Snapchat Rejects Facebook's $3B Bid

Julie Ask

If you believe the idiom "a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush," then Snapchat believes it will be worth more than $6B to a future buyer — or the public through an IPO. The service is appealing not just for the UI but also for the limited time the content is stored. That appeals to me as a middle-aged adult, let alone to a teen with poor judgement who may be applying for college or a job in a few years. We've probably all felt awkward at some point about something someone posted. 

If you believe the movie "The Social Network," Mark Zuckerberg was also advised to turn down early offers. Remember the shockwaves that rippled down the West coast when Microsoft invested $240M in the fall of 2007 for what is now a 1.6% stake or $1.36B valuation? (See Source

I am not our social media expert. I am also not our primary mobile marketing expert, though I've covered it extensively at times. This POV is from a mobile analyst who has spent a lot of time looking at social networks on mobile devices. 

Here's what we do know:

- There are about 7 billion people on earth. 

- 6 billion of them have mobile phones.

- 1 billion (and growing) of them have smartphones, with nearly 400m of those in China.

- People communicate, consume media, and transact on mobile phones — in that order.

- Mobile phones sit at the core of our social graph. We create photos and we share good times with friends. I don't often post while I am sitting at home working. I post when I am out and about doing fun things that I want to share. 

What drives a $6B+ valuation beyond pure speculation, optimism, and wishful thinking?

Read more

Banks: Add Search To Your Secure Sites

Peter Wannemacher

The majority of bank customers are now active online bankers, making the content and functionality offered on secure sites more important than ever. Forrester has just published research on which features are must-have on banks’ secure websites.

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.
Read more

eCommerce in Brazil Charges Forward

Zia Daniell Wigder

I returned yesterday from a short trip to Brazil - I spoke at eTail in São Paulo on Monday and spent a few days meeting with retailers, vendors and agencies. Some of the takeaways from our conversations:

Omnichannel initiatives are gaining momentum. Omnichannel integration has been a topic of conversation among retailers in Brazil for several years, but it’s now slowly starting to happen. Today, most of the large Brazilian online retailers have established mobile sites or apps; by contrast, initiatives that integrate the online and offline channels are more nascent. Tactics like click-and-collect or ship-from-store, for example, are early stage but being explored by the more innovative players in the market. And while some forward-thinking Brazilian retailers have been quite advanced in terms of understanding cross-channel behavior, most have not taken major steps in this direction. Interestingly, retailers in Brazil have a particularly big opportunity in this area given that Brazilian consumers frequently supply a CPF (roughly the equivalent of a social security number) when they purchase online or offline – the savviest retailers are leveraging this customer data to identify and target omnichannel shoppers.

Read more

Q&A With Fergal Coburn, Head of Channel Strategy and Development, Allied Irish Banks

Bill Doyle

It's happened. A critical mass of consumers have become "digital first." And the banking industry is no exception. In less than 20 years, Internet-based touchpoints have become the channel of choice for bank customers worldwide. 

Despite this massive shift in channel preferences, few banks have made a radical shift in spending. They still budget far more for their branch networks than for digital channels, and spend much more on traditional broadcast and print marketing than on digital tools like social media. This is why I’m particularly excited to have Fergal Coburn, Head of Channel Strategy and Development for Allied Irish Banks (AIB), speak at our Forum For eBusiness & Channel Strategy Professionals in Chicago on November 5-6

Five years ago, AIB was nearly ruined in the global financial crash. To rebuild its business and restore trust, the bank had to do something radically different -- and decided to transform itself into a digital bank. Fergal has led the design, delivery, and operation of AIB's digital banking capability. Fundamental to his strategy is a widely shared understanding of the need for digital. “Without recognition of this you are doomed to fail,” he notes. 

In the run-up to the event, Fergal was kind enough to answer some questions that we posed to him on what he’s been doing, how his efforts have evolved, and what advice he’d give to others on the journey to digital business. I hope you enjoy his responses as much as I do, and I look forward to seeing many of you in Chicago!

Q. When did your company first start getting serious about digital business?

Read more

Q&A With Paul Barker, Senior Vice President and Chief Digital Officer, Hallmark Digital, Hallmark Cards

Bill Doyle

Digital will become the backbone of your entire business strategy. More than half of eBusiness & Channel Strategy Professionals we speak with agree, yet a mere 20% have mastered yesterday’s basics, such as a seamless handoff between channels.  And as Paul Barker, Senior Vice President and Chief Digital Officer, Hallmark Digital, Hallmark Cards notes:  “Today, digital has to be a part of everything we do at Hallmark.  Digital is a part of product, retail, marketing, in store, and of course on the web and on devices.”

In the run-up to Forrester’s Forum For eBusiness & Channel Strategy Professionals in Chicago on November 5-6, Paul was kind enough to answer some questions that we posed to him. I hope you enjoy his responses as much as I do, and I look forward to seeing many of you in Chicago!

Q. When did your company first start getting serious about digital business?

Hallmark launched its web site in 1997 as an ecommerce site and also free e cards.  We wanted to avoid retail trade conflict so we experimented with selling products and solutions that were not available in our stores.  That led to consumer confusion and an inability to scale.  We then migrated Hallmark.com to mostly a marketing site, with very little commerce and free e cards.  Later, we used Hallmark.com as a launching platform for new businesses such as fresh cut flowers, gifts, home décor and other new businesses.  Today we have embraced an omnichannel strategy, blending our digital solutions with retail solutions for both our stores and our mass-retail partners.  We also are pursuing more digital connecting business concepts as well as offering short- and long-form digital entertainment solutions.

Read more

Global eCommerce In The Age Of The Customer

Zia Daniell Wigder

Last week, Forrester published an updated version of our report on The Age of the Customer (the author, David Cooperstein, blogs about it here). The report discusses the fact that competitive differentiation has been based upon the power of manufacturing, distribution and subsequently information. We’ve now entered an era in which “the only sustainable competitive advantage is knowledge of and engagement with customers.”

The report gives great examples of brands that have used both digital and traditional channels to become customer obsessed and the benefits they’ve realized as a result. Yet for a large number of brands, the journey is just beginning. This early stage is often reflected in brands’ eCommerce offerings around the globe, many of which still reflect a product-centric rather than a customer-centric approach. Today we find that:

Read more

Mobile Shifts Into Real-Time Gear

Julie Ask

When I was 4 or 5 years old, I remember going to the bank with my Mom. She’d say, “hey, let’s go. I need to make a quick trip to the bank to deposit a check.” It was a big deal that the bank had a drive thru. We’d pull up in the car. My mom would manually roll down the window. A teller would speak to us. My mom would reach out and take the plastic tube. She’d drop in a few checks, put the tube back into the machine and it would be sucked back into the building. A couple minutes later, the pneumatics would work their magic, and money and a lollipop would appear. We’d drive back home. All in, maybe this trip took 20 minutes.

It took 20 minutes to deposit a check. My mom was thrilled – besides that she didn’t have to get out of her car, the bank was even open on Saturdays. I only missed one episode of Sesame Street. She was satisfied with this experience for probably two decades.

Fast forward 40 years. If it takes me more than 20 seconds to deposit a check, (And, yes, my 93 year old grandmother still sends me paper checks), I’m twitching … I’m staring at the app on my phone and wondering how the bank could get it so wrong. Just two years ago, I was fine with walking over to the bank and using the ATM.

Two things are changing. One, consumers expect to do things quickly. Two, their expectations of you – their bank, their store, their hotel – are shifting very, very quickly as the result of mobile.

Read more

Q&A With Dwayne Chambers, Chief Marketing Officer, Krispy Kreme Doughnuts

Bill Doyle

Even doughnuts have gone digital. Between offering mobile alerts for hot doughnuts and interacting with evangelists on Twitter, Krispy Kreme Doughnuts has set out to integrate digital programs into its customer interactions and relationships – while still staying true to the 76-year-old global company’s core brand DNA. In the run-up to Forrester’s Forum For eBusiness & Channel Strategy Professionals in Chicago on November 5-6, Dwayne Chambers, Chief Marketing Officer at Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, was kind enough to answer some questions that we posed to him.

I hope you enjoy his responses as much as I do, and I look forward to seeing many of you in Chicago!

Q. When did your company first start getting serious about digital business?

The Krispy Kreme brand was built on word-of-mouth marketing.  We are fortunate that digital/social/interactive is today’s “word-of-mouth.” Things have really taken off over the past three years.

Q. What steps has your company taken to infuse digital business and skills throughout your business? 

Read more

A Bumpy Ride For Retailers At Shop.Org

Adam Silverman

Last week I was thrilled to attend and present at the annual Shop.org event in the great city of Chicago.  I attended many great presentations, talked at length with the vendor community, and broke bread with some of my old eComm friends.  One observation that was more apparent to me this year is the massive transformation happening in retail.  It feels more dynamic than it did at the peak of the dot com boom of the late 90’s. For me there were clear trends emerging:

  • There is a palpable divide between forward looking retailers and those stuck in second gear.   Going after incremental improvements such as checkout funnel analysis and improving page load speeds are still important functions, but these are now table stakes that most digital businesses employ. Forward looking retailers go beyond site optimization and look at advanced analytics, leverage social graph data to better understand their customers, and employ mobile strategies that add contextual relevance rather than simply emulate the website.
  • Omnichannel is the hottest topic, but it means different things to different people.  The reality is most retailers fail to understand the complexity around creating a seamless experience for customers, and often fall back on defining their omnichannel initiatives as simply creating a singular presentation across all touch points. For organizations to truly support the needs of the customer, they need to focus on aligning supply chain, fulfillment, customer service, and operations around the specific needs of the customer. For instance, enabling the store associate to engage digitally-savvy customers requires new training, new technologies that facilitate assisted selling,  and new compensation paradigms that reward the associate for driving sales in any touch point.
Read more

Announcing The Forrester Wave: B2B Commerce Suites, Q4 2013

Peter Sheldon

Today, we released our inaugural Forrester Wave evaluation of B2B commerce suites.  In a sister blog post, my colleague Andy Hoar, with whom I coauthored this report, explains why client demand for this research has exploded over the past 12 months, with manufacturers and distributors grappling with how to better serve their sales channels through digital experiences. In writing this report, Andy and I have spent the past six months evaluating the B2B commerce capabilities of dozens of vendors. Despite casting the net wide, our research found that although it’s common for vendors to provide “B2B lite” functionality for their clients — such as supporting unique pricing for employees — only a subset of the broader commerce platform vendor community can truly cater for complex B2B business models with support for distributors, resellers, partner networks, employees, retail stores, and direct B2C all from a single platform. To differentiate the wannabes from the bona fide leaders, Forrester rejigged its established B2C commerce suite scoring criteria to emphasize:

  • B2B commerce features. We added all-new criteria to evaluate how these solutions solve unique B2B problems, such as quotes; complex pricing lists; eProcurement; product configuration and customization; guided selling; bulk order entry; dealer management; and account, contract, and budget management, to name a few.
Read more