Over the past 3 days some 30,000 retail attendees from across the globe gathered in New York’s Javits Center for the annual National Retail Federation Big Show. This year there was a visible increase in both the number of commerce technology vendors exhibiting and the size of their respective booths. For the eBusiness, omni-channel, merchandising, digital and business technology teams in attendance, 2015 will represent another year of robust investment in commerce suite technology. However, retailers face a daunting task differentiating between the vendors in what is an increasingly mature solution space. As luck would have it, Forrester has just released our 2015 Commerce Suite Platforms Wave update to help you. We spent the last 4 months putting eleven of the leading commerce technology vendors through a grueling process of due diligence, product demos, capability assessments and customer reference checks. We looked beyond features to examine toolset usability, extensibility, integration of suite modules, and innovation strategy. Here’s what we found:
Demandware, hybris, IBM, and Oracle Commerce lead the pack. These four vendors represent the best of the best and reflect a solution space that has been maturing since its inception 15 years ago. These vendors go head-to-head in almost every midmarket and enterprise commerce deal and for the buyers of these solutions, the ultimate selection decision often comes down to price, vision, and alliances more than functionality and features. When it comes to the core capabilities (such as pricing, offers, site search, promotion, carts, and checkout), these vendors all pack a heavy punch, with extensive, mature capabilities that, frankly, go beyond the needs of many of their clients.
Like most of us, you probably made a few resolutions you’re hoping to keep in 2015—eating better, exercising regularly, and reading more. Why not add one more resolution that will help you, your company and more importantly, your customers and agents? Keep your mobile insurance strategy current with new technology; customer, employee, and partner expectations; and pressures that are coming from competitors and more importantly, non-insurance competitors. Because one thing’s for sure—the pace of change in mobile and insurance is crazy, as evidenced by all the new examples of mobile insurance innovation that we uncovered while writing our soon-to-be published update of our 2012 report, “The Future Of Insurance Is Mobile”.
Need some help in updating your mobile strategic plan? Earlier this week, we published a major update to the Strategic Plan chapter in Forrester’s Mobile Insurance Playbook. The report, “Get Mobile Insurance Strategy Right By Designing For Customers' Mobile Moments”, answers two essential questions: How do we build a strategic plan, and what should be in that strategy? It also provides a framework for the plan that encompasses four processes:
Identify mobile moments and context.
Design the mobile engagement.
Engineer processes, platforms, and people for mobile.
Analyze results to monitor performance and optimize outcomes.
I've just started work on a report tentatively titled "How People Choose." I'm interested in studying how technology is influencing user decision processes. My hypothesis is that technology is fundamentally rewiring us so we actually rely more heavily on gut-based decisions than on well-rationalized ones. If you buy Daniel Kahneman's notions of fast and slow thinking (others have called it irrational and reasonable, or emotional vs rational thought), then my theory is that people are outsourcing more and more of their rational decisions to technology. This means, that what is left for most of us is a heavier reliance on our fast thinking, our impulses, and our gut-based response, when making decisions.
If this hypothesis is true, then marketers should actually focus on influencing impulse, rather than all of the linear, direct-response types of marketing sequences they prioritize today.
I'm just kicking off my research, so my overall hypothesis may evolve as I get some research under my belt. But my end goal is to write a report for marketing execs that would help them think through HOW to influence user decisions in a future where the fundamentals of how we make decisions have changed.
Uber faces fierce competition in China from local taxi hailing service providers Didi and Kuaidi Taxi, which both launched Uber-style e-hailing services in 2014. Both providers use a costly subsidy model to entice taxi users to switch to e-hailing services. Kuaidi Taxi, which recently received $700 million in Series D funding to buy more self-owned e-hailing vehicles, has hired more drivers and continues to provide subsidies. Uber has a smaller user base than either Didi or Kuaidi and limited funds that it can leverage — so to win customers in China, Uber must engage customers differently. Uber can leverage its global organization’s existing customer analytics strategy and tools to better understand their (potential) customers and engage with them throughout the customer life cycle.
On New Year’s Eve 2014/2015, it was predicted that taxi service would be unobtainable as people concentrated on the New Year countdown. Uber analyzed historical customer data and was able to provide more appealing e-hailing options than Didi’s and Kuaidi’s cash coupons. Uber contacts customers in advance and asks them to confirm any rate increases due to its dynamic pricing model; this helps to set the correct expectations with customers about fares:
The start of a new year provides an opportunity to take stock of our environment and do things a bit differently. This year, I am addressing the role microvideo can play within a marketing strategy.
Though we all enjoy receiving information about items that are of personal interest, we may find we have a few “go-to” sites. This may be due to the presentation of the content, the ease with which we can interact with it, or a host of other reasons. Microvideo is versatile and provides numerous opportunities for marketers. Let’s use color as an analogy for this type of content. I have certain colors in my wardrobe because they work across a multitude of other colors. Marsala, Pantone’s 2015 color of the year, is described as an “elegant, grounded statement color when used on its own or as a strong accent to many other colors.”
Microvideo is similar. It can stand on its own or supplement targeted interactions with your customers. Just take a look at what Lowe's has done to keep us inspired.
Every time I download a new app to my smartphone, it bombards me with requests for personal details like my contacts, my location, my email, and my photos – followed by a request, “Name of App would like to send you push notifications.” After it’s asked for all those details, I almost always choose “Don’t Allow.”
And I’m not alone. Forrester’s Q2 2014 US 3D Panel Online Survey shows that US smartphone owners are also selective when it comes to the apps they choose to allow push notifications; about six in 10 only accept push notifications from a select number of apps, while 17% don’t accept them from any app at all. Why are consumers so discriminating? Because more often than not, people find these unsolicited app notifications are irrelevant, too frequent, and, most of all, annoying. If I were to allow push notifications from every app I use each month, there wouldn’t be a quiet hour in my day. How can companies create a better experience and use push notifications to deliver added value to their consumers?
I'm frequently asked, "What makes a winning Forrester Groundswell Awards program?" To help you prepare your submissions, here's an example of a winning social depth entry from PGA TOUR Superstore last year and why it stood out:
Now it is high time that I remind you of our upcoming Sales Enablement Forum on March 2 and 3 in Scottsdale, Arizona,where the overall theme this year is about the different approaches required to optimize your sales channels. Our research shows that more transactional buyers now prefer more automation and self-service (eBusiness); whereas executives who are involved in buying prefer (no, insist on) having conversations and engagement that match their problem-solving needs. So we have designed an agenda that covers direct selling, selling through channel partners, as well as selling through eBusiness interactions. More importantly, we will address the challenge of aligning each of these channels so that your buyers think you are one company regardless of the channel they choose to leverage at any point in time.
It’s one of the worst-kept—and surely most disruptive—secrets in the US insurance market. Soon, Google could be piloting its Google Compare auto insurance comparison shopping site in the US, following the lead of its 2012 Google Compare UK site roll out.
But the launch of Google Compare in the US apparently hasn’t been easy. Even though insurers have been mentioning Google overtures to participate on the comparison site to me for more than two years now, the Google Compare US site launch keeps getting pushed back. As late as last month the site was expected to launch in California, to be followed in Q1 2015 with likely launches in Illinois, Pennsylvania, and Texas. Last I heard was that California pilot wouldn't begin until sometime in Q1.
And one thing’s for sure: Google Compare is going to have big implications for US insurers. While doing the research for a report on what Google Compare is going to mean for insurer strategies in 2015, I took a look at a bunch of state insurance commission filings to see just what was up with the entity now officially doing business as Google Compare Auto Insurance Services Inc. What did I learn?
They’re licensed to business in more than half the states. Along with California, the entity is licensed to do business in at least Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona, Delaware, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, New Jersey, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. There may be more in process.
Despite spending years optimizing their social marketing efforts, advanced marketers share a common hurdle: How do they make sense of all the data that their social marketing programs generate? It seems that this isn’t an easy endeavor — all 12 marketers I recently interviewed agree that their data capabilities leave much to be desired. They cited numerous reasons: They don’t have the skilled resources to properly analyze the data, their listening platforms are ill equipped to inform their marketing strategies, and their attempts to bridge data across siloed sources (e.g. social networks, agencies, and technolgy vendors) fail. And this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to social data challenges.
If you feel inadequate when it comes to your data prowess, don’t despair — consider this an opportunity to strengthen your team’s capabilities. Many marketers struggle with data, but only the optimal combination of art and science will allow you to unlock social’s full potential. Brands that leverage social intelligence to shape both their social and non-social business strategies are well positioned to reach best-in-class status.