eBusinesses Use Digital to Deal with Sandy

eBusiness professionals have disaster recovery plans in place to deal with nearly annual storms across the country.  How many times have we heard of a snow storm November and December slamming formerly robust holiday sales?  However, Sandy has put the northeast in uncharted waters.  The extent of the challenges we face in the nation's most populous region is vast and varied:  Gas, fuel and water shortages, road closures, and electrical outages affect both homes and businesses throughout the area.  NYC is an odd microcosm of the variety of issues we face:  Below 23rd Street has water but no electricity and no subway service. By contrast, north of 23rd Street - while it’s not business as usual - life is closer to normal.  Yet, in the outer boroughs and the tri-state area, the situation is often much, much more dire.   

I write this from refuge at my brother-in-law’s apartment at 100th Street because we lost power at home in Tribeca.  Since we are safe, I am more frustrated by lack of battery power and Wi-Fi variability than I am with the lack of electricity for other things.   I felt so cut off without internet access.  To see crowds of people leaning up against closed Starbucks locations’ outer walls to access Wi-Fi is an indication of how digital technology has become so critical to our daily lives.  Now, fully connected, I am able to work at near full capacity in spite of the devastation around me – I just wish my brain was up to my digital capabilities.

Across a broad search on how eBusinesses are dealing with the situation, a number of initiatives arose:

  • Local businesses are already using digital means to try to recover.
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Harnessing the Mobile Revolution -- End-to-End

Engaging with users via mobile is now unavoidable - no surprise there. By 2016, smartphone subscriptions in the US will likely outnumber people and in Europe, almost 70% of the population will own smartphones. Consumers want  simple, immediate, and contextual  mobile services.

Mobile offers additional contact options that go beyond the traditional touchpoints you have with a consumer, further embeds your brand into your customers' lives, and, perhaps most importantly, can serve as the central connector between all your touchpoints. The flexibility and immediacy mobile provides enables you to drive customers across and within channels and, at the same time, comes with greater complexity and more need for speed. 

 

eBusiness professionals are at the forefront of this evolution.  In order to drive value for your business and your customer, it is critical that you have a systematic, end-to-end approach to support and connect with customers through this critical touchpoint.
 
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Inhibitors And Drivers In Japan’s Retail Market

I spent last week in Tokyo, Japan.  Given that an increasing number of our clients are eyeing Japan’s eCommerce market, I thought it would be interesting to share some observations from my trip. Local business perception is that the economy is struggling and will persist to struggle, but robust activity on the street and our most recent Asia Pacific Forecast belie that. There is clearly potential for growth in the market, but changes need to be made before that can happen. Based on my observations, the key inhibitors are:

  • Low adoption of English in the business world. Japanese is the primary language used to conduct business in Japan. Understandable in the world’s third-largest economy. Many understand English, few are comfortable using it in a professional setting. This issue makes it hard for broader penetration globally across eBusiness. A notable exception is maverick Rakuten where employees are required to have strong English language skills.
  • Retail is aggressive but mostly single channel in focus. Companies I talked to are trying to understand cross-touchpoint attribution, but there is little evidence of multichannel sales in those stores. BIC Camera, one of the largest consumer electronics chains in Tokyo, for example, offers an enormous selection without the option to purchase across different channels.
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Learn From Your Peers And Forrester Analysts

Springtime in London will bring the Forrester eBusiness and Channel Strategy Summit (May 23).  The event will focus on how progressive organizations are actually executing effectively in serving their customers across a complex array of touchpoints.  In particular, we'll spend a good deal of time talking about the impact mobile is having on how we all effectively serve customers.  Julie Ask will lead us off on that topic from her vast knowledge in the mobile space.  She and Thomas Husson recently published their much-read Mobile Trends assessment for this year — great read. 

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Join Our Global Mobile Survey And Get Free Aggregated Results

A year ago, Forrester fielded our Q3 2010 Global Mobile Maturity Online Survey. We interviewed more than 200 executives in charge of their companies’ mobile strategies around the globe (40% in the US, 40% in Europe, and 20% in the rest of the world). You can see the results from last year’s survey here.

To help consumer product strategists and executives benchmark and mature their mobile consumer strategies, we’re updating this survey.

Planning and organizing for the use of mobile technologies is a complex task. Some players are laggards and think they still need to get the basics of their online presence right, while others are clearly ahead of the curve. Yet two questions we consistently hear are: “Where is my organization compared with others in the use of mobile?” and “How can we mature our mobile consumer approach?”

Here’s how you can help:

If you’re in charge of your company's mobile consumer initiative or if you’re familiar with it, then please take this survey.

Click here to start the questionnaire. 

If you’re not familiar with your company’s mobile consumer approach, please forward this survey to the relevant colleagues who are in charge of defining or implementing your mobile consumer approach. 

  • The survey takes less than 20 minutes to complete.
  • The survey will be live until November 20.
  • Responses will be kept strictly confidential and published only in an aggregated and anonymous manner.
  • For your efforts, we will share a free copy of the survey results.
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Payments Evolution Adds Complexity To The Multitouchpoint World Of eBusiness

Though Google’s announcement of its new Wallet product is unlikely to be terribly disruptive initially (see Charlie Golvin’s post about it), it does signal yet another point of complexity facing eBusiness professionals today. We’ve been writing about this topic and advising clients about how to address it all year. We expect this subject, fundamentally agile commerce, to be a persistent theme for quite some time. So I thought it would be a good time to pull some of the good work my colleagues have been doing together around this topic of multitouchpoint proliferation (that’s a mouthful). 

Charlie Golvin and Thomas Husson have a fuller assessment of the Google announcement published that augments their existing blog investigation of the evolving multitouchpoint space.  Plus, they have been looking into the complex and changing mobile and payment space lately. See: Welcome To The Multidevice, Multiconnection World.

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A Multichannel Stroll Down Fifth Avenue

A few weeks ago, my colleague Martin Gill and I took a stroll around London in order to see what retailers were doing in their multichannel efforts.  Martin challenged me to do a similar walk-through of the Fifth Avenue stores here in NYC, and our results were largely similar. 

The Club Monaco store was an exciting start given its proximity to our offices (directly below).  It displayed QR codes on its windows which, in the right sunlight, led my mobile device to a YouTube video.

 

The effort was nice but served more as an engagement tool, not really anything that would help to drive sales.

The walk around was characterized by a few key themes:

  • Absence of multi-touchpoint approach. After Monaco, I encountered Ann Taylor Loft, LensCrafters, and American Apparel, none of which had anything beyond their traditional store experience. From the lack of multichannel signs (not even a URL on the window!), users might not know the Internet and phones existed, let alone the wide array of opportunities (QR codes, location-based notifications) that retailers have at their disposal.
  • Missed opportunities. Aveda had a large charity promotion going on in its store. However, there was no signage with a website link, no mention of Facebook, and no effort to drive the event beyond the store’s windows.
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Retailers Push The Envelope With Ratings & Reviews

Forrester recently released a document entitled “Ratings & Reviews: Q1 2011 Snapshot.” In it, we discuss how eBusiness professionals continue to create value for customers via user-generated product review content.  The next evolution of ratings and reviews should prove to be:

  • More flexible, as a multidimensional approach takes over.
  • More exposed, as social networks connect brands and consumers.
  • More pervasive, as retailers use multiple touchpoints to create coordination and consistency.
  • More strategic, as the information derived from ratings and reviews is utilized across the organization.

Of course, this research document is meant to serve as a snapshot, meant to launch a dialogue about what is happening in the space. With that in mind, what are you seeing in the world of ratings and reviews that wasn’t mentioned here? How are those technologies helping eBusiness professionals succeed? And of what we did highlight in the report, what are some examples you have seen of those being used to their fullest effect?

Read the full report here, and then comment on this post.

Patti Freeman Evans

Notes From The Bazaarvoice Social Summit, April 5-6, Austin, TX

After two days of very well done presentations from the Bazaarvoice team, observers of the social space and some business leaders, I come away from the Bazaarvoice Social Summit with a few thoughts:

  • Generally, the big theme was that use of ratings and reviews by eBusiness pros continues to deepen and add value to overall business success. We heard from Argos, Urban Outfitters, J&J, Xerox, Adobe, Best Buy, Rubbermaid, P&G, LL Bean, 3M and Estee Lauder. All of these businesses showed how they have fully embedded the use of ratings and reviews content throughout their businesses. For example, improved product data gained from ratings and reviews content is sent to all customer touchpoints such as the call center, POS, etc., at Argos; Rubbermaid realized from review content that people don’t read packaging and found that products didn’t perform well when consumers didn’t use the product as directed, so it changed the packaging and the product collateral and thus set expectations more in line with the intended use of the product and now have highly satisfied customers. And the examples like this continued throughout the conference. Look for our coming snapshot report showing some other examples of how eBusinesses continue to mine this valuable content to drive business results.
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The Expanding Community Of Web Buyers Boosts EU And US Online Retail Growth In 2011

Forrester has just released its US Online Retail Forecast, 2010 to 2015, and EU Online Retail Forecast, 2010 to 2015. It is clear from our forecast data that online sales in the US and EU will continue to rise as users become increasingly comfortable buying in the online space. In 2010, US online retail sales grew 12.6% to a total of $176 billion. Similarly, EU online retails sales grew 18% in 2010 to a total of $81 billion. The US and EU markets are projected to grow 12% and 13%, respectively, in 2011.

Why is retail eCommerce continuing to grow?

  • There is an increase in overall web buyers. There were 5.5 million new US online shoppers who accounted for 30% of the total eCommerce sales. The EU online population grew by 13.4 million users in 2010.
  • Web buyers are spending more online. 70% of growth in US retail eCommerce sales came from existing shoppers spending more. Similarly, EU average online spend has increased 8% from 2010.
  • There is an increased level of penetration for online retail. Mobile devices and the proliferation of touchpoints have contributed to the US online retail penetration growing to 8% in 2010. The EU is also seeing steady growth; Forrester is estimating 10% penetration in the UK by 2012.
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