The Guts To Grow: What Amazon.com, Trader Joe's, And Westin Hotels Have In Common

Sucharita  Mulpuru

I received a curious email from one of the founders of eBags the other day. In it, he said that by bringing customer service back to the US and away from an offshore vendor, the company actually reduced customer service costs by 34% (yes, reduced!) while still growing sales by double digits in Q4. It reminded me of another article not too long ago from the Wall Street Journal that cited Qantas as having one of the world’s best check-in experiences because the airline invested in RFID tags for passengers, a decision that the article pointed out no other airline has yet copied. These examples stood out to me because these companies managed to pull off a very difficult trick: to make contrarian investments that industry peers would consider hogwash that nonetheless pay off in spades. It’s more likely that such investments would backfire, but when they work, they succeed beautifully. Three cases in point: 

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Why Facebook Is Still A Tough Sell For Retailers

Sucharita  Mulpuru

As the Facebook IPO nears, all eyes are on the valuation the company will command.   The vast majority of that valuation will come from the company’s digital advertising business.  As for commerce, don’t expect much.  About a year ago, I asked the question Will Facebook Ever Drive eCommerce? and the answer hasn’t significantly changed in the time since.  Not only has Facebook seemingly been much more focused on the display ad side of the business all but dismissing retail (they rejected a keynote slot at the annual Shop.org summit last year and rumor has it that they turned down the slot following Bill Clinton at this year’s National Retail Federation big show, the trade show in all of retail), but the numbers that retailers have shared with us are no more encouraging:

  • Stores or fan pages on Facebook have yet to generate any significant revenue for companies as few shoppers visit brand pages or Facebook stores after becoming a fan
  • Few shoppers buy after seeing information posted on Facebook; a holiday study we did with GSI Commerce showed that less than 1% of revenue from retailers was attributable to social networks
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Ways Manufacturers Can Drive Higher Conversion Rates Through The Online Retail Channel

Andy Hoar

In a keyword-driven Web world, brand manufacturers get more than their fair share of Web shopping traffic.  But because most manufacturers maintain a relatively small direct-to-consumer business, they largely rely on online retail partners to convert leads that originate on their websites.  Disintermediated from the final sale, manufacturers often know little about how to optimize the lead referral process that begins on their own websites.

To gain some valuable insight into how manufacturers can help optimize sales conversions downstream, Forrester teamed up with Channel Intelligence, a company that tracks the purchase path of leads from manufacturers’ websites to online retailers’ websites.  Forrester and Channel Intelligence analyzed over 44 million clicks across 150 manufacturer websites spanning two full years of closed-loop sales data (2010-2011).  In our new report, “Top Three Ways Manufacturers Can Drive Higher Conversion Rates Through the Online Retail Channel,” we identify clear best practices from the clickstream analysis.  A sample of key findings:     

  • Be direct and aggressive with “Buy” button language and placement. For example, manufacturers that put the word “buy” first on a purchase button see 53% higher average conversion rates downstream at online retail websites than those that display the word “buy” as the second or third word (e.g. Where To Buy).
  • Be maximally transparent on price.  Manufacturers that display both MSRP and actual retail prices experience a 111% higher conversion rate downstream on online retail websites than those manufacturers that show an MSRP but no actual online retail prices.
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Will 2012 Be The Year Financial eBusiness Teams Fully Embrace Video?

Benjamin Ensor

I love video as a communication media. The combination of sound and moving pictures so much more engaging and more memorable than text.

We wrote in our research last year about how we're starting to see video being used more and more by eBusiness teams as an efficient and effective way to educate customers about products, encourage sales and deliver customer service.

With the Academy Awards coming up, we thought it would be both fun and helpful to highlight some of the best examples we've seen of online video in retail financial services in the past year.  With the help of the rest of team, I've drawn up a list of our favourites in five categories:

Product marketing video
DNB's S for Savings Plan video (Norway).
PayPal’s future of shopping video.

Service marketing video
Commonwealth Bank of Australia's Welcome to NetBank video.
E*Trade's Take Control In 3 Easy Steps video (US).
Mint.com's 90-second overview (US).
Lloyds TSB's money manager video (UK).

Educational (‘how to’) video

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Brands Are Increasingly Selling Direct Online . . . In New Global Markets

Zia Daniell Wigder

Back in 2010, we wrote a report that looked at how and where US online retailers were expanding internationally. Today we published a related report that focuses on brands that have extended their international offerings by launching transactional websites. Establishing A Global Direct Online Sales Footprint looks at the countries where brands are choosing to focus on with their eCommerce offerings, and some of the tactics they’ve used to keep costs in check.

A handful of findings from the report:

Brands rarely enter a market by selling direct on their websites. Most brands enabling eCommerce on their global websites today already sell in these markets through traditional retail channels — the online sales channel simply becomes a new way to reach consumers.

Country selection is not always dictated by market size. Brands expanding their online offerings in Europe, for example, often focus first on the UK, France, and Germany. After the big three, however, the ease and convenience of serving other markets often trumps market size.  

Online sales strategies differ by market. Rare is the brand that has an identical offering in every international market. Most brands that offer eCommerce-enabled sites also provide informational sites in other markets, with little consistency in how the informational sites direct online shoppers to the brands’ retail partners.

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Raining On Ron Johnson's Parade

Sucharita  Mulpuru

Ron Johnson, the new CEO of JCPenney, had a dog-and-pony show in New York this morning to discuss the company’s go-forward strategy. The major change: fewer sales and a move toward an everyday low price (EDLP) program. He also mentioned some store redesigns that would create boutiques to make JCPenney more akin to European department stores. There was also an allusion to services (similar to Genius Bar). While that should help to weed out cherry-picking shoppers and improve JCP’s assortment and experience (which already has significantly improved before Mr. Johnson thanks to partnerships with Mango and Sephora), it is unlikely to reverse JCPenney’s downward revenue slide or to grow the challenged mid-tier department store sector. This is because the biggest problem with JCP is something that is very difficult to fix (the same challenge that Sears has, by the way) which is that it has over 1,000 stores mostly located in bad malls with declining foot traffic. The question I have isn’t so much, can JCP reinvent its stores or the store experience, but how will it drive traffic back to those stores? Only the small fraction of its stores located in prime locations will even have the opportunity to re-engage shoppers; in fact, by our count, only 84 of JCPenney’s 1,100 stores are co-tenants of Ron Johnson’s old employer and the premier retailer today, the Apple Stores. 

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Thinking of launching a daily deal? Just hold that thought and read this first...

Martin Gill

In November 2011 Sucharita Mulpuru published a very well read Forrester research document entitled “The Myths and Truths About Daily Deals”. In this document she led with the line…

“While significant media and investor interest in daily deals has fueled the hype around this business model, data from consumers indicates that daily deals are significantly challenged models.”

The daily deals concept is receiving just as much press coverage in Europe as it is in the US, so with that in mind we have taken a similar look at the state of the market of deals, flash sales and coupons and found that while there is a great deal in common, there are some notable differences.

Much of the differences stem from a combination of the local players and the geographical complexity of operating across Europe.  Many of the big players like Grouponand Living Socialare present in Europe, with significant market presence in many countries, though a range of other national companies like DailyDeal.deand SecretSales.comoperate in only one country. So while at a national level the situation is reasonably easy to understand, eBusiness executives operating in a pan-European company have a maze of different options to navigate through.

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The Co-Operative Bank Comes First In Forrester's 2011 European Bank Customer Advocacy Rankings

Benjamin Ensor

For the second year in succession, the UK's Co-operative Bank has come top in our European Bank Customer Advocacy Rankings, just ahead of Poland's ING Bank Śląski, with Germany's Sparda-Banken in third place.

Customer advocacy is the perception among customers that a firm does what’s right for them, not just what’s best for its own bottom line. Customer advocacy matters because in every country we survey in our Consumer Technographics® research, we’ve found that customers who view their main bank as a customer advocate have more accounts at their main bank, are more likely to consider their bank for their next financial purchase, and are more likely to recommend it to others.

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A Unified Digital Europe. Is It Possible?

Martin Gill

 

Yesterday the European Commission outlined its ambition to create a “genuine Digital Single Market” by 2015. You can read the whole text here if you have some time to kill . . .

 http://ec.europa.eu/news/economy/120111_en.htm

It has the bold aim of “doubling the shares of the internet economy in European GDP and of online sales in European retail by 2015.”

Bold? Not half!

Like many EU documents of this sort, it’s big on ambition but frustratingly light on the “how.” In short, the document outlines 5 key blockers to cross-border growth in the EU, as follows:

·         The supply of legal, cross-border online services is still inadequate.

·         There is not enough information for online service operators or protection for internet users.

·         Payment and delivery systems are still inadequate.

·         There are too many cases of abuse and disputes that are difficult to settle.

·         Insufficient use is made of high-speed communication networks and hi-tech solutions.

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Big Brother? Or Big Mother? Depends If You Get It Right ...

Julie Ask

What am I even talking about? Think about how you use your mobile phone. Do you contact your closest friends? Do you shout and swear at your local telecom provider's IVR because your new home Internet service isn't working as advertised? Do you shop? Bank? Read books? As a result, your phone knows if you are happy or sad. Your phone knows where you live, how fast you drive and where you spend money. Creepy? Maybe if your phone tells you your wife isn't going to like that shirt you are buying. Less creepy if your phone knows you are a Starbucks addict and they are giving away free coffee today. What defines creepy to some extent lies in how much value you perceive in a service. We call this context - what an individual's situation, preference and attitudes are. How you use it will define how creepy it can be.

Your phone will know more and more about you based on some technology that will be in the phone that can sense what you are doing or your feelings, for example. Your phone will also understand your preferences based on how you use the phone. We wrote a lot about this in 2011 - re what is means to you as an eBusiness professional. (See report)

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