Full-Service eCommerce Solutions Are No Longer An All-Or-Nothing Long-Term Commitment

Lily Varon

eBusiness leaders are under tremendous pressure to deliver in the face of aggressive business growth plans, competitive threats and digitally-empowered consumer demands. When you add evolving sales and services channels and ever-more global markets on the road map to the mix, even eBusiness leaders with hefty budgets and a do-it-yourself attitude acknowledge they could use a little help. 

Some retailers, CPGs and branded manufacturers are outsourcing all or parts of their eCommerce operations to full-service eCommerce solution providers. However, the days of 10-year contracts and one-size fits all solutions are long gone. Full-service commerce providers have undergone quite a few iterations as the eCommerce market has matured. Today, these solutions are:

  • Becoming more modular. They are unbundling their full stack offerings into modules so firms can pick and choose elements of their eCommerce operations to outsource or keep in house. 
  • Being more transparent with pricing. They have evolved away from obfuscated revenue share models to à la carte, transparent pricing per service, with usage- or per-transaction-based pricing models commonly replacing or acting in tandem with revenue share.
  • Opening technologies up for flexible integrations. As these providers unbundle their offerings, they’re also making their technologies easier to integrate with through flexible APIs.
  • Focusing on omnichannel. These providers are developing their technologies to enable better data transfers, consistent user experiences, and enhanced fulfillment flexibility for their clients to keep up with the pace of change in the marketplace.
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Four Questions Aspiring Global eCommerce Brands Ask Of Technology Partners

Zia Daniell Wigder

A growing number of digital business leaders are being tasked with global expansion. Their technology partners play a critical role: eBusiness professionals rely on partners not only to help build new digital offerings, but also to provide strategic advice on how to effectively penetrate new markets. Some of the key questions solution providers can anticipate from clients and prospects include:

How quickly can I get up and running?  A common scenario looks like this: After years of discussing the need to go global, senior leaders within an organization finally decide to pull the trigger. A frenzy ensues. Digital business leaders are given just a few months to propose which markets to prioritize and how to enter those markets. Given how quickly the new international expansion must happen, business leaders seek out technology partners that promise rapid turnaround on new global initiatives. Solution providers that talk about launching new initiatives in years rather than months are often sidelined in favor of those that can execute more rapidly to fulfill the corporate mandate. 

What will going global cost? Few leaders have access to an endless stream of cash when it comes to launching new global eCommerce offerings. To the contrary: It’s more typical to see businesses pouring a small fraction of what they invested in the domestic business into their international initiatives. Cost is therefore front and center when it comes to evaluating new technologies. Solution providers that can help businesses launch across multiple countries in a cost-effective manner are well positioned to capture new business, even when the prospect may be only ready to enter one or two new markets at the time of vendor selection. The exception? When a market is large or strategic enough to merit selecting partners with solutions that cater specifically to that market (think China).

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Capture The Global eCommerce Opportunity

Zia Daniell Wigder

eCommerce growth continues unabated around the world, with eCommerce being cited as a driver of overall economic growth in markets from China to Nigeria. Indeed, online retail revenues continue to soar in every market that we forecast—China alone will generate more than $1 trillion in eCommerce sales by 2019.

As eCommerce markets in different parts of the globe flourish, a growing number of digital business leaders are being asked to take their brands into new markets. What opportunities exist for eCommerce leaders looking to expand internationally? How are they tapping into these opportunities? Our newly updated report (client access req’d) addresses these questions. We find that:

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Mobile World Congress 2015: Expect Even Shinier Objects

Julie Ask

Mobile World Congress (MWC) is “the” event in mobile. It is the event where Samsung, HTC, Huawei, Sony, Microsoft, LG … well, really everyone (but Apple) will launch new mobile phones, tablets, and wearables. And, yes big-screened mobile phones are still “in.” I’m more likely to buy a leather jacket with bigger pockets or a larger purse than to buy a smaller phone.

 

Thousands flock to Barcelona annually to hold these devices in their hands. Words too often fall short in describing the feeling of holding the next Samsung device in your hand or the emotions of delight and bewilderment when you turn the device on.

The question then is: “So what? What does it mean for my company?”

Here’s what you already know:

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SnapChat @ $19B? Property On Exclusive Islands Is Expensive

Julie Ask

Two things matter in mobile: audience and data. SnapChat has audience.

  1. Audience matters because consumers are using fewer and fewer applications on their mobile devices. Brands can no longer pursue a “destination” strategy and expect consumers will come to them. They need to go engage consumers where they are. Facebook’s acquisition of WhatsApp for $19B gave us a sense of just how valuable audience depth, reach and usage is.

  2. Data matters because it helps us simplify or improve mobile experiences by anticipating the needs of customers or to improve the value of advertising - if you are monetizing your app that way. Under Armour just paid $475M for MyFitnessPal for the audience, food database and personal data.

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The Devil is in the Detail for Online Apparel Retailers

Michelle Beeson

Reviewing online functionality for a selection of key European online only retailers, I am struck by a shift. With the basics of purchasing and navigation nailed down, the devil is now in the detail of implementing online functionality for apparel retailers – particularly those that are online only. Now we are seeing both subtle and overt efforts to improve merchandising and remote clienteling online proactive live chat, 2D size guides, personal shopping style guides and ‘compete the outfit’ suggestions on product pages.

To get to the next level of best practice and differentiation online apparel retailers need to keep refining their website functionality in order to succeed in a competitive and increasingly crowded category. Empowered customers are using multiple devices to shop online helping to drive forecasted online retail sales growth of 12% in Europe (2013 to 2018). To secure their chunk of this growth, online apparel retailers need to constantly evaluate, test and implement new and improved functionality to support merchandising and drive consumers through the path to purchase.

To assess whether European online-only apparel retailers have the features and functionality to compete, Forrester conducted a Website Functionality Benchmark to evaluate selected sites: Asos.com, LaRedoute.fr, Netaporter.com, Very.co.uk, Wehkamp.nl, and Zalando.de.

Key takeaways from the report include:

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Same-Day Delivery: Delivering Profits Or Just Parcels?

Brendan Witcher

Instacart’s recent $2 billion valuation suggests many believe same-day delivery to be the next standard for fulfilling online orders. Online and mobile food ordering service GrubHub recently showed its commitment to delivery by announcing the acquisition of two players in the food delivery space, DiningIn and Restaurants On The Run. Amazon, too, has been expanding its already robust same-day (and same-hour) delivery initiatives in an effort to compete with the immediacy of in-store shopping, and a number of large multichannel retailers have followed suit in the hopes of beating Amazon at its own game. But can same day delivery models be used efficiently in retail without having a negative impact on profitability? Despite the hype and flashy headlines, the business case for same-day delivery remains largely uncertain—and key questions such as, “Will customers use it?” remain unanswered.

Our newly published report, Avoid The Rush And Deal With The Realities Of Same-Day Delivery, addresses these questions (and more!) for eBusiness leaders thinking of taking the same-day delivery plunge. We find that:

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Finovate Europe 2015: Execution Is Harder Than Idea Generation

Benjamin Ensor

Finovate EuropeI spent Tuesday and Wednesday of this week at Finovate Europe. As always, it is a great way to spend two days thinking about digital financial innovation and how firms can deliver better experiences for their customers. Here are a few of my impressions from the two days:

  • Biometrics is becoming mainstream.We barely raise an eyebrow when shown authentication processes by firms like eBankIT, ID Mission, Jumio, Nice Systems and Wipro that use facial recognition, fingerprints or voice recognition because these technologies now seem almost commonplace. Yet the technologies are hugely impressive and far advanced on what was available or even possible a decade ago.
  • Future generations will pay differently. The credit card is one of the greatest financial innovations of all time. Yet, despite the various card innovations on show, I cannot rid myself of the belief that plastic cards will one day soon start to seem as quaint and outdated as cheques (and, indeed, business cards). There are many big obstacles on the path to mainstream mobile payment adoption, and payment habits take decades to change, but I don’t think the future is bright for plastic cards.
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Why You Need An Innovation Ecosystem And How To Prosper As Part Of One

Oliwia Berdak

Having just watched 72 demos at FinovateEurope, I can confirm that digital financial innovation is alive and kicking. Over the last couple of days, I have seen a number of inspiring solutions to deal with some of the most difficult problems facing financial services today. The main themes at Finovate this year included simplifying and lowering the cost of payments, improving authentication and customer onboarding, using data to generate new value for personal and business bank customers, and making bankers more productive and efficient through, for example, artificial intelligence technology.

Digital executives at financial firms are taking note – the audience was packed with executives from Europe’s main banks. And rightly so. To be innovative, banking executives need ideas, data, technology, software development skills, design experience, and change management support. Often, they can't source these components internally in a timely and cost-effective manner. Partners such as innovation agencies, systems integrators, startups, adjacent firms, and even competitors can help them add capabilities quickly. This is prompting the rise of ecosystems of value – a key feature of digital business transformation. By utilizing partners' digital assets, ecosystem participants are able to hone their products and services fast and furiously — in essence, out-innovating the competition.

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We're Hiring: Analyst Serving eBusiness & Channel Strategy Professionals, Amsterdam Or London

Benjamin Ensor

We are looking for a new analyst or senior analyst to join our eBusiness and channel strategy team, based in either London or Amsterdam. We're looking for someone with an analytical mind, good communication skills, a clear perspective on the future of digital financial services, and experience of the complexities of retail financial services and of different European markets to help our clients make great business decisions, shape their firms' strategies and lead change. 

If this sounds like you, or like someone you know, please see the full details in the job description.