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….
Read more

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.
Read more

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.”

Read more

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

Hybris Secures An Additional $30M In Funding: What It Means

Today hybris announced it has secured an additional $30M in funding from two Silicon Valley VC giants (Meritech Capital Partners and Greylock Israel). This funding comes only 18 months after hybris took a significant funding round from Huntsman Gay Global Capital to secure their acquisition of iCongo in August 2011. Despite an unprecedented period of growth over the past two years the firm has remained profitable. So why has hybris taken this additional round of funding and what does it mean for customers, prospects and partners?

  • It allows hybris to retain independence while growing credibility and market share. This additional round of funding buys hybris a window of security to maintain their independence in the market, allowing them to focus on R&D and scalable expansion without the distractions of the need to do an IPO or the threat of acquisition. By adding two leading VC firms as investors, the firm is clearly signaling to the market their intent to solidify their position as a global leader in the commerce technology market.
Read more

An NRF Retrospective

As the annual retail pilgrimage to the Jacob Javits Center draws to a close, I started wondering if anything has changed since last year. As I met with Forrester’s retail clients during the show, it was clear that this is no longer just a brick-and-mortar show. The retailers I met with had all sent a delegation of cross-functional executives, including the CIO, COO, CMO, SVP of eCommerce, and head of store operations. These leaders are no longer working in organizational silos: they know that they need to find technology solutions that meet the needs of today’s digitally connected customer, not the needs of their legacy channel-centric business units. I was impressed at the way these retailers are embracing and executing on agile commerce.

On the expo floor, the same theme was abundantly clear. NRF has evolved to become a retail commerce show, not just a retail technology show. Joining the incumbent store systems and POS vendors were all the enterprise eCommerce solution providers, order management vendors, system integration firms, and digital agencies. Whereas last year was all about mobile, with hastily developed prototypes and lots of vaporware, this year the expo floor was a place more grounded in reality. Strategic relationships were abundant, with vendors realizing that customers are demanding integrated solution suites that go far beyond the scope of their own product portfolio. As I did my rounds of expo floor booth visits, executive briefings, and product demos, here’s what I found:

Read more

Commerce Server, Cactus Commerce & Ascentium - The Path Forward

In the words of the Greek philosopher Heraclitus, everything flows and nothing stands still. This is certainly true of Ascentium, the Seattle based interactive agency that last year acquired Cactus Commerce and Microsoft’s Commerce Server. This week, the company firmed up its strategy following last year’s acquisition spree. The result: the company is splitting in two, creating two separate entities focusing on services and product respectively. 

They are:

  • SmithSmith is the result of merging together Ascentium and Cactus Commerce. The old brands are now gone for good, and the new brand with a headcount of over 300 staff aims to offer both digital agency and commerce technology services to its brand partners.
  • Commerce Server.net– After the takeover of Microsoft’s Commerce Server product last November, Ascentium quickly re-branded the product as Ascentium Commerce Server 2009. Yesterday, Smith (previously Ascentium) announced that the product division of the company (a combination of the product IP from Microsoft and the product development resources from Cactus) has been re-branded as a wholly owned, but independently managed subsidiary called Commerce Server.net
Read more

The Customer Has An SLA Too

JC Penney’s CEO Ron Johnson is hedging his bets that among other innovations, in-store iPads and iPods will help make his new concept stores a hip place for customers to hang out. Ron is not alone in his mission; Macy's, Staples, Urban Outfitters, Home Depot, Wal-Mart, Target, Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, Sephora, Clinique (the list goes on and on) are all in the process of piloting new in-store digital technologies.

However, “hip” is not a business case. In-store technologies must not only digitize existing experiences but, in doing so, must improve upon or completely re-invent them. As I see retail technology concepts like magic mirrors, virtual shelves, augmented reality displays, and touchscreen kiosks, I worry that retailers are getting swept away in the hysteria of the technology and are failing to articulate the value proposition that these technologies offer to the consumer.

Don’t get me wrong; many of these in-store digital experiences resonate well with the tech-savvy Gen Y shopper, but do they make the shopping experience more convenient?

Picture the scene: Mom has 20 minutes to spare on the way to pick up the kids from school, so by the time she’s found a parking spot, she has 10 minutes (at best) left to walk into the store, find what she is looking for, pay for it, and get out again without risking being late. Does she have any chance of meeting her SLA? Probably not, unless she knows exactly what aisle the product(s) she needs is in, whether the product(s) is in stock, and whether the checkout lines are empty.

Read more

HTML5 – Maturing Desktop Browser Support Opens The Door To Enhanced Commerce Experiences

 

eBusiness and channel strategy professionals are no strangers to HTML5. Ubiquitous support for the next generation of open web technologies (HTML5, CSS3, and JavaScript) across smartphones and tablets has made it easy for mobile development teams to start leveraging these technologies. However, fragmented browser support for HTML5 and CSS3 features on desktop browsers has thus far dampened the appetite of developers to embed HTML5 into their desktop eCommerce sites.

As we roll towards 2013, the tide is turning; leading online brands, including Apple, Best Buy, Four Seasons Hotels, and Rue La La to name a few, are now putting the features of HTML5 to use on their desktop sites with the goal of enhancing the online experience for customers using modern browsers like Chrome, Firefox, and IE9. We are at an inflection point: With consumer adoption of HTML5-“capable” desktop browsers widespread and web developer understanding of the technology rapidly maturing, HTML5 is no longer an emerging toolset for mobile and tablet development. Instead, it is fast becoming the de facto standard for web experience innovation across touchpoints.

As eBusiness teams evaluate the business case for HTML5 on the desktop, it is important to remember that this not an all-new technology— it is a collection of individual features that extend the existing W3C HTML standards. The decision to start using HTML5 or CSS3 does not require any changes to or throwing away of existing code. Instead, eBusiness teams can simply enhance the user experience of existing sites by incrementally using the new features of HTML5. HTML5 puts more tools in the box, but it doesn’t change the fundamentals of how to build the website.

Read more

Is Responsive Design The Future of Cross Touchpoint Web Development?

If you’ve been chatting with your web development team recently, you might recall them talking about responsive design. But, what is responsive design and why should eBusiness professionals be taking it seriously?

First, responsive design is not a technology, it’s a development philosophy - an approach to web development that forces user experience developers to design and optimize from the outset for multiple touchpoints including (but not limited to) the desktop, tablets and mobiles. Until now, many eBusiness teams have either developed their mobile site by coding a separate set of templates, or outsourcing to a 3rd party vendor or agency whom in many cases scrapes or proxies existing content from the desktop site. As many retailers and other eBusiness teams start to develop optimized tablet sites, there is a distinct concern that supporting 3 different sites for desktop, tablets and mobile is becoming increasingly expensive and is causing a drag on innovation momentum.

With a responsive site, developers use a single set of front-end code to build a site that responds within the constraints of the device to deliver an experience that is contextual to the size and orientation of the screen. Responsive design allows eBusiness leaders to consolidate their teams (UX designers and developers) back into a single ‘web’ team aligned around a single technology (CSS3 & HTML5) and writing a single set of code. Some eBusiness leaders are referring to this consolidation as back to “one-web” and are increasingly intrigued by the potential cost and efficiency benefits that moving to a responsive site has to offer.

Read more