Friday, June 26, 2009

Cross-Channel Seminar 7/16

Driving Cross-Channel Retail Success
July 16, 2009, New York, NY, - 9:00am to 2:00pm Eastern
American Management Association Conference Center

- RIS News
- AMR Research

Sponsored by ATG

The agenda includes:

* Emerging trends and best practices in cross-channel selling
* Evolving operating models to support cross-channel order management and fulfillment
* Peer networking to reveal emerging retailer priorities
* Roadmap discussion to help build the business case

Spiegel Sold Again

Multichannel Merchant magazine reports that for the second time in nine months, Spiegel Brands has a new owner. Signature Styles, a newly formed division of private equity firm Patriarch Partners, acquired the multititle apparel cataloger on June 17 from Granite Creek Partners for an undisclosed price.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Merchant Data Systems Selects ControlScan as PCI Assessor

Merchant Data Systems, a full-service payment processing company, has joined forces with ControlScan, a leading provider of Payment Card Industry (PCI) compliance and security solutions exclusively focused on small- to medium-sized merchants, to help its merchants meet mandatory requirements set forth by the PCI Security Standards Council (PCI SSC).

Click HERE for further details.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

MarketLive Launches New Marketing Suite

MarketLive, Inc. , a leading eCommerce platform and services provider, has announced a strategic alliance between MarketLive, Bronto Software, and MyBuys. The joint partnership supports the newly announced MarketLive Intelligent Marketing and Merchandising (IMM) Suite™ which is designed to deliver relevant, highly-personalized, and integrated consumer experiences across marketing e-mails and eCommerce websites.

MarketLive is seamlessly integrating the MarketLive segmentation engine with Bronto’s e-mail marketing services and MyBuys’s personalized product recommendations on the Web and in e-mail alerts to form the MarketLive IMM Suite.

The MarketLive IMM Suite combines Bronto’s email management platform with behavioral segmentation and personalization engines. This allows merchants to drive more relevant campaigns to consumers based on site and purchase behavior.

MyBuys is the leading provider of personalized product recommendations for online retailers. The company builds deep profiles based on individual shopper behavior. It then uses a patented portfolio of algorithms and real-time optimization to deliver the most relevant recommendations on the Web in product alerts and in e-mail campaigns.

Some Good News

Some good news is always a morale booster. Catalogue & eBusiness magazine in the UK reports that fashion cataloguer/retailer White Stuff reported record underlying profits of £13.3 million for the year ended 29th April. That’s up 42 percent from the previous year. Sales rose 34 percent, to £58.4 million, while home shopping sales soared 70 percent.

Also, outdoor clothing manufacturer/marketer Regatta Group, which owns cataloguer/retailers Craghoppers and Hawkshead, has bought a fourth warehouse to accommodate its continued growth. The company’s annual sales for the year ended 31st January were £110 million, up 28 percent from the previous year.

We know that direct sales have been strong in many areas, but these numbers are particularly impressive! Way to go, guys and gals!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Playboy Sues eCommerce Provider

Crain's Chicago Business reports that Inc. has sued the company that handles its eCommerce, claiming the firm is attempting to void its contract instead of admitting it can't deliver promised results.

"The eCommerce division of Chicago-based Playboy Enterprises Inc. filed the lawsuit Wednesday against eFashion Solutions LLC of Secaucus, N.J., for breach of contract. Playboy wants a federal judge to order eFashion to pay damages and honor its business agreement until Playboy can find a suitable replacement," the paper reported.

Losing eFashion as manager of Playboy’s Bunny Shop “will irreparably harm Playboy, forcing Playboy to shut down its e-commerce and catalog business,” the suit said.

According to the suit, eFashion wants to end the business relationship on July 1, claiming that Playboy breached the terms of its contract.

"EFashion CEO Ed Foy said his company couldn’t operate under the financial terms of its agreement, the suit said. Playboy claims in October it signed a modified contract with eFashion that included concessions including slashing the first-year minimum royalty payment to $750,000 from the previously agreed $1.5 million. Playboy claims that eFashion has yet to deliver the first-quarter payment of that royalty."

Playboy’s suit did not detail why eFashion claimed Playboy was in breach of contract.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

PCI Standards "Inadequate"

SC Magazine reports that Paul Henry, security and forensic analyst at Lumension, claimed that breach after breach of credit card data has become all too commonplace, and PCI should raise the bar and increase the minimum acceptable standards to become compliant in light of these many failures.

Pointing to the Heartland incident, Henry stated that PCI had "failed to adequately address consumer risk by not mandating end-to-end encryption as part of its requirement, allowing the use of compensating controls in lieu of encryption in order to spare those under PCI requirements from the expense of properly securing the data they were entrusted to protect."

He concluded by claiming that PCI compliance is at risk of becoming nothing more then a form of "get-out-of-jail free card" for merchants and processors that meet a below grade standard in achieving PCI compliance.

Qualys PCI White Paper

Qualys, a network scanning and security assessment firm, has a good brief White Paper on PCI Compliance --

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Eddie Bauer Files Chapter 11

Eddie Bauer Holdings Inc., the nearly 90-year-old outdoor retailer with a rich history as a direct commerce merchant, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, overcome by a heavy debt load.

A U.S. bankruptcy court judge will conduct an auction of the firm and its assets. The Bellevue, Wash., company said private-equity firm CCMP Capital Advisors LLC agreed to offer $202 million in cash for its assets during the auction, and has agreed to keep the majority of its 371 stores open, honor gift cards, and hold onto most employees.

The company said in its filing that it is seeking court protection because its financial position was creating uncertainty among its suppliers and because its cash flow problems "could severely impede" its operations.

Eddie Bauer was founded in 1920 in Seattle. The clothing retailer was bought by General Mills Inc. in 1971 and then by Spiegel Inc. in 1988. After Spiegel filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2003 and most of its assets were sold, the remainder was reorganized in 2005 as Eddie Bauer Holdings Inc.

CCMP specializes in buyouts and growth equity investments. Its other retail investments include Cabela's, Guitar Center,, Quiznos, Pinnacle Foods and Crosstown Traders.

eCommerce Solution Search

At a panel discussion at Internet Retailer Conference with Bill Zujewski, Vice President, Product Marketing, ATG: many merchants are unhappy with their current eCommerce solution and are looking for alternatives.

So the beat goes on... It's hard to know if the "unhappiness" is a function of the inability of the platform to evolve, or lack of flexibility, or scalability, or control that the user has. One of the factors is undoubtedly "function envy" that e-merchants must inevitably suffer from as they troll the competition and even non-competitive sites. That, plus the avalanche of new technologies and social media, some fad-driven, many legitimate. It's a game you can't win, though, I'm afraid. And the "solutions" that might outshine many others are $$$$$$$....

eCommerce Consolidation?

As reported in Internet Retailer: Raising capital will be difficult in the next few years, and that will lead to a wave of mergers and acquisitions in online retailing, Inc. chairman and CEO Patrick Byrne predicted today in a keynote address to the Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition in Boston.

He encouraged e-retailers to cut costs, outsource tasks that are not core to the business, and measure results relentlessly. “The more you do these things, the more you will appeal to somebody as an acquiree,” Byrne said.

He related how he learned from his years working for billionaire investor Warren Buffet the importance of measuring everything connected to a business. “I wish I could take our marketing guys and staple to each of them a bookkeeper,” Byrne said. “They overwhelmingly pay for themselves. Bookkeepers and accountants are thick throughout our company.”

He said, No. 29 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, has benefited from leveraging technology of vendors, rather than relying on in-house staff to perform tasks that vendors can do better. And he emphasized the value of creating a single data warehouse that can be used over and over with many applications, and that ensures data consistency.

All very true...but Don Libey reports in an e-mail to me that merchants at the Catalogue Exchange Annual Conference in London recently were up in arms about "third-party service and technology robbery and overcharging . . . revolt time!" In short, leveraging vendor technology can be an expense that becomes hard to control.

Forrester's Security Forum 2009

Forrester's Security Forum 2009 will be held in La Jolla, CA, Sept. 10 - 11, bringing together IT experts and analysts to hold practical sessions, panels, and workshops on today’s most difficult security and risk management (SRM) struggles.

PCI Generating no fraud prevention ROI

According to a guest editorial on StorefrontBacktalk by David Taylor, founder of the PCI Knowledge Base and a former E-Commerce and Security analyst with Gartner, PCI-compliance has not had any significant impact on fraud detection. The idea that PCI compliance would translate into profits for the merchant due to fewer chargebacks, less internal fraud and a lower risk of security breaches does not appear to be materializing for most merchants.

"Many risk managers," notes Taylor, "find the PCI controls valuable in catching cases of internal fraud, such as by call center employees or IT department employees. But the main task of fraud management – reducing external fraud – is not really helped, on a day-to-day basis, by PCI-mandated controls or the reporting tools that are available to monitor these controls."

Heartland, Voltage Developing E3 System

Heartland Payment Systems, one of the nation’s largest payments processors, and which recently suffered an infamous data breach, has selected Voltage Security as a partner to develop end-to-end encryption (E3) software specifically suited to payment processing.

“Heartland is developing a complete end-to-end encryption solution designed to protect cardholder data at all stages of a transaction – from card swipe through delivery to the card brands,” said Bob Carr, Heartland’s chairman and chief executive officer. “Together with Voltage, we are developing a comprehensive solution that currently does not exist.”

The Voltage SecureData™ product line, based on its Format-Preserving Encryption™ and Identity-Based Encryption™ approaches, will power the software component of Heartland’s E3 solution. Heartland also employs Voltage SecureMail™ and Voltage SecureFile™ to protect personal information throughout its corporate and extended business network.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Tokenization Webinar

One of the hottest topics when it comes to PCI compliance is the replacement of cardholder data with “tokens” – numbers that have no intrinsic value. More than a simple process of substitution, the hard part of tokenization is to ensure that they work all the way through the business process. When implemented properly, both the scope and the cost of PCI compliance can be substantially reduced.

The PCI Knowledgebase will be holding a Webinar on Tokenization on Tuesday, June 30, at 1:30 PM. Click HERE to register for this event.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Escalate on PA-DSS List

Escalate Retail is now on the official list of PA-DSS-compliant applications, along with Abison Commerce Suite, Celerant, and CommercialWare. AssistCornerstone is currently in the formal assessment process.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

iCongo Gains UK Presence

iCongo, Inc., a leading provider of eCommerce and cross-channel systems, announced today that it has established a sales presence in the United Kingdom through a new reseller relationship with Strategic Logic, a retail-focused systems integrator based in Great Britain.

iCongo is known for its lineup of eCommerce and eBusiness solutions that allow companies of all kinds to do business via the Internet and on a cross-platform basis through their physical locations.

iCongo has already established select customer relationships in U.K.; for example ALDO, the 1,400-store Montreal-based premium shoe retailer, added ALDO UK to its eCommerce platform powered by iCongo three years ago.

“Strategic Logic’s heritage in the retail industry positions it well for the work we expect to do together,” said iCongo’s President Steve Kramer. “Given the strong business ties between Canada and the U.K., it makes great sense for iCongo to use Great Britain, and Strategic Logic, as the launching points for our aggressive expansion into EMEA [European, Middle East, and African] markets.”

iCongo is recognized by Forrester Research as a Strong Performer in their evaluation of the top 10 enterprise class B2C eCommerce platform vendors in the world.

Inquiries for Strategic Logic should be directed to David Hawkings at 44 0207 084 6260 or

Using QSAs on Staff for Security Assessments

David Taylor, founder of the PCI Knowledge Base, has written an inciteful guest editorial for Storefront Backtalk on the benefits of using Qualified Security Assessors (QSAs) who are staff employees (at large companies, for the most part), rather than farming the job out to third parties.

He has found that "a PCI assessment by the Internal Audit department may be tougher than using a QSA," and it’s "less likely to result in a mandate to purchase security products and services that do not match the risk management profile of the merchant."

He sees a growing number of companies using their own QSAs, which will ultimately lead to a “forking” of the QSA industry, "with some of the best companies adding more risk management, security strategy consulting, and 'Beyond PCI' technology focus to their practices. For example: Assessing the effectiveness of tokenization, or end-to-end encryption, or secure cloud computing will require skills far beyond the checklist mentality, and really help differentiate the 'cream' of the QSA companies."

This is a must-read!

Retailers Appeal for PCI Changes

"Representatives of six of the largest retailer organizations sent a strongly-worded letter to the PCI Council on Tuesday, June 9," reports Storefront Backtalk, requesting several major changes to PCI to make compliance easier, but the PCI Council issued only a very non-committal response.

The letter to the Council supported an end-to-end-encryption standard, sought more input from retailers at an earlier stage, requested larger chains have more time to meet requirements, and suggested adherence to the most important elements of PCI rather than requiring compliance with every one of the "more than two hundred detailed requirements of the PCI DSS." They also want retailers to be able to store fewer pieces of sensitive data.

Click HERE for more information.

I am completely in favor of end-to-end encryption, and will be working with a few select opinion-leaders in the direct commerce world to push for this approach to data security.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Pay-Per-Click Webinar

In today's challenging economy, Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising is often considered "expensive." Some merchants would be surprised to find out that with the right strategies, though, PPC is an affordable and lucrative way to cope with the recession.

This Friday, June 12th, at 2:15p (EST), Solid Cactus will be holding a webinar to discuss "Successful Pay-Per-Click Tactics in a Downward Economy," focusing on the top ten strategies for maintaining successful and cost-effective PPC campaigns. Click HERE to register.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Catalog Success Now ROI

Catalog Success magazine has revamped and rebranded itself to become "All About ROI" (Retail, Online, Integration) magazine.

Quoting from its first issue: "The lines between retail, catalog, Web, brand merchandising and wholesaling have become blurrier than ever before. The catalog business, as its own separate entity, can’t stand on its own any longer.

"So we decided to reinvent the wheel and focus heavily on integrating all the sales channels....All About ROI is 110 percent in sync with what’s going on in the overall retail market. It's in no way a knee-jerk reaction to the current state of the economy."

I agree with the observations and intention, and believe the magazine can be a success. But I also still see huge "cultural" differences between the verticals, which leads to very different priorities and views of the world. This is a "United Nations" kind of effort, and I do wish them every success (they will be running my eCommerce Solutions overview article in the September issue, by the way...).

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Client-Vendor Negotiations

I can't pass up the opportunity to share this. Jim Gilbert has posted a painfully funny video on his blog that spoofs the insanity of clients who make impossible demands on vendors and expect to get something for nothing. See Client-Vendor Negotiations Video.
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