This is a roll-up of all Forrester blogs written for Marketing & Strategy Professionals. Role-specific blogs are listed below. Visit Forrester.com to learn how we make Marketing & Strategy Professionals successful every day.
Last week I was thrilled to attend and present at the annual Shop.org event in the great city of Chicago. I attended many great presentations, talked at length with the vendor community, and broke bread with some of my old eComm friends. One observation that was more apparent to me this year is the massive transformation happening in retail. It feels more dynamic than it did at the peak of the dot com boom of the late 90’s. For me there were clear trends emerging:
There is a palpable divide between forward looking retailers and those stuck in second gear. Going after incremental improvements such as checkout funnel analysis and improving page load speeds are still important functions, but these are now table stakes that most digital businesses employ. Forward looking retailers go beyond site optimization and look at advanced analytics, leverage social graph data to better understand their customers, and employ mobile strategies that add contextual relevance rather than simply emulate the website.
Omnichannel is the hottest topic, but it means different things to different people. The reality is most retailers fail to understand the complexity around creating a seamless experience for customers, and often fall back on defining their omnichannel initiatives as simply creating a singular presentation across all touch points. For organizations to truly support the needs of the customer, they need to focus on aligning supply chain, fulfillment, customer service, and operations around the specific needs of the customer. For instance, enabling the store associate to engage digitally-savvy customers requires new training, new technologies that facilitate assisted selling, and new compensation paradigms that reward the associate for driving sales in any touch point.
Today, we released our inaugural Forrester Wave evaluation of B2B commerce suites. In a sister blog post, my colleague Andy Hoar, with whom I coauthored this report, explains why client demand for this research has exploded over the past 12 months, with manufacturers and distributors grappling with how to better serve their sales channels through digital experiences. In writing this report, Andy and I have spent the past six months evaluating the B2B commerce capabilities of dozens of vendors. Despite casting the net wide, our research found that although it’s common for vendors to provide “B2B lite” functionality for their clients — such as supporting unique pricing for employees — only a subset of the broader commerce platform vendor community can truly cater for complex B2B business models with support for distributors, resellers, partner networks, employees, retail stores, and direct B2C all from a single platform. To differentiate the wannabes from the bona fide leaders, Forrester rejigged its established B2C commerce suite scoring criteria to emphasize:
B2B commerce features. We added all-new criteria to evaluate how these solutions solve unique B2B problems, such as quotes; complex pricing lists; eProcurement; product configuration and customization; guided selling; bulk order entry; dealer management; and account, contract, and budget management, to name a few.
For years, customers have asked Forrester to publish a Forrester Wave evaluation specific to B2B commerce solutions. Well, that day has finally arrived! Today, I’m pleased to announce the release of our very first Forrester Wave dedicated exclusively to B2B commerce suites.
In “The Forrester Wave™: B2B Commerce Suites, Q4 2013,” we found that IBM, hybris (an SAP company), Oracle Commerce, and Intershop lead the pack. Additionally, we found that Insite Software and NetSuite offer competitive options. In a separate blog post, coauthor Peter Sheldon explains in more detail how we ranked the vendors.
What’s at stake overall for B2B companies is no less than a piece of the $559 billion US B2B eCommerce market. To earn a share, B2B eBusiness and channel strategy professionals at all levels of maturity require a world-class B2B commerce suite that:
Offers a customer experience standard comparable to leading B2C sites. We frequently hear from our B2B clients that the technology should deliver an “Amazon-like experience.” Fortunately, several of the solutions we evaluated possess the functionality to deliver robust search and navigation, value-added recommendations and reviews, and 24x7x365 ordering and servicing — both online and on mobile devices. In addition, most come ready out of the box to integrate with back-office systems and complex order orchestration and fulfillment workflows.
It is no surprise that a significant amount of work is being done at marketing service providers (MSPs), customer engagement agencies (CEAs), and direct and digital agencies to differentiate their organizations abilities. The vendor landscape is crowded and competitive, which creates a complex environment for marketers and customer intelligence professionals. How can they choose the best partners for their key business needs?
I am happy to have joined the Customer Insights team at Forrester Research, where I will continue the research and thinking on the CI services landscape (agencies, MSPs, CEAs, and data providers) previously covered by Fatemeh Khatibloo while she builds her research on personal identity management (PIDM).
Forrester defines CEAs as: “Agencies that focus on defining customer-oriented business strategies and mapping them to tactics and execution. CEAs help clients maximize customer profitability and optimize customer experiences by applying data and analytics to every interaction.” We believe that CEAs will not be the only type of business emerging from the MSP space. My research will focus on developing trends within the marketing services landscape, as well as studying emerging provider models. I will also support the CI team’s mission to support customer-obsessed business strategies. See our mantra here: CI’s Imperative In The Age Of The Customer: Drive Business Success.
This is a guest post from Rachel Roizen, a researcher serving eBusiness & Channel Strategy professionals.
Gamification, which Forrester defines as the insertion of game dynamics and mechanics into non-game activities to drive a desired behavior, has rightfully been a hot topic of debate in many roles and many industries. We’ve blogged about it here, and written reports on success stories ranging from Club Psych on the USA Network to the use of games in education.
The banking industry has been using some features of gaming for years, such as by offering redeemable points based on credit card purchases, but some remain wary of combining games with finances. Forrester’s view is that game mechanics can be used to draw in new and existing digitally connected customers. Digital teams at financial firms that have begun experimenting with gamification are seeing positive results, including increases to online engagement, online banking use, product sales, and social influence. Here are four leading firms that are betting on gamification and implementing it in innovative ways:
Over the past few years, extensive media coverage has been dedicated to the billions of dollars that tourists spend while shopping in the US and what retailers are doing to cater to these foreign buyers. Coverage of this trend has often focused on Brazilian and Chinese shoppers in major US cities (with travelers from both Brazil and China having been dubbed “walking stimulus packages”), but tourist shopping is not just relegated to large urban centers. Retailers in a variety of areas are looking to tap into the rising middle class of consumers abroad, many of whom are taking advantage of relaxed visa restrictions or circumventing sky-high prices in their home countries.
Increasingly, retailers are looking at ways to engage these shoppers, with some turning to the online channel:
Service design is critical to customer experience (CX). (If you’re not sure why, please check out my post from earlier this week called "Service Design: The Most Important Design Discipline You’ve Never Heard Of," and then come back and continue reading.) But what exactly is the relationship between the service design and CX? And how does the field of user experience (UX) factor into this picture?
User experience primarily focuses on the design and development of digital interactions. Today, this typically means websites, mobile phones, and tablets, but UX can also include touchpoints like kiosks, desktop software, or interactive voice response systems.
Customer experience focuses on the design, implementation, and management of interactions that happen across the entire customer journey. This includes the interactions that take place as customers discover, evaluate, buy, access, use, get support, reengage, and leave.
As the image below shows, I believe that all UX work is a subset of CX work. Customer-facing digital touchpoints are by definition part of the CX, and employee- or partner-facing digital touchpoints either directly or indirectly affect the customer experience in some way.
Service design, like customer experience, focuses on the design and implementation of interactions that happen across the entire customer journey. Service designers also design the behind-the-scenes activities that enable those experiences to be delivered as planned.
IBM is diving head first into mobile — yesterday it announced the acquisition of a leading mobile messaging vendor Xtifiy, and it even released its IBM Institute for Business Value study showcasing the value of mobile the same day.
This acquisition adds to IBM’s Smarter Commerce offering and makes its MobileFirst portfolio more robust through enhanced one-to-one communication and customer relevancy. But what does it mean for marketers?
In the short term:
IBM keeps moving towards a one-stop shop. We like IBM’s solutions – its MobileFirst solution was even ranked a Leader in our Forrester Wave™: Enterprise Mobility Services, Q1 2013. So, a strong partner adding a mobile messaging pure play to the mix benefits everyone in the short term: Xtify increases the scale of its offering, IBM can pitch an integrated solution, and customers get to reduce their procurement load. And combine Xtify’s messaging with IBM’s soon-to-be-launched Presence Zones and IBM has an especially attractive retail suite.
Do you know what the right metrics are to measure your customers' experience? Do you know how to make the best use of the metrics to improve the customer experience?
If you cannot measure the customer experience, you cannot manage it. And that means that you will never move beyond the find-and-fix approach that characterizes the "repair" stage on the path to customer experience maturity.
So join me and your peers in the Forrester Workshop, Customer Experience Measurement Essentials, in Cambridge, Mass., on October 24th.
This workshop is a great opportunity for all CX professionals to:
Learn Forrester's framework for measuring the customer experience: how to identify the right metrics to measure CX and how to make the best use of CX metrics.
This week, our team finished judging the 2013 Forrester Groundswell Awards and notified the winners. If your entry was selected as a winner in any of our 11 B2C, B2B, or B2E categories, you've heard from us by now.
If not, I want to still thank you for entering this year's awards. We know the time and effort that companies put into their entries -- and we want you to know that gave every submission full consideration. We received more than 140 entries this year -- including many of excellent quality -- and it was often hard to choose the best in each category. You made the judges' job difficult, and for that we applaud you.
Want to know who won this year's awards? Stay tuned: We'll be announcing the awards both on this blog and at our 2013 Forrester eBusiness Forum on November 5.