Should Financial Services Firms Engage With Fintech Startups?

Oliwia Berdak

At least two dozen accelerators and incubators have been launched by financial services firms in the last two years. I believe that in five years’ time, most of these corporate accelerators will have disappeared. Why? A fully-fledged, multi-startup accelerator is expensive to run. The cost of searching, selecting, and providing seed investment and support for startups could easily reach $1 million a year.  Many accelerators aren’t focused enough on customer problems or business objectives to deliver return on that investment.

So why are so many banks, insurance, and wealth management firms eager to loosen their purse-strings? Some want to identify and co-opt future disruptors, others are looking to startups for innovation. There’s been a palpable change of tone in discussions of digital disruptors in retail financial services. The ubiquitous stories about voracious startups that want to eat incumbents’ lunch have been replaced by tales of successful collaboration. Financial technology startups deliver innovation, established firms bring customers, and together they live happily ever after.

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The US Holiday Shopping Season 2015 Sets New Online Records And Rebrands Black Friday

Kristopher Arcand

With the winter shopping holidays now behind us, Forrester is wrapping up its annual qualitative exploration of US consumers’ perceptions of the holiday season, both for their own behavior as well as what they observed across retailers. The retail industry has seen an increase in consumer spending compared to last year — possibly due to savings from lower gas prices. Overall, we saw that consumers felt less compelled to go out and buy gifts on Black Friday itself, but they still love a good bargain. Some other insights we gathered:

  • Black Friday sales effectively crossed over from in-store to online. While in-store shopping dropped on Black Friday, online shopping sales rose, resulting in an overall increase in sales. Consumers were quite conscious of the fact that online deals appeared even before the Thanksgiving holiday (and therefore before Black Friday). This year, these sales also carried the “Black Friday” label — traditionally an in-store-specific event. By re-associating Black Friday with deals first and foremost, this could restore positive sentiment and downplay what has otherwise become a stressful shopping event.
  • Targeted outreach drives online sales — but retailers shouldn’t overdo it. A smaller number of targeted deals and offers will help reduce the overall volume of email that consumers receive. This will in turn minimize the chances of consumer recipients being overwhelmed by holiday communications.
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Best Practices For Managing CX Via B2B Partner Networks

Ryan Hart

While much of the glitz and glam around customer experience has orbited around B2C organizations, Forrester believes that the imperative shift toward customer experience and subsequently, customer centricity, is creeping into the B2B space – sooner than we might expect.

Recognizably, there are inherent challenges in distributing through channel partners, not the least of which is a lack of direct contact with end customers and the complexity of trying to manage experiences that cannot ultimately be controlled. All of which pose sizable obstacles to CX professionals in such organizations. My most recent report describes six principles and examples that companies selling via channel partners should consider to better manage their prescribed end user experiences so as to align with the company’s CX strategy.

Here are several of the key collaborative principles that can help B2B companies foster better partner alignment:

·         Apply B2C tools to understand your partners.  More and more firms are creating B2B personas from stakeholder maps, co-creating customer journey and empathy maps with their channel partners, and implementing voice of the partner (VoP) programs to capture CX sentiment from their intermediaries.

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Only Sophisticated And Innovative P2P Lending Platforms Will Survive In China

Zhi-Ying Ng

China is now the largest P2P lending market in the world. In just the first half of 2015, people exchanged RMB 300 billion ($47 billion) on more than 2,000 P2P lending platforms. As P2P lending in China reaches a tipping point, we expect many platforms to fail, and only sophisticated and innovative platforms will survive and thrive.

The “Q&A: Peer-To-Peer Lending Platforms In China” report takes an in-depth look at P2P lending platforms in China,  including the main players, key differences between Chinese P2P lending platforms and those in the UK and US, the problems that Chinese P2P lending marketplaces address, challenges P2P lending platforms face, as well as best practices in the P2P lending industry.

While the potential for P2P lending in China is huge, the challenges that lie ahead for these companies are significant. To succeed, P2P lending companies must overcome barriers related to the external environment that they operate in and the operational obstacles that their platform face such as:

  • Fraud. Widespread fraud and embezzlement in P2P lending tarnishes the entire industry, damaging well-run marketplaces as well as the immediate victims of fraud. Many of China's P2P lending platforms are not transparent, failing to disclose their revenues, expenses or fund allocation.
  • Regulation. In late December last year, the China Banking Regulatory Commission (CBRC) published new draft rules calling for closer supervision of the P2P lending sector. Some of these regulations include establishing a third-party depository of customer funds, requiring P2P lending platforms to improve disclosure, and prohibiting platforms from building capital pools.
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Just published -- The Forrester Wave: Customer Loyalty Solutions For Large And Midsize Organizations, Q1 2016

Emily Collins

I recently wrapped up my third evaluation of customer loyalty vendors, and the market has evolved slightly since 2013. First, the lines between loyalty technology and services are fading: vendors that were traditionally considered service providers continue to productize and improve their technology platforms, and pure-play loyalty technology platform providers are shoring up their professional services offerings. Second, on the user side, I talk to clients who are looking for more holistic solutions and including a combination of service providers, agencies, and software-as-a-service (SaaS) technology platforms in the same request for proposal (RFP).

Given the hybridization of the market and evolving customer demands, we took a slightly different approach and conducted two evaluations of end-to-end loyalty solutions: one for large organizations including Aimia, Bond Brand Loyalty (formerly Maritz Loyalty Marketing), Brierley+Partners, Comarch, Epsilon, ICF Olson 1to1, Kobie Marketing, and TIBCO Software; and one for midsize organizations including 500friends, a Merkle company; Aimia; Clutch; CrowdTwist; DataCandy; Deluxe Corporation; and Inte Q Global.

What did we learn?

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The Data Digest: A Happy New Year!

Anjali Lai

The market research industry is built on a fundamental assumption: that any enterprise, product, team, or person can be better than it is today. Researchers mine insights because we are constantly seeking opportunities for greater success and are eager to illuminate the path forward. But researchers aren’t the only ones doing this; although it’s our profession, people around the world share this drive for improvement. These sentiments are at their peak today on New Year’s Eve as we reflect on the highs and lows of the year behind us and resolve to do something better in the year ahead.

Seeking improvement is part of human nature, but in some cases, it’s demanded of us. In the business world, companies that set higher standards also set new consumer expectations and secure customer loyalty. For instance, our Consumer Technographics® data shows that Amazon offers one of the most loved customer experiences across the globe because it provides an unparalleled sense of emotional satisfaction: 

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The Data Digest: May The Force Be With You

Reineke Reitsma

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you’re probably aware that there was a new release in the Star Wars saga this week. I’m not a fan of science fiction and have somehow managed never to have seen a Star Wars movie in my life — so all of the discussion about what will happen to Luke, Leia, or the Jedi in ‘The Force Awakens’ is completely lost on me. But what I do find extremely interesting is the huge passion of my colleagues and friends to see this movie in a cinema — and as quickly as possible. In the US, Star Wars opens in 4,100 theaters and the movie is a leader in advance ticket sales around the world. And Star Wars is just one of the big blockbusters of 2015 — in fact, analysts expect this year to be Hollywood's biggest box-office year ever.

When we look at our North American Consumer Technographics data, we see that movies certainly have a place in US online consumers’ video behaviors; watching movies in theaters is just behind watching free and paid online video services like Netflix and Hulu.

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“That’s It, I’m Tweeting!” Does It Have To Be All Bad?

Erna Alfred Liousas
Have you been so fed up with a company you've said, "That's it, I'm tweeting?" Contrast that with the times you've been so impressed with a company you've said, "That was so awesome, I'm going to tweet about it." Customers do use social to ask brands for help. In a recent New York Times article, Jonathan Pierce, director of social media for American Airlines, shares, “You now see folks with Wi-Fi on board — if they need assistance on board, they’ll tweet us,” he said. “Perhaps if their bag isn’t there within five minutes, they’ll tweet us. There’s an expectation from the customers that we’re there to listen to that and act on it.”  
 
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Global Payments Acquisition of Heartland Payments a Sign of Things to Come

Brendan Miller

Global Payments Announced on Tuesday that is planning to buy Heartland Payment Systems, a rival payment processor for $4.3 billion in cash and stock.  The two companies’ combined will be the 6th largest U.S. payment acquirer based on card purchase volume and the largest U.S acquirer based on active merchant locations (using March 2015 Nilson data to re-calculate the size of the new company).    

Global Payments gets Heartland’s direct sales force focused on selling to higher margin SMB merchants as well as new ISV and Reseller distribution relationships for its OpenEdge Integrated Payments Channel.  Global also gains a stronger U.S. presence in restaurant, retail and education verticals.

  • The new combined company will need to determine how to avoid channel conflict with Heartland’s POS companies, Xpient, pcAmerica, Dinerware and Liquer POS.  OpenEdge has operated with a strict mantra not to compete against the channel in the past.  Heartland Payments has had a more blended go-to-market strategy – enabling its direct sales to sell its POS systems while simultaneously developing ISV/Reseller channel.
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Content Marketing Rules, But We Should Not Call It “Marketing Content”

Peter O'Neill

At Forrester, Research Directors do many things around the research process. We help analysts to establish a research agenda and keep them current for the next 12 months – we negotiate the report outlines, edit the drafts, and share the research and reports around other parts of Forrester to ensure consistency. Then, we often create or edit “blurb” text for promotional efforts (tweets, blogs, newsletters). I was sent a proposed blurb (written by our own marketing group) announcing our new report “Make Sales Conversations An Integral Part Of Your Content Marketing Plans”. The blurb said

“Getting Sales to be the content concierge for marketing content.”

I stared at the sentence for a long time. Is that we mean? Do we want to force-feed marketing content to our sales colleagues? Calling it “marketing content” sounded demeaning and confusing; is that Sales’ job – distributing what marketing wants them to distribute? No, of course not. But their job is certainly to share and provide content to their conversation partners that is compelling and interesting and useful – stuff that helps the buyer to proceed down their journey. And the content is usually created by marketing (unless the salesperson cannot find it in which case it is made up on the fly).

So the blurb that ended up in next week’s “Forrester 5” promotional email to be sent to all clients is:

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