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 xe.com?

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 xe.com. 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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US B2B eCommerce To Reach $1.1 Trillion By 2020

Andy Hoar

I’m pleased to announce the release of Forrester’s US B2B eCommerce Forecast: 2015 to 2020.  In this first-of-its-kind report, Forrester forecasts that US B2B eCommerce will grow from $780 billion in 2015 to $1.13 trillion in 2020 – at which time it will constitute 12.1% of the total $9.39 trillion US B2B commerce market.

What's behind our 2020 $1.13 trillion US B2B eCommerce forecast?

  • Changes to B2B buyer preferences. Today, 74% of B2B buyers research at least one-half of their work purchases online. In addition, 30% of today's B2B buyers complete at least half of their work purchases online. With that percentage nearly doubling to 56% by 2017, B2B sellers will see a significant volume of offline business move online in the next few years.
  • The opportunity for B2B firms to reduce the cost to serve customers. B2B companies report cutting their cost to serve dramatically by migrating customers online.  In addition, in a 2013 Forrester survey, 56% of B2B eCommerce executives said that they have certain customers that they can only profitably support online.
  • The value of building loyal multichannel B2B customers. Omnichannel customers spend more than single-channel, offline-only customers. For example, 60% of B2B companies report that their B2B buyers spend more overall when those customers interact with multiple channels. Omnichannel B2B customers are also more likely to become repeat and long-term customers.
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Why Do Digital Business Transformations Fail?

Martin Gill

Digital transformation is undeniably complex and often misunderstood. To look at why things go wrong for some firms, lets take a quick look at three high-profile examples of transformation - two failures and one new initiative. These highlight some common mistakes that senior executives make:

 

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Disrupt Or Be Disrupted: The Challenge For Insurers In 2015

Ellen Carney

American and Canadian insurers are facing some big challenges in 2015. Customer experience expectations, their willingness to consider a growing array of new options to buy insurance, and new competitors creeping into the business of insurance are pushing traditional insurers into new digital strategies.  It’s no longer a question of digital channels or “other” when it comes to the customer journey; they’re now intertwined. Digital-dependent customers are eyeing new and more digitally savvy market entrants, while demanding more control over the experience and how their personal information is used. This year, digital insurance teams are crafting agendas that satisfy their firm’s hunger for increase market share and revenue balanced with changing demographics, adaptations in response to extreme weather, and regulation that has lagged the changing realities of digital. One thing’s for sure: Insurance eBusiness teams can’t afford to wait around, but they also can’t afford to make the wrong digital decisions. 

Just what are the factors propelling North American insurer agendas this year? For starters, it’s about:

  • Uneven economic growth in North America. The 2008 financial crisis? It’s a distant memory in much of the US, but not for all. By most measures, the US economy is thriving, driven by rising consumer demand for homes, cars, and consumer goods, and, by extension, insurance.  And in oil-producing Canada the decline in gasoline prices isn’t good news: Canada is threatened with recession.
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Insurers, It’s Time To Emerge From Your Long Winter Sleep

Oliwia Berdak

Spring is finally here, and with that, a time for wild animals to emerge from their winter sleep. We humans don’t really hibernate, but we can find it difficult to get out of bed to face a rather frosty environment. This applies to companies, too.

I wrote last year that European insurers were waking up to the threat of digital disruption. I should have qualified this sentence: Some European insurers are waking up to it. And even fewer are getting out of bed and doing something about it. In 2015, the gulf between digital insurance innovators and other firms is expanding.

As we researched our new report about trends in European digital insurance, it became clear that no one is really disputing the value of direct insurance. European insurers have suffered seven lean years, as premiums in property, casualty, and life insurance largely stagnated. Direct sales have often been an area that continued to deliver growth. Because of this, we expect most European insurers to step up their investments and efforts in this area.

But here is the key point: Digital technologies are much more than just a channel. They can drive a business transformation to deliver new customer value and greater operational agility. Digital technologies can help insurers in particular build more persistent bridges to their customers’ lives to address the industry’s low customer engagement and creeping commoditization.

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Why Would Alibaba Invest In Snapchat?

Julie Ask

The move shouldn't surprise anyone.  Remember Rakuten and Viber? Retailers need to expand their reach to acquire more customers. The more contextual the better. The investment is small relative to Snapchat's valuation and Alibaba's worth. I would view it more as an option to make a future, larger play than a clear indication of a new strategy. 

Two things matter the most in mobile:

1) Audience. Snapchat offers a new audience to Alibaba - one in the US and one that is described as being younger. Consumers spend more time in communication and social media apps than in retailing apps - in aggregate. Accessing consumers - marketing to consumers, letting consumers engage with brands or letting them make purchases where they already spend their time is an important strategy for brands looking to engage consumers on mobile devices - we call this "borrowing mobile moments." Alibaba's recent moves including products, acquisitions and investments clearly signal that they intend to make a strong play in mobile. They acquired a mobile OS player a few weeks back. An investment in Snapchat is another strategic asset. 

2) Data. Insights generated from mobile, social, sensor- etc. data will fuel the next generation of mobile experiences. This data will also give retailers insights into the needs and motivations of their consumers - especially in real time, on the go, what is trending. Consumers love flash sales, for example. 

Neither the valuations nor the velocity of deals should surprise anyone. Mobile phones are more akin to islands with limited (valuable) real estate than ever-expanding universes. Smart players like Google, Facebook, Amazon, Apple and Alibaba know this. Expect the trend to continue.