Commerce Technology Continues Its Bull Run

With growth comes investment, so given that eBusinesses across the globe continue to experience double-digit compound annual online sales growth, it should come as little surprise that 66% of these same firms are planning to increase their investment in commerce technology in 2014. In my latest research report “Commerce Technology Investment And Platform Trends — 2013”, Forrester polled 49 eBusiness leaders to understand their investment and technology implementation plans for the next 12 months. Here’s what the top of the investment priority list looks like:

  • Omnichannel Execution. Omnichannel initiatives have become a major focus for every retailer and brand with a physical brick-and-mortar presence. eBusiness teams (and their counterparts in store operations) are rushing to implement the following programs among others: pickup-in/ship-to store, store inventory visibility, ship from store, and associate enablement.
     
  • eCommerce Replatforming. eCommerce platforms are the backbone of any digital channel, and replacing legacy home-grown systems or outdated (and often unsupported) platforms remains a top priority. With these platforms now supporting omnichannel programs such as “buy-online, pick-up in-store”, having a scalable and flexible platform that can support future growth is an imperative.
     
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Forrester Needs You - We're Hiring For An eCommerce Technology Analyst

Our clients continue to realize sustained online revenue growth which means many eBusiness leaders have both the funds and backing to continue to invest heavily in commerce technology. Across the board, retailers, consumer brands, and industrial suppliers alike are significantly bolstering their capital investment programs to ensure they stay at the forefront of digital innovation while ensuring that their online, fulfillment, and back-office systems are ready to scale for anticipated growth over the next five years. Subsequently Forrester is hiring for a Principal/Senior Analyst to help us expand our coverage of this incredibly dynamic area. 

Here’s a quick snapshot from the job description:
 

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Canadian Online Retail Shifts up a Gear, eh?

This week Forrester published our inaugural online retail forecast for Canada. While still lagging behind the US market, online sales in Canada show encouraging signs of growth over the next 5 years. In fact, online sales in Canada have grown from C$15.3 billion in 2010 to C$20.6 billion in 2013 and are expected to reach C$33.8 billion by 2018. A few highlights of note from the forecast:
 
  • Online sales now account for 7% of total retail spend. Forrester forecasts a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10% over the next five years for online sales, however retail total growth (online & offline) in Canada will linger at only 2.8% over the same period. Consequently online sales will account for 10% of total retail spend by 2018, up from 7% today. 
  • Just five categories account for half of the dollars spent online in Canada. Apparel and accessories alone are a C$3.5b plus sector, followed closely by PC;s, consumer electronics, event tickets and groceries. Perhaps this should come as no surprise given these same categories that are also some of the most commonly researched online in Canada. 
  • Average online spend is set to increase 37% by 2018. Today the average Canadian spends C$1,130 a year online which is considerably less than our neighbors in the US (who spend US$1,481), but on the bright side, Forrester forecasts that Canadian online spending will hit $1,552 by 2018. The majority of this growth in online spend will be driven by broader access to products and services that today are only available directly at brick-and-mortar stores or via cross-border delivery from US domiciled retailers.
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GSI Commerce Becomes eBay Enterprise – Why This Is More Than Just A Re-Branding Exercise

It’s been more than two years since eBay’s $2.4B acquisition of GSI Commerce and behind the scenes a lot has been happening. Gone is GSI’s entrepreneurial founder Michael Rubin and in his place sits a new executive team that is now strategically aligned with eBay’s senior management and corporate strategy group. Historically, eBay has been a C2C company, but yesterday’s re-branding of GSI signifies that eBay is now deadly serious about providing a holistic suite of enterprise technology and services to leading retailers and brands beyond their core Marketplace and PayPal payment services.

On paper, the new eBay Enterprise is a "jack of all trades." For retailers and brands, eBay Enterprise represents a one-stop shop for enterprise commerce technology, commerce services, marketing services and outsourced fulfillment and customer care. Let’s take a closer look at these offerings and what they mean to eBusiness professionals:

  • Commerce technology. With eBay Enterprise, eBay is stepping up to compete with industry heavyweights in the enterprise commerce technology market. On offer are three core product lines:
  1. Magento, the ever popular open source eCommerce platform purchased by eBay in 2010.
  2. ECP (Enterprise Commerce Platform), GSI’s new platform (formally known as v11) which after almost four years of development is now finally operational and running live client sites.
  3. A home-grown order management solution supporting omnichannel retailers managing order fulfillment and distribution across channels.
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Selecting A Vendor For Your Translation And Localization Needs

This is a guest post from Lily Varon, a researcher serving eBusiness & Channel Strategy professionals

Today, eBusiness professionals are struggling with how to engage their clients around the globe via a website that meets varying language and cultural needs. Additionally, they’re faced with deciding between the different technical implementation methods with language service providers. Forrester has recently published a report to help eBusiness professionals navigate the maze of solutions and vendors at hand to help implement their translation and localization strategy.

Before evaluating solutions and signing contracts, eBusiness professionals must consider these important questions:

What is the right mix of translation methods? There is no replacement for translation done by a professional translator in terms of quality output, but the sheer volume of website content, the increasing demand for quick turnaround, and the number of languages needed far exceed the capacity of using all human translation. Many enterprises use a combination of translation methods (e.g., human translation, machine translation, human-aided machine translation, crowdsourcing) to execute on their international initiatives and fulfill their translation needs while keeping project costs under control.

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SAP To Acquire Hybris — What Does It Mean?

After repeated false starts of trying to build its way into the enterprise eCommerce space, SAP has finally decided to do a U-turn on its strategy and buy its way in. For years there has been intense speculation that SAP might acquire hybris, and behind the scenes there has certainly been much umming and ahing over the enterprise software giant’s commerce strategy. Hybris has been on a tear recently, and until today was widely expected to file for an IPO in 2014; however, the firm’s destiny has for some time been in the hands of its VC investors (Huntsman Gay Global Capital, Meritech Capital Partners and Greylock Israel). The decision to sell to SAP was likely influenced by these VC firms who, between them, have a controlling state in the firm. The value of the acquisition has not been disclosed, but given hybris’ strong earnings over the past four quarters (the bulk of which was directly from license revenues) and with the looming path of an IPO, we can speculate that SAP paid a substantial price tag — although the terms of the transaction are likely complicated.

So the big surprise is not why, but why now? There is no single answer to this question — but we can look at the factors that have increasingly piled on the pressure for SAP to change direction and pull the trigger on this acquisition:

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Forrester Welcomes Adam Silverman to the eBusiness & Channel Strategy Team

After a long search, I am thrilled to announce that Adam Silverman has joined Forrester as a Principal Analyst to allow us to expand our coverage of commerce technology and services. Adam brings with him over 15 years of experience in marketing and eCommerce leadership having most recently been in the role of VP & GM for Alibris where he held P&L responsibility for the Alibris online marketplace. Prior to his role at Alibris, Adam has held senior eCommerce marketing and operations roles at Musician’s Friend, Target and Wet Seal and brings with him a great deal of experience of implementing eCommerce technologies at these retailers.

Adam and I are excited to be in a position to broaden Forrester’s coverage and research on commerce technology and services. Across verticals (retail, branded manufacturing, high-tech, distribution, telco, CPG, hospitality), we are seeing increased client demand for research and consulting on commerce technologies, strategy and associated implementation services. To ensure we are meeting the demands of our clients, we have an exciting research plan in the making that includes:

  • The role of order management solutions in omnichannel retail
  • Mobile POS and the changing in-store technology landscape
  • PCM / PIM solutions
  • Full service eCommerce solutions
  • B2C & B2B eCommerce solutions
  • The changing role of Commerce Service Providers
  • The future of omnichannel commerce technology
  • And much more….
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The State Of Canadian Online Retail 2013

Last week Forrester published a report on the state of online retail in Canada. We surveyed 1,103 adult online shoppers in Canada to understand what challenges the Canadian public face when shopping online. We found that Canadian online shoppers have many complaints; among them high shipping costs and lackluster product assortments. Furthermore, Canadian online shoppers are acutely aware of the gap between the online experiences of domestic sites versus those in the US. Canadian sites are missing key online capabilities like free shipping, flexible pickup options, a stress-free return policy, and omnichannel payment options in addition to the obvious price discrepancies.

Some of the reports highlights include the following facts:

  • Shipping costs are too still too high. Despite the eventual arrival of Amazon Prime in Canada and the increasing commonality of free shipping thresholds, sixty-eight percent of Canadian online shoppers we surveyed cited that delivery costs are their primary concern when shopping online.
  • Product assortment online in Canada is lackluster. Thirty-seven percent of Canadian online shoppers say they can't find the products they are looking for online in Canada. Consequently, 32% of these frustrated shoppers ultimately end up buying instead from US or International sites and incurring the cost of shipping, custom duties and Canadian taxes.
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SunTrust Reboots Its Digital Platform With Responsive Design

With mobile and tablet usage now mainstream, a big hurdle for eBusiness professionals is how to scale digital experiences across consumer touchpoints without dragging development momentum to a near halt in the process. But how?

In previous research, we’ve highlighted the advantages of responsive web design and how it can simplify the development of web experiences across multiple consumer touchpoints. In our latest report, we explain how one company, SunTrust Banks, began an initiative to simultaneously improve its internal web project delivery processes while expanding its digital presence across new consumer touchpoints.

SunTrust, like many enterprise organizations, was expereincing a painstakingly slow, and costly, rollout of its digital platform. Demands from the business for digital experiences were on the rise, resulting in a 200% year-over-year growth in project requests. At the same time, SunTrust’s total traffic coming from mobile reached almost 10% of total digital traffic and tablet traffic was on the rise. With more and more devices emerging at a breakneck pace, the digital team at SunTrust knew they had to rethink their approach to web development. The team landed on responsive web design as a solution to their problems. Reponsive design enabled the digital team at SunTrust to focus resources on building and maintaining a single web platform instead of maintaining and optimizing multiple fragmented user experiences. They call it “The Power Of One.”

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Calling eBusiness Technology Decision Makers - Forrester Needs Your Help

If you're an eCommerce technology decision-maker, we would love your help with our annual eBusiness technology investment panel survey. The survey is built to help eBusiness & Channel Strategy Professionals determine where priorities lie in terms of eBusiness technology investments. Additionally, it will shed light on how your firm’s tech spending compares across industry, employee size, and company revenue. 

 
You just have to share with us your own perspective, and we’ll aggregate the answers. The survey will take less than 10 minutes to complete, and responses will be kept strictly confidential and published only in an aggregated and anonymous manner. To participate, please follow this link.
 
We'll be publishing the results in our forthcoming "2013 Online Retail Technology Investment Outlook" report, where we'll compare what's changed since we last ran this same survey in 2011
 
Your participation is much appreciated,
 
Peter