Associate Enablement Is The Unsung Hero Of mPOS

Adam Silverman

As far as digital store initiatives go, iron-clad success stories are notoriously hard to come by. Mobile point-of-service (mPOS) is one of the few digital store technologies that has garnered the attention and investment dollars of retail executives—but the return on investment has been nonetheless elusive. Adam Silverman - Forrester - Principal Analyst - mPOSDespite large-scale deployments by a number of leading players (including Nordstrom, Urban Outfitters, and Bloomingdales, among others), key questions such as “will this drive incremental revenue?” and “which use cases deliver the most customer and retailer value?” remain. Our newly published report “The Business Case For mPOS Is Associate Enablement” answers these questions and addresses common opportunities and challenges for eBusiness leaders rolling out an mPOS program. In the report, we find that:

  • Consumers expect digitally-enabled associates to facilitate in-store engagement. Retailers must change their thinking and start to view mPOS as more than just a “mobile cash register.” When shoppers see a store associate armed with a mobile device, they expect to receive contextualized assistance when and where they want it. In addition to ringing up sales in aisle, your associates should be prepared to use their devices to access enterprise inventory, provide product information, and give personalized product recommendations.
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Small Business Insurers: Are Your Digital Sites Open For Business?

Ellen Carney

Small business is booming in the US.  The US Small Business Administration declared this week as “National Small Business Week” to promote the role that small business plays in the US economy.  Why should insurance companies pay close attention to the needs of small business? For starters, small businesses mean:

  • Big economic impact. Small business spells substantial opportunity. These small businesses comprise about 49% of private sector employment, and about 43% of private sector payrolls.[i] And as small business grow, that growth translates into the need for more insurance to cover employees, vehicles, and other liabilities.
  • New revenue streams.  With self-driving vehicles tests planned in 30 cities by 2017, there’s trouble ahead for the industry’s cash cow, private passenger auto insurance.[ii] Small business insurance is one revenue stream that insurers can increase to counterbalance premium declines.
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Six Takeaways From Global eCommerce Events In New York

Zia Daniell Wigder

Last week there were a couple of great events related to global eCommerce here in New York — Borderfree had its annual Global eCommerce Forum and Adyen held a local merchant event. A few themes emerged:

Omnichannel is now a must-have. At both events, omnichannel retail was front and center. Adyen underscored the opportunities inherent in integrating online and offline payments. At the Borderfree event, Stephen Sadove, the former chairman and CEO of Saks, kicked off the event with 10 disruptive trends. He declared that #1 and #10 were most important: #1 was the shift to omnichannel.  Sadove cited the substantial gross margin implications of being able to move inventory between channels; he also emphasized it’s “not a sustainable point of view ” to believe that getting one view of the customer is just too expensive.

The demands of retail leaders have shifted. Other issues that came up regularly with attendees at both events were the changing needs of retail and the challenge of hiring qualified talent (“talent requirements” was the #10 big trend on Sadove’s list above). Today’s business leaders must be able to deal with a laundry list of new topics — e.g.  mobile payments, cross-border eCommerce — many of which wouldn’t have registered on their agenda just a decade ago.

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Millennial Shopping Experience Series: Old School Satisfaction in New School Brooklyn

Patti Freeman Evans

This blog is the first in a series I've devised where I've asked a few millennials (some on my team, some in my family, and others) to look at their shopping experiences across the multichannel field and report back.  Those reports will be featured here, in my blog over the next few months.  

Why am I doing this?  Well as Sucharita Mulpuru writes in her terrific report, The Future of Shopping, 0% 100% repeat-x rgb(255, 255, 255);">Digital natives are now sought-after shoppers with disposable income and retailers are nervous that these consumers are capricious and demanding, with unique expectations for products, customer service, and payments.  Most large firms are looking for data and insights on millenials, even if they are not in their core customer segement.  So here is the first in my series by Luke Evans:

Old School Satisfaction in New School Brooklyn

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Andy Hoar gets bold

Patti Freeman Evans

Andy recently published the first B2B ecom forecast .  He and the forecast team have tackled a complex market and come up with bold numbers-- and the numbers are huge.  Here's a link to his blog.  And here is a link to the doc.

Then, Andy followed it up with a big idea report: Dealth of a (B2B) Salesman.  It's bold work that maps out the future of the ebiz B2B salesman - who survives, who evolves and who doesn't.  Here's a link to his blog.  And here is a link to the doc.

For any eBusiness pro working in B2B these two docs are worth the read.  Even if you don't agree with the conclusion in the Death of a Salesman doc initially, you will see a very strong, well laid out argument that is pretty hard to ignore.  Happy reading!

Digital Executives At Banks: Steal Ideas From Retailers To Win More Customers

Peter Wannemacher

Over the past decade, digital executives and teams at banks have made strides in digital selling by upgrading and improving their public websites — and more recently their mobile apps and sites. But conversion rates on many banks’ websites remain low — in some areas, well below 10% — even as consumers’ expectations for digital experiences rise.

To take their digital selling to the next level, digital marketing and sales teams at banks should look outside the banking industry for fresh thinking. One area to look for inspiration is retail: By adapting digital tactics that best-in-class retailers use, banking digital teams can make adjustments to their websites and mobile apps that boost conversion rates and sales overall. Forrester has just published a new report that outlines “What Banks Can Learn From Retailers' Websites.” Here are just three of the ideas we discuss in the report:

  1. Merchandise around customers’ needs and journeys rather than product silos. Retailers have found success by merchandising entire site sections, and even microsites, around customer journeys and events. Yet our research finds that virtually all banks still use products as the organizing principle on their websites. In 2013, Wal-Mart created a complete "back to college" microsite with digital marketing on key landing pages. As a result of this and other digital merchandising efforts, Wal-Mart increased the number of back-to-school products sold on its website by 30% year-over-year.
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Great Digital Customer Experience Must Be More Than Skin Deep

Ken Calhoon

It’s impossible to have great customer experiencewithout digital transformation in the age of the customer. Most of us think first about the front-end experience when challenged with improving digital customer experience. We naturally gravitate toward the direct human interface: web features and functionality, design, native mobile apps vs mobile web and more. This is the glitz of digital customer experience and there is no relaxing here—your competitors and peers continue to raise the bar.

Look at online retailers for example. Companies like Amazon and Etsy scored high on our Customer Experience Index, and both have done so being customer obsessed--not only in their behaviors but in the digital experience they deliver.

But that’s Amazon and Etsy, both digital-only brands you’d expect are creating great digital customer experiences. How about a company you wouldn’t necessarily expect? Take Grainger, a B2B seller of construction and maintenance products, that is driving significant company growth through digital success.In 2014, ecommerce made up 36% of the its revenue and accounted for nearly all of its sales growth.Over the past couple of years, it has invested in the front- and back-end: it launched a new website and mobile app while expanding its products online over 1.2 million and constructing a one-million square foot distribution center in Illinois. Grainger’s revenue and profit growth are the direct result of new, preferable digitally-based customer experiences rooted in operational excellence.

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What Threat Do P2P Currency Exchange Startups Pose To Retail Banks?

Oliwia Berdak

This is a guest post by Alexander Causey.

Have you ever sent money abroad and been shocked by the amount the recipient is left with? Why can’t you ever get anything close to the exchange rates advertised on the likes of

As a customer, transferring money internationally is often a costly experience. Despite claims of no fees, the exchange rate spreads are often significant. That’s where P2P currency exchange comes in.

Startups such as CurrencyFair, Kantox, Midpoint and TransferWise hope to solve this problem by using the power of peer-to-peer networks to match customers, both individuals and small business, with one another to significantly reduce the cost of currency exchange.

By matching currency orders travelling in opposite directions, these platforms remove the need for money ever having to cross borders, thus avoiding costly international transfer fees. Thanks to low overheads, they also offer exchange rates at (or very close to) the midmarket rate that you see on As you can see from Midpoint’s calculator below, the savings can be substantial.

If you’re interested in finding out more about this emerging sector - one that has been backed by the likes of Peter Thiel, Richard Branson, and Andreessen Horowitz - you can read mine and Oliwia’s new report here. The report, the latest in our ongoing series about digital disruption in retail financial services, answers the following questions:

1.             What is P2P currency exchange?

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Death of a (B2B) Salesman

Andy Hoar

Forrester forecasts that 1 million US B2B salespeople will lose their jobs to self-service eCommerce by the year 2020. B2B buyers now favor do-it-yourself online options for researching and buying products and services, and they are demanding that B2B sellers fully enable those digital paths to purchase.

Yet too many of today’s B2B companies still insist that B2B buyers interact with sales reps in order to complete a purchase. For a minority of customers who are buying complex and expensive products and services, talking to a sales rep can be a value-added experience.  But for the majority of B2B buyers who are self-educating online about products and services, or who already know what they want, the diversion is inconvenient and unwelcome.

B2B companies that want to stay ahead of the curve must reshape their channel sales strategies and fundamentally rethink the role of their salespeople by:

  • Expanding the role of self-service eCommerce.  The evidence is clear.  Nearly 75% of B2B buyers now say that buying from a website is more convenient than buying from a sales representative.  Further, 93% say that they prefer buying online rather than from a salesperson when they’ve decided what to buy.  B2B companies that wait too long to create self-serve eCommerce websites risk losing share to pure plays and omnichannel competitors. 
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Endless Aisle Capabilities Drive Incremental Demand For Retailers

Adam Silverman

Omnichannel initiatives have dominated eBusiness priority lists for a few years now, and leading retailers have been doubling down their investments in omnichannel fulfillment technology. Most of the focus, however, has gone toward store fulfillment of online orders and click-and-collect functionality. Why did these capabilities rise to the top? Because of their clear financial impact on the business, as well as minimal impact on store and associate processes.

But considering that roughly nine out of ten retail sales still take place offline, a much larger opportunity exists when retailers leverage inventory while the customer is shopping within a store. By offering the ability to fulfill out-of-stock items from any location within the enterprise, endless aisle tools offer a scalable tactic for retailers to drive incremental revenue. Today's endless aisle programs allow retailers to:

  • Meet customer expectations. Consumers expect the conveniences of eCommerce—including virtually unlimited inventory and assortment—regardless of whether they’re shopping online or in the physical store. Forrester data shows that in the event that an item is out of stock, over half of US online adults would opt to have a store associate order the item for them if they could get it shipped for free. Offering endless aisle capabilities means never having to say you’re sorry to customers looking to buy your products. 
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