Google I/O Recap: Google Rises To The Virtual Agent Challenge

Julie Ask

Google took a few big steps forward at Google I/O 2016 to fill in its portfolio to win, serve and retain customers in their mobile moments. Three new product announcements should propel Google forward. They include:

  1. Google Home. Google Home looks like an incredibly promising (and necessary) entry into the home virtual assistant or agent hardware market. Like Amazon, Google led with a story of entertainment and media followed by that of virtual assistance. Google claims the combination of natural language processing, artificial intelligence and years of experience with consumer inquiry patterns via Search will push it beyond the competition. Google’s entry validates the space and its vision to sit between the consumers and their favorite brands. However, Google also failed to offer answers to questions such as a firm date on availability, price or access to the service – how open will access be for brands who want to engage their consumers on Google Home?
  2. Allo. Allo is late to the instant messaging game, but on time for the bot frenzy. Brands are exploring bots that offer customer service or support and help them sell products and services. Google will launch Allo this summer with a host of well-known brands such as OpenTable, Uber and GrubHub. Like Facebook -- and despite a dependence on advertising revenue -- Google did not announce any opportunities specific to marketers for advertising or broad consumer engagement. Google will still facilitate consumers getting reservations or finding concert tickets – sitting between the brand and the consumer. The strategy is both expected and smart.
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Spain, Turkey, And Poland Continue To Lead The Way In The European Mobile Banking Market

Aurelie L'Hostis

For the second year in a row, Spain’s CaixaBank tops our review of European banks’ mobile banking services. Not only CaixaBank delivers the basics superbly when it comes to transactional features, it also excels in offering a wide array of touchpoints including a smartwatch app and a fully-optimized mobile website with product research tools, as well as best-in-class alert services, and outstanding marketing and sales functionality.

Forrester has just published its 2016 European Mobile Banking Functionality Benchmark, revealing important insights about the current state of European mobile banking. We evaluated the mobile banking services of 11 of the largest retail banks in Europe, and found out that CaixaBank in Spain, Garanti in Turkey, and Bank Zachodni WBK in Poland continue to lead in mobile banking. The three banks achieve mobile banking success by offering both strong basic functionality and a wide range of next-generation features. For example, CaixaBank lets customers make mobile contactless payments in store by providing a digital wallet integrated into the main mobile banking app. Garanti offers an interactive, voice-activated virtual assistant that customers can use to search the app for functionality and various task like finding a past transaction. Bank Zachodni WBK helps customers reach human help easily by offering video banking through their mobile banking app.

 

[Image Below: Bank Zachodni WBK Offers Video Banking Through Its Mobile App]

                                                          

 

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How Do Your Organization's Omnichannel Capabilities Measure up?

Michelle Beeson

Omnichannel investments are at the top of digital business executive’s priority lists. UK department store John Lewis, among many others, is substantially increasing its capital investment in updating technology systems and operations to support omnichannel and in-store capabilities. But it is still early days for omnichannel commerce, which will be an ongoing initiative requiring continuous optimization. To help digital business executives understand how they currently measure up against peers and competitors, Forrester has published the new omnichannel commerce benchmark as part of the Omnichannel Commerce Playbook 2016. In this new benchmark, Forrester assess 20 leading retailers across the US and UK against omnichannel best practices across key categories – online experience, channel consistency, in-store pickup, and in-store experience.

Our key findings from the survey are:

  • US Retailers Tend To Score Higher In A Wide Spectrum Of Overall Scores. US retailer scores skew toward the higher end of the wide-ranging scores in this benchmark. US retailers' omnichannel capabilities have leapfrogged those of the UK, reflecting the context of US market competition and greater investment in supporting technology.
  • A Disconnect Between Touchpoints Remains. Even retailers with higher overall omnichannel scores still have a disconnect between touchpoints to address. Consistency of experience across all touchpoints and ensuring functionality is device-agnostic remain challenges.
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Your Customers Have Abandonment Issues

Brendan Witcher

Omnichannel fulfillment services have indubitably piqued the interest of today’s retail leaders; nearly one-third of the retail organizations we surveyed already support “buy online, pick up in store” (BOPIS) functionality or have plans to implement the technology by the end of next month.  However, proponents of omnichannel fulfillment are starting to recognize that simply offering services like BOPIS does not in itself lift the bottom line. eBusiness professionals must actively ensure that these initiatives are driving real profits for their business, leaving no stone unturned in their quest to maximize conversion and minimize costs.

In our new report Abolish Abandon Rates For In-Store Pickup, Forrester explores how BOPIS order abandonment—or situations in which BOPIS users cancel or fail to collect their purchase from the store—threatens the success of these programs due to lost sales, unnecessary layaway of inventory, wasted associate time, and sunk interchange fees. We provide insights into why and how frequently customers abandon their orders, as well as the actions you can take to increase BOPIS profitability. Our research indicates that:

  • "Buy online, pick up in store" no-shows are more common than you think. BOPIS users canceling or failing to collect their online purchases from the store is a shockingly frequent occurrence. Indeed, 29% of US online adults who have used “buy online, pick up in store” services in the past three months have abandoned at least one BOPIS purchase in this time frame. And if your company targets Millenials, the prognosis is even worse: 38% of BOPIS users ages 18-24 and 48% of users ages 25-34 have failed to collect at least one BOPIS purchase within the past three months.  
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Smart Watches Need (More) Killer Applications

Julie Ask

Smart watches are not a must-have device – yet. The novelty of the device – combined with early adopters eager to have the next great thing – has carried smart watches from an obscure idea to a well-known device, but neither critical mass nor mass market adoption. So what’s missing?

Smart watches or similar wearables will hit critical mass (20%) and then mass market adoption (> 50%) only once consumers adopt these five applications:

1.     Notifications. Among consumers surveyed by Forrester, 40% are tired of pulling their phones out of their pockets or purses. Moreover, according to a study conducted by Mary Meeker from Kleiner Perkins, more than 60-70% of consumers’ mobile moments are simply a quick glance at their devices to get information they need to make a decision or take action. Notifications could range from a sports score to a reminder to pay a bill. Smartphones and apps are overkill for these interactions or mobile moments.

2.     Payments. Mobile payment solutions from companies like Apple, Google, and Samsung, among others, are game-changing. The combination of near-field communication (NFC) and payments drove adoption of the current generation of smartphone upgrades. Mobile payments remove friction from the payment process both online and in-person. For example, I use my Apple Wallet so often that it took me six weeks to realize that my ATM card had expired.

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Announcing Forrester’s Latest Latin America Online Retail Forecast

Lily Varon

It’s been a big news year for eCommerce in Latin America: Brazil’s economic instability has tempered eCommerce growth, elections in Argentina have raised hopes that favorable regulatory changes are ahead, and Amazon’s entry into Mexico has shone the spotlight on the region’s fastest growing market.  According to Forrester’s recently published forecast, online retail sales in Brazil, Argentina, and Mexico (the region’s three largest markets) will reach $30.9 billion by 2020, up from $20.8 billion in 2015. Some key findings from this research include:

  • Brazil remains the region’s dominant eCommerce market. Brazil’s online retail sales today are more than double those for Mexico and Argentina combined. Despite economic (and political) woes, online sales are growing, and the market shows signs of maturity:  Online shoppers in Brazil span social classes and buy across categories – with categories like apparel and footwear gaining a larger share of the overall online retail sales pie.  
  • Macroeconomic conditions in Argentina have presented obstacles to eCommerce growth. Tight import restrictions enacted in 2012 made importing products extremely expensive and kept foreign investment in the market at bay. The newly elected government appears to be working towards loosening up these restrictions, though little has changed so far. Local traditional retailers are driving eCommerce growth and increasingly adding omnichannel capabilities for consumers. For example, traditional retailer Falabella offers customers visibility into store inventory, and flexible fulfillment options like multiple pick up sites or buy online pick up in store.
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Banks: Your Customers’ Cross-Channel Experiences Are Shoddy (Or Worse)

Peter Wannemacher

Note: If you’re a Forrester client, you can jump straight to the full report here.

The other day, I stopped by my bank’s ATM to get some cash. After entering my card and PIN and while waiting for my money (during which I was a captive audience), I was presented with an ad for a new service from the bank. Unfortunately, the ad’s call-to-action was a message telling me to call the bank’s 1-800 number to find out more.

I had just encountered one of the broken or inadequate cross-channel experiences that millions of customers face every year.

This is a lose-lose situation: In this case, the bank knew — or should have known — a heck of a lot about me as a customer, yet it failed to use context* to design a better experience and guide me seamlessly across touchpoints. And as a result, the bank also failed to cross-sell me any products or services.

Forrester defines cross-channel behavior as any instance in which a customer or prospect moves from one touchpoint to another when completing an objective. Today, cross-channel goes way beyond online-to-offline transitions; going forward, these interactions will only increase in frequency and importance. Digital executives at banks are left with a tangle of customer journeys across various touchpoints (see image below).

In our new report, Design Better Cross-Channel Banking Journeys, we show that:

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Where Will Disruption Happen Next In Financial Services?

Zhi-Ying Ng

Digital disruption has hit retail financial services in Asia Pacific (AP). In 2014, fintech investments in AP totaled US$880 million and skyrocketed to a staggering US$4.5 billion last year. Just as payments innovation has been a darling of venture capital investors in the US, the picture is not so different in AP as payments took the largest share of fintech investment deals at 40%. This is followed by lending at 25%. However, the next frontier of disruption doesn't lie in payments and lending. FF16, AP's first fintech competition, featured an array of fintech finalists offering a wide array of capabilities that signal what is to come in digital disruption in financial services.

We observe that the next frontier of digital disruption for the financial services sector will take place in investment, security and authentication as:

  • Data access, predictive analytics, and machine learning drive investment innovation. Exploding volumes of data are driving new, disruptive products and services in retail financial services. While predictive analytics isn't new, it has now entered the mass market, becoming more ubiquitous to retial investors. Smaller, nimbler players such as 8 Securities are now using algorithms to help customers derive insights from data, making predictive analytics more affordable and accessible. There are also B2B fintech companies such as BondIT and ShereIT that help financial advisors and brokers maximize their clients' portfolios. 
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Facebook F8: Important Takeaways For Digital Business Pros (Hint: Keep Calm About Bots!)

Julie Ask

Facebook held its annual developer conference in San Francisco this week. Analysts at Forrester collectively fielded a lot of questions from the media, but most of them focused on bots and the Messenger platform. Here are my top takeaways from the event:

  1. It's still early days for developer tools: Facebook approached F8 with a humble, honest tone and message about the state of its applications, platforms and tools for developers. Facebook didn't over promise. Every executive on the main stage to the breakouts in the "Hacker X" and "Hacker Y" pavilions offered an honest portrayal of where Facebook is today. Where is it? Facebook holds a very strong position in terms of total minutes of use and monthly active users across its various apps and platforms (e.g., Facebook, Whatsapp, Instagram, Facebook Messenger, Oculus, etc.), but they are just beginning to offer tools to developers. Developers of mobile apps want to borrow mobile moments on Facebook's apps/platforms because they don't own enough mobile moments themselves. Facebook is just in the earliest of stages of giving tools to these developers to help them borrow mobile moments effectively.
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The Age Of The Customer Will Drive Four Actions That Insurers Need To Take In 2016

Ellen Carney

Talk about interesting times in the business of insurance.  The year 2015 saw the attention-getting launch of Google Compare and its hibernation about 12 months later.  Traditional insurers like Mass Mutual and Shelter Mutual got busy and launched their own direct-to-consumer digital quoting and sales businesses.  State Farm was busy filing patents for by-the-trip car insurance and the means to measure just how stressed drivers were behind the wheel and rate their insurance accordingly. Prudential recognized that previously scary diseases were now chronic conditions that could be medically managed, launching life insurance coverage for HIV positive customers. AOL saw an opportunity and is now selling insurance to its members.  And we at Forrester have been busy keeping track of over 700 disrupters across FinTech that have been capturing market attention and venture capital. Some of these firms like Lemonade are returning to the social roots of insurance.   Lemonade's founders also  appreciate that consumers are irrational economic animals and decided to hire a  behavioral scientist to help them anticipate the crazy actions of homo sapiens.  And yet some people out there still call insurance a boring industry!

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