdownloads, but Forrester combines retail and travel research with an understanding of mobile consumer habits to build its mobile commerce forecast. Shop.org and Forrester Research administer The State of Retailing Online survey annually to online retailers to understand key metrics in shopping trends; this year's survey focused on mobile commerce and mobile retail execution. Having data from both the consumer and merchant perspectives provides us with a richer understanding of the mobile commerce platform and buying behavior.
Firms are increasing their focus on and investment in digital touchpoints. Why? Because digital touchpoints are critical parts of the customer experience ecosystem that offer your customers access to your firm anytime, anywhere. But when these touchpoints aren't optimized to reflect the way customers want to interact, firms:
Lose customers entirely. Seventeen percent of frustrated digital customers report walking away from a purchase, and 11% give up shopping entirely when they can't complete their online research. More alarmingly, when trying to purchase a product or service online, 17% of US consumers who fail to complete their goal take their business elsewhere. These missed opportunities can result in $30 million or more in direct revenues lost per year.
Damage their brands. In today's world of empowered consumers, the stakes are higher than ever. Poor experiences can have a ripple effect that not only damages the brand in the eyes of a single customer but also can spread like wildfire through social media.
Last week my son, Alex, had reconstructive surgery to repair his torn ACL (the ligament that holds the inside of a knee together).
He’s 11 years old.
I have to admit that this procedure worried me like hell for all sorts of irrational reasons. Sure, things could have gone wrong. But the surgeon who operated on my son literally invented this type of surgery, which is only used on children and pre-adolescents who are still growing. Plus we had the procedure donev at Boston Children’s Hospital, which topped the U.S. News & World Reporthonor roll of best children’s hospitals.
All that gave the left part of my brain comfort, even as the right part of my brain tried its hardest to give me high blood pressure. Fortunately, the operation was an unqualified success, and as I write this, we are three days into the recovery period, which is also going well.
Now normally I wouldn’t blog about something this personal. But throughout the process, Alex — who knows what I do for a living — kept telling me that he was having a great experience and that I should write about it.
Frankly, I was quite curious as to why Alex thought — and forgive me for being graphic — that getting his leg opened up and put back together with a bunch of new parts was “a great experience.” So I asked him.
Harley: You’ve said a number of times that you had a great experience at Boston Children’s Hospital. From your point of view, what made it a great experience?
Alex: Everyone was really nice to me. And they did a great job at keeping my pain level down.
Together with our colleague Manish Bahl in Forrester’s New Delhi office, we just published our first report analyzing the eCommerce landscape in India. The report looks at the changing demands of the online shopper in India and the way in which companies in India are adapting to meet these demands.
In this report, we note that:
India’s eCommerce market is at an early stage. India’s eCommerce market today is small but growing rapidly. From a revenue perspective, India is on par with other early stage eCommerce markets such as Mexico, while substantially smaller than more mature online retail markets such as Brazil and China.
Recently we’ve seen a lot of interest in the emotional aspects of customer experience by some of the smartest practitioners we know — chief customer officers. There’s a reason for this. Recent advances in the behavioral sciences now give us a better understanding of how people make decisions, experience pain and pleasure, and recall their experiences.
Maybe you’ve read about some of these studies in books like Predictably Irrationalby Dan Ariely, Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman, or Switch by the Heath brothers. If you have, then you picked up on the fact that we now know our customers to be inherently irrational, making most of their daily decisions without any particular logic.
For example, we know that people experience the pain of loss more acutely than they feel the pleasure of gain. That’s the reason why people dump shares of well-run mutual funds when the economy turns down, irrationally converting their paper losses to real losses. It’s also why it’s easier to lose a customer than to gain one — people are less likely to forgive you when you inflict pain on them (got the order wrong, didn’t resolve the problem) than they are to love you for satisfying them.