Is Your Omnichannel Fulfillment Program Profitable?

Adam Silverman

In the race to keep up with skyrocketing consumer expectations around omnichannel commerce experiences, many retailers moved quickly to roll out omnichannel fulfillment capabilities without fully understanding the incremental expense of operating these programs. Today, retail executives are beginning to shift their focus towards profitability: moving from implementing to optimizing their omnichannel fulfillment initiatives.

In our new report Build A Profitable Omnichannel Fulfillment Program, we asked a number of eBusiness leaders and industry experts to share the processes, tools, and best practices they used to assemble profitable omnichannel fulfillment programs. Our research indicates that retailers can optimize their omnichannel fulfillment capabilities by:

  • Enabling product visibility and order orchestration. Omnichannel fulfillment initiatives—think endless aisle, ship-from-store, click and collect—are completely dependent on the ability for customers, associates, and retail selling systems to be able to accurately pinpoint the location of every product across the enterprise. Further, having a robust distributed order management system (OMS) can help retailers reduce the cost of fulfilling orders by orchestrating across all stores and distribution centers.
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Loyal Agents Have Big Impact On Insurance Carrier Business

Ellen Carney

Understanding agent attitudes toward their insurance carrier partners is crucial in earning independent agent loyalty—and driving sales.  Why?  Because despite predictions that direct-to-consumer insurance sales would doom the insurance agent, nearly 20 years after the advent of online insurance selling, millions of consumers and small businesses continue to rely on their local insurance agencies. Consider that when it comes to their agents, US consumers:

  • Buy from.  Even after all that money direct insurers spend on TV ads, consumers are still buying from insurance agencies. In a survey of 10,000 online Americans, we found that 84% of home insurance buyers stated that they bought from an agent; 82% did the same for their car insurance, while 57% of life insurance buyers said that they did.
  • Trust in.  When we asked in the same survey about attitudes toward financial services providers, more than 70% of life insurance buyers and about two-thirds of non-life insurance buyers we surveyed agreed with the statement “I completely trust my agent”.  And that trust runs deep for some customers, especially for 25-34 year olds we surveyed.
  • Stick with.   And after buying from an agent, consumers tend to stick with their them We asked US online adults how long they had been buying certain coverage from their agents. The average relationships with their auto, home, and life agencies were 12.9, 12.5, and 16.3 years Consumer steadfastness with an agent is often longer than that loyalty to a spouse:  the average American marriage that ends in divorce lasts eight years.  And no surprise, the tenure with direct insurers is much shorter than that with agent-centric insurers.   
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Having The Right Team Players Won The Big Game. Do You Have The Right Team To Do The Same?

Sheryl Pattek

Super Bowl 50 is finally behind us. Forget the lackluster commercials — led by the silly puppy monkey baby— and the amazing technology feats that accompanied the NFL experience in downtown San Francisco. What was clear is that Americans are more obsessed with the national pastime of NFL football than ever. The leadup to Super Bowl 50 was like no other, with discussions of how the game has changed and the impact technology will have on the fan experience.

But the game is what most fans, me included, wanted to see. While it may not have been the most exciting Super Bowl of all time, one thing was clear almost from the start: Superstar and 2015 MVP Cam Newton couldn’t win the game on his own. Almost from the beginning, Denver prevailed — not because of the prowess of starting quarterback Peyton Manning, but rather because the Broncos had the right people in the right roles working together as a team to demolish the previously indestructible Carolina Panthers.

 What lessons can CMOs learn from this year’s Super Bowl?

While this may surprise you, your marketing team isn’t much different from the teams in this year’s Super Bowl. You doubtless have superstars who go the extra mile to power the marketing engine and make it succeed. But ask yourself: Do I have the right role players to keep the marketing team humming? Do I know what role players I need and what to look for when hiring them?

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B2B Marketers: Mind The Content Credibility Gap

Daniel Klein

Delivering credible, objective, and engaging content is a must for today’s B2B marketer as prospects discover, explore, and buy your solution. But what attributes and sources make content credible and objective to B2B buyers? This is a common question asked of my consulting team, and in the age of the customer — where empowered buyers rely on multiple content sources before talking with a sales team and 50% of buyers say much of the content they receive is useless — the answer is more important than ever.

To get answers to this and other key questions we receive from content marketers, Forrester surveyed over 200 IT and LOB technology buyers and influencers. I address three of the common client questions below:

 

Question One: What are the top three attributes of credible content from the perspective of a buyer/influencer?

Answer:

WIM: Marketers should audit their existing content assets against these attributes to ensure their library is stocked with credible content. With nearly two-thirds of respondents indicating that vendors give them too much material to sort through, authorship by a qualified expert/analyst allows content assets to stand out and get noticed. Including data in your assets gives them factual grounding and signifies that the information being shared is not simply opinion or conjecture. In fact, 47% of respondents rated papers (content) backed by data as high value, compared with only 11% who said the same thing of papers not backed by data. Finally, be selective in when and where you include product or brand mentions in your content.  Including them in too many of your content assets, especially thought leadership pieces, can undermine the credibility of your content.

 

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Co-creating Customer Experiences? Match Objectives To Desired Outcomes

Ron Rogowski

One of the most enjoyable and fulfilling things about helping Forrester clients become customer-obsessed is leading an experience co-creation workshop.  Forrester defines co-creation as the active participation of employees, customers, and stakeholders working together to design new experiences. It’s a technique that helps companies define the right experience for their customers and provides critical information that supports human-centered design.

A typical co-creation session puts Forrester consultants, our clients, and our clients’ customers in a room for a whole day. Together we work through a set of creative exercises designed to expose customer needs, perceptions, and expectations for an ideal experience. Sometimes these sessions are targeted at getting high-level, sentiment-based feedback, such as: What do our customers want from this experience? What does our current state experience look like compared to the ideal? Other times, our clients want more concrete solutions or recommendations such as:  What new experience should we offer? What features should go into our new mobile app? To see it in action, check out this video summary, produced by Western Union, showcasing a workshop we hosted together last year to co-create a new mobile experience.

While co-creation can provide direction on customer expectations and feedback on specific designs, we’ve learned that teams run into trouble when they try to do both of these things in the same session. Why? Because exploratory research and prototyping are two different activities that happen at distinct stages of a user-centered design process. Let’s examine the user-centered design process illustrated below:

 

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What To Expect From Mobile World Congress 2016?

Thomas Husson

From February 22 to 25, Barcelona will be the center of the business world. Do not expect a specific industry focus but expect announcements impacting any industry: from payments to automotive. Why? Because “mobile is everything”.

 

 

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Introducing Forrester's Omnichannel Commerce Playbook

Brendan Witcher

Today we announce the launch of our brand new Omnichannel Commerce Playbook! In its many forms, omnichannel is quickly resetting customer expectations, and redefining what it means to deliver seamless, fully-integrated commerce across the enterprise. This playbook provides a structured framework to help eBusiness leaders strategically  plan, launch, and maintain omnichannel capabilities and services.   

Customers today forge paths to purchase that seamlessly cross channels, screens and stores.  For example, U.S. consumers in 2015 spent a whopping $1.5 trillion in-store that originally started or were influenced along the way by digital touchpoints. Retailers who offer omnichannel fulfillment are directly responding to customer expectations for this seamless experience. As such, services like ‘buy online, pick up in store’ and ‘ship-to-store’ drive store traffic and provide significant, measurable benefits to retailers and customers alike.

However, omnichannel commerce goes far beyond fulfillment; the full spectrum of omnichannel capabilities encompasses marketing, merchandising, and even customer service. This playbook helps eBusiness professionals analyze and deliver the omnichannel services that are right for their customers, including how to measure their impact and then optimize over time.

The Omnichannel Commerce Playbook will help you:

1. Analyze the business impact of omnichannel integration. Understanding how to identify and quantify the projected net value of omnichannel capabilities and services translates into a strong business case that drives an organization's overall omnichannel strategy and road map.

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Kick Up The Stakes For Your Sales Kickoff

Steven Wright

The first quarter of the year is that magical time for sales kickoffs. For this analyst, 2016 is the first in over 20 years when I haven’t been involved in one. My sigh of relief far outweighs any twinges of nostalgia. After all that time, some things about kickoffs are clear:

  • The more about products, the less sellers remember: This is a sales, not a marketing, event – the focus should be on how to sell to, engage with, and be obsessed by buyers.
  • One good customer story is worth more than most motivational speakers: Inspiring stories of overcoming obstacles are all well and good. One good customer presentation on why they bought and how the solution has helped them succeed is better and teaches something that all your sellers can use.
  • Learning to do something is always better than learning about something: Practicing a presentation, learning a whiteboard – anything that involves doing something and receiving feedback about it will have a much longer-lasting effect than passively listening to one more speaker.
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Ezubao Shutdown Challenges P2P Lending Companies In China, But Doesn't Spell The End

Zhi-Ying Ng

News of the shutdown of the P2P lending platform, Ezubao, following investigations by Chinese authorities have shocked the world. Small investors in China were allegedly scammed out of more than $7 billion in what is now called "a giant Ponzi scheme". 

But I wasn't very surprised by the news. As I mentioned in my report, P2P lending in China has reached a tipping point and there is a dark side to the industry as it continues to be fraught with fraud and embezzlement. Widespread fraud tarnishes the entire industry, damaging well-run marketplaces as well as immediate victims of fraud. Many P2P lending platforms with unsound business models have operated for years without any backlash, violating regulations with impunity. Some of these platforms used money from new investors to pay off existing investors—like what Ezubao did—or invested lenders' money in the volatile Chinese stock market. These unstable platforms were simply ticking time bombs.

However, the fall of one P2P lending platform does not signify the fall of the entire P2P lending industry in China. Instead, the shutdown of Ezubao:

  • Signals the Chinese government's resolve to enforce regulations. In late December 2015, the China Banking Regulatory Commission (CBRC) drafted new rules calling for closer supervision of the P2P lending sector. However, "law without enforcement is just good advice". Thus, there was a level of skepticism surrounding what impact these new rules would have on unlawful P2P lending companies. Therefore, the shutdown of Ezubao is significant in that it signals the regulator's resolve to enforce these rules, sending a strong message that violation of these regulations is a criminal activity and there will be consequences, which is positive for the industry.
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Real-World Feedback on Real-Time Interaction Management

Rusty Warner

Have you ever felt like this…

Our vendor has some great capabilities that we are not leveraging, but I would place the blame on us.

Well, you’re not alone. That’s actually a direct quote from one of the 74 customer references we surveyed for the Forrester Wave™: Real-Time Interaction Management, Q3 2015. In general, we found that most customers are deploying real-time capabilities across only a few channels today. The most prevalent real-time interaction management (RTIM) use cases? Web personalization and dynamic email content are well ahead of other deployments, in use by 62% and 60% of survey respondents, respectively.  Decision management for contact centers and eCommerce recommendations are next in line, but the former may not be connected to digital channels, and the latter may leverage its own set of tools. Real-time mobile app deployments are surprisingly few – 8th in our list of digital and off-line channels – but by far the highest number of respondents (49%) plan to add mobile capabilities.

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