Mobile is Changing the Lives of Your Customers

Julie Ask

Think back to mid-nineties. How many of you had cell phones? They were more of a luxury item for most of us. Towards the end of the nineties they became a nice-to-have. Now, if you walk out the door and you don't have your phone, you go back inside and get it.

In the mean time, cell phones have become pervasive in regions around the world where no one thought the economics would make sense. When I visited western Kenya in 1996, I met some Masai warriors - a group of nomads living much as they did 200 years ago. They have herds of cows and goats. They live in huts with no running water or electricity.

When I returned 10 years later in 2006, they were still living in huts without running water or electricity. However, they all had cell phones and were using them to make phone calls, send text messages, etc.

Cell phones are no longer used simply for talking or texting in Africa let alone in the US, Asia and Europe where we have access to high speed wireless networks and affordable data plans. Cell phones are changing the lives of your customers. You need a strategy to engage with them on their cell phones.

How I Got Hooked On Twitter

Cost-conscious international expansion

Zia Daniell Wigder

One of the major themes this year has involved how to tap
international markets without spending a fortune. While spending on
international initiatives continues to grow - some 60% of US online businesses with a global presence plan to increase web spending in 2009 vs. just 42%
of those with only a domestic footprint - there is a renewed focus on how and where this spending is being allocated (see our report on Global Website Spending). Retailers in particular have looked for ways to be innovative
in overseas markets while keeping budgets in check. A few examples of cost-conscious
initiatives that have come up recently in conversations:

 

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Lessons from P&G's Digital Day

Sucharita  Mulpuru

As regular readers of Forrester's blogs already know my colleagues Lisa Bradner, Shar VanBoskirk and I (Sucharita Mulpuru) were part of last week's Digital Hack Night at Procter and Gamble. (If you missed the story can read about the event in detail at Ad Age here ). In four hours digital experts and P&G employees were divided into teams and challenged to sell as many Tide shirts as possible using their social networks and digital skills. Proceeds of the Tide shirts benefit Tide's Loads of Hope charity. The objective of the event was to give a hands-on experience for traditional brand marketers at P&G the impact of social media. While debate about the event has raged online we thought it worthwhile to step back and take a look at the longer term lessons we observed from this event. These lessons aren't P&G specific-they're food for thought for every marketer trying to get smart in social media. So, what did we observe? For starters:

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A CPG Company Not Afraid To Experiment

Sucharita  Mulpuru

So I'm in Cincinnati right now at P&G's self-described "Digital Hack Night" where the goal is twofold: to get their brand managers to understand a bit more about digital marketing strategies and to raise money for their "Loads of Hope" charity which is tied to Tide. For the next 2 hours, nearly 100 people--P&G brand managers, bloggers, Twitterers, authors and agency folks--are trying to use every social network--Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, YouTube--we have at our disposal with the ultimate objective of getting as many Loads of Hope tshirts sold on their eCommerce site as possible. We have a big leaderboard screen, QVC-style, that shows exactly how many unique visits we've received, what our conversion rate is and how many t-shirts we've sold (5,000+, 6% and 1,000+ by the way, respectively, at the moment).  What a great way to get non-believers in the channel to see quickly, in real time, how rapidly an idea can radiate through a network and drive sales.

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How A "Tiny" Company Is Winning Online

What Keeps People Shopping

Sucharita  Mulpuru

Forrester recently released our 2008 Customer Experience Index, a ranking of 114 companies by consumers who responded to an online survey asking how useful, easy to work with and enjoyable the various companies were. Get this, six of the top eight were retailers. The top retailer on the list? Barnes & Noble. So, what does this mean for retailers?

1. A great customer experience is a must-have in brutally-competitive, margin-thin industries that comprise most of the retail landscape.  It is not an option. Not surprisingly, the ten worst performers in the index were TV, wireless and web service providers and health insurance companies--regulated industries that give consumers no choice but to interact with them.

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It's not that bad out there

Sucharita  Mulpuru

Can we please put a moratorium on all the gloomy news?  Duke just released a study of CFOs where the key finding is that we're in for at least another 12 months of stagnation.  Will someone acknowledge that there is a glimmer of hope in, of all places, at least one part of the retail world which according to conventional wisdom, should just be getting pummeled?  I've been maintaining that eCommerce is insulated from the worst of it because there continues to be channel shift because it's just easier to shop online and perhaps most compelling, it's a channel where consumers can easily find the best price for anything they want to buy. I have two sets of datapoints to support this.  The first is the Chase Paymentech Pulse Index which captures actual transactions from 25 of the top web merchants. Through Tuesday, December 9, the last 33 days of online shopping have actually been great. In fact, consumers have, when measured on a YOY calendar basis, spent 15% more this year than last year. This is remarkable given that Thanksgiving fell later in November this year and we've had fewer days to build upon the momentum that Black Friday always creates.

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Retailers Focus on Multiple Holiday Sales Driving Tactics, in Addition to Search

Patti Freeman Evans

According to the 2008 JupiterResearch Executive Survey results, online retailers continue to put search engine marketing spending at the top of their holiday sales driving tactics. Nonetheless, this trend is more subdued when compared to previous years. The JupiterResearch US Paid Search Forecast, 2008 to 2013 notes that paid search will grow 26 percent in 2008 (to $11.4 billion) and continue at a compound annual growth rate of 13 percent, however attention is starting to shift from paid search to more aggressive search engine optimization (SEO) campaigns.

15 percent less online retailers cite increasing their search engine marketing spending for the holiday season among the top three sales-driving tactics. According to the 2008 JupiterResearch Retail Executive Survey, 40 percent of online retailers will increase search marketing spending as a holiday sales-driving tactic this year. Though a high overall total percentage, this is still 15 points less retailers than the previous year. Online retailers already spend 40 percent of their budgets on search, thus the slowing of this spending increase signals a wider focus on other tactics.

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Online Sales and the Economic Environment: Q2 Update

Patti Freeman Evans

News regarding the economic situation continues to be relatively gloomy and has been reflected in the Q2 results that offline retailers have been reporting. For example JC Penny reported Q2 comp store sales declined 4.3% versus last year, Abercrombie and Fitch Q2 comp store sales were also down by 11% versus last year.

Wal-Mart US (+4.6% w/o fuel increase versus Q2 2007, in contrast to a 1.2% increase for Q2 2007 versus Q2 2006) continues to do well on the strength of its overall low price positioning and those product lines that contain necessities rather than discretionary items. This performance shows a continued trend of consumers trading away from mid-market stores down to off-price sellers.

Online sellers like Amazon (US net revenue +35% versus a year ago); Overstock (over 20% growth in gross bookings) and eBay (WW GMV +8%) continue to post healthy increases supporting the notion that online continues to be strong. However, online sellers are beginning to lower expectations for the second half of the year in spite of their success thus far.

In contrast to the strong online performance by some of the top retailers, the census bureau's Q2 ecommerce sales increase is posted at 9.5% versus Q2 2007 - the smallest increase ever and a 22% increase for Q2 2007 versus 2006.

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