Friday, July 31, 2009

SEO & Competitive Intelligence

There are many tools available to help you with Search Engine Optimization as well as keeping tabs on your competition. Some of these are free, while others are by paid subscription. They can help you check inbound links, and analyze keywords, rankings and traffic on competitors' Websites, among other things.

For a list of the best, see Multichannel Merchant magazine.

opentaps Quarterly Update

Click HERE to see the Quarterly update for opentaps open source ERP/CRM solution.

Technical (framework) changes include:
  • Integrated hibernate search for indexing and searching data. We will be developing a user interface for search next.
  • Replaced AspectJ with AspectWerkz as the library to support Aspect Oriented Programming (AOP)
  • Upgraded to the new version of Jasper reports, so that it is now compatible with the new version of iReport (3.5.2) as well.
  • Incorporate customer and sales analysis reports from opentaps analytics back into opentaps, accessible under opentaps CRM. In the future, opentaps analytics will work as a stand-alone application, or as a part of opentaps

Application changes include:

Thursday, July 30, 2009

MIT's Bokode Bar Code

Another bar code post, thanks to StorefrontBacktalk -- MIT's Media Lab is readying the next technology that will try to challenge the barcode. It's a 3-millimeter optical tag called a "Bokode" that can store roughly a million times more data than today's typical barcode (at the same size) and claims some key advantages compared with RFID tags.

At a per-tag price of about $5 for the bokode, however, it will still need huge volumes to become practical.

Click HERE for MIT's own report on the Bokode (PDF format).

FKI Logistex - RFID Bar Codes

FKI Logistex. which designed the material handling/fulfillment system for online shoe retailer Zappos (recently acquired by Amazon - see link for the logistics impact) is one of the leaders in creating RFID solutions for airports. Recently it launched the industry's first combined RFID and barcode unit.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Difficulties with Outsourcing

According to Outsourcing Journal, "Even highly successful outsourcing relationships encounter hurdles. Despite their best efforts in planning, due diligence, contract negotiation, and other pre-signing activities, buyers of outsourced services can experience situations that fall short of their hopes and fail to fulfill their expectations. While these disappointments may not cause an already-successful relationship to fail, they can lead to frustration, reduced confidence, and sometimes to costly renegotiations.

"Outsourcing Center studied the findings around relationship disappointments among the buyers in the relationships nominated for the 2009 Outsourcing Excellence Awards. Our study asked buyers about their 'biggest disappointment' in the relationship. Though many buyers stated they had no disappointments or only small disappointments from time to time, 36 referred to factors that did, or could, lead to significant issues for both parties."

Click HERE for more details.

Search Marketing Guide

The Search Marketing Guide: The Sites, Keywords, Managers and Resources That Drive U.S. Retail Web Marketing, is now available from Internet Retailer.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Map of Amazon Acquisitions

Check out for a map of Amazon's acquisitions since 1998:

Sunday, July 26, 2009

B2B Social Media Conference

Boost your B2B marketing performance using proven social commerce tactics. LIFT: The B2B Social Commerce Summit, Atlanta, Sept. 15-16, gives you the tools necessary to launch, manage and evaluate a business-to-business social marketing campaign.

During this two-day information-packed summit, B2B marketing and advertising professionals will share real-world examples of Social Commerce strategies and tactics that have driven sales lift, increased customer loyalty, and produced actionable metrics and measurable ROI.

Find Out More...

ControlScan & the Electronic Transactions Association

ControlScan, the leading provider of PCI compliance and security solutions exclusively focused on small merchants, has announced its participation on two committees of the Electronic Transactions Association (ETA).

Joan Herbig, chief executive officer, ControlScan has renewed her position on the Risk and Fraud Committee and Heather Varian Foster, vice president, marketing, ControlScan has joined the Education Committee.

"We are looking forward to our continued involvement with the Electronic Transactions Association," said Herbig. "Our goal is to provide the tools and educational programs necessary to help ETA members and the broader industry reduce risk, especially related to PCI compliance and its impact on small merchants."

ETA's Risk and Fraud Committee monitors risk, fraud and compliance-related issues in the industry and recommends related best practices and other risk mitigation strategies. The committee may also be called upon to assist with ETA's outreach efforts to other organizations involved in risk and fraud management (e.g., national/state law enforcement agencies). ETA's Education Committee is responsible for identifying, developing, and reviewing program content for seminars, training sessions, workshops, and ETA University curriculum. In addition, the committee recommends delivery methods (e.g. live, distance, audio, etc.) for all educational forums, including the University.

Friday, July 24, 2009

PayPal Opens Platform to Developers

DM News reports that PayPal has announced plans to open its platform to third-party developers, allowing them to embed the PayPal payment system into their applications and platforms.

“Until now, developer innovation has been stifled by the barriers payment systems impose,” said Scott Thompson, president of PayPal, in a statement. “With an open platform, we're solving fundamental challenges people face when trying to pay or get paid and giving people the tools to create new business models for their innovations.”

TechCruch reports that the payments API, which will be called Adaptive Payments, will officially open up to developers in November but will be accepting beta testers until then.

Very similar to Amazon’s Flexible Payments Service (FPS), the Adaptive Payments API handles payments between a sender of a payment and one or more receivers of the payment. Adaptive Payments allows almost the same functionality as FPS. The new API lets developers become a payment aggregator, which is currently against PayPal’s Terms of Service. Amazon’s FPS also lets developers aggregate payments. Moreover, Paypal’s Adaptive Payments has built in micropayments support, another feature of FPS. PayPal says that they think they can be a viable micropayments vehicle, but won’t reveal more information about what the support entails.

TechCrunch also reports that Adaptive Payments will offer “Parallel Payments,” which would let a sender send a single payment to multiple receivers. For example, this might be used with a shopping cart that lets a buyer pay for items from several merchants with one payment. The shopping cart would allocate the payment to the merchants who actually provided the items. PayPal would then deduct money from the sender’s account and deposits it in the receivers’ accounts.

Michael Ivey, founder and CEO of TwitPay, a way to send money over Twitter, is using PayPal’s Adaptive Payments API. Off of TwitPay’s payments platform, you can pay multiple recipients in one PayPal transaction.

Congress Likely to Nix 5-day Mail Delivery

Chief Marketer's Big Fat Marketing Blog says that five-day mail delivery won't pass muster with Congress.

Bar Code to Celebrate 35th Birthday

From SupplyChainBrain - The good people at Motorola remind us this week of a milestone worth noting – the 35th anniversary of commercial use of the UPC bar code. At precisely 8:06 a.m. on June 26, 1974, the first bar code was scanned at a Marsh supermarket in Troy, Ohio. The item? A 10-pack of Wrigley’s Juicy Fruit gum. Since then, the bar code has totally revolutionized inventory tracking and management, not only in retail but in virtually every industry. And the bar code story is far from over. This ubiquitous symbol “still has a lot of runway in front of it,” says Bob Sanders, vice president, Motorola Enterprise Mobility Solutions. He notes the increasing use of 2-D or two dimensional bar codes that are able to hold much more information than traditional linear symbols. Sanders also predicts that radio frequency identification (RFID) will continue to gain traction as a valuable technology to supplement, rather than replace, bar code scanning.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Eileen Fisher Selects Escalate Retail

Escalate Retail has announced that Eileen Fisher, a clothing company with 44 retail stores and accounts at all major department stores, has selected the company’s Buy Anywhere, Fulfill Anywhere Commerce solution to enable an end-to-end cross-channel customer shopping experience.

As part of the Buy Anywhere, Fulfill Anywhere Commerce platform, Eileen Fisher will implement Escalate Retail’s eCommerce, Contact Center, Order Manager, and Fulfillment Manager modules to enhance the customer experience and drive additional revenue.

Escalate Retail’s consulting partner, Acquity Group, will provide Eileen Fisher with front-end implementation and hosting services.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Direct Response Forum

It has been 20 years since a few key customer/card not present merchants first met in a small group to discuss credit card payment and processing issues. Their ability to set aside competitiveness to work toward positive changes for the entire direct response industry paved the way for 20 years of credit card education at The Direct Response Forum (DRF), from which hundreds of merchants have benefited.

In these difficult economic times, the 20th Anniversary DRF will be offering manty sessions geared toward real-time options for streamlining your processing, which can result in savings for your company.

Back by popular demand is Anita Boomstein from Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP, to give us her updated “Tips for Merchants” regarding the newest legal issues.

From Monday August 10th to Wednesday August 12th, 2009 at the Tampa Marriott Waterside Hotel and Marina -- click HERE to register.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

PCI Compliance to Become Law in NV

According to PCI DSS Compliance Blog, beginning January 1, 2010, the state of Nevada will mandate PCI DSS compliance for businesses accepting credit cards. In so doing, Nevada will become the first state to transform the PCI DSS requirements into law.

With non-compliant businesses already facing steep financial penalties, as well as risks of not being able to accept credit cards and lawsuits (almost sure to follow any data security breach), non-compliance with PCI DSS would seem sufficiently punitive already. But with states like Nevada making law of PCI DSS, PCI compliance will certainly take on a new level of visibility and, perhaps, controversy.

Nevada’s law will actually serve to shield PCI compliant businesses from additional liability should a data security breach occur and litigation ensue. Nevada’s new law will provide relief for Nevada businesses (at least those that accept or process credit card payments) by protecting compliant companies from potentially bankrupting lawsuits.

Deluxe to Buy

Direct magazine reports that Deluxe Corp. plans to acquire, an online marketing services provider, for $30 million.

The company has also completed the purchase of search engine marketing firm MerchEngines.

Deluxe expects to incorporate into its Hostopia unit which it acquired last June.

Upon closing, this purchase will bring more than 80,000 small business subscribers of shared Web hosting, hosted e-commerce stores, managed e-mail services, domains and other Web site management applications, according to Deluxe.

MerchEngines' systems aim to help small businesses acquire new customers by generating visitors to their Web sites.

The transaction is expected to close by the end of July. The MerchEngines deal closed on July 8.

Don Libey's Dozen for the Downturn

It's not about direct commerce systems or services per se, but Don Libey's "Dozen for the Downturn," presented at the annual Merit Direct Co-op today in White Plains, NY, is definitely good reading.

See also Don's Daily DM site, which is not bad as a Home Page....

Next Day Pets Selects iCongo

Next Day Pets LLC, developers of one of the nation’s leading pet e-communities, has selected iCongo for its eCommerce platform with secure, seamless integration between the Webstore and the back-office. The system also includes streamlined multi-vendor direct order procurement, extensive content management capabilities, as well as sophisticated personalization and marketing tools.

iCongo's built-in marketing and cross-selling resources are meant to help brands like Next Day Pets build a more fruitful relationship with customers by integrating marketing campaigns and driving traffic with advanced SEO techniques.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Gen Y Starting to Value Loyalty

CRM magazine reports that loyalty marketing research firm Colloquy has released a follow-up to its 2007 benchmarking study on loyalty programs which included the same questions as last year's, but also added questions specifically pertaining to the economy's effect on consumers' participation in loyalty programs.

In the U.S. overall, participation jumped 19 percent year-over-year, with the most significant increase exhibited by Millennials, or Generation Y (people between 18 and 25 years of age), among whom the level of participation spiked by nearly 32 percent.

This past June, Colloquy released its 2009 Loyalty Census, which reported that membership in loyalty programs rose to 1.8 billion, up from 1.3 billion in 2007. The average U.S. household is a member of 14.1 loyalty programs, according to the report, but actively participates in only 6.2 of them. A year ago, the average household was a member in 12 programs, and actively participated in 4.7.

Millennials exhibited the largest jump in rewards-program participation on a percentage basis, with a 32 percent increase in their rate of participation. Even so, Millennials' rate of participation (57.9 percent) remains relatively low; the only segment in Colloquy's study to participate at a lower rate were emerging Hispanics (47 percent, up from 41.4 percent in 2007).

Still, these two groups indicate the highest rate of interest in enrolling with new loyalty programs -- 27.4 percent of Millennials and 28.3 percent of emerging Hispanics -- in order to earn more value. Again, the economic climate may have had a direct impact on results: 46.4 percent of Millennials and 39.8 percent of emerging Hispanics claim that loyalty programs have become "more important" because of the recession.

How To Transition Catalog Shoppers to E-mail

MarketingSherpa Case Study - Going Green: How to Transition Catalog Users to Email & Lift Conversions 19%

Sunday, July 12, 2009

NY to Sue Tagged for Deceptive Practices

According to WebProNews, New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo has announced that his office intends to sue social networking site Tagged for deceptive e-mail marketing practices and invasion of privacy.

Cuomo charges that between April and June this year, Tagged sent millions of misleading e-mails to recipients stating that Tagged members had posted private photos online for their friends to view. In reality, the photos did not exist and the email was not from their friends. When the recipients tried to access the photos, they were required to become a new member of Tagged. The company would then gain access to their e-mail contacts and send more bogus invitations.

"This company stole the address books and identities of millions of people," said Attorney General Cuomo. "Consumers had their privacy invaded and were forced into the embarrassing position of having to apologize to all their e-mail contacts for Tagged's unethical - and illegal - behavior."

I actually received one of these e-mails, thought it odd I had to register, did not do so, contacted the sender, and was told it was a scam, as I had suspected.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

3PL Worldwide Picks JumarDirect for Search, SEO

3PL Worldwide, Milford, CT, a provider of third-party logistics to direct response, eCommerce, and catalog marketers, has partnered with JumarDirect, Norwalk, CT, an end-to-end online marketing company specializing in Website design and development and interactive marketing services, to manage their Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Search Engine Marketing (SEM) and overall online presence.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

CA, HI Nix Web Sales Tax Plans

According to Internet Retailer, "threats by [Web] retailers to cut off affiliate marketing relationships in states that are trying to tax sales generated by affiliates have had an effect. The governors of California and Hawaii have vetoed legislation that would have imposed such taxes in those states.

"The governors acted after such major online retailers as Inc., Blue Nile Inc. and Inc. began this week cutting off affiliates in states that adopted laws requiring collection of sales taxes by e-retailers with affiliates in those states."

Overstock CEO/Chairman Patrick Byrne points out that in New York, where Overstock has stopped working with affiliates because of a similar law in that state, affiliates represent about 1% of Overstock’s business and about 0.05% of its net profit there. But because New York represents about 10% of Overstock’s overall sales, it doesn’t make economic sense to maintain its affiliate relationships there, he says. “It comes down to, do we start charging sales tax on 10% of our business or give up 0.05% of our profit?” he says. “Even setting aside the additional costs of collecting and remitting sales tax, the economic effect is so horrible, it’s better to give up affiliate sales.”

Click HERE for more details.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Social Security Numbers At Risk

According to Wired magazine, computer scientists from Carnegie Mellon University discovered distinct patterns in how Social Securty Numbers (SSNs) are assignedby by analyzing a public data set called the “Death Master File,” which contains SSNs and birth information for people who have died. In many cases, knowing the date and state of an individual’s birth was enough to predict a person’s SSN.

“I have long argued that Congress or the Federal Trade Commission should prohibit companies from using SSNs as a means to verify identity,” Daniel J. Solove, professor of law at George Washington University Law School, wrote in an e-mail. “Merely protecting against their disclosure is insufficient since [the Carnegie Mellon scientists] demonstrate that they can readily be predicted.”

As a first step, the researchers suggest that the Social Security Administration start randomizing the assignment of SSNs.

“It can buy us more time, but it isn’t going to change the underlying problem,” one of the researchers said. “These numbers are supposed to be secret, but your bank has it, your insurance company has it, even your doctor has it. As long as we rely on numbers that are used as both identifiers and authenticators, then we have a system that remains insecure.”

Click HERE for further details.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

StrongMail Acquires PopularMedia

StrongMail Systems, Inc. has acquired PopularMedia, a provider of social media marketing solutions. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed, according to Direct magazine.

PopularMedia helps marketers leverage the viral nature of email and social networks in a way that is both trackable and measureable. The acquisition will allow StrongMail to provide integrated e-mail and social network campaigns.

"StrongMail's acquisition of PopularMedia puts the marketer in a powerful position to fully leverage the potential of social media in a way that is both measureable and fully integrated with their email marketing programs," said Sam Cece, CEO of StrongMail Systems, in a statement quoted by Direct.

Cece continued, "By enabling marketers to create viral campaigns that they can monitor and optimize based on response rates, StrongMail is going way beyond the simple 'share to social' functionality that is offered today by most email service providers."

"With the symbiotic relationship between email and social media allowing each to fuel the other, PopularMedia's solutions are a natural fit for StrongMail's customers, and we are happy to be joining their talented team," said Jim Calhoun, CEO of PopularMedia, in a statement.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Sargento Upgrades WMS with RedPrairie

Consumer Goods Technology reports that Sargento Foods Inc., manufacturer, packager and marketer of natural cheese, has upgraded to a new version of RedPrairie Corporation's Warehouse Management.

"RedPrairie's Warehouse Management solution has been critical to our success for over five years," says Dennis Roehrborn, VP of Logistics at Sargento Foods. "By upgrading the solution in our Plymouth, Wis. distribution center, and satellite plants in Kiel and Hilbert, we are better equipped to exceed customer expectations for accurate order fulfillment and on-time delivery. With the support of RedPrairie's project team, we were able to complete the upgrade with minimal downtime and disruption. Moreover, the implementation was a success, exceeding our target goal for productivity within the Plymouth distribution center."

RedPrairie's Warehouse Management solution is expected to offer a series of functionality specifically tailored to the food and beverage industry, including superior product rotation; freshness, date and lot controls; catch weight; and variable aging support.

USPS May Stop Saturday Delivery

In response to the financial crisis facing the Postal Service due to the severe national recession and the impact of electronic substitution, USPS management has launched an internal study on the feasibility of eliminating Saturday delivery across the United States, according to a press release from the National Association of Letter Carriers.

NRF, RILA Nix Merger

The National Retail Federation (NRF) and the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) have ended previously announced merger discussions, reports Direct magazine.

“Following a deliberative process, RILA and NRF have ended discussions aimed at merging the two organizations. NRF and RILA will devote all resources to continuing the work they are each doing to address the serious issues that America’s consumers and retailers are facing in today’s economic environment,” said the two boards of directors in a joint statement.

Woolies Relaunches With Web in UK

According to catalogues/catalogues newsletter, Woolworths, which closed down last year in the UK, has reopened for business, but online only. Acquired out of administration earlier this year by Littlewoods's parent company, Shop Direct, comprises three departments: the Main Shop, which sells toys, children’s apparel, and consumer electronics; the Entertainment Shop, selling CDs, DVDs, games, and books; and the Party & Pic 'n' Mix Shop.

The Hut Group operates the entertainment site, and Party Delights handles the party site; both have independent checkout processes, though they are scheduled to be merged by autumn.
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