Retailers Are Prioritizing The Wrong Digital Technologies In Brick And Mortar Stores

Lily Varon

Retailers are inundated with promising technologies to revolutionize the in-store shopping experience for consumers. The problem? Our research shows that most of these experiences today miss the mark and may actually make the customer experience more complex or confusing.  On the other hand, retailers are seeing significant, and measureable, value from technologies that directly improve store operations.

Forrester has published a two-part TechRadar™ defining the current state, business value, and long-term prospects for technologies in retail stores: one for those focusing specifically on customer experiences and the other on technologies focusing on operations. It’s still early days for both of these technology categories but we found that:

  • Operations technologies generally already offer significant business value to retailers. Of the 14 technologies we evaluated,nearly half are on track to provide significant business value for retailers. Retailers are finding that these technologies help their physical store teams and operations perform better and become more efficient by gleaning customer insights and spurring real-time action by store staff.
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Mobile (Commerce) Executive Survey: Please take it!!! We'll Share The Results!

Julie Ask

Each year Forrester fields an Executive Survey to understand and benchmark enterprise mobile initiatives. This year, we are updating the survey to help business executives not only to benchmark and mature their approach to mobile but also to help them integrate mobile into their digital initiatives more  holistically. (A marketer’s version of this survey will be released later this year).

Creating a strategy and building an operation to use mobile to win, serve and retain your customers is a complex task. Integrating mobile into a broader corporate strategy is even more complex. The survey results will help firms understand what strategies, technologies and operational elements (e.g., organization, process, metrics, talent, etc.) should be in place given their goals for mobile. All answers will be treated anonymously and only used in aggregate.

For your efforts, we will share a free copy of the topline survey results.

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Banks and Fintechs: Better together

Aurelie L'Hostis

Old met new in the world of retail banking on July 28, as BPCE, France’s second largest banking group, announced the acquisition of the German digital bank and fintech pioneer Fidor Bank.

Founded in 2009, Fidor Bank has built a community of 350,000 users across Germany and the UK, who are rewarded for offering peer-to-peer financial advice and invited to participate in the social co-creation of products and services. The startup has also developed a proprietary technology platform – the Fidor Operating System (fOS) – which enables open and fast API banking, offering its 120,000 customers access to a wide selection of services provided by other fintech partners.

The news about BPCE inking a deal with Fidor came as no surprise. As I discuss in a recent report, the digital banks which have proliferated over the past few years – competing to win customers by offering more compelling digital customer experiences than those offered by established banks – are struggling to acquire large numbers of customers and reach profitable scale. Why? They operate on narrow margins, can’t sustain large marketing campaigns, and create limited perceived added-value for customers.

Fidor has done well since its launch, hitting profitability for the first time in 2012. The startup however made the decision to shift its business model away from just direct-to-consumer offerings, and now white-label its technology to financial institutions. The telecom operator Telefónica in Germany recently partnered with the fintech to launch a mobile banking service for its customers.

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Bank of America Redesigns Email Alerts

Peter Wannemacher

Few things are as unsexy as emails from a financial services company. But email alerts play an important role in the world of digital banking: Forrester’s new research report shows that alerts drive mobile banking usage and engagement.

Too few digital banking teams allocate significant resources to their alerts efforts — as evidenced by the mixed results in the Alerts category of Forrester’s Digital Banking Benchmark scores. But some banks have recently sought to improve their email, SMS, and in-app alerts (also called “push notifications”).

Bank of America has now launched the latest updates to its alerts. Just a couple of years ago, the bank’s email alerts were text-heavy, unwieldy, crowded messages with little clear guidance for customers. But through multiple iterations, Bank of America redesigned its alerts to be clean and simple with a clear call to action based on the purpose of the alert (see images below).

Forrester spoke with  Alex Wittkowski, VP and senior product manager of mobile banking and commerce at Bank of America, who discussed how the bank redesigned its email alerts “to focus on just those few crucial elements” at the heart of an alert’s value to the customer. According to Wittkowski, the redesigned alerts are now:

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The Wounded Unicorns Of Fintech

Oliwia Berdak

Finovate, KPMG, and CB Insights are all reporting on record investments in financial technology (fintech) in 2016.[i] According to Finovate, the total number of deals year-to-date stands at 737, double last year’s 371. The amount invested has more than doubled, too — from $8.4 billion raised during the same period a year ago to $17.4 billion year-to-date.

There seems to be a lot of optimism in fintech, especially when you consider this chart:

Source: Yahoo Finance.

The share prices of fintech darlings in peer-to-peer (P2P) lending, small-business lending, and mobile payments have collapsed post-IPO. And devaluations aren’t affecting only publicly owned companies. Zenefits — which offers cloud-based software to manage payroll, health insurance, and other benefits — was valued at $4.5 billion in May 2015. Since then, Fidelity, which led the funding round, has written down the value of its investment, now estimating Zenefits' share price at $5.60 — down from $14.90 a year earlier.[ii]

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Mobile Search: It’s Different

Julie Ask

This post is co-authored by Jennifer Wise, senior analyst at Forrester

Mobile search is essential. In fact, according to Forrester’s Mobile Audience Data, Q4 2015, 87% of US smartphone owners rely on browser-based search on mobile devices. And the data reveals that Google’s search engine is the most common path to a mobile site even for well-known brands such as Amazon, Walmart and Kmart.

As a top discovery resource, companies can’t afford to wait any longer to implement a mobile-first search strategies. The biggest seen mistake today? Either lacking a strategy completely, or treating mobile search the same way as desktop search. As Forrester Research’s Dr. James McQuivey says, “When businesses first adopt a technology, they do old things in new ways. When they internalize a technology, they begin to do new things.” Consumers use mobile phones very differently than they use desktop computers. So must Marketers.

Forrester conducted an in-depth analysis of how consumers use Google search on mobile versus desktop devices to parse-out how consumers use the two devices differently. Today, Forrester finds that consumers purchase a range of categories on their smartphones: insurance, travel, financial services products, and even pet food. For this research we focused on the travel category because consumers are so likely to research and book travel on mobile devices – Forrester’s Mobile Audience Online Survey, Q4 2015 reveals that 29% of mobile users have purchased hotel rooms and 22% an airline ticket on their smartphone.

To build on our Forrester insights, we looked at Google’s data and discovered that when it comes to mobile searching:

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Counting Down To Forrester's Next-Generation Financial Services Summit Sydney

Zhi-Ying Ng

Despite being geographically far away from the rest of the world, Australia's financial services sector has found its place on the world stage. Australian banks are some of the most innovative in the world. As our 2016 Global Mobile Banking Functionality Benchmark has shown, some Australian banks have overtaken their global counterparts, with Westpac taking the coveted top spot.

The question that I often get asked from Australian digital banking teams is, "so what's next in financial services?"

And I think that's a great question. As uncertain economic conditions, wavering markets, and tight budgets continue to increase the pressure on Australian digital teams to deliver better experiences and increased sales through digital touchpoints, we believe that digital business executives have to drive digital transformation. And this means far more than simply developing a "digital strategy". 

Digital banking executives must make mobile the hub of customer interactions, and not treat mobile as if it were just another channel. They should develop mobile banking as a platform to engage customers. To continue to win and retain mindshare and increase wallet share, the next step digital banking teams must focus on are ways to create new sources of value for their customers, not just meeting their basic needs.

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We Have A New Mobile Banking Leader: Westpac Tops Forrester’s Global Benchmark In 2016

Aurelie L'Hostis

Mobile banking adoption has reached critical mass. Rapid progress in mobile technologies and consumers' ever-increasing expectations and changing behavior have left many banks around the world playing catch-up. In the meantime, a cluster of banks is racing forward by putting customers at the center of their strategy, striving to anticipate customers' emerging needs, and by embracing an agile and iterative approach to speed up the development of new mobile capabilities that differentiate them from their peers. Today, these banks are delivering outstanding services to their customers in mobile, and in 2016, Westpac in Australia is leading the pack.

To help digital business strategy leaders better understand the landscape of mobile banking, identify best practices, and benchmark their own capabilities in this area, Forrester conducts an annual functionality benchmark applying 40 criteria. This year, we evaluated 46 leading retail banks from more than a dozen countries across four continents, and have just published the findings in our "2016 Global Mobile Banking Functionality Benchmark" report.

Here are some of the highlights from the global benchmark report:

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Responsive Web Design Is Not Mobile First

Julie Ask

My colleague and coauthor Ted Schadler and I are watching with dismay as company after company shrinks its desktop website down to a small screen using responsive web design (RWD) techniques so it fits on – but isn’t optimized for – smartphones.

Companies have delightedly embraced responsive web design as the one-size-fits-all solution to mobile, tablet, and desktop sites. In a recent survey of digital business professionals, we found that 93% are using, piloting, or planning to pilot responsive web design.

That sounds great on paper. After all, RWD is a very practical approach to developing websites that render on any device. But when mobile tasks diverge from desktop tasks as they often do in commerce, the one-size-fits-all approach taken by most responsive retrofits will fail to delight or even satisfy customers on smartphones or desktops.

People do different things on their smartphones than on their desktops or tablets (see figure). To delight and serve your customers in their mobile moments of need, you need to give them exactly what they need to move forward in their immediate context. So if you can't reach all customers with an app – AND YOU WON’T! – you will need to deliver an app-like mobile web experience.

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Traditional Banks Are Catching Up To Third-Party Payment Platforms In China

Xiaofeng Wang

This is the second year that Forrester has evaluated the mobile banking services in China, and we’ve just published the results in our 2016 China Mobile Banking Functionality Benchmark report. Compared with last year, we found that incumbent banks are close on the heels of top performer Alipay. Mobile banking teams can use these findings to benchmark their own mobile banking capabilities and identify areas for improvement.

To help mobile banking teams benchmark their mobile banking capabilities, identify critical mobile features, and plan for the future, we used our updated Mobile Banking Functionality Benchmark methodology to evaluate the mobile banking services of six of the largest retail banks in China, including five traditional banks — Agricultural Bank of China (ABC), Bank of China (BOC), China Construction Bank (CCB), China Merchants Bank (CMB), and Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) — and one nontraditional bank: Alipay.

The Chinese mobile banking services we reviewed achieved an average score of 59 out of 100, an improvement over last year's 55. Leading traditional banks like CMB and ICBC have made many improvements over the past year and narrowed the gap with leader Alipay. Overall, we found that:

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