Take Your eCommerce Business Global With Our New Playbook

eCommerce revenues are soaring around the globe. This year, the US, Western Europe, and China alone will generate over $800 billion in online retail sales. Growth rates, too, remain staggering in many countries: China’s massive online retail market will more than double between 2013 and 2018, as will Brazil’s. India’s much smaller market will grow by eight-fold during this timeframe.

However, a litany of businesses have failed as they attempted to tap into shoppers outside of their home markets, with many large US and European brands factoring prominently on the list of casualties. eCommerce is no exception: Numerous eCommerce businesses have taken the plunge into new markets, only to find their offerings didn’t resonate with local consumers or they were outsmarted by much savvier local rivals.

What separates successful global eCommerce businesses from their counterparts? Which tactics have proven particularly effective for brands aiming to extend their reach into new markets? What are some of the most common challenges businesses tend to encounter? Our newly published eCommerce globalization playbook helps brands through the thorny process of global expansion. Clients can read our playbook for insights on how to:

Discover and quantify international revenue opportunities. Our playbook includes reports outlining the global opportunity and identifying how eCommerce markets typically develop with time. Our online retail forecasts for the US and Canada, Western Europe, Asia Pacific, and Latin America provide a quantitative look at market sizes and eCommerce trends in these regions.

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Mind-Blowing Mobile Exit Events CONTINUE!

My colleague Thomas Husson and I put together our 2014 mobile predictions. (See Report) One of the key predictions is:

 

Mobile will sit at the epicenter of mind-blowing exit events. The kernels of activity we saw in 2013 around mobile transactions will explode in 2014.
Those media companies that can't build audiences fast enough to capture spend of the Global 1000 will also look to acquisitions (think $3 billion for Snapchat).
What is mind-blowing is that neither Snapchat nor Instagram had a revenue stream when the bid or acquisition was announced.
In 2014, mobile companies with real revenue streams will go public. King.com (Candy Crush Saga) filed for an IPO with an estimated valuation of $1 billion based
on generating a couple of million dollars a day in revenue. What does King.com do? It monetizes mobile moments by taking advantage of the consumer's addiction to competition.

Mobile is moving so fast that that number is already dated. King started trading publicly on the NYSE Wednesday and part of the release was $1.9B in reported revenue in 2013 - way more than reported 8 months ago.

What happened this week?

1) Intel completed its acquisition of Basis Science - a wearable device - for a reported $100M to $150M. (See TechCrunch, VentureBeat)

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Why eCommerce Needs A United eBay

One of the biggest recent stories in the eCommerce media has been the talk of splitting eBay and PayPal, which was driven by activist investor Carl Icahn.  eBay maintains Mr. Icahn’s idea is not new, and that eBay’s board has rejected the notion based on its own previous evaluations of the best strategic paths for PayPal and eBay, saying now is not the time for separation.  Icahn has backed off his proposal for a full spin-off, now agreeing that a relatively small public offering of PayPal shares, say 20% would be sufficient after all. (eBay’s shareholders will vote on the proposal themselves on May 13.)  

For those of us in the eCommerce industry, there was largely a sense of head-scratching and general befuddlement as to why Mr. Icahn was targeting eBay and PayPal in the first place. Everyone in our industry knows that eBay’s purchase of PayPal back in 2002 is largely regarded as a categorical homerun and a textbook example of synergy executed right.  At its heart, PayPal gives eBay buyers a frictionless and trustworthy way to complete a transaction (perhaps THE single most important moment of truth in ecommerce) and eBay remains PayPal’s most important retail partner, a source of continued customer acquisition around the world, insight into the world’s most engaged shoppers and a funding source for innovation in payments. Those are the arguments on behalf of eBay shareholders, but the entire eCommerce industry in the US has an equally vested interest in keeping these two businesses together as the long-term impact on online retailers of a separate PayPal would be disastrous. Here are three reasons why: 

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A Confession: I Have A Crush On Candy Crush

King had $1.9B in 2013 gross revenue with the majority coming from Candy Crush.

Wow.

I first heard of Candy Crush about a year ago. I was on vacation in Germany with my husband.  One of my friends – for context, she was a college roommate now a CTO at a Fortune 500 company in Silicon Valley – started chatting with me on Facebook. It dawned on me it was 2 am in California.  

Turns out she had worked late and was up playing Candy Crush.  I couldn’t get my head around what it was about this game that was keeping her from sleeping, but she explained, “It’s fun. It’s hard. The game keeps changing. It’s always challenging.”

I advised her to go back to sleep, but couldn’t stop thinking about the conversation. The analyst in me had to dig a bit further.

There are a number of publishers with big hits like Candy Crush. The business model for some lies in in-app revenue, which is why “free” downloads want your gender, age, mother’s maiden name and social security number. Others profit from a minority of users who make in-app purchases to do things like purchase more lives, buy weapons (other games), and send gifts to their friends and fellow players. What’s interesting?

1. It’s software on a connected device.

Users are able to continually update and expand the game. They can even personalize it to feed their particular addiction—keeping them coming back for more.

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Internet Finance Is Disrupting The Banking Business In China

Yuebao is a hot topic in China, and has even gotten international attention. But what is it? Yuebao is a value-added service that customers of Alipay (China’s version of PayPal) can use to earn interest and to make payments and transfers. An individual can start a Yuebao account with as little as RMB 1 (US$0.17).

The Alibaba Group launched Yuebao in June 2013. By mid-February 2014, 61 million people had invested money in Yuebao, and total fund skyrocketed to RMB 400 billion (US$65 billion) – making it the largest fund in China.

People are drawn to Yuebao because of its:

  • High yield. The average annualized return is around 6% — much higher than similar funds and banks’ financial products.
  • Good liquidity. Yuebao offers great flexibility; investors can deposit and withdrawfunds anytime. Other financial institutions require lock-in periods and much higher initial investments.
  • Ease of use. Yuebao offers a much easier way to invest. People can see the value of their assets anytime, anywhere on their smartphones.
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Welcome Brendan Witcher to the eBusiness & Channel Strategy Team

I’m delighted to announce that Forrester has hired a new Principal Analyst, Brendan Witcher, to bolster our coverage of commerce technology. Brendan joins Forrester from a retail background, having most recently held several leadership positions in eCommerce, CRM and strategic planning at Guitar Center. Prior to Guitar Center, Brendan also held senior eCommerce and direct marketing roles at Harry & David. Brendan will be based in Forrester’s headquarters in Cambridge, MA.

With the addition of Brendan to the team, Forrester is making an investment to grow our coverage of commerce technology across the four stages of the customer lifecycle (discover, explore, buy and engage). Vendors and clients alike have already been asking how we’ll be dividing research coverage across our ever growing team. The answer is that we will intentionally be collaborating on much of the research, so expect to see some or all of us on inquiries, briefings as well as authors of much of our respective research. Each of us on the team will also be specializing in certain areas in addition to collaborating on core commerce technology research. The 1000 ft view looks like this:

  • I will continue to lead Forrester’s research on commerce platform, mobile commerce, digital experience management (DXM) and order management technology.
  • Adam continues to research and write about the digital retail store and will lead our research on the commerce service provider landscape in addition to order management, site merchandising,  and omnichannel logistics and fulfillment.
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Step Up To Digital Leadership

No industry is immune to digital disruption.

Globally, executives acknowledge the disruptive influence that digital technologies have on their businesses. In fact, in a recent Forrester survey fielded in conjunction with Russell Reynolds, 41% of business and IT executives believed that their industry had already been moderately or massively disrupted and over half expected to see more disruption over the next 12 months.

You don’t have to look far to find evidence to back this belief up. In fact, you don’t even have to look globally — digital disruption is happening right in your back yard. Just take the UK as an example:

  • The UK government is transforming its public services to deliver “digital services so good that people prefer to use them.”
  • Retailer John Lewis is offering a £50,000 cash investment to the winner of its tech incubator “JLab.”
  • British Airways is driving for operational excellence in baggage handling by RFID tagging luggage.
  • Movie streaming service Blinkbox, owned by retailer Tesco, is expanding into music.
  • PruHealth is partnering with wearable technology firm Fitbug to offer rewards for active health insurance customers.
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Three Days Of eCommerce In And Around Shanghai

A number of us from Forrester offices inside and outside of China converged on Shanghai for a few days last week for our annual Marketing & Strategy event. The trip proved to be especially timely given the extensive media focus on China’s eCommerce market with the recent news on Alibaba's US IPO.

My agenda was largely packed into three days:

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Apple’s Healthbook: Keeping My Fingers Crossed For Something New And Magical

A journalist called and asked me today about the market size for wearables. I replied, “That’s not the big story.” 

So what is? It's data, and what you can do with it. 

First you have to collect the data and have the permission to do so. Most of these relationships are one-to-one. I have these relationships with Nike, Jawbone, Basis, RunKeeper, MyFitnessPal and a few others. I have an app for each on my phone that harvests the data and shows it to me in a way I can understand. Many of these devices have open APIs, so I can import my Fitbit or Jawbone data into MyFitnessPal, for example.

From the story on 9to5mac.com, it is clear that Apple (like with Passbook) is creating a single place for consumers to store a wide range of healthcare and fitness information. From the screenshots they have, it also appears that one can trend this information over time. The phone is capable of collecting some of this information, and is increasingly doing so with less battery burn due to efficiencies in how the sensor data is crunched, so to speak. Wearables – perhaps one from Apple – will collect more information. Other data will certainly come from third-party wearables - such as fitness wearables, patches, bandages, socks and shirt - and attachments, such as the Smartphone Physical. There will always be tradeoffs between the amount of information you collect and the form factor. While I don't want to wear a chubby, clunky device 24x7, it gets better every day.

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Benchmarking B2B eCommerce

Forrester recently partnered with Internet Retailer magazine to survey business-to-business (B2B) eCommerce professionals and produce first-of-its-kind sell-side B2B eCommerce benchmarks. The joint survey developed detailed insights related to B2B budget/spending plans, customer experience comparisons with business-to-consumer (B2C) retailers, feature/function/site component priorities, site measurement/metrics, and mobile and tablet plans.

Today, I’m pleased to announce the release of two reports that analyze and discuss B2B eCommerce sales and marketing benchmarks and technology spending benchmarks. In “Benchmarking B2B eCommerce Sales and Marketing Initiatives” and “Benchmarking B2B eCommerce Technology Investment Initiatives,” Forrester found that B2B companies are:

  • Increasing customer channel-shift and seeing improved year-over-year metrics. A significant percentage of offline customers are moving online.  In fact, 86% of the B2B companies we surveyed said that they had recently migrated offline customers online, while only 14% said that they’d moved online customers offline. B2B eCommerce companies also report that they’re seeing improved Average Order Values (AOVs), conversion rates, and number of lines per order in 2013 versus 2012.  Moreover, B2B eCommerce professionals indicate that they are generally maintaining their margins year over year.
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