Finding Technology Partners To Take Your eCommerce Brand Global

Zia Daniell Wigder

Back in July, I wrote about our upcoming report on tools and technology for eCommerce globalization. We’ve just posted the report (clients can view it here) – in it, we dive into the types of eCommerce solutions that brands are turning to as they expand globally and highlight some of the vendors that excel in these areas.

Overall, brands expanding internationally are looking for their technology partners to help them:

Launch international offerings quickly and efficiently. It’s common for companies to ponder global online expansion for years, then decide to build and launch new offerings in a matter of a few months. It’s generally up to the eBusiness leader to manage these rollouts, often with a limited budget. eBusiness leaders who know that global expansion is on the horizon must plan ahead and select technology partners that can help them meet these (often highly ambitious) goals.

Reach consumers through more than just the website. Global eCommerce expansion used to mean launching a series of new websites in different countries, perhaps with a mobile offering following several months or even years after the initial rollout. Today, however, eBusiness leaders need to plan for nearly simultaneous offerings across a variety of devices and touchpoints. eBusiness leaders are also increasingly relying on their technology partners to assist with additional channels such as marketplaces.

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Highlights and Thoughts From Finovate Fall 2013

Peter Wannemacher

[note: this was written live last week while I was attending Finovate]

Greetings from the Big Apple! I’m here attending the fancy schmancy Finovate Fall 2013 conference featuring tech solutions and innovations from – and for – the financial services industry. Here are some of the offerings and presentations that stood out for me, in the order they were presented at Finovate:

  • Kofax offers process automation software for lenders, but the big takeaway for me was their recent expansion of mobile, cross-channel, and multichannel analytics for financial providers. Focused on how customers shop for a loan, the dashboard and data are digestible and actionable. The jury’s still out, but strong analytics and easy-to-use tools can help banks improve sales in their lending lines of business.  
  • MoneyDesktop offers digital money management tools – also known as personal financial management or PFM – and their demo at Finovate continued to show their strengths: Nifty tools, clean design, and intuitive UI and UX. The question mark for banks, however, continues to be how well integrated – or better yet, embedded – the experience can/will be for end users.
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Why Mobile Myopia Threatens Your Business

Julie Ask

In August 2013, Uber – a service that connects passengers in need of a ride to drivers with a few taps within their mobile phone app – was valued at $3.4B despite only $125M in projected revenue for 2013. They have raised $360M. Why is their valuation so high? Because they have transformed a customer experience through mobile and disrupted an industry ecosystem. Companies in Silicon Valley talk about “uber-izing” their customer experience. Uber has become an English verb.

Uber isn’t simply a mobile app. Their goal wasn’t to do something in mobile. Uber is a business that harnesses mobile technology and phones to deliver a phenomenal service. They used mobile to achieve a much bigger goal.

eBusiness and marketing professionals need to shift their thinking as well. Too many focus on mobile as a goal unto itself. They treat mobile as a project rather than an enabler of new services or, more broadly, new engagement models with customers.

Business professionals fund mobile as a project rather than as a product or core element of their infrastructure required to compete today and in the future. Sadly, among eBusiness professionals surveyed by Forrester, 56% spend $1M or less annually on mobile – barely enough for a mobile website and an entry-level mobile app.

The shift in thinking required begins with understanding the full impact that mobile can have on your business. mCommerce, for example, is not the big opportunity for most retailers. The big opportunity lies in influencing brick-and-mortar commerce by driving customers into your stores and getting them to buy more stuff.

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Join Us At The eBusiness Forum In Chicago, November 5th and 6th, 2013!

Carrie Johnson

To the delight of many tired parents, it's back to school season. It's also the perfect time to plan out your fall calendar, and we're hoping that you will join us in Chicago in November for our eBusiness Forum

The theme of our event is "Leading The Digital Business Revolution." We chose this theme because our clients tell us that they're looking to take their digital sales and selling strategies to the next level. As titles like Chief Digital Officer (CDO) emerge, eBusiness professionals and their other digital counterparts are eager to determine the right digital strategy for their firms and, more importantly, determine how to infuse digital skills throughout their organizations. They know that to engage with customers and thwart the competition, they must become powerhouses at digital business.

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The Art of Awesome Curation: Lessons from Gilt and Houzz

Sucharita  Mulpuru

One of the most common questions I get is “Who does personalization really well?” And at its heart, great personalization is about effectively deciding which products (or offers) from a deep product catalog to showcase when and to whom. Ever since Gilt Groupe founder Alexis Maybank spoke at one of Forrester’s eBusiness Forums and talked about the scores of email iterations her company executes with every email drop, Gilt is usually at the top of my list of answers. It’s particularly impressive because anyone in luxury knows that scaling digital content and creating personalized experiences is incredibly difficult because of luxury’s especially cumbersome creative processes.

Well, now they’re taking it even further, going beyond the company’s implicit personalization (subtly varying content and layout on the Gilt homepage or emails, largely unbeknownst to shoppers) to the company’s first ever explicit personalization efforts. CIO Steve Jacobs walked me through the new feature last week: a new box titled “Your Personal Sale” (for most users that Gilt has data about), which links to a special page of curated items that varies for every customer. Gilt Personal Sale Screenshot

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How PayPal Can Succeed Where Google Wallet Failed

Denée Carrington

Today, PayPal launched a redesign of its mobile digital wallet in the US, Australia, Canada, China, Hong Kong, Japan and the UK[i]. Although the digital wallet marketplace welcomes new or evolving competitors regularly, others - like Google Wallet- have gone back to the drawing board. To date, no third-party wallet provider has yet to achieve “broad-scale adoption” with both consumers and merchants, or, said differently, “success” with proximity or in-person mobile payments.[ii] Although most consumers around the globe have used PayPal’s online digital wallet, and some may have heard of or perhaps even used its mobile digital wallet for in-person payments, adoption is still a long way from mainstream. Google Wallet helped to drive awareness of mobile digital wallets — a useful byproduct for all competitors — yet it failed to deliver consumer adoption or merchant acceptance. With the latest wallet update, PayPal is poised to accelerate adoption by embedding value-added services designed to give consumers a reason to use the PayPal wallet across multiple categories and give merchants a reason to consider adding yet another payment method.

Some of its value-added services include:

  • In-store and Online Offers. Offers have been the foundation for other wallets in the past; they are considered a baseline feature in the marketplace and are highly valued by consumers.
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Twitter Commerce: A Wow Or An Eh?

Sucharita  Mulpuru

Get ready for the barrage of bad speculation about Twitter and its imminent dominance of online retail. If you didn’t hear already, Twitter hired Nathan Hubbard, a former Ticketmaster exec, to figure out its commerce revenue stream. Interesting yes, but game-changing, no. Here’s why: startups tend to look for smart people first and figure out their jobs later. The mentality often goes like this: “We need to figure out what we’re going to do in X, this guy has a rock star background in it, let him build a team and see what happens.” And even if the person doesn't succeed, it's OK. They move on. These people have great resumes. That said, here are the biggest reasons for my question marks around Twitter’s success in commerce:

  • What works best in commerce is something Twitter already gives away for free, which is its tweets. For example, some of the most successful users of Twitter in a retail context are companies looking to liquidate inventory or send notes about limited supply of promotions, like the Dell Outlet or Groupon — all done effectively via a tweet. In many ways, a tweet is like an email title — it draws people into a click with a few sexy words. The challenge is that tweets have the same problem as emails: they don’t make their technology parents any money because everyone gets to use the tools for free.
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By The Numbers: What Are The Mobile Insurance Metrics That Really Matter?

Ellen Carney

The insurance industry is in the midst of a mobile gold rush. Carriers across all business lines have jumped on the mobile bandwagon, rolling out mobile functionality to their policyholders and agents. Many carriers have relied on a single, basic metric to quantify mobile success: app downloads. But as insurers’ mobile strategies are maturing, so too is the demand for more sophisticated proof of mobile’s business impact. But few digital insurance teams possess more than the basics.   In our latest Mobile Insurance playbook report, we explore the numbers that can make mobile insurance business plans hum.

Earlier this year, we talked to a number of insurance mobile strategists so we could better understand why so many insurers were behind when it came to mobile measurement.  We learned that mobile initiatives have been:

  • Random. Early mobile apps were cheap to build, meaning that business process owners like marketing, sales, agency management, claims, and others rushed to get them into iTunes and Google Play without always considering what they wanted the functionality to do for the business.
  • Complicated.The business of insurance is messy. Multiline carriers want customers to buy bundles, but haphazard mobile execution often means that mobile functionality is uneven across products lines and processes. Add in an expansive ecosystem of agents, brokers, and service providers ranging from body shops to physicians, and carriers could be drowning in mobile data, but still be thirsty for the one mobile metric that could justify a critical investment.
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Omnichannel Execution Missteps Can Cause More Harm Than Good

Adam Silverman

A few weeks ago I visited a new prototype store from a major U.S. retailer in order to learn more about their omnichannel strategy. Expecting a customer-centric experience that seamlessly connects the digital and physical stores, I was disappointed to see what appeared to be a misguided omnichannel deployment, with an experience that was actually inferior to one without enhanced technology. Here’s why:

  • New layout but broken technology.  Upon entering the store, I noticed a different layout with a lounge area on the right and an inoperable digital kiosk staring right at me. While the layout did appear to be more welcoming, the dark interactive display indicated a lack of commitment to execution
  • No in-store inventory or location-based awareness.  I found a smaller kiosk near the front of the store and searched for an item online.  I chose the 'pick up in store' feature, expecting the kiosk to recognize I'm already in the store and show what's in stock. Instead, this retailer decided to fulfill the order from their distribution center rather than direct me a few feet away to their colorful display showcasing the item. There was no in-store inventory information or any type of store mapping application within the kiosk.
  • Kiosks do not provide utility.  Another department also had a kiosk, but only provided the ability to find and buy the product online. Again I was expecting the retailer to recommend the appropriate product based upon my specific needs, and show me that the product I need is just a few aisles away.
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The Urban-First eCommerce Approach: Looking To Emerging Markets

Zia Daniell Wigder

During grad school, I spent a summer teaching economics to university students in Uzbekistan – our summer campus was up in the mountains a few hours outside the capital city of Tashkent. To receive packages, we would have to request that the sender ship them to the university’s main office in the capital. When enough packages had arrived, the office staff would scramble to find someone to drive up to the summer campus to deliver them. The wait was often 2-3 weeks.

Last-mile deliveries are still a huge challenge. Years later, last-mile delivery to less urban areas continues to confound businesses around the globe. In almost every emerging market in the world, delivery times are still far quicker for consumers living in the big cities than those in more rural areas. A laptop ordered from a major online retailer in Brazil, for example, takes almost three weeks to get to the Amazonian capital of Manaus versus approximately one week to Rio or São Paulo. In Russia, the difference in shipping times between Moscow and Vladivostok is similar. Many online retailers piece together a variety of different courier networks or are forced to rely on local postal services to reach the most far-flung customers.

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