Telco economics: The price of loyalty

The Cost of Churn for Mobile Operators

Customer churn continues to present a significant and costly challenge to the mobile industry. Churn rates for MNOs can range from less than 0.75% per month (c. 9% pa) to over 5% per month (80% pa). Postpay rates of churn are usually lower and typically lie between 0.75% and 3% per month (c. 9–43% pa), whereas prepay churn typically lies between 3% and 5% (30–80%pa), although it can be as low as 1% in some circumstances, for example when number portability is not permitted.

The costs of churn are felt in several ways. The major costs come from lost revenues from customers churning away and the costs of acquiring new customers to replace them. During periods of high growth operators can also lose significant market share, and hence revenues and profit, if much of their expenditure on acquiring new customers is devoted to replacing customers that have churned away, rather than on growing their subscriber base.

Analysis of data published by operators shows that average costs of acquisition (CoA) are about four times average monthly ARPU, and it will therefore typically take over four months’ revenue to repay the SAC incurred. The figure is slightly higher on average for postpay customers at about 4½, whereas prepay CoA is on average between 1½ and 1¾ times ARPU.

We estimate that the industry average EBITDA is around 25%, so for an individual postpay subscriber it will take on average 17 months to repay the investment from EBITDA. With typical contract lengths of 24 months, this does not leave much time to generate a positive margin.

These costs mean that it is important for operators to find ways of minimising churn and of maintaining it at a low level.

Some level of churn is inevitable, since customers may move to a new region or country, die, or perhaps acquire a new phone and subscription from their employers as part of their job. Other forms of churn are largely voluntary, and operators have to focus their efforts on these if they are to contain their costs of doing business.

In doing so, operators can find it worthwhile to take into account the different characteristics of their customers. Some people show a much greater propensity to churn and are always seeking improved tariffs or a better deal, but many others remain loyal. If the latter churn, they are more likely to do so for other reasons, such as poor quality of service.

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Mobile Operators Strategies for Reducing Churn

In an attempt to find an effective means of reducing churn, mobile operators have adopted a variety of churn reduction strategies. These include:

  • Offering financial or other incentives to customers who are about to churn, such as discounted handsets or tariff bundles.
  • Monitoring usage and using data analytics to predict which customers are likely to churn in the near future and offering them incentives and improved service bundles.
  • Using more flexible contracts to allow early upgrades or other changes.
  • Giving bonuses (e.g. extra minutes or increased data allowances) or other rewards for loyalty.
  • Offering multiple services, such as quad play, to increase the stickiness of their service.
  • Offering additional and popular services, such as Spotify or Netflix, at attractive rates or bundled with basic services, or discounted entry to events.
  • Improving overall customer experience and service quality to reduce the triggers for churn. This can include significant organisational and cultural changes and efficiency improvements including increased automation. Changes include transfer of customer support functions to marketing, and the introduction of chatbots and apps to speed up and improve handling of routine customer enquiries.

Causes of Customer Churn

This report reviews the causes of churn and the characteristics of customers that are most likely to churn. It draws on examples from operators’ experiences to illustrate different strategies used by operators to reduce churn and to establish which approaches have proved most successful in delivering reductions in the level of churn or in maintaining low levels that have already been achieved. It also looks at the costs associated with churn and their impact on revenues and profitability. Operators discussed include TELUS, O2 and Telstra, which provide examples of MNOs that have achieved low levels of churn, and Globe, which provides useful insight into the different customer behaviours found in a predominately prepay and multi-SIM market and an example of the relationship between churn and SAC.

Contents:

  • Executive Summary
  • Actions of successful operators
  • Financial implications of churn
  • Benchmarks
  • Introduction
  • Causes and costs of churn and remedies
  • Customer behaviours
  • Costs of churn
  • Common approaches to reducing churn
  • Case studies and results
  • TELUS: churn fell over five years
  • O2 outsourcing: changing approach to customer experience
  • Telstra: analytics and customer experience
  • Globe Telecom: costs of churn
  • Cricket: reducing churn in low-cost prepay
  • Adjacent and complementary services
  • Conclusions
  • Customer behaviours
  • Costs of churn
  • Actions of successful operators
  • Benchmarks
  • Resulting organisational and financial issues faced by operators
  • Recommendations

Figures:

  • Figure 1: Share of TELUS revenues taken by SAC and SRC
  • Figure 2: Costs of churn when CoA = 50% annual ARPU
  • Figure 3: Examples of reasons/triggers for customer churn
  • Figure 4: Mobile customer characteristics
  • Figure 5: Customer average lifetime versus lifetime value
  • Figure 6: Relative proportions of customer types in mature markets
  • Figure 7: Costs of churn when CoA = 50% annual ARPU
  • Figure 8: Costs of churn when CoA = 80% annual ARPU
  • Figure 9: Costs of churn when CoA = 10% annual ARPU
  • Figure 10: TELUS monthly churn
  • Figure 11: TELUS EBITDA
  • Figure 12: TELUS monthly ARPU 2007–2016
  • Figure 13: TELUS SAC and SRC % of revenues
  • Figure 14: TELUS costs of acquisition and ARPU
  • Figure 15: TELUS SAC, SRC and EBITDA
  • Figure 16: UK MNOs blended churn
  • Figure 17: O2 customer satisfaction
  • Figure 18: Telstra annual postpay churn 2012–2017
  • Figure 19: Telstra revenues by service
  • Figure 20: Telstra ARPU
  • Figure 21: Telstra EBITDA
  • Figure 22: Globe prepay customers 2011–2017
  • Figure 23: Globe postpay customers 2012–2017
  • Figure 24: Globe revenues 2012–2017
  • Figure 25: Globe and TM prepay and postpay monthly churn
  • Figure 26: Inverse relationship between Globe’s postpay SAC and churn
  • Figure 27: Examples of costs of churn and CoA

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Digital Commerce 2.0: New $50bn Disruptive Opportunities for Telcos, Banks and Technology Players

Introduction – Digital Commerce 2.0

Digital commerce is centred on the better use of the vast amounts of data created and captured in the digital world. Businesses want to use this data to make better strategic and operational decisions, and to trade more efficiently and effectively, while consumers want more convenience, better service, greater value and personalised offerings. To address these needs, Internet and technology players, payment networks, banks and telcos are vying to become digital commerce intermediaries and win a share of the tens of billions of dollars that merchants and brands spend finding and serving customers.

Mobile commerce is frequently considered in isolation from other aspects of digital commerce, yet it should be seen as a springboard to a wider digital commerce proposition based on an enduring and trusted relationship with consumers. Moreover, there are major potential benefits to giving individuals direct control over the vast amount of personal data their smartphones are generating.

We have been developing strategies in these fields for a number of years, including our engagement with the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Rethinking Personal Data project, and ongoing research into user data and privacy, digital money and payments, and digital advertising and marketing.

This report brings all of these themes together and is the first comprehensive strategic playbook on how smartphones and authenticated personal data can be combined to deliver a compelling digital commerce proposition for both merchants and consumers. It will save customers valuable time, effort and money by providing a fast-track to developing and / or benchmarking a leading edge strategy and approach in the fast-evolving new world of digital commerce.

Benefits of the Report to Telcos, Other Players, Investors and Merchants


For telcos, this strategy report:

  • Shows how to evaluate and implement a comprehensive and successful digital commerce strategy worth up to c.$50bn (5% of core revenues in 5 years)
  • Saves time and money by providing a fast-track for decision making and an outline business case
  • Rapidly challenges / validates existing strategy and services against relevant ‘best in class’, including their peers, ‘OTT players’ and other leading edge players.


For other players including Internet companies, technology vendors, banks and payment networks:

  • The report provides independent market insight on how telcos and other players will be seeking to generate $ multi-billion revenues from digital commerce
  • As a potential partner, the report will provide a fast-track to guide product and business development decisions to meet the needs of telcos (and others) that will need to make commensurate investment in technologies and partnerships to achieve their value creation goals
  • As a potential competitor, the report will save time and improve the quality of competitor insight by giving a detailed and independent picture of the rationale and strategic approach you and your competitors will need to take


For merchants building digital commerce strategies, it will:

 

  • Help to improve revenue outlook, return on investment and shareholder value by improving the quality of insight to strategic decisions, opportunities and threats lying ahead in digital commerce
  • Save vital time and effort by accelerating internal decision making and speed to market


For investors, it will:

  • Improve investment decisions and strategies returning shareholder value by improving the quality of insight on the outlook of telcos and other digital commerce players
  • Save vital time and effort by accelerating decision making and investment decisions
  • Help them better understand and evaluate the needs, goals and key strategies of key telcos and their partners / competitors

Digital Commerce 2.0: Report Content Summary

  • Executive Summary. (9 pages outlining the opportunity and key strategic options)
  • Strategy. The shape and scope of the opportunities, the convergence of personal data, mobile, digital payments and advertising, and personal cloud. The importance of giving consumers control. and the nature of the opportunity, including Amazon and Vodafone case studies.
  • The Marketplace. Cultural, commercial and regulatory factors, and strategies of the market leading players. Further analysis of Google, Facebook, Apple, eBay and PayPal, telco and financial services market plays.
  • The Value Proposition. How to build attractive customer propositions in mobile commerce and personal cloud. Solutions for banked and unbanked markets, including how to address consumers and merchants.
  • The Internal Value Network. The need for change in organisational structure in telcos and banks, including an analysis of Telefonica and Vodafone case studies.
  • The External Value Network. Where to collaborate, partner and compete in the value chain – working with telcos, retailers, banks and payment networks. Building platforms and relationships with Internet players. Case studies include Weve, Isis, and the Merchant Customer Exchange.
  • Technology. Making appropriate use of personal data in different contexts. Tools for merchants and point-of-sale transactions. Building a flexible, user-friendly digital wallet.
  • Finance. Potential revenue streams from mobile commerce, personal cloud, raw big data, professional services, and internal use.
  • Appendix – the cutting edge. An analysis of fourteen best practice and potentially disruptive plays in various areas of the market.

 

Telco Opportunities in the ‘New Mobile Web’?

Summary: The transformed mobile web experience, brought about by the adoption of a range of new technologies, is creating a new arena for operators seeking to (re)build their role in the digital marketplace. Operators are potentially well-placed to succeed in this space; they have the requisite assets and capabilities and the desire to grow their digital businesses. This report examines the findings of interviews and a survey conducted amongst key industry players, supplemented by STL Partners’ research and analysis, with the objective of determining the opportunities for operators in the New Mobile Web and the strategies they can implement in order to succeed. (September 2013, Foundation 2.0, Executive Briefing Service.) Operator Opportunities in the “New Mobile Web”

This report explores new opportunities for telecom operators (telcos) in Digital, facilitated by the emergence of the “New Mobile Web”. The New Mobile Web is a term we have used to describe the transformed mobile Web experience achieved through advances in technology; HTLM5, faster, cheaper (4G) connectivity, better mobile devices. This paper argues that the New Mobile Web will lead to a shift away from native (Apple & Android) app ecosystems to browser-based consumption of media and services. This shift will create new opportunities for operators seeking to re(build) their digital presence.

STL Partners has undertaken research in this domain through interviews and surveys with operators and other key players in the market. In this report, we present our findings and analysis, as well as providing recommendations for operators.

The New Mobile Web

The emergence of the New Mobile Web is creating a new arena for operators seeking to (re)build their role in the digital marketplace. Many telecoms operators (telcos) are looking to build big “digital” businesses to offset the forecasted decline in their core voice and messaging businesses over the next 5-7 years. Growth in data services and revenues will only partly offset these declines.

In general, despite a lot of effort and noise, telcos have been marginalised from the explosion in mobile Apps and Content, except insofar as it has helped them upgrade customers to smartphones and data-plans. Most notably, there has been a shift in market influence to Google & Apple, and spiralling traffic and signalling loads from easy-to-use interactive apps on smartphones.

Technical developments, including the adoption of HTML5, better mobile devices and faster networks, are transforming the user experience on mobile devices thereby creating a “New Mobile Web”. This New Mobile Web extends beyond “pages”, to content that looks and behaves more like “apps”. By having such “Web-apps” that work across different operating systems and devices – not just phones, but also PCs, TVs and more – the Web may be able to wrest back its role and influence in mobile Apps and Content.

The Key Opportunities for Operators

This new digital arena is in turn creating new opportunities to support others; STL’s research found that respondents felt the key opportunities for operators in the New Mobile Web were around: Monetisation, Discovery, Distribution and Loyalty.

Figure 1 – Operators see the New Mobile Web creating most value around Payments, Monetisation and Loyalty
Operators see the New Mobile Web Creating most value

Telcos can leverage their assets

Telcos have the requisite assets and capabilities to succeed in this area; they are strong candidates for assisting in monetisation, discovery, distribution and loyalty, especially if they can link in their other capabilities such as billing and customer-knowledge.

This report sets out some of the existing activities and assets that operators should seek to exploit and expand in pursuing their ambitions in the New Mobile Web:

Strategic Options for telcos to succeed

Operators that are aiming to become ‘digital players’ need to adopt coherent strategies that exploit and build on their assets and capabilities. This report identifies 5 broad strategic options that operators should look to pursue and it sets out the rationale for each. These strategies are not necessarily mutually exclusive and can be combined to develop clear direction and focus across the organisation.

Seizing the opportunity

Although many operators believe that they urgently need to build strong digital businesses, most are struggling to do so. Telcos are not going to get too many chances to re-engage with customers and carve-out a bigger role for themselves in the digital economy. If it fulfils its promise, the New Mobile Web will disrupt the incumbent mobile Apps and Content value networks. This disruption will provide new opportunities for operators.

The operator community needs to participate in shaping the New Mobile Web and its key enabling technologies. Telcos also need to understand the implications of these technologies at a strategic level – not just something that the Web techies get excited about.

If telcos are not deeply involved – from board level downwards – they risk being overtaken by events, once again. Continued marginalisation from the digital economy will leave operators with the prospect of facing a grim future of endless cost-cutting, commoditisation and consolidation. This should not be inevitable.

Report Contents

  • Preface
  • Executive Summary
  • Introduction to the New Mobile Web
  • Meeting Operators’ strategic goals
  • Key opportunities in the New Mobile Web
  • Operators have plenty of existing assets and could add more
  • Case Studies
  • Telco Strategies in the New Mobile Web
  • Appendix 1: The New Mobile Web – “Rebalancing” from “Native”

Table of Figures

  • Figure 1: On-line survey respondents
  • Figure 2: Key opportunities in the New Mobile Web.  Enabling…
  • Figure 3: Areas of Value for Operators
  • Figure 4: Telco assets that should be used to address the opportunity
  • Figure 5:  Operator Strategies
  • Figure 6: Drivers of the New Mobile Web
  • Figure 7: Data growth alone will not fill the gap in declining Voice and Messaging Revenue
  • Figure 8: Survey results on operator ambitions
  • Figure 9: Asian and MEA operators are the most ambitious
  • Figure 10: Telcos in native app dominated geographies are more likely to believe that their ambitions could not be met in the current world. However, as stated above, there are notable exceptions…
  • Figure 11: Key opportunities in the New Mobile Web.  Enabling…
  • Figure 12: Operators see the New Mobile Web creating most value around Payments, Monetisation and Loyalty
  • Figure 13: A vast display ecosystem enables Web content providers to indirectly monetise their content
  • Figure 14: Within Digital, operators see most value in Self-care, Mobile Payments and Banking, Video and Music
  • Figure 15: Existing operator assets to build a role in the New Mobile Web
  • Figure 16: iRadio Overview
  • Figure 17: Tapjoy Overview
  • Figure 18: Mozilla Firefox OS Overview
  • Figure 19: Globe Telecom promotion
  • Figure 20: Financial Times Overview
  • Figure 21: AppsFuel Overview
  • Figure 22: Summary of the 5 Broad Strategies
  • Figure 23: Percentage of (US) smartphone and tablet users’ time by application area
  • Figure 24: The industry is beginning to see a “re-birth of the Web”
  • Figure 25: HTML5 seeks to bring the best of both Web and app worlds:
  • Figure 26: Telcos see most HTML5 value in reducing the cost of service & maintenance and improving the time to market.
  • Figure 27: The Industry sees the dominance of existing ecosystems as the biggest barrier to HTML5’s success

Digital Commerce: Leading Apps and Strategies for Retailers, Online Players and Telcos in the $10Bn Loyalty Market

Summary:  The advent of smartphones and tablets is disrupting the $10Bn+ loyalty market by opening up new ways for brands and retailers to engage with their customers in a highly interactive fashion.  This briefing analyses that market, why mobile is a compelling medium in it, key mobile app types, and leading edge strategies used by online players and traditional retailers. It concludes by outlining the strategies telcos need to employ to add value and exploit their assets and capabilities to play a major role in the value chain. (July 2013, Executive Briefing Service, Dealing with Disruption Stream.)

Loyalty and Mobile Venn Diagram 2013

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Who is this report for?

  • CxOs, strategists, marketing strategists and managers, loyalty programme managers, digital commerce and experience managers, new business development and sales people
  • In Telecoms operators and Vendors in Digital and Mobile Commerce, and in Financial Services and Online and / or ‘Bricks and Mortar’ Retail
  • More broadly, any executive or investor looking for an informed new perspective on the digital loyalty market

Key benefits

  • Better and more benchmarked decisions about your own company’s use of digital and mobile media to deliver loyalty progammes, increase loyalty and reduce churn
  • Better and more informed views about the potential needs of 3rd party digital loyalty programmes in this $10Bn + market, and how telcos in particular could address them
  • A broader understanding of the loyalty ecosystem and links to other aspects of digital commerce

Introduction

STL Partners defines Digital Commerce 2.0 as the use of new digital and mobile technology to bring buyers and sellers together more efficiently and effectively. Fast-growing usage of mobile and social networking is opening up direct communication channels for bricks-and-mortar companies that could strengthen relationships with customers and, as a result, improve both sales performance and operating efficiency.

With consumers permanently connected via mobile and social networking, leveraging the collective influence of loyal customers has never been more important. Now, more than ever, retailers are looking to facilitate information access and sharing – such as comparison tools, vouchers, personalised offers, and loyalty points – with their customers. An engaged and loyal customer base is likely to spend more and act as a ‘brand ambassador’ community for the company.

This executive briefing builds on STL Partners’ previously-published reports, Digital Commerce: Show me the Money and The Mobile Commerce Land-grab, which map out a comprehensive mobile commerce strategy and systematic approach to deploy services. In this briefing, STL Partners focuses on a specific aspect of our Digital Commerce “Wheel of Commerce”: Mobile loyalty. It explores opportunities for mobile operators to establish themselves as strong strategic position in the mobile loyalty space. In this briefing, we:

  • Define the loyalty market and explore the role of mobile technologies as an loyalty-enabler
  • Estimate the size of the loyalty market in Europe and in the U.S.
  • Identify, categorise and analyse some of the best global practices of both start-ups and Internet players, such as FidMe, Foursquare or Shopkick and well-known retailers and brands; namely Starbucks and Sephora
  • Examine how telcos can participate in the loyalty value chain
  • Highlight the key next steps for telcos to become successful in the mobile loyalty space

Market size and opportunity

The growing importance of mobile in commerce

In the mid-1990s, e-commerce platforms began disrupting the retail sector by promoting a new consumption model that gave consumers greater control and access to a wider choice of products, price comparison tools, and customer feedback information. Online players thus not only enjoyed cost advantages, but also customer experience advantages over high-street retailers.  Bricks-and-mortar players had to re-examine and re-evaluate their relationships with customers.

While mobile technology continues to create challenges for high-street players by enabling, for example, ‘show-rooming’ in which customers browse products in the store while simultaneously finding the best price for the same product online, mobile also provides the tools for a ‘high-street fight-back’.  By communicating with individual customers through the mobile channel, brands and shops have the ability to provide relevant personalised messages and offers that promote brand loyalty, as well as directly affecting purchasing behaviour.

The impact of mobile technologies on purchasing decisions is, therefore, increasing rapidly.  As well as using their handsets to buy more, consumers are also using mobile phones as a key tool for research and to make buying decisions.

Figure 1: digital buying is a multi-channel process

Consumers Take a Multi-Device Path to Purchase May 2013

Source: Google

Defining the loyalty market

We define loyalty as covering three principle activities within the ‘Retain’ section of STL Partners’ Digital Commerce ‘Wheel of Commerce (see Figure 2) – a schematic representation of all the key elements of a holistic digital commerce offering:

  • Loyalty programmes: A loyalty programme is a marketing initiative that rewards – and, therefore, encourages – loyal “buying behaviour” amongst an existing customer base. Examples of successful loyalty programmes are Tesco Clubcard and Nectar in the UK, Air Miles or AMEX cashback rewards.
  • Advocacy programmes: “Customer advocates” are customers who have a high degree of affinity or emotional equity towards a brand and will proactively talk about a brand, engage others in discussions about it, and influence people to buy a specific product and service. These ad-hoc promotional activities are usually not monitored or regulated by the brand itself. Luxury hotel chains, such as the Hilton or Carlson, are examples of brands with these kinds of advocates.
  • Brand communities: A brand community is essentially a group of ardent consumers organised around a lifestyle and the interests, activities, and ethos of the brand. Those users are “continuously” in touch with the brand and each other, not only responding to company initiatives, but also initiating and continuing conversations of their own about any aspect of the brand/business. Apple, Nike, Harley Davidson and Oracle are examples of brands, which have successfully created brand communities. Although brand communities have traditionally existed offline, the internet has strongly facilitated communication and information sharing between people. The primary difference to Advocacy programmes is that the key interactions are within the brand community as opposed to with potential new users and customers.

Things are complicated, of course, by the fact that the other sections of the ‘Wheel of Commerce’ are used in loyalty activities – customer profiling (in the plan section), offers and deals (promote), recommendations (guide), coupon redemptions and loyalty rewards (transact), and customer ratings (satisfy) are all potentially part of an effective loyalty or advocacy program.

Figure 2: STL Partners’ ‘Wheel of Commerce’
STL Partners’ ‘Wheel of Commerce’ May 2013

Source: STL Partners

A loyalty market estimated at $1.7+ billion in Europe and $9 billion in the US

For the reasons outlined above, it is not easy to size loyalty as a distinct market separate from other marketing and payment activities associated with digital commerce. 

As one benchmark, the AIMIA UK coalition estimates that £1 out of every £15 spent by UK consumers was eligible for a loyalty reward – or 6.7% of their spending. According to Payment Council, the UK spent around £312 billion in retail in 2012, so using the AIMIA UK coalition’s 6.7% estimate, this equates to a total retail value of £21 billion being eligible for loyalty schemes. Based on the major UK loyalty schemes (Tesco, Nectar), for each pound spent in retail, customers are rewarded with a penny voucher (1:100 ratio).  Therefore, the estimated UK loyalty spending by retailers in terms of rewards issued (as opposed to redeemed) is £210 million, i.e. US$325 million.

The UK loyalty marketplace is mature compared to other European countries. According to Global Vision, the UK represents 15 percent of the EU25 Purchasing Power Parity (PPP), suggesting a potential USD1.4 billion European loyalty market value.

Moreover Colloquy estimates that the perceived value of points sold to third-parties in 2011 in the US was worth $9 billion.

Figure 3: US Loyalty Market $Bns
US Loyalty Market $Bns May 2013

Sources: Colloquy, AIMIA, Payment Council, Global Vision, STL Partners
Exchange rate: £1= USD1.55

Some estimates of the value of the loyalty market are much higher. For example, Colloquy estimated the 2011 U.S. loyalty market at USD 48bn, while AIMIA has predicted that the global loyalty market will be worth USD 100bn in 2015. Those higher estimates refer to the broader loyalty market, which notably includes the transport and hospitality industries (with their popular ‘Airmiles’ type schemes). In this study, STL Partners is only considering the retail industry. Also some industry estimates include valuations relating to consumers’ perceived value of their earned and collected points, as opposed to the effective cost to the merchant, which we have used to give a more relevant comparison for players considering the business case in more depth.

Why is mobile such an important component in generating customer loyalty?

Mobile technologies open up new and creative ways for brands and retailers to interact with their target audiences. They can use the mobile channel to exchange value with their target audiences in order to generate leads, as well as on-going dialogue, which can be used, for example, to learn more about customers or to test new product and service concepts. An increasing proportion of retailers are integrating innovative mobile and digital technology into their marketing and loyalty strategy as a mean to differentiate and to fulfil customers’ needs for more personalisation, interactivity, and proximity.

Personalised shopping experiences

The relationship that retailers maintain with their customers is being reinvented. The combination of the Internet, online commerce platforms and advanced analytics tools is enabling new forms of interaction with online consumers.

Consumers are now expecting more personalised shopping experiences.  Amazon has, for example, strengthened its customer relationships by offering support across the whole customer life cycle – recommendations, purchase decision, delivery, after-sale service and customer retention.

As shoppers grow more fluent in browsing and comparing prices via smartphone, pure ‘bricks-and-mortar’ retail channels are struggling to keep pace with discount online merchants that contribute to the rise of “showrooming”, in which customers browse for products in stores and then buy them online from Amazon and other retailers for less. Such is Amazon’s confidence that it can offer prices unmatched by stores that its ‘price checker’ application is even encouraging consumers to visit bricks-and-mortar retailers to trial products before ordering them online from Amazon.

By placing the Internet in the hands of consumers all the time, mobile devices are enhancing consumers’ information and control over their shopping experience. Retailers of any kind must respond by offering competitively-priced and personalised offerings.

Effective customer engagement and interactivity

As more consumer attention and transactions move on to mobile, it is no surprise that retailers and brands see this as an increasingly important way to engage with customers.  Mobile advertising, heavily hyped between 2005 and 2007, is finally beginning to attract material budgets.  However, there has been a shift away from traditional display advertising (common on the Internet) towards more interactive forms of engagement that take advantage of mobile’s unique characteristics of immediacy and ability to influence consumers while they are out and about combined with an effective ‘return path’ – whether that be via SMS or WAP.  Moreover, the ubiquity and intrinsic characteristics of mobile phones have enabled and facilitate “on-the-go” dialogue and content sharing activities.

Retailers are now encouraging loyal customers to populate social media channels with engaging content: (Micro)-blogging sites, photo galleries, forums, polls, and videos are all examples of social communication channels that are being used by merchants and brands to interact with existing customers. It is no surprise that the battleground for Internet players that offer marketing and advertising support, such as Facebook, Google and Microsoft (Online Services division), is shifting rapidly to mobile.

Mobile increases merchant timeliness and reach

As the level of ‘marketing noise’ for consumers rises remorselessly on the Internet, merchants increasingly need to offer appropriate relevant messages at the right time. For example, product offers need to be made while consumers are in-store (and before they reach the point of sale), not while they are at home opening mail or, worse, overseas in a different time zone. Mobile does not just provide reach but, with the addition of location and presence, also allows merchants to interact with consumers efficiently at the right place and the right time.

Figure 4: Three ways mobile can support retailer and brand loyalty schemes
Three ways mobile can support retailer and brand loyalty schemes May 2013

 Source: STL Partners/Telco 2.0

To read the note in full, including the following additional analysis…

  • Two major mobile loyalty app categories
  • Physical loyalty card replacement
  • Loyalty-oriented digital commerce applications
  • Retailers’ loyalty strategies
  • Starbucks – Deepen customer relationship to drive loyalty
  • Sephora – loyalty scheme to unify its social and mobile marketing strategy
  • Where and how could telcos play in the loyalty market?
  • 1. Implement and experiment with your own loyalty programme
  • 2. Create compelling and powerful rewards
  • 3. Exploit your customer data to enable third-party businesses
  • 4. Build loyalty into m-wallet services
  • 5. Provide connectivity to deepen the communication channels between retailers and their consumers
  • What should operators do?
  • 1. Explore, Experiment and Collaborate
  • 2. Develop a compelling “in-door” coverage proposition to retailers
  • 3. Invest in customer data skills
  • About STL Partners

…and the following figures…

  • Figure 1: digital buying is a multi-channel process
  • Figure 2: STL Partners’ ‘Wheel of Commerce’
  • Figure 3: US Loyalty Market $Bns
  • Figure 4: Three ways mobile can support retailer and brand loyalty schemes
  • Figure 5: Key Ring aggregates loyalty cards within a single ‘wallet-like’ application
  • Figure 6: FidMe – a simple loyalty card scheme for local brands
  • Figure 7: Snapp’ business model
  • Figure 8: Foursquare’s SoMoLo app
  • Figure 9: Shopkick’s automated shopper rewards – ‘kicks’
  • Figure 10: Mobile Shopping Apps Average Time Spent per Month
  • Figure 11: Starbucks’ Facebook page
  • Figure 12: Starbucks’ promotional offers on Twitter
  • Figure 13: Starbucks’ Pinterest boards
  • Figure 14: Frappucino.com
  • Figure 15: Starbuck’s mobile application
  • Figure 16: Starbucks leading approach to digital loyalty
  • Figure 17: Starbucks 2000 – 2012
  • Figure 18: Sephora’s employees on Pinterest
  • Figure 19: Sephora virtual mirror application
  • Figure 20: Sephora on Passbook
  • Figure 21: “Beauty Insider” is unifying Sephora’s customer experience
  • Figure 22: Sephora 2000 – 2012
  • Figure 23: How the MinuTrade cash back programme works
  • Figure 24: MinuTrade value proposition
  • Figure 25: Value of telcos’ capabilities to retailers
  • Figure 26: How Wi-Fi fits into O2’s mobile commerce strategy
  • Figure 27: Telcos advantages to support retailer and brand loyalty activities
  • Figure 28: Relative value to telcos versus ease of implementation

Members of the Telco 2.0 Executive Briefing Subscription Service and the Dealing with Disruption Stream can download the full 44 page report in PDF format hereNon-Members, please subscribe here, buy a Single User license for this report online here for £795 (+VAT for UK buyers), or for multi-user licenses or other enquiries, please email contact@telco2.net / call +44 (0) 207 247 5003.

Technologies and industry terms referenced: 

Digital Commerce: Show me the (Mobile) Money

Introduction

STL defines Digital Commerce 2.0 as the use of new digital and mobile technologies to bring buyers and sellers together more efficiently and effectively. Fast growing adoption of mobile, social and local services is opening up opportunities to provide consumers with highly-relevant advertising and marketing services, underpinned by secure and easy-to-use payment services. By giving people easy access to information, vouchers, loyalty points and electronic payment services, smartphones can be used to make shopping in bricks and mortar stores as interactive as shopping through web sites and mobile apps.

To read the note in full, including the following sections detailing additional analysis…

  • Executive Summary
  • Overcoming the Barriers
  • 1. Understand the marketplace you are operating in
  • 2. Develop compelling service offerings
  • 3. The value network
  • 4. Technology
  • 5. Finance – the high-level business model
  • Conclusions and next steps
  • About STL Partners

…and the following figures…

  • Figure 1 – The Cycle and Functions of Digital Commerce
  • Figure 2 – Mobile wallets will take time to gain traction
  • Figure 3 – The mobile commerce flywheel
  • Figure 4 – The STL Partners Business Model Framework
  • Figure 5 – For banked consumers, digital wallets mainly offer convenience
  • Figure 6 – For the unbanked, digital wallets offer convenience and some savings
  • Figure 7 – For merchants, digital wallets help build deeper customer relationships
  • Figure 8 – Telcos’ potential revenue streams from a digital commerce service
  • Figure 9 – Telcos’ potential major costs in launching a digital commerce service
  • Figure 10 – Telcos’ mobile commerce revenues are likely to be modest
  • Figure 11 – Telcos have regular customer contact and real-time data
  • Figure 12 – Potential strategic actions for telcos
  • Figure 13 – Leading Internet companies have global reach and scale
  • Figure 14 – Potential strategic actions for Internet players
  • Figure 15 – Banks have local knowledge, payment networks trusted brands
  • Figure 16 – Potential strategic actions for banks and payment networks

Telco 2.0: Report and analysis of the event

Telco 2.0: Event Summary Analysis. A summary of the findings of the Telco 2.0 Executive Brainstorm, 9th November 2011, held in the Guoman Tower Hotel, London. The Brainstorm explored telcos’ strategic options to grow in the fast changing digital economy. It also considered how telcos can defend their core voice and messaging business, while also examining the steps they can take to improve the customer experience.

Telco 2.0: Event Summary Analysis Presentation


Part of the New Digital Economics Executive Brainstorm series, the Telco 2.0 event took place at the Guoman Hotel, London on the 9th November and looked at telcos’ strategic options, the future of the core communications products telcos rely on for much of their revenue and how they can improve the customer experience both to reduce churn and attract new customers.

Using a widely acclaimed interactive format called ‘Mindshare’ the event
enabled 80 specially-invited senior executives from across the communications,
media, banking and technology sectors to.

This note
summarises some of the high-level findings and includes the verbatim output of
the brainstorm.

More information: email contact@stlpartners.com, or phone: +44 (0) 207 247 5003.

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Extracted example slide:

Telco 2.0: Event Summary Analysis Presentation