Insurers Will Pour Capital Into New Digital Innovation Ventures In 2015

Ellen Carney

Think that insurance is a sleepy industry? Think again.  In 2014, global insurance companies raced to out-innovate each other. They turned to new digital innovations to fend off threats from insurance start-ups like MetroMile and PolicyGenius and sorted out new ways to remain relevant as a host of well-known brands like Google and AT&T crept into realms historically owned by insurance firms.   We noted this innovation urgency among European and North American insurance firms earlier this year.

In casting an eye forward, we predicted seven events that would change the insurance landscape in 2015. A major force informing all seven predictions is the fact that smart insurers are recognizing that in the need to generate more good ideas faster, they have to radically change how they develop and execute new thinking. That means that insurers need to short cut the industry’s traditional “we’ll build and control” culture and instead go into the market, spot a hot business technology start-up that brings a lot of what’s needed to create a minimum viable product, and partner with them. And the smartest of the smart insurers are employing two unique industry forces—a very regular flow of premiums and the dynamics of equity markets— to get even closer to the source of new ideas:  By investing in them. In 2015, we’ll see more insurance venture capital startups form in the wake of similar VC business launches from insurers like American Family, AXA, MassMutual, and Transamerica.

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US Mobile Payments Will Reach $142B By 2019

Denée Carrington

The media frenzy around mobile payments — most recently Apple Pay — has reached fever pitch and led some industry spectators to conclude that a payments revolution is at hand. Not so. The adoption of mobile payments is an evolution — not a revolution — and the evolution is well underway. Although the landscape of mobile payment providers is in an ongoing state of flux, the ecosystem and mobile capabilities are maturing and consumer and merchant adoption is accelerating.  Over the next five years, US mobile payments will grow from $52 billion in 2014 to $142 billion by 2019 with both national brands and local merchants.  Over the next five years, we can expect: 

  • Consumers undergoing a mobile mind shift will create new mobile moments in commerce. Over the last five years, US consumers have adopted smartphones at a breakneck pace – growing from just 19% in 2009 to 66% in 2014.As consumers integrate mobile into every aspect of their lives, they are turning to their mobile devices to get things done wherever they are. Consumers are undergoing a mobile mind shift: “the expectation that I can get what I want in my immediate context and moments of need. Their increasing reliance on their mobile phones gives rise to higher expectations — it has ushered in the emergence of mobile moments in which businesses can find new opportunities to meet or surpass customer expectations in payments and commerce.
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Ready to Write Your Digital Strategy? Read This First.

Who Does Mobile Commerce Well?

Sucharita  Mulpuru

As mobile becomes a critical component of your digital strategy and overall business, eBusiness professionals should have an answer when their executive teams ask, “Who does mobile commerce well?” Forrester has answered that question for you in our new report published today.  Using a proprietary framework, we analyzed top retailers’ mobile experiences (sites and apps) and measured how well they addressed key challenges to mobile commerce sales and supported mobile-enabled commerce in other channels. We selected the best of the best for our review to highlight the strongest functionality and uncover cross-category best practices.

Our framework evaluates the strengths of these mobile phone websites and their corresponding apps across six elements:

  • Findability. The ease of finding a mobile site or app altogether.
  • Utility. How useful the site or app is for shoppers.
  • Searchability. How well search and search functionality like predictive text works on mobile phones.
  • Browsability. How easy it is to browse the retailer’s mobile site or app.
  • Buyability. How easy and frictionless the buying process is on the mobile site or app.
  • Overall design. The ease of navigating content on mobile sites and apps, as well as other mobile content that shoppers engage with including email and text messages.
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The Truth About Showrooming

Adam Silverman

As we enter the 2014 holiday season, retail news outlets are latching on to dramatic headlines highlighting the risk of showrooming - the act of checking prices on a mobile device in a store and then purchasing at another retailer. Yes it’s true; customers use their mobile phones to compare prices in-stores. However the behavior of shopping multiple stores to find the lowest price is nothing new. My grandmother often "showroomed" a bag of peanuts at the farmers market just to save a few cents.  I suspect this behavior has been occurring as long as humans have been bartering goods.

 

While the behavior is not new, mobile phones have enabled customers to compare prices immediately across a vast set of digital retailers.  As mobile phones afford customers greater choice in-aisle, showrooming has instilled fear in legacy retail organizations who quickly realized they no longer completely control the experience in their stores.  At first, retailers responded with force by removing Wi-Fi, which in a world with rich cellular connectivity did little to curb showrooming behavior. Today retailers are reacting to showrooming by providing margin-eroding offers in-aisle. In the future, advanced retailers will begin to embrace showrooming, using the signals from price-checking on mobile phones (either by observing behavior or using retail store analytics) to offer greater convenience and rich experiences at the customer’s moment of need.

 

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What Retailers Can Take Away From Singles’ Day Binge

Vanessa Zeng

The two most noteworthy recent events in China are obviously the APEC Summit and the Singles’ Day shopping festival. Since its creation five years ago, Singles’ Day has become the online shopping feast that almost every Chinese consumer expects.

The shopping event was created by Alibaba in 2009 as a promotion to drive sales on Tmall and Taobao on the November 11 Singles’ Day holiday. Alibaba uses the event to reward consumers and reinforce its eCommerce influence in the Chinese market. Now the most influential eCommerce event in China, Singles’ Day is no longer Alibaba’s monopoly — almost all e-tailers and even offline retailers are getting involved.

Compared with past years, the Singles’ Day 2014 campaign has several new features:

  • Global reach. Top eCommerce players such as Alibaba, Amazon, Jingdong, and Suning have all announced “globalization” plans and activities around this year’s event; these plans include offering a broad selection of discounted products, preferential tax rates, free or low-cost international shipping, and speedy delivery.
  • Big data. According to Alizila, Alibaba will apply predictive analysis to Tmall transaction data to project order volume. The Cainiao smart logistics network and its delivery partners can use this information to allocate resources and respond to demand more precisely.
  • Interactions between online and offline. To expand the impact of online retail to offline businesses, Alibaba conducted offline-to-online promotional activities for home renovation and home decoration projects. It also rallied more than 300 department stores in 18 cities to join the event by offering special discounts to shoppers who buy store-value cards online and use them to redeem goods in physical stores.
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Mobile Predictions: The Game Will Change in 2015

Julie Ask
Mobile reached a tipping point in 2014 as it solidified its position as one of the most disruptive technologies for businesses in decades. Not since the advent of the Internet, has a technology forced businesses to rethink completely how they win, serve and retain customers. Mobile has completely shifted consumer expectations. Today, consumers expect to get anything they need immediately, in context. Forrester refers to this as the mobile mind shift.
 
Forrester believes that, in 2015, the gap will increase between leaders and laggards. Leaders will use mobile to transform both their customer experience and their business. They will anticipate the needs of their customers and engage them at exactly the right moment with the right content and services. Forrester refers to these moments as mobile moments. Doing so will require massive spending in the tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars to put the infrastructure, technology, processes and organization in place to engage consumers in their mobile moments.
 
Most companies will fall short. They have a myopic view of mobile. Why?
 
  • Treat mobile has a squeezed down version of a PC experience or a portion of their digital strategy. Why? That is how they are organized and goaled. As a result, they fail to optimize the use of mobile for their overall business. Second, they fail to serve the needs of customers.
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You Need Stickiness To Make Your Mobile App A Destination

Julie Ask
Too many brands fail to leverage the potential of mobile because they act like destinations. Some of you may think being a destination is awesome. Who doesn’t like Paris or Bora Bora? But what does it mean to “act like a destination” in mobile? For most brands, their only strategy to engage their customers is on their own mobile web site or app.
 
Let’s step back a minute and talk about destinations.  
 
Atlantic City was conceptualized as a destination in the 1800’s. Tourism peaked during Prohibition when drinking and gambling rules were not enforced. Consumers had limited options. That changed. Fast forward 50+ years. In 1976, Atlantic City legalized gambling which led to a partial comeback, but they’ve struggled since the early 1990’s because consumers have better options and prefer to spend their time elsewhere. People still go there – just fewer. 
 
Developers have since tried to revitalize Atlantic City as a destination. In May 2012, the Revel Casino opened. Billions were spent to create a destination with shops, restaurants and gambling – everything a visitor could want. How many people visited last weekend? Zero. Revel – this casino - closed its doors in September 2014 with its assets liquidated for small change relative to the investment. 
 
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Digital Business Transformation Will Gain Critical Mass In 2015

Martin Gill
In 2014 digital business hit the boardroom and the C-suite offices: At the beginning of 2014, 93% of executives told us that they believed that their industries would experience digital disruption in 2014. But our surveys and interviews also tell us that many executives don’t believe that their firm has the ability to execute on that plan, and many don’t have confidence in the plan itself.
 
As leaders race ahead with their digital business transformations in 2015, eBusiness professionals have to help pivot their firms from planning mode to doing mode or risk falling behind their more digitally savvy competitors.
 
In the report, "Predictions 2015: Digital Business Transformation Will Gain Critical Mass", I outline the key digital business trends that will impact eBusiness and channel strategy professionals in 2015, including:
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eCommerce Has Shifted China's Retail Landscape

Vanessa Zeng

For the past 20 years, China’s retail industry has benefited from the country’s booming economy to fuel its high-speed development; local and global retail brands alike have grown tremendously in this golden age. However, the slowing macroeconomy and the impact of eCommerce have begun to put the brakes on traditional retail businesses. In contrast, China’s online retail market has continued to grow strongly over the past four years and is expected to top $440 billion by the end of 2014 (including both B2C and C2C). What accounts for this success? The fact that it’s largely driven by the following key elements:

  • Rapid adoption of online shopping due to a highly fragmented retail industry. The traditional retail market in China is underdeveloped and scattered; consumers in lower-tier cities and remote regions have a very limited access to variety of brands and products. Few retailers have a nationwide logistics network or array of physical stores; there’s no Chinese version of Wal-Mart or Macy’s that can be found across all of the country’s geographic regions or from top-tier cities all the way through to smaller towns. This makes online shopping a better way to meet ever-growing consumer demand.
  • A rapid increase in online penetration. The Chinese online population (users of both the traditional Internet and the mobile Internet) has been growing rapidly. According to the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC), the total online population reached 632 million by June 2014, and total number of mobile Internet users hit 527 million. Improved Internet infrastructure across the country provides an unprecedented opportunity for eCommerce development.
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