Benchmarking B2B eCommerce

Andy Hoar

Forrester recently partnered with Internet Retailer magazine to survey business-to-business (B2B) eCommerce professionals and produce first-of-its-kind sell-side B2B eCommerce benchmarks. The joint survey developed detailed insights related to B2B budget/spending plans, customer experience comparisons with business-to-consumer (B2C) retailers, feature/function/site component priorities, site measurement/metrics, and mobile and tablet plans.

Today, I’m pleased to announce the release of two reports that analyze and discuss B2B eCommerce sales and marketing benchmarks and technology spending benchmarks. In “Benchmarking B2B eCommerce Sales and Marketing Initiatives” and “Benchmarking B2B eCommerce Technology Investment Initiatives,” Forrester found that B2B companies are:

  • Increasing customer channel-shift and seeing improved year-over-year metrics. A significant percentage of offline customers are moving online.  In fact, 86% of the B2B companies we surveyed said that they had recently migrated offline customers online, while only 14% said that they’d moved online customers offline. B2B eCommerce companies also report that they’re seeing improved Average Order Values (AOVs), conversion rates, and number of lines per order in 2013 versus 2012.  Moreover, B2B eCommerce professionals indicate that they are generally maintaining their margins year over year.
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eCommerce Replatforming Is A Business Transformation Program

Peter Sheldon

This is a guest post by Lily Varon, a researcher serving eBusiness & Channel Strategy professionals. 

The breakneck pace of technology innovation and changing consumer behavior is having a profound impact on business. To keep up with business growth plans, competitive threats, and consumer demands, online companies must support global markets, digitally empowered customers, and evolving sales and service channels, putting ever-more stress on the eCommerce engine.

eBusiness professionals are taking stock of their legacy or incumbent eCommerce technology and finding that the solutions aren’t tactically functional, aren’t omnichannel-ready, and/or aren’t leveraging sophisticated enough data insights to deliver on the demands in the age of the customer.

The technology powering eCommerce is becoming more complicated, too. There are more stakeholders than ever, more data, more integrations, and so on. In many cases, replatforming projects run over budget and are delivered late. Talk to any eBusiness leader who has been through the process, and you're bound to hear a war story or two. These projects are never easy, but as eCommerce technology — and the market that drives it — evolves, replatforming initiatives are inevitable.

Selecting the right commerce platform for your business is important. But a car needs more than an engine to both function and be used to its full potential. eBusiness professionals must understand the following before embarking on an eCommerce replatforming program:

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Join Our Global Mobile Executive Survey: We're Extending The Deadline

Julie Ask

For the past two years, Forrester has fielded a Global Mobile Executive Survey to understand and benchmark mobile initiatives. Last year, we surveyed nearly 300 executives leading mobile initiatives within their enterprises. 

To help business executives benchmark and mature their approach to consumer mobile services, we are updating this survey. 

Planning and organizing for the use of mobile technologies is a complex task. Integrating mobile as part of a broader corporate strategy is even more complex. However some players are leading the way and working on infrastructure, staffing, and competencies that are hard to see unless you look closely. If you want to understand the role that mobile is playing in various organizations, what their objectives are, how they measure the success of their mobile initiatives, and a lot more, you just have to share with us your own perspective and we will aggregate the answers. For your efforts, we will share a free copy of the survey results.

If you’re in charge of your company's mobile consumer initiative or if you’re familiar with it, then please take this survey.

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Bitcoin: Some Parts Brilliant, Some Parts Sure To Bomb

Denée Carrington

A version of this post originally appeared on Re/code.

The rollercoaster ride for Bitcoin enthusiasts continued this week: There was good news from UK regulators, who have taken a relatively progressive stance on virtual currencies, and bad news with the latest heist of 890 Bitcoin (roughly $600,000) and the resulting demise of Flexcoin, a Bitcoin storage service. The breaking news frenzy perhaps reached a new peak with the claim that the real Satoshi Nakamoto has been identified. There’s no doubt that additional revelations are on the horizon when it comes to the first crypto-currency, and with that, the debate about the longevity and usefulness of Bitcoin will continue. In our new report on Bitcoin, we address the following questions:

1.       What is Bitcoin?

2.       Who are the main players?

3.       What headway has Bitcoin made?

4.       How viable is Bitcoin as a consumer payment alternative?

5.       Should I worry about crypto-currencies like Bitcoin disrupting my business?

6.       How can I outsmart crypto-currencies?

Here’s the bottom line: Bitcoin is deeply flawed as an alternative currency or payment method for mainstream consumers. It will, however, be a catalyst for a more efficient global payments system because it demonstrates one way to tackle the many embedded inefficiencies.

Bitcoin Is Not A Viable Payment Alternative For Mainstream Consumers

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Creating Customer-Centric eBusiness Experiences In China

Zia Daniell Wigder

On March 19th, I’ll be joining several of my colleagues in Shanghai, China for our Summit for Marketing & Strategy Professionals. One of the themes we’ve been exploring recently is how the age of the customer translates in the Chinese market. During my session at the summit, I will discuss some of the following things that the most customer-obsessed businesses, and savviest eBusiness leaders, are doing to effectively compete in China. These leaders:

Understand their customers and use this information to be as relevant as possible. In China, a growing number of eCommerce players are using customer data to help drive sales online, for example, by providing detailed product recommendations. As in other parts of the world, however, many eBusiness executives in China are at the early stages of truly understanding their customers and using this information to be relevant in their daily lives. We’ll look at how some brands use customer data effectively today, and what some of the more innovative use case scenarios look like in eBusiness.  

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Making The Case For A Direct-to-Consumer Website In China

Kelland Willis

On March 19th I will present at Forrester’s second annual Marketing and Leadership Summit in Shanghai on online direct-to-consumer (DTC) sales opportunities in the Age of the Customer; I will also facilitate a short discussion on the topic with Vincent Lau, Regional Director of eCommerce Asia Pacific for Deckers.  During the track session, Vincent and I will discuss:

How eBusinesses should measure the success of their DTC site. In China, DTC sites can’t generally compete with a marketplace when it comes to traffic and sale volume – the traditional eCommerce metrics. However, they can compete in a handful of other meaningful ways – fashion retailers, for example, report higher average order values, larger margins as a result of not having to sell at discounted rates, and a positive influence on overall sales growth across channels in the region.

How a DTC site compares to marketplace channels. There is no denying that marketplaces dominate the eCommerce landscape in China, and will likely take the lion’s share of online sales for a business, but DTC sites also offer a handful of lucrative advantages. One eCommerce executive noted that the DTC shopper is very different from a marketplace shopper and is ultimately more valuable. Not only do shoppers on DTC sites spend more, they buy across categories, pay full price and engage with the brand in meaningful ways by shopping across channels and categories and contributing to social media communities.

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More Trends In Emerging eCommerce Markets

Zia Daniell Wigder

In our research, we’ve talked about some of the trends that mark early-stage eCommerce markets. This year I’ve been to a few events to talk about how different eCommerce markets are evolving – today we see that:

Retailers’ ownership of logistics networks is now widespread. The model of online retailers owning and operating logistics networks in emerging markets is well established. While there used to be a handful of examples to point to, it’s becoming increasingly common for a number of the top eCommerce players to operate their own logistics networks - Amazon in India is just one recent headline-maker in this area. Indeed, in the BRIC countries today, only Brazil does not currently see many of the leading online retailers operating their own networks.

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Differentiating On The Claims Experience: Why Better Claims Handling Results In Higher Customer Loyalty And Lower Costs

Ellen Carney

For consumers, there are two key insurance moments:  when coverage is bought and then when it’s used, with hopefully a long span of time between the two.  And if there is a claim, then it’s up to the insurer to react to help the claimant recover.  But too often, the claims experience spurs policyholders to consider changing insurers, especially among policyholders who’ve been customers longer (and have been paying premiums longer).[i]  What else happens when there’s a policyholder unhappy about a claim?  Claimants readily take to social bully pulpits with their claims grievances, effectively using Twitter and Facebook to “regulate” insurers into action. 

In addition, they also file complaints with state insurance regulators, an activity that about 34,000 US consumers did in 2013.What’s their biggest gripe?  A look at the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) stats reveals that 56% of consumer complaints filed in 2013 were issues related to claims handling, with the biggest chunk, 24%, because of perceived delays. And that’s not counting delays associated with getting referrals, pre-authorizations, and finding willing providers.[ii]

Over the past year, I’ve been involved in a variety of client advisories focused on the claims experience for both consumers as well as insurer work teams responsible for getting claims paid.   Why is the claim experience so easy to go off track?  For starters:

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What Can Microsoft Teach You About Digital Business?

Martin Gill

It’s only crumbling, archaic companies that have to worry about digital disruption, right? Companies that cling to out-moded ways of operating, where out-of-touch, besuited executives languish in mahogany-paneled boardrooms pondering strategy over cigars and brandy.

Oh no. Digital disruption impacts every business and every company.

No matter how “born digital” you may think your firm is, there’s always room to get leaner, meaner and closer to your customers. Take this as an example.

You might think that Satya Nadella, recently appointed Chief Exec of software powerhouse Microsoft, has nothing to worry about. While Microsoft wasn’t strictly “born digital”, it isn’t far off. It boasts an impressive array of digital services in its suite of products – Hotmail, Xbox Live and MSN to name just a few. But Nadella is only too aware that what’s made Microsoft successful in the past will not continue to differentiate it in this uncertain future.

In a recent New York Times interview Nadella was asked about how he wanted to change the culture of Microsoft. He succinctly sums up exactly why every firm must become a digital business:

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Why Did Facebook Buy WhatsApp? Dwindling Supply Of Options To Grab Hundreds Of Millions Of Users ... That Are For Sale

Julie Ask

That's one reason ... but here are a few more .... 

1. 450M active users (Source: NY Times)

2. Adding 1M users daily

3. 70% of MAU use the service daily (Source: TechCrunch)

4. WhatsApp offers users in Europe, Brazil and other emerging markets (= net new audience) (Source: Gravity/Techcrunch)

5. Nearly 200 minutes of usage each week (Source: Mobidia)

6. Facebook gets how to monetize mobile through paid advertising without wrecking the user experience. (In Q4 2013 they crossed over from 49% of revenue from mobile to 53% from a base of 945M mobile monthly active users) Source: Facebook, TechCrunch

 

Why $16B to $19B? I am not a financial analyst, but here are a few thoughts:

- Facebook generated $1.37B in mobile revenue in Q4 2013 on a base of 945M users ... annualized that is $5.80/MAU (monthly active user)

- WhatsApp already generates $1/user for a chunk of their users through a subscription fee (less fee to app store?)

- If WhatsApp users can be monetized at the same value, that adds another 50% approximately in mobile ad revenue

- Facebook reported 914 minutes of use on mobile per month in 2013 (Source: allthingsd.com)

- According to Mobidia, only Kakao Talk has more

- WhatsApp is already located in Si Valley

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