Tuesday Apr 08, 2014

2014 B2B Commerce Survey Reveals B2B Businesses Continue to Struggle With Complexity While Increasing Focus on the Customer to Drive Growth

The results are in!  We surveyed B2B commerce IT and business professionals to see where their organizations have invested in the last year, challenges they are facing, and key investment areas for 2014 and beyond.  Here are some of my key take-aways from this year’s survey:

Complexity grows in 2014 as businesses strive to increase market share
B2B organizations have always operated in complex environments – even before the internet came along.  Now having to contend with new and growing digital channels opens up new forms of complexity. 28% of survey respondents support 10 + brands / websites online and 31% support 5 + languages adding to the complexity of their business.  Complexity across pricing, products, channels, online experiences, and back-end systems all remain a challenge for businesses selling to other businesses through digital channels with 98% of respondents dealing with complexity in their org. 

Online channel drives revenue in 2013 BUT is expected to take an even bigger piece of the pie in 2014
There is still a lot of opportunity for growth with only 39% of respondents seeing 20% or more of their revenue coming from the digital touch points.  Survey respondents agree with 86% expecting at least 5-10% growth online in 2014.  But, how will businesses achieve growth in their online channel?  Many respondents believe that their customers are looking for key capabilities such as custom pricelists, search & navigation, and mobile web/apps when buying online.  To provide these features B2B organizations are making a higher investment in their commerce infrastructure and multi-channel tools. 

Customer satisfaction not only a priority in 2014, but a key success metric
Growing market share was the top priority in 2013 and still is for 2014, but other company-centric priorities of 2013, such as growing profit margins, have shifted to include more customer-focused areas such as customer loyalty and retention and increasing the cross-channel experience.  For example, only 8% of respondents said customer loyalty and retention was their top area of focus in 2013, but 45% said it was going to be one of their top priorities in 2014.  And, 28% of respondents say they measure customer loyalty as a key measure of success.   The impact that B2C experiences are having on B2B expectations still remains important in 2014 with 77% of respondents agreeing that customer expectations have changed due to B2C practices. 

Mobile is now table stakes for customer experience, but not yet driving significant direct revenue
Mobile is no longer a nice to have in B2B but is beginning to be a must have to meet customer expectations.  40% of respondents said that mobile is a key capability B2B buyers need but only 2% of respondents said that mobile is drove significant revenue in 2013.   I predict that mobile will begin to be a key revenue driver for B2B commerce in 2014.   Do you agree?  

Want to see the complete survey results, click here to join a live webcast April 16th.
[Read More]

Monday Apr 07, 2014

“2014 Trends in B2C Commerce” Survey Shows Large Investment in Loyalty, Content, Omnichannel

Hard to imagine ‘tis the season to plan for holiday 2014. The good news: the Oracle Commerce team is sharing new insights as to where online organizations have invested in the last year, YOY performance, and key investment areas for 2104 and 2015.

Each year, Oracle releases a “Trends in B2C Commerce” survey to hundreds of IT and business professionals. This year’s survey results showed returning core themes from 2013 results -- with a few surprises. For the third year in a row, investing in the customer experience ranked as the top priority. What’s interesting is that it’s not necessarily the same “CX” as in years past (focused on the linking cross-channel experiences). Firms have already put significant investment in to the first phase of their CX initiatives, and are now moving on to invest in really knowing the customer. In 2014 and 2015, investing in the customer experience hinges on loyalty.

Loyalty is the number one way retailers can protect themselves from the Amazon effect. Email remains a top investment area, as well as personalized promotions, which have emerged as a focus area to combat price competition. Loyalty is also changing how B2C firms measure success; prioritizing customer retention and new customer acquisition in addition to traditional commerce KPIs (i.e.: conversation rates, order values). Nearly half of respondents stated that customer retention is now their second most important success metric behind revenue, followed by customer acquisition, conversion rates, and order values – a significant shift in behavior. While there is much focus on building relationships with customers to increase loyalty, a huge challenge for organizations is the lack of visibility to the customer, their preferences, and their relationship with the brand as a whole (across channels).

Another interesting development over the last year is the importance of blending content in to the commerce experience, with 59% of respondents reporting a heavy investment in rich digital content to enhance the overall customer experience, increase purchase confidence, overcome competitive sites, and to help with SEO efforts. Content within the commerce experience is seen as critical to engagement whether visitors want to explore a brand or conduct a transaction. Now, internal teams realize they must organize their processes, teams, and technology in a centralized fashion to deliver transactional and exploratory experiences together in a single experience.

The third core theme emerging from the survey results is the omnichannel experience, which firms cite as critical to their success, but difficult to manage and measure. Based on revenue breakdowns, respondents confirmed the assumption that channels are used in tandem for purchases and this is seen as a positive thing (for instance, citing in-store cannibalization as only a minor threat). Retailers embrace omnichannel and it’s positive impact to their bottom line, but how companies connect the customer experience across siloed business units and touchpoints remains is a top challenge to overcome.

For complete survey results, click here to join a live webcast April 16.

Wednesday Mar 05, 2014

Mobile Web for the Masses

There’s no arguing that mobile is a big deal. We’ve all heard the stats about crazy mobile adoption over the last 4-5 years, particularly in retail. But one thing still isn’t totally clear: whether mobile Websites or native mobile apps are the way to go for retailers.

comScore cites
that consumers spend 55% of their time with retailers on mobile devices, outpacing computers  – and this isn’t general online surfing (which is far higher), it’s shopping. Some, including myself, argue that mobile is the lynchpin of a retailer’s omnichannel strategy. Smartphones perfectly link the in-store experience with the digital world – or at least, they should.

[Read More]

Thursday Feb 06, 2014

Now Available! Oracle Commerce Version 11 -- What's New?

It’s here! Oracle Commerce Version 11

Oracle Commerce Version 11 is an exciting release because we’ve taken what’s possible in customer experience and business tooling to the next level. Our customers are already delivering the most innovative omni-channel experiences today, but V11 enables them to push the boundaries of their omni-channel commerce vision and keep up with changing consumer and market demands like never before.

From the end-shopper’s perspective, V11 is all about delivering relevant, persistent commerce experiences wherever they are. From an internal operations perspective, V11 makes creating and scaling these experiences simpler. 

We’ve made strategic headway toward unifying commerce, content and experience, so that our customers can deliver great experiences regardless of whether shoppers are looking to buy, explore a brand, or discover products. We’ve made it simpler and faster for our customers to get live. And our flexible and battle-tested platform puts even more control in the hands of business teams and supports continuing innovation.

The Oracle Commerce V11 release continues four major themes, which are in direct response to challenges our customers have shared with us:

·       Synching Commerce, Content & Experience
·       Simplified Business Tools
·       Greater support for Omni-channel Commerce
·       Integrations

[Read More]

Thursday Jan 09, 2014

Master B2B Commerce in 2014 – Attend Oracle’s Annual B2B Commerce Summit

B2B commerce is on the rise, especially when it comes to the Web. Forrester Research predicts U.S. B2B e-commerce sales will hit $559 billion annually by the end of 2013—double B2C sales! Even with the tremendous growth of B2B e-commerce, it is hard to find resources that specifically address the unique challenges facing B2B companies.  B2B commerce professionals are in luck because Oracle has brought back our annual B2B Commerce Summit – February 13th, 2014 in Chicago![Read More]

Tuesday Jan 07, 2014

Online Commerce in The Middle East – Shopping Online – The Tipping Point Is Now?

Ajlan & Bros, a large Saudi Arabian distribution company specializing in the design, manufacture and supply of clothing across the Middle East has just announced a significant investment in online commerce.  Does this present a tipping point in the development of online commerce in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia?  Three years ago, there was very little attention outside the core early adopters.  As with many markets breaking into online commerce, those early adopters were electronics retailers catering to very tech-savvy consumers using simple open-source software or custom developments.  Is this move by Ajlan & Bros marking a turning point within the consumer base in the Middle East?[Read More]

Thursday Dec 26, 2013

2014 is around the corner – Is your commerce team ready for a new year?

It’s that time of year where you are finalizing budgets, prioritizing initiatives, and are wondering how it is that 2014 is almost here.   Are you proud of what your business accomplished in 2013?  Did you meet your goals?  What are prioritizing in 2014?  And, with your growing “to-do” list, how do you know what you should focus on first?  

Our commerce team works with customers everyday to help them figure out better ways to reach their goals - whether it’s more site traffic, higher AOV, or better conversion rates.  Frequent questions that we get asked include what are we are seeing in the market and what are other companies doing?   To answer questions like these, each year we ask hundreds of B2C and B2B commerce professionals to take our annual commerce trends surveys.  The results from these surveys help us provide insight into how the world of cross-channel commerce is evolving year-over-year. 

If you are interested in taking one of the surveys – here are the links:  

B2C Companies: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/B2C_Survey_2014
B2B Companies:  https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/B2B_Survey_2014

We will publish the results of these surveys early in 2014 to help you kick-start another exciting year!  

Tuesday Nov 26, 2013

What's The (Commerce) World Coming To? Think Global!

Is Commerce growth just a U.S. phenomenon?  Not by a long shot. Online commerce is growing in Europe, Asia, and Latin America.

According to eMarketer, European online sales in key markets—Sweden, the Netherlands, Italy, Spain, France, Germany and the UK—will grow an average of 12% annually between 2012 and 2017, to reach €170 billion ($217B) by 2017. In the United Kingdom, e-commerce will increase approximately 11.5% in 2013, to 87B pounds ($138.0B) from 78B pounds ($123.7B), from a study by Capgemini and U.K. e-retail association Interactive Media in Retail Group.

Over in Latin America, B2C ecommerce is still in its infancy, with sales reaching only $36.8B this year. However, online shopping is showing signs of accelerating growth. More than half of Latin America’s e-commerce sales come from online buyers in Brazil, Latin America’s largest economy, and it is expected that Brazil will continue to record double-digit increases through 2014, according to eMarketer.

B2C ecommerce sales in Asia-Pacific will grow more than 30% in 2013 vs 12.2% in North America, from eMarketer. Analysys International estimates that e-commerce sales in China are due to more than triple during the coming three years. As well, India’s B2C e-commerce market is likely to double in size to more than $3B within three years, and could grow to reach $15B by 2017, based on Matrix Partners India research.

So, what are you to do? First, ensure that your e-commerce platform allows you to maintain and manage multiple sites. Consider using multisite capabilities to support your different geographies and various brand sites, all while sharing assets between them. Create one product catalog but enable people in certain geographies or countries to only see their appropriate product catalog content.

Secondly, make sure your commerce platform can handle multiple currencies and languages. And that includes site promotions and navigation. Look for a commerce solution that places that control with the business user so that can quickly respond to geo-specific shifts and local competitors.

Hopefully that post gives you food for thought that commerce is bigger than your local market and even continent. And gives you pause to think that you have to think global in all of your commerce activities.

Thursday Nov 21, 2013

Five Tips for Maximizing This Holiday Season

It's somewhat fitting that my first post for the Oracle Commerce blog should be about the holiday e-commerce season. I've planned fifteen of them (egads!). This is the first time in many years that I haven't been involved in figuring out what to promote to whom, when, where, how, and why. But you know, I just couldn't stay away, so I wanted to share with you a few tips for maximizing Holiday 2013. 

For many retailers, this is make or break time. The last two months of the year can make up over 40% of a company's revenue. Maybe you're behind budget and you're hoping to make up for lost ground during these next several weeks. Or maybe you're on track, but you want to exceed budget so you can max your bonus. Whatever the reason, it pays to prepare.

With this year's holiday season starting earlier than ever, some would say if you don't know what you're planning for holiday promotions by now, you're already in a spot of trouble. The reality is, though, even if you've got everything planned, you're probably adjusting and readjusting until the very last minute. Here are five recommendations to check against, whether or not you've got everything in tip-top shape.[Read More]

Thursday Oct 31, 2013

B2B and B2C Commerce are alike… but a little different – Oracle Commerce named Leader in Forrester B2B Commerce Wave

We weren’t surprised to see Oracle Commerce positioned as a Leader in Forrester’s first Commerce Wave focused on B2B, released earlier this month. The reports validates much of what we’ve heard from our largest customers – the world’s largest distribution, manufacturing and high-tech customers who sell billions of dollars of goods and services to other businesses through their Web channels. More importantly, the report confirms something very important: B2B and B2C Commerce are alike… but a little different.

[Read More]
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