Last year I wrote a blog post covering the deployment of digital storefronts, highlighting the challenges that these deployments have in driving customer engagement and commerce. In fact, my observations during the holiday season of 2013 led me to the insight that digital storefronts do not add a tremendous amount of value to shoppers.
Fast forward to early 2015 and a new evolution of digital store technology has emerged from eBay Enterprise. This new deployment feels less like a digital storefront and more like a well-integrated set of technologies that helps both customers and associates. Within the Rebecca Minkoff store in Soho where this technology is deployed, eBay Enterprise modified its digital storefront solution by:
Moving the technology inside the store. The eBay Enterprise giant 'connected wall' is deployed near the entrance of Rebecca Minkoff’s flagship store, poised to engage customers with interactive product imagery and information while they shop. The key here is that the 2015 technology serves to augment the store experience by adding value within the context of the customer’s shopping journey, while its 2013 cousin attempted to overhaul the store experience entirely. It’s worth noting that the display is visible from outside the store as well, moonlighting as a marketing tool to draw in curious passersby.
We are constantly told that millennials are breaking the workplace rules. They refuse to work 9 to 5. They demand iPhones. They can’t work unless there’s a fridge full of beer and a pool table in the office. And with a growing war for digital talent, many digital leaders are setting their sights firmly on attracting the digital generation to their firms.
But a recent IBM study suggests an even more interesting conclusion. While the study largely agrees with every other conclusion on the desires of the millennial workforce, it also strongly pointed out that it’s not just “youngsters” that want autonomy, flexibility, empowerment, an awesome work environment that ignites their creativity and the feeling that what they do makes a difference.
The hottest topic in eCommerce these days seems to be “buy buttons.” The energy though appears premature. Pinterest announced its buyable pins with a press conference and sentimental Hallmark-like videos though the buyable pins are actually hard to find. Facebook, the king of all social networks, announced a buy button more than a year ago but it’s been relatively mum on the details (and they appear to only have one formal eCommerce partner). Media reports and blog posts of Instagram, Twitter, and Google doing the same seem to further excite merchants and vendors alike - but nothing seems to have launched.
The uninitiated may ask, “What are buy buttons?” They are essentially the ability to complete a transaction on one of these sites. The merchant of record is still usually the seller of the item. This makes all of these players marketplaces. One other salient point, in the cases of Pinterest and Google, is that their buy buttons will only be available on mobile devices upon launch. We’d also be remiss not to mention that the idea of impulse-driven purchases through an app aren’t new: Fancy and others have been trying this for years with questionable success. One executive at a large merchant I recently talked to appropriately summed it up: “This seems like F-Commerce v.2.”
However, today's B2B environment is more complex, crowded, and competitive than it was in 2013. B2B buyers now insist on an "Amazon-like" customer experience with real-time interaction, extensive price and inventory transparency, and robust guided selling. B2B companies are still plagued by both internal and external channel conflict, which in many cases is impeding their forward progress with digital. And not only are offline companies moving online, but omnichannel competitors in adjacent categories and pure-play online sites are entering select markets as well.
It was against this backdrop that Peter and I evaluated several top B2B Commerce vendors. We found once again that hybris (an SAP company), IBM, Oracle Commerce, and Intershop led the pack. But this time around, Insite joined their ranks. NetSuite returned as a strong contender and was joined in that category by eBay Enterprise (Magento). New to both the B2B commerce space and our Wave evaluation is CloudCraze, a company offering eCommerce as a native application within the Salesforce environment.
As Peter Sheldon outlines in detail in his blog post:
Today Amazon launched full force in Mexico with items ranging from baby products to electronics to sporting goods—for the past two years, the company has sold only eBooks on its localized site in the country. Why Mexico now?
Mexico’s eCommerce market has risen on global brands’ priority lists. When it comes to eCommerce, Mexico is the India of Latin America: a small, early-stage market that has been overshadowed by rapid eCommerce growth in a much larger neighbor (Brazil in the case of Latin America, China in Asia). However, Mexico’s time has come. As Brazil’s economy has slowed to a halt, Mexico’s continues to grow—at the same time, the cost and complexity of operating in the Brazilian market has become apparent, leading many US and European brands to turn their attention north to the region’s second largest economy. In 2014 alone, Orange, Zara, Home Depot, Lowe’s and Williams-Sonoma all rolled out eCommerce offerings in Mexico.
Driven by a variety of different categories, the online retail market is growing rapidly. We often talk about eCommerce markets evolving in four phases (see graphic below). Mexico has very much followed this trajectory. Early-stage online purchases were largely in the travel sector—then as consumers started to make physical product purchases online, they gravitated to categories such as consumer electronics and computer hardware. Going forward, these categories will continue to grow but they will be augmented by later-stage categories like apparel, beauty and grocery. We expect Mexico’s total online retail market to grow by a CAGR of 19% between 2014-2019, reaching almost $7 billion by 2019.
Twenty months have passed since Forrester last published our Wave evaluation of the leading B2B commerce suite vendors. During that time much has changed. B2B eCommerce transactions in the US have grown 40% from $559b in 2013 to reach an estimated $780b by the end of 2015. Furthermore, 74% of B2B buyers now research and 30% now buy at least one-half of their work purchases online. Manufacturers, distributors and wholesalers alike are investing heavily in next generation enterprise B2B commerce technology to ensure they are delivering world-class online buying experiences that are able to scale for anticipated growth. As a result of this wave of investment, manufacturing and wholesale trade firms will spend more on commerce technology by the end of the decade than their peers in B2C retail.
As eBusiness teams look for solutions in the market, not only are they benchmarking their future state online buying experience against B2B peers like Grainger, but also against B2C leaders like Amazon and Wal-Mart. This means they need solutions with a best-in-class foundation of B2C features such as robust marketing, merchandising and experience management tools upon which unique B2B capabilities such as contract pricing, quotes pricing lists, eProcurement, product configuration and customization, guided selling, bulk order entry, dealer management, and account, contract, and budget management are then layered on top.
Consumers in Asia Pacific have made the mobile mind shift—the expectation that they can get what they want in their immediate context and moments of need. This rings particularly true for consumers in Singapore, where smartphone penetration will reach a staggering 85% by the end of 2015. From researching products prior to purchase to booking of taxi services, consumers in Singapore are increasingly reaching into their pockets for their smartphones to get information and services in their mobile moments of need. And they have come to expect similar—if not better—information, digital services and customer experience from their financial institutions. It comes as no surprise then that competition in mobile banking has started to heat up in Singapore, with many banks enhancing their mobile capabilities to serve increasingly empowered customers.
In our inaugural 2015 Singapore Mobile Banking Functionality Benchmark report, we have evaluated the retail mobile banking offerings of four banks in Singapore using 41 criteria. We found that:
Banks in Singapore offer accessibility and convenience, providing a wide range of mobile touchpoints where customers can quickly log into their accounts to carry out key tasks, either on the web or on the app.
Most banks offer services that matter most to customers including balance checking, transaction history, and basic money movements.
Leading banks (such as DBS Bank and OCBC Bank) differentiate by offering next-generation value-added features, either by using augmented reality technology to help home buyers with their purchase decisions or by using mobile image capability to pay bills.
Yet, there is room for improvement for banks when it comes to leveraging context and analytics to gain a deeper understanding of their customers, and they can do more to cross-sell additional banking products and services through mobile
A few weeks ago I was in Barcelona for the Global eCommerce Summit (GeS). One of the hot topics on the agenda, and during the coffee breaks, was internationalization. How best to evaluate and prioritize new market entry? How far do you need to go with localizing your website and the customer experience? How do you manage different market regulations and nuances?
The focus of these questions at GeS this year was the US and China. Yet, these questions also apply when considering market expansion in Europe. Forrester’s new Western European Online Cross-Border Retail Sales Forecast 2013 To 2018 shows the opportunity for eBusiness professionals, pursuing European expansion through cross-border sales, is growing. In fact, European online cross-border sales will reach €40 billion by 2018, growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 11% over the five year forecast period.
Key takeaways from the forecast include:
The majority of online cross-border revenues will stay within Europe. European online consumers who buy outside their home market are more likely to do so from another European market rather than those outside Europe.
More retailers look for growth across borders, broadening the competitive landscape. The number of EU retailers who sell online across borders will grow by a CAGR of 12%, with 28% of European online retailers selling across borders by 2018. eBusiness pros at retailers of different sizes and categories are actively pursuing valuable cross-border shoppers and international sales to drive growth.
It’s the Tools and technology chapter, which has been an absolute beast of a research project. After all, where do you start outlining all of the tools and technologies you need to transform your business to become truly digital? To digitize your business strategy?
The short answer is you don’t.
In most of our research for the Digital Business Transformation Playbook we’ve concentrated on finding and outlining best practice examples of traditional firms that are transforming to embed digital into the heart of their business strategy. As one of our Research Directors so rightly pointed out early in this research, “horses don’t like stories about unicorns”. It’s not so helpful for us to tell you “hey, just copy Amazon” when you run a retail bank with a chain of a thousand branches around the world.
But in this instance we do need to hunt for unicorns.
Because the unicorns are nailing it.
Firms like Amazon, eBay or Spotify manage digital technology on the massive scale, yet retain a high level of innovation and agility. So what sets them and other digital masters, apart from digital dinosaurs in their relationship to technology? What can we learn from how they plan, manage and invest in technology? What we found was:
It’s no great shocker that digital skills are in short supply.
In our annual organizational and staffing survey of eBusiness and channel strategy professionals, we found that while eBusiness budgets have grown by more than 10%, finding the skills and capabilities to execute on a digital strategy is becoming harder and harder.