Depending on the viewpoint of your favorite economist, the recession may be over. But retail growth is far from buoyant in many markets. The UK retail sector shows healthy signs of recovery, while US consumers seem be less confident. There are numerable success stories; John Lewis passed the £1bn online revenue mark this year, while Macys is in its fifth year of double-digit online growth, in spite of a slightly shaky offline performance. But as an eBusiness leader, no matter what your local market conditions, I’m willing to bet one thing.
Your growth targets haven’t gone down.
For many years, growing online revenues has been a core strategy for most B2C firms, and many B2B firms are also riding the eCommerce wave. But as markets become crowded and competition becomes tighter, globalization is an increasingly attractive option for eBusiness professionals. With southern European markets seeing online growth rates in the high teens and even bigger opportunities like Russia and China on the global horizon, it’s no surprise that an international strategy is high on the agenda for many eBusiness leaders.
Europeans spend €5 in-store for every €1 spent online after researching products via digital touchpoints. Digital activities influence a significant proportion of physical store sales. Yet, many eBusiness professionals tend to evaluate their digital efforts in terms of online sales generated and struggle to measure the value of a website and digital activities in terms of the overall influence on the shopper journey.
The key for eBusiness professionals is to recognize the influence that digital has on purchase decisions across the customer lifecycle and keep consumers within their own ecosystem, no matter where the final transaction takes place (in the physical store, on their website or via their mobile app).
But how can you quantify the influence of your digital presence on physical store sales?
For several years we have published the cross channel retail sales forecasts in the US and for the first time Forrester has developed a European version focused on seven European markets: UK, France, Germany, Netherlands, Italy, Spain and Sweden. The forecast projects the growth of cross channel sales - sales that are influenced by the digital touchpoints but where the purchase is completed in a physical store.
A few key takeaways from a European perspective include:
Consumers are embracing an increasing number of devices and touchpoints to shop – this we know and at Forrester we call this the mobile mind shift. But eBusiness professionals still need to figure out the relative influence each touchpoint has on their customers’ shopping behavior in order to determine where to focus their efforts. Should you follow the likes of House of Fraser with a mobile first web presence? How do your customers use your digital presence for research pre-purchase?
Forrester’s new retail segmentation helps eBusiness executives answer these questions by providing a framework to map out the complex ecosystem of touchpoints and devices their customers use to shop. The segmentation identifies increasingly sophisticated multi-touchpoint shopping behaviors and helps eBusiness executives to identify critical touchpoints to create the most relevant shopping experiences for customers across markets.
I have recently joined the eBusiness & Channel Strategy group as an Analyst, from a role as Senior Consultant within Forrester. I have spent the past few years working with Analysts, across the eBusiness & Channel Strategy and Marketing Leadership role teams in Europe, on custom consulting projects for a variety of clients. These projects focused on a wide range of topics and objectives, including vendor selection support for an Italian fashion brand, multi-market digital maturity assessments for a global CPG organization and an eCommerce strategy review for a global multi-brand corporation, to name a few. I very much look forward to continuing to work to provide guidance and insight, now as an Analyst, to help our eBusiness clients to succeed in the Age of the Customer.
For my money, the most surprising high-value secure website feature is search (here we mean natural language keyword search that lets a user find what he or she is looking for on the site). In fact, our research revealed search to be one of the few bank website features that customers rate as above-average in importance, yet search is either nonexistent or poor on most banks’ secure sites. So we wrote an entire research report about it. Here are some highlights:
Online banking customers want search… We asked consumers who bank online to "rate how important it is to you that your bank's website has each of the following features" and asked them about 14 different features, including search. The majority of online bankers — 68% in the US and 63% in Canada — say search is important to have on their bank's secure website.
…but few banks offer search on their secure website…Just seven of the 25 largest banks in North America include search functionality on their secure websites.
Mobile has gotten a lot of attention at banks recently. In fact, other teams in a firm’s organization are starting to feel like Jan Brady, the voices in their heads chanting “Mobile Mobile Mobile!”
But there’s good reason for the increased focus on mobile banking efforts: mobile is the most important strategic change in retail banking in over a decade. It is shifting your customers’ behavior, raising customers’ expectations, and opening up new opportunities for banks, their competitors, and new disruptors.
So how can strategists at banks assess the current and future state of the mobile banking market? How can they plan their own mobile banking roadmap? What do they need to successfully execute these plans? And how will they continue to improve and enhance their mobile offerings going forward?
Forrester’s new Mobile Banking Strategy Playbook seeks to answer all of these questions, drawing on mountains of research and deep dives into data in order to give eBusiness teams at banks a complete framework for building and maintaining a world-class mobile banking strategy. The playbook will include 12 chapters (plus an Executive Summary) that cover different aspects of mobile banking – and many of those chapters are already live. These chapters outline how to develop a successful mobile banking strategy. Specifically, we recommend that mobile strategists at banks:
Ever wonder if you're spending enough on your eBusiness efforts compared with your peers? We've been benchmarking key metrics like team size, channel responsibilities, and spending for four years and this week we’ve launched our quarterly eBusiness and Channel Strategy Panel Survey to keep adding to that rich data.
We have designed the survey to help eBusiness and Channel Strategy Professionals determine the size of companies' eBusiness budgets, the size of their technology investments, and how these numbers compare with overall firm spending. Additionally, it will shed light on the key roles and responsibilities eBusiness executives are playing, what channels firms focusing on, and where future investment priorities lie.
Here are the details:
The survey takes less than 20 minutes to complete.
Responses will be kept strictly confidential and published only in an aggregated and anonymous manner.
Respondents will receive a free copy of the survey results and a free Forrester report.
Here's the link to the survey again. Thanks for participating!
Earlier this week I caught up with Discover’s Mike Boush to talk about his keynote at the upcoming eBusiness Forum, where he’ll explore innovations in eBusiness at Discover. Here’s a snippet of our conversation, and a sneak peak of Mike’s session at the event:
Q: What digital initiative have you undertaken in the last 12 months that you're most excited about?
A: I love what we're doing with partnerships online. It's creating a whole lot of value for customers and, frankly, getting us out of the "must be built at Discover" mentality. It started with an integration with PayPal in order to deliver peer-to-peer payment services. The program leverages PayPal’s huge delivery platform, and customers love it. Then we introduced an integration with Amazon that lets customers pay for their Amazon.com purchases with the cash they earned through our Cashback Bonus rewards program. This really highlights the difference between competitors' "points" programs and our straightforward cash, and the transparency shows just how great our program is. And recently, Google announced our integration of Discover card enrollment into the Google Wallet from our website, which is convenient for customers and helps position us in the mobile payments space. These integrations are just a sample of what we've done, but they become powerful illustration of what we can do when we team up and innovate with other great companies.
Q: What gets in the way of delivering the right experience to your customers?