Step Up To Digital Leadership

Martin Gill

No industry is immune to digital disruption.

Globally, executives acknowledge the disruptive influence that digital technologies have on their businesses. In fact, in a recent Forrester survey fielded in conjunction with Russell Reynolds, 41% of business and IT executives believed that their industry had already been moderately or massively disrupted and over half expected to see more disruption over the next 12 months.

You don’t have to look far to find evidence to back this belief up. In fact, you don’t even have to look globally — digital disruption is happening right in your back yard. Just take the UK as an example:

  • The UK government is transforming its public services to deliver “digital services so good that people prefer to use them.”
  • Retailer John Lewis is offering a £50,000 cash investment to the winner of its tech incubator “JLab.”
  • British Airways is driving for operational excellence in baggage handling by RFID tagging luggage.
  • Movie streaming service Blinkbox, owned by retailer Tesco, is expanding into music.
  • PruHealth is partnering with wearable technology firm Fitbug to offer rewards for active health insurance customers.
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Three Days Of eCommerce In And Around Shanghai

Zia Daniell Wigder

A number of us from Forrester offices inside and outside of China converged on Shanghai for a few days last week for our annual Marketing & Strategy event. The trip proved to be especially timely given the extensive media focus on China’s eCommerce market with the recent news on Alibaba's US IPO.

My agenda was largely packed into three days:

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Apple’s Healthbook: Keeping My Fingers Crossed For Something New And Magical

Julie Ask

A journalist called and asked me today about the market size for wearables. I replied, “That’s not the big story.” 

So what is? It's data, and what you can do with it. 

First you have to collect the data and have the permission to do so. Most of these relationships are one-to-one. I have these relationships with Nike, Jawbone, Basis, RunKeeper, MyFitnessPal and a few others. I have an app for each on my phone that harvests the data and shows it to me in a way I can understand. Many of these devices have open APIs, so I can import my Fitbit or Jawbone data into MyFitnessPal, for example.

From the story on 9to5mac.com, it is clear that Apple (like with Passbook) is creating a single place for consumers to store a wide range of healthcare and fitness information. From the screenshots they have, it also appears that one can trend this information over time. The phone is capable of collecting some of this information, and is increasingly doing so with less battery burn due to efficiencies in how the sensor data is crunched, so to speak. Wearables – perhaps one from Apple – will collect more information. Other data will certainly come from third-party wearables - such as fitness wearables, patches, bandages, socks and shirt - and attachments, such as the Smartphone Physical. There will always be tradeoffs between the amount of information you collect and the form factor. While I don't want to wear a chubby, clunky device 24x7, it gets better every day.

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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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