Thursday, November 29, 2007

Study Finds Retailers Experience 143 Percent Average Return on Investment Using Click to Call

eStara, a provider of conversion solutions for enhancing online sales and support initiatives, recently commissioned a study, conducted by Forrester Consulting, to evaluate Click to Call’s full impact on sales and internal resources for their organizations. Click to Call allows companies to engage buyers proactively and to transition them seamlessly from the Web to the phone.

To illustrate the financial impact of implementing Click to Call, Forrester conducted a Total Economic Impact study based on in-depth interviews of four organizations using eStara Click to Call, including two Fortune 500 retailers and two multinational financial services companies that have implemented the technology.

The results for retail portion of the study found:

  • A three-year risk-adjusted Click to Call retailer ROI of 143 percent
  • Click to Call increased online revenues by more than $2 million over three year period
  • Retailers experienced payback in 14 months
  • Average conversion rate of Click to Call users was significantly higher than non-users
  • Prospects using Click to Call as the primary means of communication were better informed, and asked more detailed questions in comparison to toll-free callers
  • Companies that deployed Click to Call reduced their operational costs through a reduction in the average volume of non-transactional calls and improvement in duration of customer calls
More information can be found at

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Top Marketing Trends for 2008

The Marketing Executives Networking Group, an almost 1700 member organization of leading marketers who are at a VP-level or above in their organizations, has issued the results of its first annual survey of Top Marketing Trends for 2008. The survey of MENG members, conducted by Anderson Analytics, focused on top marketing concepts, buzz words, global areas of opportunity, targeted customer demographics, as well as the books that marketers look to for inspiration and growth opportunity.

While the marketers weighed in on many marketing concepts a few key areas emerged.

Marketing basics (60 percent “Very Important”) which include specific concepts such as customer satisfaction, customer retention, segmentation, brand loyalty and ROI were of greatest interest. Interestingly, Search Engine Optimization (42 percent) had relatively wide appeal, and cut across marketers in all fields. “Green Marketing” (32 percent) was another important emerging concept and it was identified as the trendiest marketing buzzword.

In regard to Global Issues, China is viewed as the region with the best future opportunity (52 percent); India is a distant second (20 percent). Few marketers saw other regions such as Eastern Europe, Western Europe, Latin America, Brazil, Russia, and Mexico, as comparable opportunities. In terms of another important global issue, Out-Sourcing/Off-Shoring, the majority of marketers (77 percent) reported that their companies do not off-shore any part of the marketing function. Half of senior marketers are not in favor of off-shoring any part of the marketing function, while just under a quarter view it favorably.

When asked about the most important customer demographics senior marketing executives rank Baby Boomers highest with 88 percent ranking them as either very important or somewhat important. What may be surprising is the fact that Gen X (86 percent), Hispanics (86 percent), Women (85 percent) and Gen Y (84 percent) are catching up to Boomers as customer targets.

Senior-level Marketing Executives read avidly to stay abreast of information and gain insights for their business. The most popular books are not necessarily the most recently published given that Good to Great, The World is Flat, and Blink were the top three most recently read books. In terms of all time favorite business book ever read, three in five executives were eager to make a recommendation to their fellow marketers. Topping the list were: Good to Great, Positioning, and 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

More information can be found at

Monday, November 26, 2007

Marketers use brands to help holiday shoppers

A handful of marketers are using their brands to help shoppers during the holiday season, when patience is strained and the advertising din is deafening.

Free gift wrapping, chargers for mobile phones, food and beverages, parking-spot reminders, a place to rest — and even restrooms — are some of the perks that brands are using to stand out while retailers ring up an expected $474 billion.

Bank of America on Friday opened a Gift on Fifth store — at 36th Street and Fifth Avenue in New York City — in a shopping area where more than 30,000 people pass daily. The 3,500-square-foot, all-glass building is topped with a 2.5-ton steel red bow and wraparound deck with pine trees. It will be open through Dec. 2. Inside: a kids craft area, gift wrapping, hot chocolate, coffee, photos —and the opportunity to sign up for a new version of the classic plastic, a BankAmericard. It's now actually a Visa card with 1.25 points of rewards for every dollar charged.

Other intersections:

• Philips. At Minnesota's giant Mall of America, more than 50 people a day call security to locate the vehicle they left in one of the 12,500 parking spaces. To help head that off for the holidays, Philips Electronics is providing a cellphone text-message service. Philips signs throughout the parking areas, over elevators and in stairwells provide numbers for the parker to text that will result in a message being sent back with the location. Ads inside the mall tout the service as well as Philips gift ideas, such as a Norelco shaver and or Senseo coffeemaker.

• American Express. To bond with customers, the company has opened an American Express Lounge at Natick Collection shopping center in Natick, Mass., and another AmEx lounge is back for a second year at the Mall at Short Hills in Short Hills, N.J. The lounges will be open to card members through mid-December.

Staffed with about a dozen people, they provide sofas, cellphone chargers, e-mail stations, iPod chargers, coat checking, restrooms, gift wrapping and quick gifts. Visitors can purchase gift cards or redeem rewards points for up to 20% less for gifts such as digital cameras or an Xbox 360.

• Illycaffè. Starting Nov. 29 at the fancy new Time Warner Center in New York City, this Italian espresso brand will provide complimentary coffee, gift ideas and a limited selection of gifts for sale. To add to the brand experience — and entertain — Illy will bring its Push Button House.

The brand commissioned the innovative house, designed by architect Adam Kalkin, both as art and to promote sustainability. First shown this summer, it's a fully functional five-room home contained in a standard ocean shipping container. With the push of a button, actuators controlled by a computer hidden in the dining room table open the container in 90 seconds into a kitchen, dining room, bedroom, living area and bath.

• Charmin. If all that coffee has you looking for a restroom, Procter & Gamble's Charmin is at your service for a second year with 20 plush public restrooms in New York's Times Square. With hardwood floor stalls and Kohler sinks and toilets, they'll arrive in the popular shopping area on Monday. The stalls aren't cheap. It was Charmin's second-highest marketing expense last year after TV ads.
Source: USA Today

More information can be found at

Sunday, November 25, 2007

A Green Christmas: Survey Says One in Five Consumers Will Purchase More ‘Eco-Friendly" Products This Holiday Season; Many Willing to Pay More

The environment is increasingly on consumers' radar screens, according to the 22nd Annual Holiday Survey of retail spending and trends, commissioned by Deloitte. The survey reports that almost one in five consumers (18 percent) will purchase more “eco-friendly” products this holiday season than in the past, and a similar number (17 percent) will shop at more “green” retailers.

Additionally, almost one-third of consumers (27 percent) surveyed will use fewer plastic bags from supermarkets and other stores this holiday season, and one in five (20 percent) will consider not wrapping holiday gifts to conserve paper. Surprisingly, these responses concerning the environment and holiday shopping intentions were consistent across gender, age and income groups.

How this environmentalism will translate into gift purchases remains to be seen. In the survey, clothing continued its four-year run as the second most popular gift category (gift cards have been #1 for four years); however, the popularity of clothing as a gift has fallen over the past several years, especially among younger groups. Toys, including games, dolls, and computer/video games and consoles, ranked third. CDs/DVDs/tapes and books continued their four-year decline.

The top specifically-named gifts that consumers intend to buy for friends and family included Apple’s iPod, Nintendo’s Wii, Microsoft’s Xbox and Sony’s PlayStation. Other top gifts mentioned included recently released video games Halo 3, Guitar Hero III, Barbie and Transformers. Also in the top 10 this year: jewelry and watches, televisions, and experience gifts such as travel, spa services, and tickets for entertainment events.

The survey also found that gift cards/certificates continued to be the #1 gift that consumers plan to buy; the top venues for these gift cards are discount department stores (such as Wal-Mart and Target) and large home improvement stores (such as Home Depot and Lowes).

For those who don't receive gift cards this holiday season, the good news is that the majority of the gifts received will likely be returnable, if needed. The great majority (75 percent) of survey respondents said they prefer to shop at stores that have hassle-free return policies. One-quarter (25 percent) of consumers said that last season they returned or exchanged gifts; they did so 2.4 times.

In addition, almost one-quarter (22 percent) said they re-gifted last holiday season. Women were much more likely to do so than men, as were younger consumers. Those that re-gifted did so an average of 2.8 times.

Almost two-thirds of consumers (63 percent) say they enjoy the experience and spirit of the holidays; however, a similar amount (61 percent) say they avoid holiday shopping crowds – an increase from the 56 percent that said this in 2006.

Consumers said that over-commercialization, rude people/bad manners and crowded stores are the aspects of holiday shopping that they find most frustrating; surprisingly, younger age groups were most likely to cite these frustrations.

Seven in 10 consumers (70 percent) said they would do part of their holiday shopping online, and one in five (19 percent) said they will shop primarily or entirely online this holiday season. Almost half (48 percent) say they like the convenience of shopping with multi-channel retailers – that is, those that have some combination of stores, Web sites and catalogs.

More information can be found at

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Retailers Think Big for Cyber Monday with One-Day Sales as More Americans Shop from Work

This year, Cyber Monday, the ceremonial kickoff to the online holiday shopping season, is expected to be more promotional than ever as retailers offer one-day promotions and special offers to bring holiday shoppers online. On Cyber Monday, the Monday after Thanksgiving, online retailers will be unveiling an array of deals to demonstrate what websites have to offer this holiday season.

According to the eHoliday Survey, conducted this fall by BizRate Research, the majority of online retailers will feature special promotions for Cyber Monday this year. Promotions will range from special email campaigns (32.0%) to specific deals (29.9%) to one-day sales (28.9%). Additionally, one-fourth of retailers (24.7%) will offer free shipping on all purchases. In fact, 72.2 percent of online retailers are planning a special promotion for Cyber Monday, up from 42.7 percent just two years ago.

Cyber Monday, a term coined by in 2005, began after online retailers noticed a trend of people shopping online on the Monday after Thanksgiving. Since then, consumers have flooded websites on Cyber Monday and come to expect robust promotions and specials that day.

Though more than half of U.S. homes have high-speed access, many Americans feel the best place to shop for online gifts is not at the mall, but at the office. This year, according to a BIGresearch survey conducted for, 54.5 percent of office workers with Internet access, or 68.5 million people, will shop for holiday gifts from work, up substantially from 50.7 percent in 2006 and 44.7 percent in 2005.

Though slightly more than half of workers will be shopping from the office, some are more likely to make a dent in their wish lists than others. According to the BIGresearch survey, men are more likely to shop from work than women (57.3% vs. 51.7%) and young adults 18-24 years old are more likely to shop there than any other age group (72.9%). Additionally, consumers in Western states are more likely to shop from the office than those in other regions (56.4%).

In addition to a rise in online sales, the Internet will have a large impact on overall sales this holiday season. According to a BIGresearch survey conducted for, the Internet will influence 30.2 percent of holiday sales this year, up from 28.9 percent last year. The online retail industry has come together again this year to create a collection of the best online offers for Cyber Monday.

At, which launched one year ago, more than 500 retailers will be posting holiday promotions and special savings both on Cyber Monday and throughout the holiday season.

Last year, more than 300,000 people visited on Cyber Monday itself. Traffic to the site was so substantial that Mall Networks has dramatically increased capacity for the site this year.

More information can be found at

Monday, November 19, 2007

"Generation Virtual" Will Have a Profound Influence on Culture, Society and Business

In 10 years, the largest influence on all purchases will be the virtual experience associated with them, according to Gartner, Inc. By 2015, more money will be spent marketing and selling to multiple anonymous online personas than marketing and selling offline. This transition in customer interaction is being driven by Generation Virtual, also known as “Generation V.”

Gartner analysts said Generation V is the recognition that general behavior, attitudes and interests start to blend together in an online environment. The idea of Generation X (and later Generation Y) was conceived as a way to understand new generations that appeared not to have connections to the culture icons of the baby boomers. Marketers use the categories of baby boomers, Generation X and Generation Y to segment the population for targeting products and services with a focus on age.

However, as more baby boomers (who are living longer) and the younger generations go online and participate/communicate in a flat virtual environment, the generational distinctions break down. Customers will hop across segments at various times of life for various reasons and are likely to act like several generations at any given time.

For companies, it means access to new economies. For example, by 2030, there will be twice as many people over age 65 in the United States with 70 times the real median income of their corresponding age group in 1990. They will be spending more time online engaging as Generation V members. Companies will have new reach (and access to their growing discretionary income) that they could not get before.

Recommendations to Target Generation V:

  • Companies should organize their products and services around multiple online personas.
  • Sell to the persona, not the person. A persona will show you how it wants to be treated.
  • Create virtual environments as a way to orchestrate customer exploration toward purchases.
  • Shift Investment from known customers to unknown ones. Focus on the influencers within the meritocracy.
  • Develop and retain or outsource new skills to attract, connect, contribute and gain insight from Generation V and its virtual environment
More information can be found at

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The End Of Advertising As We Know It

IBM Global Business Services’ new report, "The End of Advertising as We Know It," forecasts greater disruption for the advertising industry in the next five years than occurred in the previous 50.

To examine the factors influencing advertising and explore future scenarios, IBM surveyed more than 2,400 consumers and 80 advertising executives globally. The IBM report shows increasingly empowered consumers, more self-reliant advertisers and ever-evolving technologies are redefining how advertising is sold, created, consumed and tracked.

Traditional advertising players risk major revenue declines as budgets shift rapidly to new, interactive formats, which are expected to grow at nearly five times that of traditional advertising.

IBM's research found that advertising experts recognize the changing nature of consumers and also anticipate dramatic changes on the horizon. More than half of ad professionals polled by IBM expect that in the next five years open advertising exchanges (currently led by companies like Google, Yahoo, AOL) will take 30 percent of current revenues now commanded by traditional broadcasters and media.

The report indicates by 2012, the landscape of the industry will change so profoundly that to survive, advertising industry players need to take aggressive steps to innovate in three key areas:

· Consumers: making micro-segmentation and personalization paramount in marketing;

· Business models: how and where advertising inventory is sold, the structure and forms of partnerships, revenue models and advertising formats;

· Business design and infrastructure: All players need to redesign organizational and operating capabilities across the advertising lifecycle to support consumer and business model innovation: consumer analytics, channel planning, buying/selling, creation, delivery and impact reporting.

IBM believes that all players will need to invest heavily in consumer analytics and automation to gain more insights about the consumer and how to reach them. For example, interactive advertising paired with consumer analytics provides compelling knowledge of who viewed and acted on an ad rather than estimates of impressions, allowing advertisers to maximize revenue and yield management. Industry players will also need to examine if they have right resources and capacity to handle increased marketing promotions and integrated advertising sales.

Finally, IBM observes that the dramatic increase in both the number and variety of promotions is leading to greater investment in tools to digitally transform and reduce the cost of companies' workflows including content management, creative development, production and sign-off processes.

More information can be found at

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Consumers Slow to Start Holiday Shopping

Retailers who are concerned that holiday sales aren’t living up to expectations needn’t worry: shoppers are off to a slow start. According to the National Retail Federation’s 2007 Holiday Consumer Intentions Survey, conducted by BIGresearch, most consumers (71.4 percent) have less than ten percent of their holiday shopping completed. Young adults 18-24 are the least prepared with three-fourths of them (76.2 percent) finished with less than ten percent of their shopping.

According to the survey, debit and check cards will be king again this year with 40.1 percent of shoppers relying on them to make purchases this holiday season, up from 39.1 percent last year.

Additionally, about a third of holiday shoppers (32.3 percent) will primarily use credit cards for holiday purchases. As electronic transactions begin to replace traditional methods of payment, only 5.5 percent of shoppers plan on using their checkbook, and 22.1 percent will use cash.

With unending options, the majority of consumers plan to reach for clothing or clothing accessories (57.2 percent) and books, CDs, DVDs, videos or video games (57.1 percent) when purchasing gifts for their loved ones.

Gift cards continue to rank at the top of lists with 56.6 percent of consumers saying they plan on buying gift cards this year.

Other popular items include toys (43.1 percent) and consumer electronic or computer related accessories (29.2 percent).

More information can be found at

Monday, November 12, 2007

Mobility Solutions Not a Priority for Enterprises

A new report by market analyst Datamonitor reveals that growth in the enterprise mobility market has been slower than anticipated. Although there are many planned investments across the surveyed regions and industries, the market is beginning to saturate in some geographic regions. The report ‘Understanding adoption of mobility solutions’ also highlights the fact that mobility solutions are often deployed together as a packaged solution as both investment and penetration levels for mobile management, applications and security are at similar levels. The report expects the largest growth in mobility solutions to come from the healthcare sector.

Datamonitor’s report analyses the results of a survey of 1000 IT decision makers across Europe, North America and Australia to discover their plans for investment in mobility. The report also assesses enterprises’ preferences for mobility procurement and outsourcing. Mobility was discovered to be a low priority for enterprises and out of the eight core enterprise technologies that Datamonitor has included in the survey, it is the least likely to be outsourced.

The survey reveals that growth in the enterprise mobility market has been slow. Penetration for the five technologies assessed, which includes mobile management, applications, security, platforms & integration and Telematics, has only increased 5% across the survey base since 2006.

Mobility is popular in financial industries such as retail banking and the energy/utilities sector and the survey reveals that adoption has been highest amongst these enterprises. This stems from a number of factors including a larger mobile workforce and often greater IT budgets. However, the most growth is likely to be in the healthcare industry where penetration may increase as much as 20% over the next two years.

Only 16% of the surveyed enterprises currently outsource for mobility and this figure has not increased from 2006. From looking at a previous Datamonitor report on enterprises’ technology priorities, it is clear that enterprises are more likely to outsource technologies that have a higher cost and visibility within the organization such as enterprise applications or security. However, mobility outsourcing appears to be more popular in Italian and Spanish enterprises; a much higher proportion of these enterprises currently outsource or would consider it in the next couple of years.
More information can be found at

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Gift Buying is Expected to Hold Steady, Although Consumers Will Spend Less Overall

While many Americans say they intend to spend less during this year’s holiday season, spending on gifts is expected to hold steady and the number of gifts consumers plan to give is up compared with 2006, according to the 22nd Annual Holiday Survey of retail spending and trends, commissioned by Deloitte.

The survey shows that four in 10 consumers (41 percent) expect to reduce their spending this holiday season. Areas where spending is likely to be down include home improvements, socializing/entertaining, charitable donations, home/holiday furnishings and non-gift clothing. However, consumers said they plan to spend about the same on gifts as they did last year, and they expect to buy more of them – an average of 23, up from 22 last year and the highest over the last six years. Women plan to buy even more, with an average of 26 gifts.

As a back-drop to these spending expectations, American consumers are less optimistic about the economy, with only 57 percent of consumers surveyed saying the economy will improve or remain the same next year. However, the vast majority (85 percent) say they feel secure about their jobs, which is about even with last year. Surprisingly, the recent credit crunch was not cited as a primary reason for spending less this year. Lower income households were more likely to cite higher food and fuel costs as the reasons for spending less this year, while those at higher income levels were more likely to cite volatility in the stock market and declining home values.

Department stores – both traditional and discount – continue to be the top shopping destination, reflecting a continued time-pressured consumer, a need for convenience, and a long-term trend of fewer shopping trips and fewer stores visited. In addition, older consumers – those aged 61-74 – plan to spend 27 percent more than the average consumer, giving added credence to this demographic, which traditionally has reported higher holiday spending.

For the fourth straight year, gift cards are expected to be the top gift purchase, with more than two-thirds (69 percent) of consumers surveyed planning to buy them, compared with 66 percent last year. In addition, holiday shoppers are planning to buy even more cards this year: an average of 5.5 cards, compared with the 4.6 cards they planned to buy last year. One in six consumers (16 percent) plan to buy 10 or more cards, compared with 11 percent last year. Consumers are also spending more in total on gift cards and more per card: $36.25 per card on average compared with $30.22 last year.

Gift cards continue to grow in acceptance: Almost four in 10 consumers surveyed (39 percent) would rather get a gift card than merchandise, an increase from last year’s 35 percent. Also, resistance to giving gift cards continues to decline: 19 percent say they don’t like to give gift cards because they’re too impersonal (down from 22 percent last year). Consumers said that the cards are popular gifts for adults, teens and children alike, and almost half (46 percent) intend to buy them for immediate family; however, they are hesitant to buy them for spouses or significant others, with only 14 percent saying they plan to buy them for those recipients.

In the wake of recent product recalls, consumers are increasingly concerned about the safety of imported products, with those over age 44 being most concerned. More than half of consumers surveyed (54 percent) say a product's country of origin is important to them when making a purchase decision. Almost four in 10 consumers (38 percent) said they feel food products imported from other countries are not safe, and more than one-third of consumers (35 percent) said the same for non-food products. Almost six in 10 (58 percent) say the recent news stories about product recalls will influence some of their purchase decisions this holiday season. Of these shoppers, 82 percent say such concerns will influence their buying decisions on toys and 70 percent say the same with respect to food purchases.

More information can be found at

Over Fifty Million Consumers to Pay for Every-day Goods and Services via Mobile Phone by 2011

New forecasts from Juniper Research show that around 52 million consumers will adopt new mobile technologies such as NFC (Near Field Communication) and other physical mobile payment methods to pay for everyday goods and services by 2011. This will help drive the physical mobile payments market to $11.5bn by the same year.

NFC and other physical mobile payments methods will begin to offer consumers a viable alternative both to cash, credit and debit cards supporting their increasingly mobile lifestyles.

The new Juniper Research study found that by 2011, around 12% of the total mobile phones in circulation will offer support for contactless payment, specifically NFC - equating to nearly 470 million NFC-enabled handsets worldwide, thereby providing a significant marketplace for retailers to offer goods via mPayment applications.

Other findings from the report include:

  • Mobile payment applications and services are already available in most regions in variety of formats where they are being adopted in either a trial or commercial mode with favorable user feedback.

  • Industry players (including retailers, handset vendors and the financial community) in the Far East and the US are seen as particularly receptive to the idea of using RFID or NFC to facilitate mobile payments for physical goods and services.

  • Members of the mobile payments value chain must develop a mutually satisfactory, robust business model, guaranteeing revenue to all parties.

  • More information can be found at

    Tuesday, November 6, 2007

    The Role of the Chief Operating Officer Is Transforming Radically in Corporate America

    The position of Chief Operating Officer (COO) in leading corporations is being transformed — not eliminated — according to a report released by The Conference Board, the global research and business membership organization.

    The report — “The Changing Role of the COO: Is the Chief Operating Officer Headed for Transformation or Extinction?” — is based on in-depth interviews with executives from companies representing diverse industries and a literature review. Executives surveyed include heads of human resources, regional heads, COOs, CEOs, heads of business unit, and heads of company research.

    The report finds that the need for and the definition of the COO role is determined by the relationship between the COO and CEO, including their personalities, in the context of the needs of the particular business. A risk assessment of the CEO "going it alone" and internal talent management considerations are also used for determination.

    Some of those interviewed say that the COO position is evolving from the number two spot in a company to a leadership "on demand" role that changes focus with changing business strategy. The report finds that companies — to grow more quickly in an increasingly competitive business world — are becoming flatter, with the CEO now going directly to the heads of lines of the business for answers.

    The position of COO, though born sometime in the 19th century, reached its apex in the 1970s, when more and more prominent firms began adding the position to deal with greater management needs spurred on by increasing diversification.

    Its popularity dwindled in the '80s, but was revived with the growth of the dot-com era, only to fall with the era's demise. Most recent studies indicate that only a small percentage of leading U.S. companies currently employ a COO.

    Because the role of top corporate leadership is evolving, the COO's job is becoming "situational."

    External considerations that affect the COO role include:

  • Strong global, regional, and local competitors.

  • The increased power of customers.

  • Impatient institutional investors.

  • Talented managers who are ambitious and open to opportunities offered by others.

  • Global product overcapacity.

  • Increased regulatory oversight.

  • Relentless pressure to update, or even change, the company's fundamental business model.

  • The most pressing internal considerations are: the reduction of layers of management and emergence of numerous project-based formats; greater levels of investment in the IT infrastructure, which enable enhanced vertical and horizontal operations and communications processes; and an extensive use of alliances along with robust amounts of mergers and acquisition activity.

    The Conference Board report offers a three-step analysis process that companies can use when deciding whether they need a COO:

  • Analyze your company's leadership and general management requirements in the context of your strategy and company culture — including the relationship between the CEO and COO.

  • Consider the central arguments in favor of and against the COO role in terms of your company's immediate goals and longer-term strategy.

  • Assume the COO role is unlikely to add value to the general management of the enterprise and build the strongest case to the contrary.
  • More information can be found at

    Monday, November 5, 2007

    Online shoppers want smooth shopping, free delivery and bargains

    Online shoppers find site search the most useful element of a retail web site by a wide margin, says a new consumer survey from consultants and researchers The E-tailing Group Inc. In fact keyword search, rated “very to most important” by 80% of consumers in the survey, and advanced search functionality, rated so by 67%, were the most highly ranked web site features.Next was product comparison tools, also at 67%, and customer ratings and reviews, at 60%.

    Consumers use such tools frequently in their online shopping, the survey reports. 65% research products online before making gift purchases, 74% typically comparison shop three sites or more before making a purchase, 60% search directly at a favored merchant, and 54% browse multiple online stores before completing a purchase.

    Consumers, no surprise, value bargains: 86% want free shipping and 76% want sales and specials, the E-tailing study reports. And they rank streamlined shopping highly. 69% want a perpetual shopping cart and 60% want one-page checkout.

    What The E-tailing Group dubs “gifting tools” also are growing in importance to online shoppers. 47% want to be able to buy gift cards online vs. 43% a year ago; 41% want to send the different elements of a purchase to different addresses vs. 33% a year ago; and 31% want to create wish lists vs. 26% a year ago.

    The survey of 1,500 online consumers who responded to an online questionnaire, also showed:

    • 68% plan to spend about the same as last year;

    • 44% anticipate spending in the $100-$500 range; 44% over $500;

    • 53% intend to purchase 16 or more gifts;

    • 74% expect to purchase about the same number of gifts online as last year.

    The questionnaire, conducted by The E-tailing Group in October 2007 in conjunction with StartSampling, also asked consumers to name positive or negative experiences about shopping online. As positives, consumers cited free shipping and bargains; as negatives, high shipping costs or other shipping problems, return problems and out-of-stocks. But on a bright note, the E-tailing Group reported that more than half said they had had too many good experiences to name one or had not experienced anything too terrible while shopping online.

    More information can be found at

    Thursday, November 1, 2007

    Customer Relationship Management Applications Set to Double in Value

    As the increasing number or organizations understand the importance of positive customer experiences and strong customer relationships, the market for customer relationship management (CRM) applications continues to expand. In 2006, the global CRM software market was worth just under US$3.6bn in license revenue alone. In a new report, independent market analyst Datamonitor predicts this will reach US$6.6bn by year end 2012, growing by a compound annual growth rate of 10.5%. The report, “Economic Outlook: Customer Relationship Management”, attributes growth to increasing deployment of CRM in new vertical segments as well as new flexibility in modes of deployment. Nevertheless, within the next 18 months Datamonitor expects on-demand CRM specialists to come under pressure as the CRM arena becomes substantially more competitive.

    Reliance on subscription revenues and service capabilities will mean that the Telecommunications industry will continue to be the heaviest investor in CRM technologies along with Energy and Utilities and Financial Services. However, Datamonitor expects CRM investment by the Healthcare, Public Sector and Life Sciences to exceed the rate of growth in the Telecommunications sector, fuelled by the adoption of a customer-oriented approach to public sector services and the relative success of applications supporting a relational, not transactional, approach to customers.

    The composition of the CRM market is also changing in terms of the typical size of enterprise deploying CRM. Once a preserve of the very large organizations, Datamonitor estimates that in 2006 CRM application spending by enterprises with less than 1000 employees accounted for one third of all licenses sold. By 2012, however, the sector will account for over 42% of the market.

    On-demand relieves businesses of the maintenance and daily technical operations of software, offering companies the choice to let someone else host their applications for them. Datamonitor considers on-demand as an important element of CRM strategy since subscription-based licensing and hosted architecture can address many inhibitors to CRM adoption.

    Recent success of on-demand CRM providers, as well as the fact that most of the major vendors are having some on-demand strategy means that this innovative paradigm is clearly here to stay. Datamonitor estimates that by year end 2007, the global on-demand CRM market will be worth US$1bn, and such applications will drive CRM adoption, particularly within SMEs.

    Nevertheless, within the next 18 months the market will be substantially more competitive. Established on-demand CRM specialists will find themselves under increased pressure both from smaller hosted solution providers and established on-premise vendors offering on-demand versions. The implications are that subscription prices could decrease, particularly among the less differentiated entry-level solutions.

    More information can be found at