Undercover Analyst – Forrester goes on the receiving end of the holiday online shopping season

Peter Sheldon

In the first season of the hugely popular CBS Undercover Boss series, GSI Commerce founder and CEO Michael Rubin went undercover for a week in one of his firm’s eCommerce distribution centers to find out what it was really like to work on the front lines. Last week, Sucharita Mulpuru and I were invited by eBay Enterprise to follow in Michael's footsteps and go work the floor in one of eBay Enterprise’s (formerly GSI Commerce) largest eCommerce distribution centers at the peak of the holiday shopping season. Now luckily we didn’t have to wear any stick on facial hair as we weren’t actually undercover, but we did put in a grueling four hour shift: picking, sorting and packing online orders (yes they made us work).

The experience was fascinating, humbling and a reminder that you can have the best eCommerce website in the world, but it means nothing on Cyber Monday unless you can get those orders out to your customers in time. So what did we observe from our brief career change?

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Alipay Is Shaping Chinese Consumers’ Digital Lives

Vanessa Zeng

On December 8, Alipay celebrated its 10th anniversary by launching the latest version of its digital wallet. What makes this upgrade different and notable is its “10-year statement diary” feature. The statement diary contains data like when a user first made a purchase on Taobao, opened a Yu’ebao account, created an Alipay wallet, hailed a cab using Kuaidi Taxi, and followed a service window. Not only do these 10-year statements record every Alipay customer’s consumption experience, but put together they also trace the rapid development of online payments in China.

Alipay data indicates that, in the past 10 years, Chinese people have made 42.3 billion transactions via the platform, which now handles more than 80 million transactions daily. More people than ever are shopping on their mobile phones: as of October, Alipay counted 190 million mobile app users, and the proportion of online payments being made via mobile devices has exceeded 50%. The four regions with the highest mobile-to-online payment ratio are China’s underdeveloped western provinces: Tibet, Shaanxi, Ningxia, and Inner Mongolia. In addition, the proportion of Alipay users coming from the younger generation is increasing: 32%of all Alipay users were born after 1990, so the new main force of online shoppers is just now coming into its own and will only get bigger.

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Traditional Retailers Must Embrace Disruption To Complete Their Transformation

Vanessa Zeng

On this year’s Singles’ Day, Tmall’s transaction volume hit RMB 10 billion ($1.6 billion) in just 38 minutes, continuing eCommerce’s upward trend. In 2013, the total GMV of Tmall and Taobao reached RMB 1.54 trillion ($249 billion)and Alibaba’s rival JD.com achieved a total GMV of RMB125.5 billion ($20.3 billion). In contrast, Beijing Shin Kong Place, China’s top one traditional retailer, had just RMB7.5 billion ($1.2 billion) in total sales revenue in 2013.In 2014, the growth rate of China’s top 100 retail chains has continued to decline and is now at its lowest point in the past four years. The data above indicates that traditional retailers face a cold winter struggling to fight off both the economic downturn and the success of eCommerce. So how can traditional retailers compete against eCommerce players?

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More Trends in Brazil’s eCommerce Market

Zia Daniell Wigder

eCommerce in Brazil has gone from an $8 billion market in 2010 to a nearly $20 billion market today.  As the market has grown, eCommerce team sizes have expanded and retailers’ priorities have shifted. We address these issues in the second of our three-part series on retail eCommerce in Brazil. The three reports summarize the findings of a survey we fielded of over 300 online retailers in Brazil together with partner e-Commerce Brasil.

In our most recent report entitled Retail eCommerce In Brazil: Team Headcount, Priorities And Challenges, we find that:

Operations has the highest headcount while analytics and customer experience lag far behind. Our survey shows that the average eCommerce team in Brazil has 24 members, with half of those being part of the operations team. Customer service, IT and marketing fall further down the list. eCommerce teams include just two people in usability/customer experience and just one in analytics.

Hiring qualified talent remains many online retailers’ largest hurdle. When asked about challenges, retailers cited hiring as one of their biggest issues over the next 12 months. Not surprisingly, the two areas of low headcount cited above – customer experience and analytics – are two of the most challenging positions to hire for in other markets, as well. The other top challenge cited by Brazilian retailers was managing fulfillment costs and expectations – not surprising given Brazilian shoppers’ expectations of free, quick delivery in major metropolitan areas. 

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Which Banks Lead In Digital Sales? Find Out Here

Peter Wannemacher

[This blog post was co-authored by Rachel Roizen]

Hot off the presses: We’ve just published our 2014 US and Canadian Bank Digital Sales Benchmark reports, in which we assess the public websites of the five largest retail banks in each country — as well as their mobile sites and downloadable apps for smartphones and tablets. Our benchmark looks at a range of criteria across four categories: discover, explore, buy, and onboard (see image below).

Read the full reports by clicking on the following links:

                      

Here are some of the findings from the research:

  • Bank of America narrowly edges out the competition to take the top US spot. For the second year in a row, Bank of America earns the highest overall score among the five largest retail banks. The firm excels by simplifying the online application process (it takes just a few minutes and guides the user with clear feedback and progress indicators) while supporting digital shoppers with chat and click-to-call options. At the same time, Bank of America enables easy cross-channel shopping for digital researchers who want to move offline to apply, with branch appointment scheduling available online.
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2014 US Credit Card Secure Website Benchmark: Discover Continues To Lead

Peter Wannemacher

[This blog post was co-authored by Rachel Roizen]

Forrester has just completed our 2014 US credit card secure website benchmark, in which we assessed the features, functionality, and content on the secure websites of the six largest credit card issuers in the US.

You can read and/or download the full report by clicking on the link below:                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

Here are some key findings from our research:

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Mobile-Fueled Valuation: Uber at $40B?

Julie Ask

I am not a financial analyst so will not speak to the specifics on the $40 billion.

Uber isn’t a mobile app service. (I heard a taxi driver call them “app cars”). Uber is a business enabled by mobile.

Mobile changes consumer expectations of convenience in three dimensions:

  1. Immediacy. I may wait three to 10 minutes for a ride, but I have instant access to information (e.g., the location of the vehicle and when it will arrive).
  2. Simplicity. I press a button “pick me up” and a car is ordered for my precise location. Ordering a ride could not be any simpler — well, at least until someone learns to anticipate when I need a ride and asks me before I order. (I’m waiting on my airline to do this for me).
  3. Context. Context is the sum of all of the information that a company has about a consumer (or employee — in this case supply of rides also) including situation (time, location, etc.), past behavior or preferences, and emotions inferred from one’s logistics. Uber depends primarily on real-time context or location in the moment to match supply and demand. Drivers also use ratings to decide if they want to pick up a passenger.
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Mobile Is The Future Of Indian Commerce; Is Your Business Ready?

Katyayan Gupta

Indian consumers are more likely to own a mobile phone and use it to access the Internet than own a PC or laptop and use a wired Internet connection. The stats speak for themselves: As of September 2014, India has more than 930 million wireless subscribers against just 27 million wireline subscribers. And while just 8% of these 957 million subscribers have a broadband connection (with download speeds of 512 kbps or better), fully 80% of them are mobile users.

This is leading to the mobile mind shift: the expectation that consumers can get what they want in their immediate context and moments of need. This trend is particularly evident in retail; today’s consumers are increasingly using their mobile devices to accomplish a variety of shopping-related tasks online – from researching a product to buying it.

Forrester has developed a global retail segmentation framework to identify, assess, and compare the behaviors of shoppers in various countries. Five segments identify the most prevalent and regular shopper behaviors (see figure below). According to this framework, 6% of metro Indian online users fall into the Mobile Shoppers segment. In comparison, only 4% of online users in the US are Mobile Shoppers! Even the percentage of Super-Shoppers in India is more than twice that in the US.

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Mobile Laggards Beware - Google Is Exposing Your Shortcomings

Peter Sheldon

This week Google started promoting mobile optimized websites in their search results:

Frankly I'm amazed it's taken Google this long to implement, however for mobile users it's a welcome addition to the search experience that alleviates the pain of clicking on a link only to find a desktop site at the other end. Now the consumer is in control and armed upfront with a Google endorsement of mobile readiness. This strategy is part of an evolution of preemptive warnings for mobile search users. Earlier this year Google started warning mobile users of destinations using Flash or destinations with broken links that would result in a re-direction to the destination homepage

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The Digital Store Platform Will Support The Retail Store Of The Future

Adam Silverman

The in-store shopping experience is increasingly being transformed into a digitally enhanced experience for both the customer and retailer. Technologies such as beacons, retail store analytics, and store fulfillment programs are rapidly changing the definition of how a retail store operates and engages with customers. While 68% of customers use a mobile device while in a store, retailers are just beginning to take an active role in that in-store digital experience.

Forrester believes that, in the future, retail stores that drive convenience, service, and relevant personalized experiences through the use of digital store technology will succeed. Why? Because today. customers show an affinity for digital store technology. In fact, 66% of luxury apparel customers are more likely to shop with a digitally-enabled associate. Those retailers who wait on the sidelines are at risk of maintaining the status quo and may only grow marginally.

In 2015, Forrester predicts that:

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