As The Holidays Approach, Stores Need To Worry About Being “Showroomed"

Sucharita  Mulpuru

As mobile Internet use has grown, so has the usage of smartphones in stores. Much of that in-store phone usage is innocuous — using store maps, for instance — but some of it is threatening to brick-and-mortar stores, particularly when shoppers use phones in stores to research prices.  While "showrooming" isn't a term that many consumers know (only 16% awareness according to com Score), it's nonetheless happening.   

The good news: Consumers with smartphones only “showroomed” prices in stores on average a few times in a 6-month period. Aprimo, an marketing service firm that surveyed about 2,000 consumers in October about their mobile price-checking behavior in stores for that datapoint.  I suspect that amounts to a very small percent (i.e., less than 5%) of shopping visits. The bad news: That survey (and comScore's) confirmed the worst of what many in the retail industry have expected -- that showrooming is here to stay. And it hurts stores. After all, most of the showrooming shoppers told us that they usually find cheaper prices online when they research them. Some highlights:

  • It’s not just consumer electronics and high-ticket items like appliances for which consumers research prices in stores. In fact, the second and third most showroomed categories: grocery (!) and apparel/accessories/footwear. Yes, I was surprised by that, too.
  • A whole lot of people say they’ll be showrooming more in the future. In fact, the segment that’s most likely to spend the most online in the future (18- to 34-year-old men) is the group most likely to do this type of mobile price research in the future.
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Innovation Lessons From BBVA

Benjamin Ensor

BBVAI spent Tuesday and Wednesday at Forrester’s European Customer Experience Forum in London, which was based on the theme of Outside In, Forrester’s new book. One of the most interesting sessions I attended was ‘The Customer Centric Bank’ from Gustavo Vinacua, Innovation Center Director at BBVA’s Centro de Innovación in Madrid.

Over the past decade, BBVA has worked hard to become more customer centric and match its offerings to its customers’ needs. Given the pace of technology change, customers’ rising expectations and the digital disruption those forces cause, innovation is a critical part of the role of eBusiness and channel strategy executives. I thought I would share a few of Gustavo’s insights here for those of you who couldn’t attend. BBVA has become systematically innovative, launching a continuous succession of innovations many of which were a first in Spain, in Europe or in the world, such as:

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US Online Holiday Sales Continue To Grow At A Double-Digit Pace

Sucharita  Mulpuru

Forrester’s “US Online Holiday Retail Sales Forecast, 2012” launches today; in it, we predict that this November and December alone are expected to pull in $68.4 billion in online revenue, a 15% increase over 2011. We believe web retailers are well-positioned to benefit from this shopper spend if they realize that consumers are:

  • On the hunt for deals. More than half of US online adults are more price conscious than they were a year ago. As the Web channel has become synonymous with value, retailers should expect consumers to be searching for deals through a variety of touchpoints, at home and in-store on mobile devices.  Retailers need to prepare for aggressive holiday showrooming and the possibility of being undersold or being asked for a price match. 
  • Looking for free shipping. Fifty-seven percent of US online adults shop more with retailers that offer free shipping, and 27% add unplanned items to their cart in order to meet free shipping thresholds. Last year, 76% of the top 50 online retailers highlighted holiday deals on their home pages and 50% called out holiday shipping promotions. As price continues to be a top consideration for consumers, retailers must offer and prominently display holiday shipping promotions or risk losing customers to competitors that will.
  • Shopping on key dates. During the 2011 holiday season, the top 500 retail websites saw holiday traffic peak during Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday, each of which drove more than 170 million unique US shoppers to the Web, and they together accounted for more than $2.5 billion in total online sales. Forrester expects that this trend will continue through 2012.
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Join Our eBusiness Team! We’re Hiring A Principal/Senior Analyst Focused On eCommerce Technology

Zia Daniell Wigder

eCommerce technology is a fast-growing, rapidly evolving industry – we’re looking for a Principal/Senior Analyst to help build our coverage of this incredibly dynamic area. 

Here’s a quick snapshot from the job description:

The Principal/Senior Analyst will write for, present to, and advise eBusiness & Channel Strategy Professionals in the retail, wholesale, and CPG industries to help guide their eCommerce and other multichannel commerce technology decisions. He/she will need a strong understanding of the business and technology issues facing eBusiness executives today and an appetite for conducting and writing research to stay abreast of the issues.

If this is you, we’d love to hear from you! Please feel free to reach out directly to me at zwigder at forrester dot com or submit via the job posting

How Sophisticated Is Your Approach To Mobile?

Julie Ask

Today, Forrester published an updated study to help eBusiness professionals understand how their peers in other companies with more experience are taking on mobile. The report (which clients can find here) is titled "Mobile Maturity Equates To Mobile Competency."

In the study, Forrester put eBusiness professionals into one of three groups based on the maturity of their mobile strategy - how many years a strategy had been in place. From there, the report provides an in-depth comparison of the approach to developing mobile strategies, level of collaboration, staffing, use of technology, spend, key performance metrics used, and approach to development.

A few key takeaways:

- Senior leaderships is essential. Only 54% of companies just getting started with mobile feel their company sees mobile as a strategic initiative. In comparison, 87% of eBusiness professionals with a more established plan have this support.

- eBusiness professionals with more experience are more likely to build in-house. They understand that mobile services cannot be one-off projects. Mobile services are assets, touchpoints, channels, and more that require infrastructure and ongoing maintenance and improvements. They also use consultants or agencies but lean toward custom builds to get the most out of the medium.

- eBusiness professionals often lead with iOS applications, followed by Android. Less than 10% of experienced eBusiness professionals build for BlackBerry or Windows today.

- Experienced eBusiness professionals have a process in place to develop strategy that either is mobile POST or strongly resembles mobile POST.

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The End Of A Long Week In eBusiness In New York

Zia Daniell Wigder

My colleague Patti Freeman Evans put up a great blog post yesterday about eBusiness efforts post-Sandy. I wanted to finish off the week with a snapshot of the ATM screen I took about 10 minutes ago at my local Chase branch - amazing what a multi-touchpoint world we now live in (I count up to six in this one message alone!).

Wishing everyone a safe weekend.

eBusinesses Use Digital to Deal with Sandy

Patti Freeman Evans

eBusiness professionals have disaster recovery plans in place to deal with nearly annual storms across the country.  How many times have we heard of a snow storm November and December slamming formerly robust holiday sales?  However, Sandy has put the northeast in uncharted waters.  The extent of the challenges we face in the nation's most populous region is vast and varied:  Gas, fuel and water shortages, road closures, and electrical outages affect both homes and businesses throughout the area.  NYC is an odd microcosm of the variety of issues we face:  Below 23rd Street has water but no electricity and no subway service. By contrast, north of 23rd Street - while it’s not business as usual - life is closer to normal.  Yet, in the outer boroughs and the tri-state area, the situation is often much, much more dire.   

I write this from refuge at my brother-in-law’s apartment at 100th Street because we lost power at home in Tribeca.  Since we are safe, I am more frustrated by lack of battery power and Wi-Fi variability than I am with the lack of electricity for other things.   I felt so cut off without internet access.  To see crowds of people leaning up against closed Starbucks locations’ outer walls to access Wi-Fi is an indication of how digital technology has become so critical to our daily lives.  Now, fully connected, I am able to work at near full capacity in spite of the devastation around me – I just wish my brain was up to my digital capabilities.

Across a broad search on how eBusinesses are dealing with the situation, a number of initiatives arose:

  • Local businesses are already using digital means to try to recover.
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Windows Phone 8 - What Does It Mean For eCommerce Professionals?

Julie Ask

I attended the Windows Phone media event in San Francisco today. The filter I put on was, "What does this mean for the eBusiness professional?" VERY few of the executives we have surveyed are building experiences or applications for the Windows platform today (and yes, you could argue that in part that is because they knew Windows Phone 8 was coming and wouldn't be backwards-compatible, but, honestly, mostly it is because there are so few Windows phones in the US relative to Android and iOS). Only 21% of the executives we surveyed a year ago were using Windows with another 27% planning to do so (see this report). 

There is a lot of talk - mostly at a high level - about how you have to define different experiences for iOS and Android because expectations are different, consumers use the devices differently, etc. The most interesting aspect of the Windows Phone 8 event today was the "live" tiles. I have seen similar in the past with Nokia devices - streaming Facebook updates, news, etc. to "live" tiles on my home screen.

What I haven't seen yet is a good use case for "live tiles" for eBusiness professionals. Everyone is chatting about push-based notifications - they are contextual, they deep-link into the application, they drive usage of the application, etc. These "live" tiles with streaming content or media could be even more interesting. Microsoft today showed examples with Groupon and other discount/deal providers. As a bank, you don't want to display someone's balance. As an insurance provider, you don't want to post "a bill is due" or "we're not paying out your claim." You might want to post content around hurricanes and the potential danger. Retailers and travel companies can post deals. 

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On eCommerce In South Africa And Beyond

Zia Daniell Wigder

I recently had a chance to catch up with another global eCommerce enthusiast: Hendrik Laubscher works for PriceCheck, a price comparison site in South Africa owned by MIH Internet Africa. He and I sat down for a coffee to talk all things developing eCommerce markets. A few things that came out of our conversation:

In South Africa, payments and broadband connectivity remain hurdles to eCommerce adoption. South Africa, the continent’s largest eCommerce market, remains at a relatively early stage, with several inhibitors preventing the market from truly flourishing.  Although credit and debit card usage is growing, overall penetration remains low, even in comparison to other large emerging markets. PayPal offerings have been a challenge, as well — currency issues and restrictions that required users to be registered FNB online banking customers prevented many from taking advantage of this payment method.  Additionally, the country’s low overall Internet penetration — in particular, broadband penetration — also presents hurdles. The CEO of Woolworths in South Africa recently said that faster, cheaper broadband was essential for eCommerce to flourish, but estimated that this scenario remained “about four years off.”

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US B2B eCommerce Sales To Reach $559 Billion By The End Of 2013

Andy Hoar

Today Forrester is releasing a report entitled “Key Trends in B2B eCommerce for 2013” that, for the first time in over 10 years, sizes the US business-to-business (B2B) eCommerce market in the US.  Forrester estimates that by the end of 2013, customer-facing front-end B2B eCommerce will reach $559 billion.  This figure includes transactions placed online (independent of whether payment is taken online or not), but does exclude EDI-based commerce.

By comparison, US B2C eCommerce will be a $252B market--which would make B2B eCommerce fully twice the size of B2C eCommerce. In addition to sizing the US B2B eCommerce market, “Key Trends in B2B eCommerce for 2013” explores three important trends in B2B eCommerce for the coming year:

  • Ever-Growing Demand For B2C-like B2B eCommerce Experiences. With key B2C sites having set a high standard for what constitutes a compelling online customer experience, B2B eCommerce companies are now actively retooling their existing B2B sites or building whole new sites to deliver B2C-like eCommerce experiences.
  • Increasing Channel Conflict Between Direct Sales Organizations and eCommerce Operations. As the eCommerce option becomes a more viable alternative to a traditional direct sales model, companies are increasingly migrating their offline customers to more cost-effective, self-serve, online-only environments.  In addition, they’re now focusing their sales reps exclusively on acquiring and retaining higher-margin and higher-volume key account customers.
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