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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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 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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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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Ready to Write Your Digital Strategy? Read This First.

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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