Is Google Buying CoverHound? The Curious Case Of The California Insurance License

Ellen Carney

It’s one of the worst-kept—and surely most disruptive—secrets in the US insurance market.  Soon, Google could be piloting its Google Compare auto insurance comparison shopping site in the US, following the lead of  its 2012 Google Compare UK site roll out. 

But the launch of Google Compare in the US apparently hasn’t been easy.  Even though insurers have been mentioning Google overtures to participate on the comparison site to me for more than two years now, the Google Compare US site launch keeps getting pushed back.  As late as last month the site was expected to launch in California, to be followed in Q1 2015 with likely launches in  Illinois, Pennsylvania, and Texas. Last I heard was that California pilot wouldn't begin until sometime in Q1.

And one thing’s for sure:  Google Compare is going to have big implications for US insurers.  While doing the research for a report on what Google Compare is going to mean for insurer strategies in 2015, I took a look at a bunch of state insurance commission filings to see just what was up with the entity now officially doing business as Google Compare Auto Insurance Services Inc.  What did I learn?

  • They’re licensed to business in more than half the states.  Along with California, the entity is licensed to do business in at least Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona, Delaware, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, New Jersey, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. There may be more in process.
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Marketing And Site Features In Brazil’s eCommerce Market

Zia Daniell Wigder

We just published our third and final report in the Retail eCommerce in Brazil series. We tackled key performance indicators in our first report and team headcount and priorities in our second—our third report looks at the marketing tactics employed by online retailers in Brazil and the site features they’re embracing.  All three reports summarize the findings of a survey we fielded of 300+ online retailers in Brazil together with partner e-Commerce Brasil.  

In the report, we find that:

Online retailers continue to rely heavily on core marketing tactics. Despite the bevvy of new and emerging marketing options at their disposal, eCommerce leaders continue to prioritize search and email marketing as the most effective tactics for acquiring customers. Not surprisingly, store-based online retailers find offline advertising more effective than other types of online retailers do, and web-only retailers find social networks to be a particularly good source of customer acquisition.

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If Santa Left You A Mobile Insurance App/Site Budget, Do You Know Where And How To Spend It?

Ellen Carney

With the holidays—and a whole lot of 2015 strategic planning activities—behind us, you’re probably have a few gifts you’d like to return and hopefully, a few gift cards you’d like to make use of. If you were really good last year,Santa left you the budget needed to develop or enhance that mobile insurance app or site you’ve wanted.  

But how do you spend that budget so that the app or site that results doesn’t disappoint like those sea monkeys or x-ray glasses that you also once wanted?

It’s not hard to uncover this kind of disappointment in the mobile insurance marketplace:  Mobile services that are little more than insurer bill boards, require too much data entry from users, and lack features that users have come to expect from banks, retailers, and airlines.  To play catch- up with competitors and quell internal political concerns, many insurance eBusiness and technology management teams were put on the spot, rolling out mobile functionality without considering if it solved a problem for customers. While this approach addressed the business urgency, these hastily -built mobile insurance apps often fell short.

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Mobile Measurement Isn’t Keeping Up With Mobile’s Importance To Insurance Business Performance

Ellen Carney

The wild west of mobile in insurance is getting tamed.  Mobile is no longer just a fun experiment—it’s now a crucial element in the customer and agent experience. We first published our mobile insurance metrics report in August of 2013.  At the time, we were struck by how dependent insurers were on a single metric to prove their mobile success:  Application downloads. 

With 15 more months of mobile development chops under their belts, in November, we decided to take a look at how much more sophisticated mobile insurance strategists had become in their mobile performance measurement strategies.  The answer?  Unlike other industries where mobile metrics have grown up, insurers remain stuck in mobile adolescence.  How do we know? Because topping the mobile insurance metrics list in 2014 are web traffic and app downloads.  Fewer insurers are tracking metrics that measure real business outcomes like conversions and mobile revenue transactions.

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What I Expect to See At CES That Is Different

Julie Ask

The annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) opens in Las Vegas on January 6th,with global electronics manufacturers from Samsung to Sony to LG looking to outdo one another with whispers and snippets of content that will increase our anticipation of the next "must have" device.

CES is typically dominated by TV's and home entertainment systems with the same manufacturers using Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona in early March for smartphones and tablets. But I both hope and expect to see some new things at CES this year. In fact, I even put them on my Christmas list. This year, I expect the new eye-popping devices to:

  1. Push beyond entertainment. Entertainment has dominated the electronics industry for years. But there are only 24 hours in the day that consumers can engage with entertainment, that is - if they don't sleep. So while technologies like the DVR have made consuming content more efficient so we can squeeze more in, ultimately our ability to consume entertainment is capped. Don't get me wrong - I still expect to see mind-blowing advances in cameras, screen resolution, and audio quality, but growth in electronics will come from expanding their use cases. Translation: expect to see more devices offering utility to consumers - helping us lose weight, eat healthier, cut our energy bills, care for a plant, or let UPS leave a package inside the house.
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Undercover Analyst – Forrester goes on the receiving end of the holiday online shopping season

Peter Sheldon

In the first season of the hugely popular CBS Undercover Boss series, GSI Commerce founder and CEO Michael Rubin went undercover for a week in one of his firm’s eCommerce distribution centers to find out what it was really like to work on the front lines. Last week, Sucharita Mulpuru and I were invited by eBay Enterprise to follow in Michael's footsteps and go work the floor in one of eBay Enterprise’s (formerly GSI Commerce) largest eCommerce distribution centers at the peak of the holiday shopping season. Now luckily we didn’t have to wear any stick on facial hair as we weren’t actually undercover, but we did put in a grueling four hour shift: picking, sorting and packing online orders (yes they made us work).

The experience was fascinating, humbling and a reminder that you can have the best eCommerce website in the world, but it means nothing on Cyber Monday unless you can get those orders out to your customers in time. So what did we observe from our brief career change?

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More Trends in Brazil’s eCommerce Market

Zia Daniell Wigder

eCommerce in Brazil has gone from an $8 billion market in 2010 to a nearly $20 billion market today.  As the market has grown, eCommerce team sizes have expanded and retailers’ priorities have shifted. We address these issues in the second of our three-part series on retail eCommerce in Brazil. The three reports summarize the findings of a survey we fielded of over 300 online retailers in Brazil together with partner e-Commerce Brasil.

In our most recent report entitled Retail eCommerce In Brazil: Team Headcount, Priorities And Challenges, we find that:

Operations has the highest headcount while analytics and customer experience lag far behind. Our survey shows that the average eCommerce team in Brazil has 24 members, with half of those being part of the operations team. Customer service, IT and marketing fall further down the list. eCommerce teams include just two people in usability/customer experience and just one in analytics.

Hiring qualified talent remains many online retailers’ largest hurdle. When asked about challenges, retailers cited hiring as one of their biggest issues over the next 12 months. Not surprisingly, the two areas of low headcount cited above – customer experience and analytics – are two of the most challenging positions to hire for in other markets, as well. The other top challenge cited by Brazilian retailers was managing fulfillment costs and expectations – not surprising given Brazilian shoppers’ expectations of free, quick delivery in major metropolitan areas. 

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Which Banks Lead In Digital Sales? Find Out Here

Peter Wannemacher

[This blog post was co-authored by Rachel Roizen]

Hot off the presses: We’ve just published our 2014 US and Canadian Bank Digital Sales Benchmark reports, in which we assess the public websites of the five largest retail banks in each country — as well as their mobile sites and downloadable apps for smartphones and tablets. Our benchmark looks at a range of criteria across four categories: discover, explore, buy, and onboard (see image below).

Read the full reports by clicking on the following links:

                      

Here are some of the findings from the research:

  • Bank of America narrowly edges out the competition to take the top US spot. For the second year in a row, Bank of America earns the highest overall score among the five largest retail banks. The firm excels by simplifying the online application process (it takes just a few minutes and guides the user with clear feedback and progress indicators) while supporting digital shoppers with chat and click-to-call options. At the same time, Bank of America enables easy cross-channel shopping for digital researchers who want to move offline to apply, with branch appointment scheduling available online.
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2014 US Credit Card Secure Website Benchmark: Discover Continues To Lead

Peter Wannemacher

[This blog post was co-authored by Rachel Roizen]

Forrester has just completed our 2014 US credit card secure website benchmark, in which we assessed the features, functionality, and content on the secure websites of the six largest credit card issuers in the US.

You can read and/or download the full report by clicking on the link below:                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

Here are some key findings from our research:

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Mobile-Fueled Valuation: Uber at $40B?

Julie Ask

I am not a financial analyst so will not speak to the specifics on the $40 billion.

Uber isn’t a mobile app service. (I heard a taxi driver call them “app cars”). Uber is a business enabled by mobile.

Mobile changes consumer expectations of convenience in three dimensions:

  1. Immediacy. I may wait three to 10 minutes for a ride, but I have instant access to information (e.g., the location of the vehicle and when it will arrive).
  2. Simplicity. I press a button “pick me up” and a car is ordered for my precise location. Ordering a ride could not be any simpler — well, at least until someone learns to anticipate when I need a ride and asks me before I order. (I’m waiting on my airline to do this for me).
  3. Context. Context is the sum of all of the information that a company has about a consumer (or employee — in this case supply of rides also) including situation (time, location, etc.), past behavior or preferences, and emotions inferred from one’s logistics. Uber depends primarily on real-time context or location in the moment to match supply and demand. Drivers also use ratings to decide if they want to pick up a passenger.
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