By here, I mean here in Europe. And it’s here to stay.
Amazon launched Europe’s first Black Friday sale in 2010, with a small fanfare and some success. Most European retailers did the polite thing, and looked bashfully away while their brash American cousins celebrated a day with zero cultural significance this side of the Atlantic. “We’ll wait for Boxing Day” was the overwhelming sentiment.
But consumers bit, and the following year a small handful of global brands like Apple and Walmart (in the form of its UK subsidiary Asda) followed suit. Black Friday grew somewhat organically.
But 2014 was different.
Previous Black Friday successes unleashed a literal tidal wave of copy-cats in the run up to Christmas last year. This was most publically a UK phenomenon, with well-known brands like John Lewis taking part, but don’t fool yourself into thinking it was just a quaintly British emulation of the American trend. French and German retailers like Darty and Saturn also indulged. Akamai saw triple the normal web traffic to retail websites across Europe on Black Friday. But it was the UK that bore the brunt of the impact as:
High profile websites buckled and crashed under unprecedented load, with many retailers reporting upwards of a 300% uplift in traffic on Black Friday.
I spent the last 20 years working at Forrester Research. My work here is my legacy. Now it’s time to move on. I’ll be leaving the company on March 2.
Let me get into two things: what we did together, and what I’ll be doing next.
I joined Forrester in 1995, when the Web was new and there were only 65 people here. Forrester offered me the opportunity to think big about the changes that technology would bring to the world of business.
Over the past four years, the commerce technology market has undergone significant consolidation. Commerce technology is now table stakes for any enterprise software vendor with a focus on systems of engagement. Consequently, Forrester has observed an unprecedented chain of mergers and acquisitions (M&A) in this space over the past four years with eBay, IBM, Oracle and SAP alone, having spent in aggregate over $10 billion on commerce related acquisitions. Furthermore venture capital and private equity firms have been making big bets in this space. Between them, Shopify, Volusion and Big Commerce have accumulated $337 million in funding in the past few years, while Siris Capital Group are set to shortly complete their acquisition of Digital River for $840 million. Beyond these headline transactions, dozens of smaller deals have been done, with vendors including Demandware and NetSuite both having been on acquisition binges’ in the past 12 months.
Yesterday I had a chance to join the fantastic Global eCommerce Leaders Forum here in New York. Leaders from Puma, Borderfree and Alibaba delivered keynotes at the event, and in the afternoon, I did a quick presentation on five key themes in global eCommerce to tee up a panel on international expansion:
The Asia pivot. Arguably the biggest story in global eCommerce over the past five years has been the rise of China as an eCommerce force. No other eCommerce market has rivaled China’s ascent to power: Between 2009 and 2014, revenues increased by 16-fold, reaching over $440B in 2014. That shift fundamentally changed how brands view eCommerce in Asia. Instead of contemplating expansion into Asia only after years of operating in North America or Europe, a digital strategy for Asia—and China in particular—is now front and center for many brands.
Options for brands beyond direct sites. Today there are very few brands whose global expansion plans focus exclusively on localized, direct-to-consumer sites. Cross-border shipping and marketplaces —two relatively low-cost, low-risk approaches to international expansion—now factor into the consideration set of almost every brand evaluating new global markets. Indeed, today many solutions are available which enable brands to tap into online shoppers overseas without massive investments or years of preparation. While direct sites will remain a core part of brands’ global expansion efforts—and their value unrivaled in many ways—other approaches will increasingly supplement this tried and true method.
When I started in the tech industry in the late 80’s, I used to think that we lived in dog years: The pace in “high-tech” (a term that sounds so quaint now, doesn’t it?) was that we packed seven years’ worth of work, development, business, play, pressure—you name it—into a single year.
Fast forward to today, and the pace of digital change—and pressure—has accelerated to pack even more change into smaller units of time. Technologies like QR codes, Near Field Communications (NFC), photo-image capture, and now voice control are maturing. What was a mobile novelty two years ago now feels dated.
And consider that we are addicted to mobile. As consumers, we have enthusiastically embraced mobile devices, thanks to a regular stream of flashy new interfaces and capabilities. For many people, a mobile device is the last thing they touch before going to sleep and the first thing they grab for when they wake up. The behavioral changes that these feature-dense devices have encouraged is transforming how customers engage with their insurance companies and with the extended insurance ecosystem—all while pressuring digital insurance and business technology teams, processes, and budgets. Consider just two of the impacts that the ubiquity and proximity of mobile devices has resulted in:
With B2B buyers rapidly shifting their behavior from researching and buying offline to researching and buying both offline and online, B2B companies are radically reshaping their channel sales strategies. Most notably, B2B sellers are shifting resources and capabilities online as well as fundamentally redefining the role of their salespeople.
Join us for the Forrester Sales Enablement Forum on March 2-3, 2015 in Phoenix to hear Forrester’s latest thinking about the future of B2B selling. At 11:30a on March 3, we’ll be revealing first-ever research in the space about the number of B2B salespeople who will be displaced in the next several years. In addition, we'll be talking about what B2B companies must do to prepare for a global, digitally-driven, real-time buying environment where software -- as opposed to salespeople -- will dynamically set prices, personalize products and services, and process and service orders 24/7/365.
Peter O’Neill here. We held our annual research planning meeting the other week and ended discussing yet again the eternal question of B2B marketing versus B2C. This is also a common discussion point with clients in my experience. Many of the documented marketing stories and best practices seem unsuitable for B2B marketers, they claim. B2C marketers respond that even business buyers are people and so the lessons they have learned apply equally to B2B. Now, as is always the case with these interminable arguments, both parties are partly right — and they are partly wrong.
My colleagues and I are planning a Forrester report that explores this dilemma in much more detail. Here is a table which I have often used to lead discussions and which I would like to include in the report. As this is “research in progress”, I have annotated the graph accordingly. In fact, I am looking for YOUR feedback on this please.
I was talking last week with Neil Ringel, Executive Vice President at Staples Advantage as we continue to prepare for the Sales Enablement Forum in March where Neil is one of the industry keynote speakers. Staples Advantage, a division of Staples, is the world’s largest office products delivery business, serving everyone from the twenty-person office up to and including the Fortune 500 and the B2B sales team works with clients to develop customized programs with specialized pricing, dedicated account management, and a complete assortment of products and services at the lowest total delivered cost while ordering and fulfillment is a mixture of these direct meetings and eBusiness transactions. Although they are called sales, they are actually more responsible for delivering the company’s brand promise: “We make buying office products easy.” Here is our discussion.
Peter: Do you think that you will need less, more, and/or different salespeople in 5 years time?
My colleague, Samantha Jaddou, who’s an analyst on the CX team covering the China market, is working on a report about the customer feedback management (CFM) vendor landscape in China. This report will better help Forrester clients, particularly companies that operate in China, understand to whom they should turn to satisfy CFM needs. She is in the middle of fielding a survey, which will be the research foundation for this report.
If your firm is interested in being included in this study to show your product and service capabilities in China in the CFM space, please consider one or both of the following: