Announcing Forrester’s Inaugural Wave Evaluation of Subscription Billing Platforms

Lily Varon

Few industries are immune from the digitization of experiences, content, services, and products. In this era of cloud computing, IOT and mobile devices, firms are increasingly testing new product offerings that combine elements of content, software, services, and hardware together. Like the evolution of the products themselves, the rulebook on monetizing them is also evolving: firms are replacing the simple one-time sales models of yore with subscription and consumption-based business models that better sustain a continuous relationship with their customers. But unfortunately, in most cases, firms’ existing technology ecosystem doesn’t support the complex requirements of supporting a subscription business model- from customer lifecycle management to finance management.  Enter: subscription billing platforms.

Forrester has identified the eight leading vendors in the space and spent the last four months putting them through a grueling process of due diligence, product demos, capability assessments and customer reference checks. Here’s what we found.

■  Aria Systems, SAP hybris billing, and Zuora lead the pack. These three vendors represent thought leadership and the associated market innovation. All three commonly go head-to-head in opportunities at both midmarket and enterprise firms and in both B2C and B2B monetization scenarios. Each of the three has developed core industry vertical expertise in sectors such as IOT, healthcare, and telco and has established mature partnerships with global management consultancy and system integration firms.

Read more

Predictions 2016: The Digital Store Engagement Surprise

Adam Silverman

We’ve all been told time again that the in-store shopping experience is undergoing seismic change. Technologies such as beacons, omnichannel fulfillment and in-store analytics have promised to change the definition of how a retail store engages with customers. And although iron-clad digital store success stories are few and far between, stores will continue to chase the digital store dream despite not knowing the precise endgame. A handful of market leaders are implementing digital store initiatives that will act as lighthouses to the rest of the industry, showing a glimpse of what's possible with the right strategy.

In 2016, Forrester believes that:

Digital operational improvements will emerge as the golden child of store digitization. Trying to engage shoppers with shiny new technologies makes for some pretty flashy headlines, but does little to boost the retailer’s bottom line. On the other hand, store operations-focused technologies have shown early, but real, results. Tools such as in-store analytics and associate task management are ushering in a new era of store efficiency, using real-time insights to help associates understand what needs to get done and when.  The smartest retailers will start combining data from sources like online behavior, in-store analytics, supply chain, and labor planning to make operational decisions in real time. 

Read more

In 2016, Financial Services Executives Will Bet Big On APIs

Peter Wannemacher

We’ve just published our Predictions 2016 report, outlining eight shifts that banks and their partners can expect by December 31 of next year. I encourage you to read the full report with all of our predictions here.

As a preview of the report, here are two of our predictions for 2016:

  • APIs and open platforms will take center stage. APIs are becoming the most powerful technology in digital business design. Done right, APIs open new angles for business strategy. Financial services providers have been relatively slow to recognize and act on APIs as an opportunity to transform their businesses and, ultimately, better win, serve, and retain customers.* This will change in 2016, as digital executives collaborate with CIOs to champion big investments in internal, B2B, and product APIs. APIs won’t only help firms increase agility and provide services to clients and partners: They will enable financial firms to build dynamic ecosystems of value, reconnecting a fragmented value chain. They will be part of a wider, and longer-term, shift to open platforms as the foundation of digital financial services strategy.
Read more

The Race To Digital Mastery Is On In 2016

Martin Gill

When it comes to digital, we are at a pivot point. Digitizing your business isn’t about technology: it’s about customer obsession - and in 2016, it will be among your ten critical business success factors helping position your firm for success in the Age of the Customer. In fact, next year will be a year of consequence: those firms that “get digital” will begin to pull ahead, and those firms that don’t will begin to look increasingly archaic, facing the risk of extinction.

The preliminary results from our recent digital business survey are telling. An increasing number of firms are reporting that they have a coherent and comprehensive digital strategy. While this is good news, these firms are still the minority. The vast majority of firms report that their approach to digital is limited at best, and non-existent at worst. But the consistently bleak picture is that most executives think the wrong people are in charge of their digital activities and few (very few) think they have the capabilities to deliver.

But there are some shining lights.

Leading firms like John Deere are pathing the path to digital mastery, demonstrating revenue and share price growth that outpaces less digitally savvy competitors. Executive committees are taking note. Innovation spend is on the rise, digital skills are in hot demand, and a new breed of digitally savvy senior leaders is finally emerging.

Read more

2016 Predictions: Key Trends Will Transform Mobile Engagement

Julie Ask

2016 will be the most consequential year for companies on the path to customer obsession, and that includes adapting to empowered customers who expect to get anything they want immediately, in context on their mobile devices.  Today that represents nearly 50% of consumers in the U.S. alone. The consumers pick up their mobile devices 150 to 200 times a day. In aggregate, that adds up to nearly 30 billion mobile moments each day. These mobile moments are the next battleground where companies will win, serve and retain their customers. Tragically, few companies will make the leap. Those that do will reap the rewards.

 

What role does mobile play in customer obsession, and how can businesses leapfrog their competition to deliver superior customer experiences? Here are three ways Forrester predicts mobile will change the ways business leaders operate in 2016.

 

1. Mobile will act as a catalyst to transform businesses in the Age of the Customer.

Read more

Introducing Forrester's Digital Store Playbook

Adam Silverman

At Forrester's Digital Business Forum in Chicago today, we announced the launch of our brand new Digital Store Playbook. This playbook provides a structured framework to guide eBusiness professionals through digital store transformation – from creating a digital transformation vision to developing a digital store business case. 

As part of a much broader and highly digitally-influenced customer shopping journey, brick and mortar shopping is increasingly becoming a digitally enhanced experience. Retail stores that use digital technology to drive convenience, service and relevant personalized experiences for customers will succeed, while those who fail to make smart investments in technology that enhances the in-store experience risk losing market share to more customer-centric competitors. As such, it is imperative that retail eBusiness executives have the appropriate tools, knowledge, and cross-role alignment to operate a digital store platform that not only unlocks new sources of value for customers but also increases operational agility in service of customers. We crafted this playbook to address key elements of digital store success. The Digital Store Playbook will help you:

  • Discover the far-reaching impact of store digitization. Forrester’s Digital Store Playbook introduces the value of using digital technology to enhance the in-store experience for customers and associates alike. Along with outlining the benefits, we discuss the costs associated with digital store transformation.
Read more

Digital Business Q&A with Liza Landsman, Jet.com

Martin Gill

Deliver exceptional digital experiences. It sounds easy enough, but to win in the age of the customer, businesses must realize that there is much at stake if they do not focus efforts on providing customers with a solid customer experience. Forrester even argues that, in the coming years, it’s the customer obsessed digital leaders who will push far ahead of their competition. But how can they get there?

To help digital leaders exceed the expectations of their empowered customers, Forrester has designed this week’s Digital Business Forum around how to build a strategy that works — now and in the future. Liza Landsman, executive vice president and chief customer officer of Jet.com will be on stage alongside Forrester analysts Stephen Powers, Adam Silverman and Alyson Clarke to share her experience in digital business transformation.

At Jet.com, Liza is responsible for producing a compelling end-to-end customer experience with the tools and technologies that drive growth. I’m happy to share the below Q&A session with Liza — I caught up with her in advance of her keynote, and she was kind enough to chat about digital strategy and customer behaviors, and the ways that Jet.com handles its competition.

Enjoy, and I hope to see you in Chicago today!

Read more

Verifone Puts New Stake in The Ground With Developer Platform

Brendan Miller
 
Yesterday Verifone announced a next generation family of payment devices, called Verifone Engage.  Verifone promises to wrap more value around the merchant-consumer interaction at the point-of-purchase with new personalized marketing features, pay-with-points and rewards.  In addition, they introduced an expanded Verifone Commerce Platform giving developers the tools to publish POS apps to a new App Marketplace for merchants.  They Linux based devices will provide an accessible and well-known framework for developers to innovate upon.  Software based solutions are transforming the industry and Verifone risked getting commoditized as a hardware vendor if it didn’t act by building a platform and marketplace for developers.   
 
What does this mean for the rest of the Payments Industry? Two stakeholders in particular will be impacted.  
 
POS Developers (ISVs) – Engage is a good development for the POS developer community and merchants.  The whole mission of a POS is to improve the customer experience at the point of purchase and streamline back-office processes for the merchant.  ISVs could integrate with Engage hardware and offer merchants more services through the Verifone App Marketplace, publish apps of their own, and potentially earn new residual revenue sources from merchants paying to use those applications.
 
Read more

Can Content Really Drive Commerce?

Sucharita  Mulpuru

In a recent Forrester-Shop.org study, we found that 70% of online retailers are investing in “content” in the coming year. What sort of content you may ask. Usually when they say “content” retailers mean videos, blog posts and magazine-like content that is best for consumers at the top of the shopping funnel. This type of content though is notoriously difficult to monetize though.  A number of companies like Babycenter in the late 1990s were the first wave of content-driving-commerce digital players to try this.  They quickly realized it was not only difficult to do but that top-of-the-funnel content was easier monetized through advertising.

But we’re in a different era now and that’s kicked up the possibility of new success from content.  We now have ubiquitous mobile devices with web connectivity, social networks like Pinterest and Instagram that thrive on content, and the disruption of the entire content industry (RIP, Lucky Magazine which was one of the hottest media properties in 1999).

But are things really that different now?  For all its attempts to drive commerce, even fashion darling Refinery29 could never make shopping happen.  One of the more recent torchbearers of content-commerce synergies, Thrillist-JackThreads, decided the businesses are better split apart than together.  

Read more

Netflix Claims Earnings Are Down As Many Subscribers Cards on File Do Not Get Updated

Brendan Miller

On Thursday Netflix blamed card processing issues for disappointing subscriber growth. Netflix said the move by U.S. banks to replace hundreds of millions of credit and debit cards with new EMV chip-enabled cards this year has led to involuntary service cancellations as subscibers cards did not automatically renew when the new cards were issued.   It is estimated that 575 million new EMV chip cards are being issued to consumers in 2015*. Many of these new cards require updated account information to be collected by subscription or recurring businesses servicing the affected cardholders.  Although the cardholder’s account number may not change with the new card, the CVV and expiration date of the card most likely will change.

Do subscription type businesses that use Card-On-File need to be concerned they will also see increased declines?

Recurring and subscription billing merchants should be using Account Updater Services (as Netflix does) for updating new payment credentials. Over the past decade, the major card brands have introduced Account Updater services that allow merchants, via their processors, to submit card data on file to the networks for updating and correcting stale information. By utilizing these services merchants retain more customers and their customers enjoy uninterrupted service. Many payment platforms are now supporting this feature as a managed service to reduce the burden on the merchant of transmitting Card on file information to the processor.

Read more