Looking Forward To Forrester's Marketing & Strategy Forum In London Next Month

Benjamin Ensor

Many of my colleagues in the eBusiness & Channel Strategy team at Forrester have been working extremely hard for the past few weeks, preparing for next week's Consumer Forum, which is taking place at the Hilton in Chicago on October 28th and 29th. Among my colleagues who are presenting their latest research are Brian Walker, Diane Clarkson and Zia Daniell Wigder, while Carrie Johnson is hosting the entire event. I'm sure it will be two days well spent.

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Thinking outside the American and European box

Zia Daniell Wigder

One trend over the past year has been a growing interest in markets outside of North America and Europe. We're getting an increasing number of inquiries about markets in Asia-Pacific, Latin America and the Middle East - companies are anxious to map out their strategies for major eCommerce markets like Japan and China, as well as others such as Brazil and Russia. Retailers with an offline presence in affluent markets like the Gulf States are considering supplementing their traditional retail channels with an online one.

If you're looking to expand into any of these areas of the world, I wrote up some observations which were just published in Internet Retailer yesterday. Have a look if you're interested in emerging trends among online buyers in China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, Brazil and the UAE. 

500MM Users...So Why Can't They Show You The $$??

Sucharita  Mulpuru

I was so glad to read Malcolm Gladwell’s piece in the New Yorker, because as a Facebook bear, I often feel alone in the wilderness.  Finally, I thought, a widely respected contrarian on the topic of social networks!  He says the “revolution won’t happen on Twitter.”  And I say “no one's revenue will come from Facebook.” 

While there is no shortage of bragging about how many people in the world are on Facebook, sadly none of them have generated any significant revenue for other companies. That may very well be The Social Network's bane.  I spend much of my day talking with, surveying and interviewing retailers and the general consensus I hear about social networks is that they just don’t drive revenue.  Nearly 60% of retailers agree that the returns on social marketing efforts are unclear.  Retailers tell us Facebook fans don’t buy after becoming fans, they don’t click on the posts that retailers make, and no one visits or buys from the Facebook stores (unless that’s the only place where your merchandise is available).  I contrast social networks with search, which even 10 years ago was regarded as one of the most effective marketing tactics out there even when few retailers were using it.  The State of Retailing Online Report from way back in 2001 had 88% of retailers saying paid search was effective.  To this day, search continues to retain that honor.  Social networks?  Not so much.  Only 7% of retailers say it’s an effective customer acquisition source.

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The Lone Cry for Growth In Insurance?

Ellen Carney

Yee Hah! The worst recession since the Great Depression was declared officially over in June of 2009. We should be feeling great, since all things considered, the insurance industry fared pretty well when it came to how it emerged from that dark tunnel. But except for one notable role voice, insurers, unlike their banking peers, are still holding back from growing the business. How do we know? We took a look at nearly 5,000 inquiries that Forrester answered for insurers, bankers, and securities firms in the wake of failure of Lehman Brothers to just after this May’s Flash Crash.

What was on the minds of insurers during these six quarters? For starters, insurers:

  • Asked more questions than their financial services peers. Of the three segments we looked at, insurers asked half of the inquiries we fielded—2,500 versus nearly 1,600 and 600 for banks and securities firms, respectively.
  • Framed more than half of those questions around risk. Insurers didn’t veer away from what got them through the recession intact (indeed, from the very nature of their business)—managing risk. Even questions about application development strategies were framed as a risk question, with most insurers seeking validation that they were following in the well-worn grooves of others in insurance (and other industries) before them.
  • Posed too few questions about growing the business. Unlike their banking and securities siblings who asked questions about growing the business through new product launches, up-selling and cross-selling, or luring new customers away from competitors, insurers, with one big role-based exception, did notreflect that Q2 2009 economic inflection point.
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Groupon: Scourge Or Phenom? Our Vote: Phenom. Here’s Why…

Sucharita  Mulpuru

A Rice University faculty member just published a study on how effective merchants find Groupon. To Groupon critics, it was honey because a whooping 40% of participants wouldn’t repeat the experience.

But here’s the catch and why I’m still a huge proponent of the “group buying” model that encompasses Living Social, Buy With Me, Tippr and now the Yellow Pages and local radio stations and newspapers too: most of that 40% thought the Groupon customers were cheap and tipped badly. 

If that’s the worst of the problems, this model may actually be worth much more than the billion-dollar valuations already placed on the space.  Here’s why.  First, businesses like restaurants can prepopulate the “tip” field.  I went to a restaurant in Charlotte called Zebra which has done multiple group buying offers and they include a 15% gratuity in the bill.  Any business not already doing that could and should be.  Second, and more powerful, is that the group sites could capture information on who is a good and bad customer from the merchant.  Every redemption has a unique code associated with it (see image). None of the group buying sites are doing that now and merchants, at least according to the few that I’ve interviews, are keeping track of redemptions in rudimentary excel spreadsheets. The first company to provide a merchant tool that allows the flagging of particularly good and egregiously bad customers will be the winner in this space. By eliminating the “bad” customers from the offer, a merchant is much more likely to experience profitability or service issues that strain these small businesses. 

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Join Forrester’s New Online Community For eBusiness And Channel Strategy Professionals

Carrie Johnson

The eBusiness team at Forrester is excited to announce that we have launched The Forrester Community For eBusiness & Channel Strategy Professionals focused on the key business challenges that eBusiness professionals face every day. The community is a place for eBusiness professionals to exchange ideas, opinions, and real-world solutions with each other. Forrester analysts will also be part of the community, helping facilitate the discussions and sharing their views.

The community is open to all eBusiness professionals, whether you’re a Forrester client or not.

Here’s what you’ll find:

  • A simple platform on which you can pose your questions and get advice from peers who face the same business challenges.
  • Insight from our analysts, who weigh in frequently on the issues. 
  • Fresh perspective from peers, who share their real-world success stories and best practices.
  • Content on the latest technologies and trends affecting your business — from Forrester and other thought leaders.
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New “State Of Retailing Online” Doc To Be Released On Shop.org Next Week

Sucharita  Mulpuru

The findings from part two of Forrester’s annual survey conducted in conjunction with Shop.org will be available on the Shop.org site next week.  This installment of the "State Of Retailing Online" series will delve into the world of key metrics as well as multichannel and global strategies.

 Some highlights include:

  • Identifying improvements in performance and customer retention
  • Developing strategies for successful global expansion
  • Avoiding the pitfalls that many multichannel organizations face

 We look forward to sharing the full version on Forrester.com near the end of October.

Where Are You On The Social Spectrum?

Carrie Johnson

Social shopping -- and service -- has become a reality: The percent of US online consumers opting out of social media -- Inactives -- has fallen dramatically, from 52% in 2006 to just 17% in 2009 while all of the categories of social media usage have increased. In response, eBusiness executives are doing the best they can -- as fast as they can -- to experiment with social media and create solid strategies.

The challenge? Most social initiatives originate in interactive marketing departments with marketing goals like awareness and branding, while eBusiness executives must tie their efforts to increased sales and decreased service costs.

Social then tends to raise more questions than it answers: Who owns social? What is the role of eBusiness in setting the social strategy? How do we create a strategy that helps our online sales while coordinating with other departments? Our new report The Building Blocks For Social Success in eBusiness explores how some firms are dipping their toes in the water -- we call them “experimenting” eBusiness groups -- and how others are in the “directing and governing” phases with social -- owning not just the templates and process for social, but the execution as well, for their entire companies.

Where are you on the social spectrum? Does your company host a Facebook fan page? Do you offer customer ratings and reviews? Are your social efforts focused on increasing sales or increasing brand awareness?  Is social integrated into your online sales experiences? I told you social raises more questions than answers! I’d love to hear your thoughts on the role that social can play in driving online sales.

The Continuing Globalization Of Online Retail

Zia Daniell Wigder

The past couple of months have seen a number of new initiatives and shifts on the global online retail front: Zara went live with a series of eCommerce sites (in five languages in Spain alone) while Gap started selling to an international online audience. At the same time, eBay conceded the market in China and looked to partner with market leader Alibaba. More companies have started coming to us asking about eCommerce in less traditional markets, with markets like Russia and Saudi Arabia being brought up with increasing frequency in our calls with clients.

We’ve recently published some research that helps companies sort through different international online markets: our Global Online Population Forecast looks at how the online population is shifting around the globe while A Snapshot Of Emerging Mobile Commerce In China puts the growth of mCommerce in China in perspective with its regional neighbors. Establishing A Global Online Retail Footprint looks at where US online retailers have expanded internationally and what factors they should consider as they decide which new markets to target. A few takeaways from recent research:

  • The BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) will add more than 300 million new Internet users over the next five years; one-third of all Internet users will live in these countries by 2014.
  • North America’s share of the global online population will decline from 16% to just 13% by 2014. By contrast, Asia’s will increase to 44% of the total.
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Calling All Multichannel Retailers! We Want To Hear From You!

Patti Freeman Evans

Forrester just kicked-off our 2010 Retail Executive Survey, and we want your input. We partnered with Pricegrabber, PayPal, Commission Junction, and StoreFrontBackTalk to create a survey which looks at multichannel retailers' organizations and topics relevant to the challenges currently facing their roles including:

  • eBusiness technology decisions
  • Globalization
  • Social media and mobile trends
  • Online customer service
  • Customer loyalty programs
  • And more!

The survey takes just about 15 minutes to complete and all of the data will be used anonymously and in aggregate. As a thank you for completing this survey and once it is closed, you will be able to access the data to help benchmark against your peers.

The results from the survey will serve Forrester's eBusiness and retail research agenda; we look forward to gaining insight from your responses.

Click here to take the survey!