Is Your Omnichannel Fulfillment Program Profitable?

Adam Silverman

In the race to keep up with skyrocketing consumer expectations around omnichannel commerce experiences, many retailers moved quickly to roll out omnichannel fulfillment capabilities without fully understanding the incremental expense of operating these programs. Today, retail executives are beginning to shift their focus towards profitability: moving from implementing to optimizing their omnichannel fulfillment initiatives.

In our new report Build A Profitable Omnichannel Fulfillment Program, we asked a number of eBusiness leaders and industry experts to share the processes, tools, and best practices they used to assemble profitable omnichannel fulfillment programs. Our research indicates that retailers can optimize their omnichannel fulfillment capabilities by:

  • Enabling product visibility and order orchestration. Omnichannel fulfillment initiatives—think endless aisle, ship-from-store, click and collect—are completely dependent on the ability for customers, associates, and retail selling systems to be able to accurately pinpoint the location of every product across the enterprise. Further, having a robust distributed order management system (OMS) can help retailers reduce the cost of fulfilling orders by orchestrating across all stores and distribution centers.
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Loyal Agents Have Big Impact On Insurance Carrier Business

Ellen Carney

Understanding agent attitudes toward their insurance carrier partners is crucial in earning independent agent loyalty—and driving sales.  Why?  Because despite predictions that direct-to-consumer insurance sales would doom the insurance agent, nearly 20 years after the advent of online insurance selling, millions of consumers and small businesses continue to rely on their local insurance agencies. Consider that when it comes to their agents, US consumers:

  • Buy from.  Even after all that money direct insurers spend on TV ads, consumers are still buying from insurance agencies. In a survey of 10,000 online Americans, we found that 84% of home insurance buyers stated that they bought from an agent; 82% did the same for their car insurance, while 57% of life insurance buyers said that they did.
  • Trust in.  When we asked in the same survey about attitudes toward financial services providers, more than 70% of life insurance buyers and about two-thirds of non-life insurance buyers we surveyed agreed with the statement “I completely trust my agent”.  And that trust runs deep for some customers, especially for 25-34 year olds we surveyed.
  • Stick with.   And after buying from an agent, consumers tend to stick with their them We asked US online adults how long they had been buying certain coverage from their agents. The average relationships with their auto, home, and life agencies were 12.9, 12.5, and 16.3 years Consumer steadfastness with an agent is often longer than that loyalty to a spouse:  the average American marriage that ends in divorce lasts eight years.  And no surprise, the tenure with direct insurers is much shorter than that with agent-centric insurers.   
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Introducing Forrester's Omnichannel Commerce Playbook

Brendan Witcher

Today we announce the launch of our brand new Omnichannel Commerce Playbook! In its many forms, omnichannel is quickly resetting customer expectations, and redefining what it means to deliver seamless, fully-integrated commerce across the enterprise. This playbook provides a structured framework to help eBusiness leaders strategically  plan, launch, and maintain omnichannel capabilities and services.   

Customers today forge paths to purchase that seamlessly cross channels, screens and stores.  For example, U.S. consumers in 2015 spent a whopping $1.5 trillion in-store that originally started or were influenced along the way by digital touchpoints. Retailers who offer omnichannel fulfillment are directly responding to customer expectations for this seamless experience. As such, services like ‘buy online, pick up in store’ and ‘ship-to-store’ drive store traffic and provide significant, measurable benefits to retailers and customers alike.

However, omnichannel commerce goes far beyond fulfillment; the full spectrum of omnichannel capabilities encompasses marketing, merchandising, and even customer service. This playbook helps eBusiness professionals analyze and deliver the omnichannel services that are right for their customers, including how to measure their impact and then optimize over time.

The Omnichannel Commerce Playbook will help you:

1. Analyze the business impact of omnichannel integration. Understanding how to identify and quantify the projected net value of omnichannel capabilities and services translates into a strong business case that drives an organization's overall omnichannel strategy and road map.

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Ezubao Shutdown Challenges P2P Lending Companies In China, But Doesn't Spell The End

Zhi-Ying Ng

News of the shutdown of the P2P lending platform, Ezubao, following investigations by Chinese authorities have shocked the world. Small investors in China were allegedly scammed out of more than $7 billion in what is now called "a giant Ponzi scheme". 

But I wasn't very surprised by the news. As I mentioned in my report, P2P lending in China has reached a tipping point and there is a dark side to the industry as it continues to be fraught with fraud and embezzlement. Widespread fraud tarnishes the entire industry, damaging well-run marketplaces as well as immediate victims of fraud. Many P2P lending platforms with unsound business models have operated for years without any backlash, violating regulations with impunity. Some of these platforms used money from new investors to pay off existing investors—like what Ezubao did—or invested lenders' money in the volatile Chinese stock market. These unstable platforms were simply ticking time bombs.

However, the fall of one P2P lending platform does not signify the fall of the entire P2P lending industry in China. Instead, the shutdown of Ezubao:

  • Signals the Chinese government's resolve to enforce regulations. In late December 2015, the China Banking Regulatory Commission (CBRC) drafted new rules calling for closer supervision of the P2P lending sector. However, "law without enforcement is just good advice". Thus, there was a level of skepticism surrounding what impact these new rules would have on unlawful P2P lending companies. Therefore, the shutdown of Ezubao is significant in that it signals the regulator's resolve to enforce these rules, sending a strong message that violation of these regulations is a criminal activity and there will be consequences, which is positive for the industry.
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New for 2016: Introducing Forrester’s Digital Maturity Model 4.0

Martin Gill

For the past eight years, business leaders have used Forrester's eBusiness and digital marketing assessments to mature their firms toward excellence. In 2013, we introduced a comprehensive digital maturity model that consolidated our interactive marketing and eBusiness maturity models.Two years applying the model with clients have helped hone and focus it even further. Our latest report, the Digital Maturity Model 4.0 updates our 2014 digital maturity model into a single set of scoring criteria that today's cross-functional digital leaders can use to benchmark how well they use digital to drive competitive strategy, enable superior customer experiences, and create operational agility.

What’s new?

  • Digital maturity demands cross-functional collaboration. Digitally mature firms do so much more than deliver great technology. They understand that digital execution demands the right culture, organization, technology and insights. That’s why we define digital maturity across those four key dimensions. Our assessment outlines key best practices for how firms drive a digital culture, how they organize and resource digital teams, how they invest in technology and how they steer their strategy and execution with customer-driven insight.
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Announcing The Forrester Wave: Mobile Commerce And Engagement Platforms, Q1 2016

Brendan Witcher

Robust mobile commerce platforms are no longer a “nice to have” for retail organizations. A recent Shop.org and Forrester Research survey indicates that smartphone sales accounted for 17% of total retail sales in 2015, and that sales from smartphone devices grew 53% year-over-year.

With mobile’s stake now planted so firmly in the ground, it is critical that the technology solutions used to support transactional mobile sites and apps provide the scalability and flexibility required today to stay ahead of the innovation curve tomorrow. With this in mind, we are pleased to announce that the Forrester Wave evaluation of mobile commerce and engagement platforms is now live.

Among mobile commerce and engagement platforms, which Forrester defines as commercial solution partners for the technology, development, and/or ongoing support of their mobile websites and/or mobile apps, we have identified four core competency traits. These include:

  • An obsession for mobile commerce trends and metrics. The best of these vendors do not just build and support mobile technology; they live and breathe mobile commerce — it's in their DNA. This means they are at the forefront of what works and what doesn't when it comes to how mobile experiences support conversion metrics.
  • A continually evolving, common platform on which they support all of their clients. Unlike traditional agencies, these vendors are not building tailored capabilities for each client. Instead they onboard all of their clients onto a common (often software-as-a-service [SaaS] based) platform.
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How to embrace new digital business models

Martin Gill

The mass adoption of consumer broadband in the late nineties and early 2000’s helped firms like Amazon, Expedia and Intuit establish new business models and new ways of scaling to millions of customers. Selling products online and empowering customers to find the best deals on travel or financial services products changed market dynamics in a range of industries. But things aren’t slowing down. Quite the opposite, in fact.

 

Digital continues to change how your firm makes money. Perhaps not fundamentally yet for your firm, but don’t kid yourself, there are changes afoot. There’s obvious examples:

 

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Should Financial Services Firms Engage With Fintech Startups?

Oliwia Berdak

At least two dozen accelerators and incubators have been launched by financial services firms in the last two years. I believe that in five years’ time, most of these corporate accelerators will have disappeared. Why? A fully-fledged, multi-startup accelerator is expensive to run. The cost of searching, selecting, and providing seed investment and support for startups could easily reach $1 million a year.  Many accelerators aren’t focused enough on customer problems or business objectives to deliver return on that investment.

So why are so many banks, insurance, and wealth management firms eager to loosen their purse-strings? Some want to identify and co-opt future disruptors, others are looking to startups for innovation. There’s been a palpable change of tone in discussions of digital disruptors in retail financial services. The ubiquitous stories about voracious startups that want to eat incumbents’ lunch have been replaced by tales of successful collaboration. Financial technology startups deliver innovation, established firms bring customers, and together they live happily ever after.

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Only Sophisticated And Innovative P2P Lending Platforms Will Survive In China

Zhi-Ying Ng

China is now the largest P2P lending market in the world. In just the first half of 2015, people exchanged RMB 300 billion ($47 billion) on more than 2,000 P2P lending platforms. As P2P lending in China reaches a tipping point, we expect many platforms to fail, and only sophisticated and innovative platforms will survive and thrive.

The “Q&A: Peer-To-Peer Lending Platforms In China” report takes an in-depth look at P2P lending platforms in China,  including the main players, key differences between Chinese P2P lending platforms and those in the UK and US, the problems that Chinese P2P lending marketplaces address, challenges P2P lending platforms face, as well as best practices in the P2P lending industry.

While the potential for P2P lending in China is huge, the challenges that lie ahead for these companies are significant. To succeed, P2P lending companies must overcome barriers related to the external environment that they operate in and the operational obstacles that their platform face such as:

  • Fraud. Widespread fraud and embezzlement in P2P lending tarnishes the entire industry, damaging well-run marketplaces as well as the immediate victims of fraud. Many of China's P2P lending platforms are not transparent, failing to disclose their revenues, expenses or fund allocation.
  • Regulation. In late December last year, the China Banking Regulatory Commission (CBRC) published new draft rules calling for closer supervision of the P2P lending sector. Some of these regulations include establishing a third-party depository of customer funds, requiring P2P lending platforms to improve disclosure, and prohibiting platforms from building capital pools.
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Global Payments Acquisition of Heartland Payments a Sign of Things to Come

Brendan Miller

Global Payments Announced on Tuesday that is planning to buy Heartland Payment Systems, a rival payment processor for $4.3 billion in cash and stock.  The two companies’ combined will be the 6th largest U.S. payment acquirer based on card purchase volume and the largest U.S acquirer based on active merchant locations (using March 2015 Nilson data to re-calculate the size of the new company).    

Global Payments gets Heartland’s direct sales force focused on selling to higher margin SMB merchants as well as new ISV and Reseller distribution relationships for its OpenEdge Integrated Payments Channel.  Global also gains a stronger U.S. presence in restaurant, retail and education verticals.

  • The new combined company will need to determine how to avoid channel conflict with Heartland’s POS companies, Xpient, pcAmerica, Dinerware and Liquer POS.  OpenEdge has operated with a strict mantra not to compete against the channel in the past.  Heartland Payments has had a more blended go-to-market strategy – enabling its direct sales to sell its POS systems while simultaneously developing ISV/Reseller channel.
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