What does the arrival of the Chief Digital Officer mean to the eBusiness team?

Martin Gill

I’ve been thinking, talking to clients, and reading a lot recently about the rise of the Chief Digital Officer.

Most of my recent research has been concerning the shift we are seeing in leading organizations in response to their increasingly digitally aware consumers. Much of this has been described in our agile commerce research, and it goes something like this...

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The Art and Science of Building a World-Class B2B eCommerce Business

Andy Hoar

B2B eCommerce executives today don’t lack for data. What they’re screaming for is insight. With our new playbooks framework, busy executives can go to one place to dip their toes in a subject matter, or fully immerse themselves for deeper insight. Either way, they can move up to speed quickly and smartly about a specific subject. 

Today I’m pleased to announce that Forrester is officially releasing its very first playbook dedicated to B2B eCommerce. Inside you’ll find key insights and critical information specific to the rapidly-emerging B2B eCommerce space. This playbook is designed to help you:

  • Discover the opportunity. Study the fertile landscape that is B2B eCommerce and learn about what Forrester defines as a customer-facing front-end B2B eCommerce market. One that will reach $559 billion by the end of 2013. See how high-performers have developed a compelling vision for the space and a clear business case to prove an always critical return on investment (both documents to be released in the coming months). 
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"State Of Retailing Online 2013" launches on Shop.org today

Sucharita  Mulpuru

Forrester recently completed the “State Of Retailing Online 2013: Key Metrics And Initiatives” report in conjunction with our friends at Shop.org. It is available on Shop.org (with a subscription) now.

Some of the reports highlights include the following facts:

  • Web sales continue to grow (duh!). Retailers we surveyed experienced 28% growth on average in 2012 over 2011. Furthermore, 72% of those retailers are experiencing double digit growth.
  • Key eCommerce metrics are improving. The retailers we surveyed generally responded that site conversion rates, average order values and the percentage of repeat shopper sales all grew in 2012.
  • Mobile growth rates are strong.  Mobile commerce grew at a triple digit pace last year for the retailers we surveyed, but off a teeny base. Furthermore, the debate remains on whether mobile traffic with its anemic conversion rates, actually hurts “the mother ship.” Retailers were split on that assessment.
  • 2013 initiatives will focus on site optimization. Of the retailers we interviewed, site conversion rate and redesigning the web experience – in other words, optimizing the overall online experience -- topped the list, yes, more than even investing in mobile. Many retailers specifically called out plans to focus on the checkout experience and to adjust their site to accommodate a responsive design framework.

Shop.org members can access the document here and Forrester clients will be able to access the document on January 28, 2013.

So You Want To Be A Chief Digital Officer?

Carrie Johnson

During my sullen teenage years my father invented a nonsensical, rhetorical question to proffer when conversation ran dry. During particularly quiet moments he’d ask, “So you want to be a movie star?” No, I did not want to be a movie star, but I’d play along and invent similarly nonsensical answers: “Yes, but my agent won’t return my calls,” or “Yes, but Molly Ringwald keeps getting all of my parts” and so on. He still asks to this day and so in this New Year I will ask all of you a related but non-rhetorical question: So you want to be a Chief Digital Officer (CDO)?

Many Forrester analysts and others have taken note of the rise of and need for this position to oversee digital business. Indeed, the rapid and colossal impact of digital disruption is overhauling products, inverting category economics, and redefining customer relationships, requiring new focus and leadership. Where will these CDOs come from? Firms will promote Chief Digital Officers (CDOs) from business units and departments that face the most disruption. In firms that sell products and services directly to customers, we believe that eBusiness and channel strategy professionals are well positioned for a Darwinian rise into the CDO ranks. It’s already happening in firms like Finish Line, Dollar Thrifty Automotive, and MetLife. Many executives in your company see themselves on a similar path — interactive marketers, enterprise architects, and even some CIOs. eBusiness and Channel Strategy Professionals looking to advance their careers must:

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The Digital Banking Strategist’s Wish List

Peter Wannemacher

Whether you’ve been naughty or nice this year, you probably have a wishlist for your business. We thought it would be fun and interesting to find out what some of your wishes are, so the Digital Banking Strategy team at Forrester reached out to some of our eBusiness clients at banks and asked them “What one ‘wish’ do you have for your team’s digital banking efforts or strategy in 2013?”

Here are some of the answers we got back:

  1. “We wish we could transform every branch and call center employee into an advocate for marketing and educating customers on our digital capabilities.”
  2. “I wish that our execs would understand how understaffed we are.”
  3. “I wish we had better live help for our digital banking customers.”
  4. “I wish I knew which area of mobile payments to focus on and what is going to ‘shake out’ and actually ‘stick,’ so to speak.”
  5. “We wish for a digitalized branch pilot that focuses on advice and guidance.”
  6. “We wish all of our customers – including the most skittish and skeptical – would try out our digital banking capabilities (online, mobile, and tablet)… and those who already use them would do so even more regularly.”
  7. “I wish I could spend 3 hours with our CMO – and have his full attention – to show him how much impact our online and mobile banking efforts have.”
  8. “I wish we could sort through the clutter of mobile wallet vendors and offerings to know which will actually pan out.”
  9. “I wish I could snap my fingers and have great secure site search and intelligent cross-selling on our secure site.”
  10. “a pink pony.”
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The Globalization of eCommerce in 2013

Zia Daniell Wigder

In 2012, online retailers continued to expand into new geographic areas, with many eyeing eCommerce markets beyond those of North America and Europe. Local partnerships and adaptations were key: In China, Neiman Marcus, Macy’s, and eBay all invested in or partnered with local players to expand their footprint in the market. In India, Amazon launched with Junglee, an online shopping service adapted to comply with foreign direct investment restrictions – in Brazil, the company launched with e-books.

The next year will see eCommerce organizations continue their global initiatives. In 2013, we expect to see the following trends:

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Using Mobile Phones To Augment Our Reality

Julie Ask

I was standing out in Union Square in San Francisco a couple of weeks ago. It brought back memories of my "crazy lady in Macy's" journey. This time, I was standing on the sidewalk in front of Forever 21. Capturing the looks of those passing by watching me use my phone to look at the shop window could have been more interesting than what I was capturing on my screen. I give marketers and retailers credit for pushing the envelope and experimenting with mobile technology. Unfortunately, it seems like we are not a LOT further along than we were a year ago. Some combination of the CPUs, GPUs, and networks cannot keep up with the tracking to overlay much more than 2D images. The experiences are triggered from a narrow band or library of symbols, graphics, and pictures. 

Retailers shouldn't be discouraged from using AR; AR is a very good tool to facilitate the discovery and consumption of simple content. 

I also believe that AR is well suited for entertainment and amusement - a good way to engage with the consumer base and offer an enhanced experience. 

Check out the muppets Band-Aids. 

Also check out the Zappar t-shirts being sold; the cost of the service is low, with Zappar sharing in product revenue. Their time-to-market is short in terms of preparing the content. Their app is already in the app store - altogether, very low barriers to entry to use AR with your products. 

 

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Managing the Cross-Touchpoint Customer Journey

Martin Gill

It’s no great surprise that many retailers are reporting an increase in multi-touchpoint engagement from their shoppers this year in the run-up to Christmas. Our own Technographics® data has been showing an increase in the use of things like mobile, tablets, and click-and-collect services for some time. But as the number of touchpoints shoppers are using increases, so does the complexity faced by brands trying to manage coherent, consistent, and compelling experiences across these multiple touchpoints.

The reality we now face is that customer journeys cross touchpoints.

Forrester’s Marketing Leadership team has been championing an approach to thinking about the customer journey not as a marketing funnel but as a life cycle -- a dynamic, circular ecosystem of touchpoints that morphs over time, possibly with each customer and each journey. But even making the leap from a funel based paradigm to this approach is just the first step in working out how best to optimize each touchpoint.

One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to just assume that every touchpoint needs to replicate every other touchpoint. Customers don’t use each touchpoint in the same way. Their expectations about what they can achieve on mobile and how a mobile app might help them interact with their physical environment with, for example, a mobile store locator or a bar-code scanner is very different from what they expect to be able to achieve when they call your call centre.

Touchpoints need to be designed within the context of an overall customer journey. Not in isolation.

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Does Your Company's Tax Policy Matter To eBusiness?

Benjamin Ensor

Today is, apparently, Cyber Monday in the UK. But there's a more interesting story in the UK's eCommerce market. It's about tax.

The debate is about the tax policies of a number of prominent multi-national businesses that operate in the UK, including Amazon, eBay, Google, Starbucks and Vodafone, most of which pay little or no Corporation Tax, which is levied as a percentage of profits. (It's relatively easy and perfectly legal for a subsidiary of a multi-national company to avoid taxes on profits in one country by buying services from a sister company in another country so that it makes no profit in the first country.)

Today, the Public Accounts Committee of the House of Commons published a scathing report on tax avoidance by multi-national companies operating in the UK. As the report puts it about Starbucks, which has made no profits in the UK for 14 of the past 15 years: "We found it difficult to believe that a commercial company with a 31% market share by turnover, with a responsibility to its shareholders and investors to make a decent return, was trading with apparent losses for nearly every year of its operation in the UK." What the committee says about Amazon is, if anything, worse.

What's the relevance to eBusiness? While it's uncomfortable for Google and Starbucks to be in the limelight for the wrong reasons, demand for both information and coffee is (presumably) fairly constant through the year. But for retailers Amazon and eBay, the timing couldn't be worse, because this debate is taking place in the run-up to Christmas, the crucial sales period for all retailers in the UK.

This debate raises three questions:

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Commerce Server, Cactus Commerce & Ascentium - The Path Forward

Peter Sheldon

In the words of the Greek philosopher Heraclitus, everything flows and nothing stands still. This is certainly true of Ascentium, the Seattle based interactive agency that last year acquired Cactus Commerce and Microsoft’s Commerce Server. This week, the company firmed up its strategy following last year’s acquisition spree. The result: the company is splitting in two, creating two separate entities focusing on services and product respectively. 

They are:

  • SmithSmith is the result of merging together Ascentium and Cactus Commerce. The old brands are now gone for good, and the new brand with a headcount of over 300 staff aims to offer both digital agency and commerce technology services to its brand partners.
  • Commerce Server.net– After the takeover of Microsoft’s Commerce Server product last November, Ascentium quickly re-branded the product as Ascentium Commerce Server 2009. Yesterday, Smith (previously Ascentium) announced that the product division of the company (a combination of the product IP from Microsoft and the product development resources from Cactus) has been re-branded as a wholly owned, but independently managed subsidiary called Commerce Server.net
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