Few industries are immune from the digitization of experiences, content, services, and products. In this era of cloud computing, IOT and mobile devices, firms are increasingly testing new product offerings that combine elements of content, software, services, and hardware together. Like the evolution of the products themselves, the rulebook on monetizing them is also evolving: firms are replacing the simple one-time sales models of yore with subscription and consumption-based business models that better sustain a continuous relationship with their customers. But unfortunately, in most cases, firms’ existing technology ecosystem doesn’t support the complex requirements of supporting a subscription business model- from customer lifecycle management to finance management. Enter: subscription billing platforms.
Forrester has identified the eight leading vendors in the space and spent the last four months putting them through a grueling process of due diligence, product demos, capability assessments and customer reference checks. Here’s what we found.
■ Aria Systems, SAP hybris billing, and Zuora lead the pack. These three vendors represent thought leadership and the associated market innovation. All three commonly go head-to-head in opportunities at both midmarket and enterprise firms and in both B2C and B2B monetization scenarios. Each of the three has developed core industry vertical expertise in sectors such as IOT, healthcare, and telco and has established mature partnerships with global management consultancy and system integration firms.
Last year, the number of smartphone subscribers in the world surpassed the number of feature phone subscribers. We expect the share of people using smartphones to grow at a rapid pace through 2020, when 87% of all mobile subscribers will have a smartphone. Several factors will drive this trend, including the falling average selling price of smartphones, the increasing availability of low-cost data plans, greater 3G penetration, and the continued rise of mobile messaging apps, social media, mCommerce, and mobile apps. The majority of new smartphone subscribers will come from Asia Pacific and Africa; the opportunity that developed markets present to handset manufacturers is primarily in the form of handset replacement. According to our recently published Forrester Research World Mobile And Smartphone Adoption Forecast, 2015 To 2020 (Global), in 2020 there will be more than 5.4 billion active smartphones in the hands of more than 3.6 billion subscribers across the globe. Some of the implications of rapid smartphone growth are as follows:
Shortening the smartphone replacement cycle in developed markets.In most developed markets, smartphone penetration is saturating; vendors are expected to launch programs like Apple’s iPhone Upgrade Program to increase smartphone sales by shortening the replacement cycle. And it’s not just the US; handset manufacturers or telcos may launch similar programs in other regions with high smartphone penetration, including Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, the Netherlands, Norway, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, the UK, and the United Arab Emirates.
Long gone are the days in which eCommerce site localization means just translating language and accepting localized payment methods. In a high stakes environment, where a global roll out of direct localized sites can mean millions of dollars of investment, eBusiness professionals responsible for managing international customer-facing websites must localize effectively or risk damaging the reputation of their brands and stifling growth.
Forrester published a report today that outlines seven mission-critical areas to any website localization initiative. Among these imperatives are:
Consistent Domain Structures. The best practice in a domain name strategy for a multinational company is to maintain a strong global brand by using the same domain strategy across the globe. There are four common URL strategies available to firms today: country code top-level domains or ccTLDs (e.g., acme.br), subfolders (e.g., acme.com/br/portugues), subdomains (e.g., br.acme.com), and brand-level global top-level domains or gTLDs (e.g., annualreport.acme). The report provides detailed considerations for each domain convention.
SEO-optimized site content. It is essential to make sure the website’s translated content is easily discoverable for consumers and is positioned to rank at the top of dominant local search engines. eBusiness leaders must understand search engine market share and local market semantics in order to come up on top.
Millennials: We can’t seem to get enough information about them. Recent reports that focus exclusively on how Millennials use new technologies have misled eBusiness execs into believing that they must focus primarily on Millennial dollars.[i] But as my colleague Sucharita Mulpuru discusses in her latest report, the kids are overrated.
History has shown us that technology innovation has an impact on all generations —even if adoption rates and motivations differ by age. We even see this trend when examining the role that mobile devices play in the consumer purchase journey today. For example, although 26- to 34-year-olds lead in tablet adoption, 35- to 44-year-olds show the highest levels of tablet use during the research process —more than a quarter of US online researchers within this age group use a tablet!
It's simple math: The sheer volume of translatable website content multiplied by the number of languages needed to globalize can make a translation initiative out of reach. The truth is that machine translation (MT) offers access to otherwise unreadable information for global consumers.
While it’s true MT can't account for context and tone and often fails to grasp the nuances and ambiguities of language, there are several technology advancements improving the quality and efficiency of MT. Additionally, the MT engines offered by language service providers aren't the humble online translation tools of yore. They include complex rules engines and sophisticated algorithms, which are often also trainable and customizable based on industry terminology, resulting in much higher quality translation output.
Before dismissing MT, eBusiness leaders should consider that:
Big data has made a big impact. Faster and more sophisticated algorithms allow for greater efficiency and accuracy in translation processes and workflows.MT relies on the coding and matching of languages — a vast and variable data set — thus, it has benefitted greatly from advances in analytics and data processing.
Translation memory is boosting translation quality and efficiency. Translation memories are sophisticated language databases that store already translated content. By leveraging previously translated content, firms can reduce the volume of new content to translate plus improve consistency in translation outcomes.
Consumers and enterprises alike are increasingly shying away from buying digital content, services, and software outright. Instead, these businesses are embracing alternative business models where they lease or rent access to digital products and services. The disruption to traditional business models is widespread and accelerating across all verticals of digital product distribution, with high profile digital disruptors like Adobe, Netflix, and Salesforce driving changes in the way consumers and enterprises pay for, and engage with, digital products.
Today we see that:
Business model changes are accelerating in the digital goods marketplace. Today's digitally connected consumer is increasingly eschewing the traditional ownership model of buy, download, install, and use. Consumers want access to digital content and services across their connected devices, anytime, anywhere — and are embracing virtual ownership models that provide access to vast libraries of content, services, and products under subscription, usage, and other emerging ownership models.
A different set of features and services are fundamental for digital goods sellers. Many of the features and capabilities found in enterprise eCommerce platforms are directly transferrable to selling digital goods or online services. However, most of these retail-focused solutions lack the unique features and services needed to sell digital products and services online, including flexible cross selling and bundling, asset protection, subscription management and entitlements among other features.
Less than 1% of total retail sales in India were made online in 2014, but the impact of the Web on offline sales is much greater. The emergence of smartphones and the mobile Internet is playing a much bigger role in influencing the purchase decisions of online users. Customers are using them to research products, even when they are shopping in physical stores; to compare prices with online retailers; to check specifications; and to read user reviews. This user behavior is making the Web a more powerful medium — one that retailers can no longer ignore. It is most influential in categories like computer hardware and software, media, footwear, apparel, and consumer electronics, as these contain a greater number of online-savvy retailers. We recently published the Forrester Research Web-Influenced Retail Sales Forecast, 2014 To 2019 (India), which reveals that:
$70 billion in offline sales in India will be influenced by the Web in 2019. This is more than twice the volume of total online retail sales in India, emphasizing the importance of the Web as a way for retailers to connect with customers.
On November 20, Google released a report on the findings from a survey it conducted in collaboration with Forrester on online shopping trends in India. The report highlights what’s driving the growth of eCommerce in India, including mobile commerce, female shoppers, and the growing number of people in tier two and tier three cities making purchases online. However, the report also noted some barriers to online retail in India, such as its poor showing regarding customer satisfaction and trust; to make further progress, eCommerce firms must work hard to improve in these areas. The report’s key findings involved:
Mobile shoppers. Mobile is driving the market, especially in tier two and tier three cities in India. Half of the online shoppers in tier three cities are already on mobile, compared with just one-third in tier one cities. The percentage of online buyers making shopping queries from a mobile device has grown from 24% in 2012 to 57% in 2014. Forrester forecasts that mCommerce in India will reach $19 billion by 2019.
Women. Women are far more active buyers than men in tier one cities. They outspend men online by two to one, and one-quarter of women in tier one cities make mobile purchases.
New buyers. More than 70% of people in tier one and tier two cities who do not currently make purchases online are expected to do so in the next 12 months.
New growth areas. Home furnishings, cosmetics, and baby care are the next areas of growth for online retail after the success of online retail in the consumer electronics segment.
We just published our predictions report for global eCommerce in which we identify 10 trends and discuss the impact they’ll have on the industry in 2015. We look at key commerce topics such as mobile and omnichannel and also address what we expect to see from some of the global eCommerce giants in terms of their international efforts in 2015. In addition, we explore topics such as:
The B(R)IC markets will continue to attract attention, but smaller ones will also gain traction. Next year, we expect to see continued interest in Brazil, India and China (the political situation in Russia means it will be bumped down the list for many US and European brands). However, all of these markets will remain challenging for varying reasons and we expect that other emerging markets will gain traction with brands in 2015. Indeed, a look at the World Bank Ease of Doing Business Index shows the BRIC markets falling well below other markets like Malaysia, Thailand, the UAE, Mexico and Colombia. Many eCommerce organizations won’t yet be able to justify the cost of launching direct-to-consumer sites in these smaller markets, but a handful of large global organizations will jump in to establish a brand for themselves before their counterparts do the same. Brands looking to sell cross-border will also turn their attention to smaller but fast-growing eCommerce markets.