The Globalization of eCommerce in 2013

Zia Daniell Wigder

In 2012, online retailers continued to expand into new geographic areas, with many eyeing eCommerce markets beyond those of North America and Europe. Local partnerships and adaptations were key: In China, Neiman Marcus, Macy’s, and eBay all invested in or partnered with local players to expand their footprint in the market. In India, Amazon launched with Junglee, an online shopping service adapted to comply with foreign direct investment restrictions – in Brazil, the company launched with e-books.

The next year will see eCommerce organizations continue their global initiatives. In 2013, we expect to see the following trends:

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Using Mobile Phones To Augment Our Reality

Julie Ask

I was standing out in Union Square in San Francisco a couple of weeks ago. It brought back memories of my "crazy lady in Macy's" journey. This time, I was standing on the sidewalk in front of Forever 21. Capturing the looks of those passing by watching me use my phone to look at the shop window could have been more interesting than what I was capturing on my screen. I give marketers and retailers credit for pushing the envelope and experimenting with mobile technology. Unfortunately, it seems like we are not a LOT further along than we were a year ago. Some combination of the CPUs, GPUs, and networks cannot keep up with the tracking to overlay much more than 2D images. The experiences are triggered from a narrow band or library of symbols, graphics, and pictures. 

Retailers shouldn't be discouraged from using AR; AR is a very good tool to facilitate the discovery and consumption of simple content. 

I also believe that AR is well suited for entertainment and amusement - a good way to engage with the consumer base and offer an enhanced experience. 

Check out the muppets Band-Aids. 

Also check out the Zappar t-shirts being sold; the cost of the service is low, with Zappar sharing in product revenue. Their time-to-market is short in terms of preparing the content. Their app is already in the app store - altogether, very low barriers to entry to use AR with your products. 

 

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Managing the Cross-Touchpoint Customer Journey

Martin Gill

It’s no great surprise that many retailers are reporting an increase in multi-touchpoint engagement from their shoppers this year in the run-up to Christmas. Our own Technographics® data has been showing an increase in the use of things like mobile, tablets, and click-and-collect services for some time. But as the number of touchpoints shoppers are using increases, so does the complexity faced by brands trying to manage coherent, consistent, and compelling experiences across these multiple touchpoints.

The reality we now face is that customer journeys cross touchpoints.

Forrester’s Marketing Leadership team has been championing an approach to thinking about the customer journey not as a marketing funnel but as a life cycle -- a dynamic, circular ecosystem of touchpoints that morphs over time, possibly with each customer and each journey. But even making the leap from a funel based paradigm to this approach is just the first step in working out how best to optimize each touchpoint.

One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to just assume that every touchpoint needs to replicate every other touchpoint. Customers don’t use each touchpoint in the same way. Their expectations about what they can achieve on mobile and how a mobile app might help them interact with their physical environment with, for example, a mobile store locator or a bar-code scanner is very different from what they expect to be able to achieve when they call your call centre.

Touchpoints need to be designed within the context of an overall customer journey. Not in isolation.

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Does Your Company's Tax Policy Matter To eBusiness?

Benjamin Ensor

Today is, apparently, Cyber Monday in the UK. But there's a more interesting story in the UK's eCommerce market. It's about tax.

The debate is about the tax policies of a number of prominent multi-national businesses that operate in the UK, including Amazon, eBay, Google, Starbucks and Vodafone, most of which pay little or no Corporation Tax, which is levied as a percentage of profits. (It's relatively easy and perfectly legal for a subsidiary of a multi-national company to avoid taxes on profits in one country by buying services from a sister company in another country so that it makes no profit in the first country.)

Today, the Public Accounts Committee of the House of Commons published a scathing report on tax avoidance by multi-national companies operating in the UK. As the report puts it about Starbucks, which has made no profits in the UK for 14 of the past 15 years: "We found it difficult to believe that a commercial company with a 31% market share by turnover, with a responsibility to its shareholders and investors to make a decent return, was trading with apparent losses for nearly every year of its operation in the UK." What the committee says about Amazon is, if anything, worse.

What's the relevance to eBusiness? While it's uncomfortable for Google and Starbucks to be in the limelight for the wrong reasons, demand for both information and coffee is (presumably) fairly constant through the year. But for retailers Amazon and eBay, the timing couldn't be worse, because this debate is taking place in the run-up to Christmas, the crucial sales period for all retailers in the UK.

This debate raises three questions:

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Commerce Server, Cactus Commerce & Ascentium - The Path Forward

Peter Sheldon

In the words of the Greek philosopher Heraclitus, everything flows and nothing stands still. This is certainly true of Ascentium, the Seattle based interactive agency that last year acquired Cactus Commerce and Microsoft’s Commerce Server. This week, the company firmed up its strategy following last year’s acquisition spree. The result: the company is splitting in two, creating two separate entities focusing on services and product respectively. 

They are:

  • SmithSmith is the result of merging together Ascentium and Cactus Commerce. The old brands are now gone for good, and the new brand with a headcount of over 300 staff aims to offer both digital agency and commerce technology services to its brand partners.
  • Commerce Server.net– After the takeover of Microsoft’s Commerce Server product last November, Ascentium quickly re-branded the product as Ascentium Commerce Server 2009. Yesterday, Smith (previously Ascentium) announced that the product division of the company (a combination of the product IP from Microsoft and the product development resources from Cactus) has been re-branded as a wholly owned, but independently managed subsidiary called Commerce Server.net
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The Mobile Imperative During The Holidays

Sucharita  Mulpuru

It’s no longer a question of whether or not consumers will adopt mobile as an interaction and transaction channel this holiday shopping season. Over the last year, mobile has proven itself to be a viable channel that will play an increasingly prevalent role this year and in future years.

Case in point: mobile retail set records this holiday shopping season with 16 percent of all online sales being conducted through a mobile device -- compared to 9.8 percent last year. In addition, 24 percent of consumers use a mobile device to visit a retailer’s site, up from 14.3 percent in 2011. Whether it’s a tablet, an iPhone, or an Android, consumers are researching more products and making more purchases than ever before through their mobile devices. A full overview of the IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark Cyber Monday data, which is a cloud-based web analytics platform that tracks more than a million e-commerce transactions a day, analyzing terabytes of raw data from 500 retailers nationwide, can be found here.

Why the mobile push? For consumers, it’s about convenience, efficiency, and accessibility, whether shopping online or in-store. Some traditional brick-and-mortar retailers, however, are still wary of mobile and hesitant to bridge ecommerce mobile initiatives with the in-store experience. That attitude has to change in order for these retailers to keep pace with the multiscreen, digital consumer. Today, four in 10 smartphone users search for an item and research prices while they’re right in the store.

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Are you spending enough on eBusiness?

Carrie Johnson

Ever wonder if you're spending enough on your eBusiness efforts compared with your peers? We've been benchmarking key metrics like team size, channel responsibilities, and spending for four years and this week we’ve launched our quarterly eBusiness and Channel Strategy Panel Survey to keep adding to that rich data.

We have designed the survey to help eBusiness and Channel Strategy Professionals determine the size of companies' eBusiness budgets, the size of their technology investments, and how these numbers compare with overall firm spending.  Additionally, it will shed light on the key roles and responsibilities eBusiness executives are playing, what channels firms focusing on, and where future investment priorities lie. 

Here are the details:

  • The survey takes less than 20 minutes to complete.
  • Responses will be kept strictly confidential and published only in an aggregated and anonymous manner.
  • Respondents will receive a free copy of the survey results and a free Forrester report.

Here's the link to the survey again. Thanks for participating!

Agile Commerce – that’s Forrester’s word for “Omnichannel,” right?

Martin Gill

You’ve all heard the term “Omnichannel.” And since you are reading this blog I’m going to assume you’ve also all heard the term “Agile Commerce.” If not, then stop reading now and check out Welcome to the Era of Agile Commerce and Agile Commerce: Know it When You See It.

So either you are back, or you were with me all along. But now you are wondering “Ok, so what is the difference?” Let’s look at what the two terms really mean. Omnichannel doesn’t have a formal definition, though here’s what the oracle that is Wikipedia says…

Omni-Channel Retailing is very similar to, and an evolution of, multi-channel retailing, but is concentrated more on a seamless approach to the consumer experience through all available shopping channels, i.e. mobile internet devices, computers, bricks-and-mortar, television, catalog, and so on.”

On the other hand, Forrester defines agile commerce as…

“An approach to commerce that enables businesses to optimize their people, processes, and technology to serve customers across all touchpoints.”

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Why Visa’s V.me Digital Wallet Matters To eBusiness

Benjamin Ensor

I attended a briefing from Visa Europe yesterday, about its V.me digital wallet. Here’s what Visa said:V.me by Visa

  • V.me is more than a mobile digital wallet. Customers will be able to use V.me to make online payments too. It lets users check out at online stores using a one-click solution that remembers card details from multiple providers (including MasterCard and American Express cards) as well as billing details and postal addresses.
  • V.me is not just about mobile contactless payments. V.me will support a variety of ways to initiate payments including bar codes and QR codes, as well as NFC.
  • Visa intends to distribute V.me through its member banks, much as Visa cards are distributed today. BBVA will be the first issuer in Spain.
  • V.me is already in extended pilots in the UK and Spain to test the system and will launch formally in both countries soon. France will be next. V.me will start rolling out into stores in the UK next spring. Officially V.me will be available in France, Spain and the UK by next summer. (Visa Inc has already launched V.me in the US).
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Why eBusiness Needs To Rethink The Value Of Personalization

Sucharita  Mulpuru

In two recent instances in public forums, I’ve heard eBusiness executives talking about some rather disturbing uses of personal data. One was the CTO of a large big-box retailer who raised the possibility that health insurance companies could track our food purchases, sending dissuading texts to us whenever we chose to eat at greasy spoons or Burger King. Another was a software CEO who said it was inevitable that our cars would send real-time data on our speeds to our car insurance agencies. Laughter ensued from the audiences, but it should have been alarm and shock. I find it hard to believe that the good that could come from sharing this sort of data with companies (which, I would argue, don’t exactly have a reputation for benevolence) would outweigh the potential for abusing the data. Even in the retail world, there are a lot of companies trying to match users across different devices based on their IP addresses to create profiles of behavior. Call it lighter versions of the FBI “forensics” that took down David Petreaus. (Btw, Paula Broadwell has been a friend of mine for years and is one of the nicest, smartest, and most generous people I know. An issue that’s been overlooked is the violation of her privacy that kicked off this whole scandal. For the record, because people have asked me, I think she's been unfairly attacked at best and irreparably slandered at worst with digital information that should have never made its way to the light of day. I just hope she gets the last laugh when Angelina Jolie plays her in the movie.)

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