Wednesday, May 26, 2010

P&G Launches eStore

P&G and PFSweb Inc. have announced a new online shopping site for U.S. consumers: the eStore (, an online shopping site owned and operated by PFSweb that will feature a full spectrum of P&G brands, including Tide, Pampers, Olay, CoverGirl, Swiffer and Febreze.

"The U.S. eStore is an exciting initiative that we feel will help us listen, learn and collaborate with online shoppers to find new opportunities to serve consumers' household, beauty and grooming needs," says Kirk Perry, P&G's vice president, North America. "Through our partnership with PFSweb and on-going testing with consumers, we envision the eStore will help deliver new tools, services and features that can ultimately be shared with retailers to provide a real convenience and value for shoppers, while also delivering innovation for the industry and specifically for our product categories."

The eStore's main function is to act as a "living learning lab" for developing eDommerce innovation. Shopper insights will continue to be a strong influence in the eStore's ongoing development to help deliver tools, features and expertise consumers want and also create value and sales for PFSweb, P&G and P&G's retail partners, although how the retailers will benefit is not self-evident.

Prior to the national launch, the eStore enlisted 5,000 shoppers to help guide the design and development of the "ideal" online shopping site. Their input affected site changes and enhancements found on the eStore launch site, including intuitive navigation to find products easily, as well as the ability to navigate by promotions and coupons. These online consumers also helped identify preferred products to feature on the site and, so far, more than 300 new P&G products have been added to the eStore from shopper requests.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

IBM Acquires Sterling Commerce for $1.4 Billion

This is very big news. IBM has announced it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Sterling Commerce from AT&T for approximately $1.4 billion in cash. The acquisition will expand IBM's ability to help organizations create business networks and help simplify and automate the way they connect and communicate with customers, partners and suppliers both on-premise and through cloud computing delivery models.

Sterling Commerce, which has a comprehensive multichannel direct commerce order management suite, currently serves 18,000 clients and a billion eletronic business transactions per year in the financial services, retail, manufacturing, communications and distribution industries.

According to Joel Reed, senior vice president product management at Sterling Commerce, the company will "not operate as a stand-along unit but will roll in under the Websphere group." Reed sees a lot of synergies between the two companies, especially in combining "Websphere's eCommerce capabilities with Sterling's order management, logistics and fulfillment."

The company believes that through this acquisition, clients will be able to extend the capabilities of their existing systems using, for example, IBM's rules management, analytics and business process management software.

IBM plans to continue to support Sterling Commerce clients and enhance Sterling Commerce technologies while allowing these organizations to take advantage of the broader IBM portfolio. Following the close of the acquisition, approximately 2,500 Sterling Commerce employees will be integrated into the WebSphere organization within IBM's Software Group.

IBM and AT&T expect the transaction to close in the second half of 2010, subject to regulatory approvals and the satisfaction of other customary closing conditions.

Update: Aug. 26, 2010: IBM has announced the closing of its acquisition of Sterling Commerce. The acquisition builds on IBM's growing portfolio of industry software solutions designed to help companies automate, manage and accelerate core business processes across marketing, selling, ordering and fulfillment. Says IBM: our  "recent acquisitions of Sterling Commerce and Coremetrics and the intended acquisition of Unica will enhance the company’s ability to support clients' needs in this growing market."

MasterCard Opens Platform to Programmers

MasterCard has taken a very pro-active (aggressive?) stance in the payment industry, with its Online Marketplace and its ATM-hunter iPhone app. Now, reports, MasterCard Worldwide has announced that later this year it will release Open Application Programming Interfaces (Open APIs) for third–party and independent software developers around the world. By opening up previously proprietary payments and data services, developers will be able to create a new wave of e-commerce and mobile payment applications.

The new Open API program is the first initiative from the newly created MasterCard Labs. A new developer portal will also be launched to enable developers to easily sign up for access to all of the Open APIs that MasterCard makes available will also be launched.

Through the portal MasterCard will provide developers with technical documentation, software development kits (SDKs), sample source code, reference guides, and “virtual sandboxes” for testing new and innovative applications. A developer forum designed to spur collaboration between MasterCard engineers and developers will also be an integral component of the new portal.

In addition to payments, MasterCard has identified approximately 20 platforms and services that it plans to open up to developers via the portal. These platforms and services provide additional functionality and enhancements to MasterCard’s payment capabilities. The Open APIs will further enhance the development of new applications and systems beyond those currently available, including CRMs, ERPs, online games, merchant eCommerce web sites, eWallets, mobile applications, and payroll systems.

MasterCard payment and data services could also be integrated with other data sources and functions to create “mashups,” i.e. new applications that result from combining multiple data sources.

See also MasterCard Launches Mobile App for Its New Marketplace Portal

Sanderson Wins UK Awards

Sanderson, a leading UK multichannel platform provider, has won seven awards at the Today Group event and six at the ECMOD Awards Gala Dinner in the UK.

The Today’s Group Awards acknowledge the contribution and overall performance of the Wholesale Members. Sanderson customers swept the board in the Best Delivered, Wholesaler category:
1.    JW Filshill
2.    First Choice Cash & Carry
3.    DeeBee
with all three companies winning the same prizes for the second year running. DeeBee also won third place for Best Cash & Carry.

MJ Baker Food Service returned to take first place once more in the Best Food Service Wholesaler category, while Imperial Cash & Carry secured third place for Best Specialist Wholesaler. And leading Northern Ireland Wholesaler, Savage and Whitten was presented with the Life President Award.

The winning Sanderson customers use the Swords IT solution to manage their business operations, from telesales and order processing to warehousing and inventory control.

Sanderson customers’ success continued with a further six awards at the ECMOD Awards Gala Dinner, which recognizes outstanding business performance of multichannel, catalog, and online retailing organizations.  Winning customers included:

  • Axminster Tool Centre –  clinching two ECMOD Awards for Most Effective Engagement and      Outstanding Customer Service
  • Marshalls Garden Catalogues – Best Gardening Products Category
  • BrightMinds – Outstanding Website Innovation
  • Nicola Jane – Best Women’s Apparel and Accessories Category
  • Presents Direct (part of Scotts & Co) – Best Food and/or Drink Category

Monday, May 24, 2010

Ecometry In The Cloud

Ecometry On Demand, now available from Escalate Retail, delivers all the capabilities of the Direct Commerce  Order Management solution as a secured service in the cloud for merchandising, customer service, order entry, order management, fulfillment and warehousing capabilities available over the Web.

Key Features include:
  • Monthly budgeted expenses
  • Reduced technical personnel requirements
  • Computing power flexibility of a scalable platform that expands and contracts automatically to adjust to your seasonal order volume fluctuations.
  • Centrally managed software upgrades and enhancements with version control

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Magento Professional

Open source eCommerce vendor Magento has released Magento Professional, which takes its place alongside the Magento Community and Magento Enterprise versions.

Designed for businesses who are working with a qualified Magento Solution Partner, the $2,995 platform includes:

  • Reward Points functionality allowing an online merchant to implement programs based on configurable exchange rates for transactions and promotions, as well as customer actions such as submitting ratings and reviews, signing up for the newsletter and so on.
  • Gift Cards: physical and virtual formats, supporting a personal message when purchasing. Recipients can use the cards to purchase items online or in a retail store.
  • Store Credits can be created and tied to customer accounts. Orders can be refunded for store
    credit, Gift Cards can be redeemed for store credit, and customers can use the credit to purchase
    items during checkout.
  • Additional encryption and security standards to support PA-DSS standards, ensuring Magento is a fully secure solution.
Click here for a comparison of the three Magento platforms.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Symantec Acquires VeriSign's Identity/Authentication Business

Symantec has signed a deal to acquire VeriSign's Identity and Authentication Business, including its Secure Socket Layer (SSL) Certificate Services, for $1.28 billion in cash.

Altogether, the Symantec-VeriSign deal will give the security giant VeriSign's  SSL Certificate Services, Public Key Infrastructure, VeriSign Trust Services and VeriSign Identity Protection Authentication Service. Under the terms of the agreement, Symantec will acquire specific VeriSign assets, including the majority stake in VeriSign Japan, for $1.28 billion in cash, but could be subject to customary closing conditions such as regulatory approvals. The deal is expected to close some time during the September quarter.

VeriSign executives said that the deal "marked a milestone in the company's history," while hinting at the ongoing trend of market consolidation that made it challenging for standalone products to experience market growth. "The security industry is consolidating, and customers benefit when authentication services are part of a broader offering, which means our SSL, PKI, and VIP products would best be integrated with other security services and applications."

Safeguarding Data At Third-Parties

StorefrontBacktalk has a guest editorial from Walt Conway, a 403 Labs QSA, warning that when you leave a credit card processor for a new one, you (the merchant) are still responsible for the security of the credit card data you have presented to them, even if it is encrypted or tokenized. And what if your service provider goes out of business? To cover yourself in both cases, you need a very well-written service contract, with escrow provisions, to cover these and other possible issues of business-not-as-usual. For details, read Conway's column.

RedPrairie Acuires SmartTurn (On-Demand WMS)

SupplyChainBrain reports that:
"RedPrairie Corp. has wrapped up the acquisition of SmartTurn, a vendor of on-demand inventory and warehouse-management (WMS) software. The deal adds a multi-tenant software-as-a-service (SaaS) WMS to the vendor’s E2eT productivity suite, while offering warehouse-management capability to distribution operations of all sizes and levels of complexity. SmartTurn’s inventory and WMS application, currently running at more than 200 facilities, will be rebranded as RedPrairie’s On-Demand WMS, focusing on distribution operations that are less complex, and in need of rapid implementation and a flexible pricing model.

"RedPrairie, which recently held its annual RedShift user conference in Orlando, Fla., also announced a number of product enhancements. Its Transportation Management software now has appointment-sharing capabilities, allowing carriers to schedule a single appointment covering multiple shipments. The functionality supports a receiving location’s need to manage the delivering trailer as a single unit, by scheduling a single dock to receive multiple shipments.

"The latest release of RedPrairie’s Warehouse Management application includes a touch screen for packing operations. The enhancement allows for the automated initiation, processing and closeout of packages intended for shipment from a warehouse or distribution center. Features include automatic calculation and selection of shippable boxes, in-line manifesting and scale interaction support, and enhanced visibility of problem containers."

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Analyzing Social Media Data

In an article in 1to1 Media magazine (published by the Peppers & Rogers Group), Elizabeth Glagowski reports that Onder Oguzhan, a partner in Peppers & Rogers Group's Managed Analytics division, observes that the market for integrating social media analytics is still in the nascent stages.

"Some companies are experimenting, but it is not widely used yet," he says. It is common to see social media analytics at a departmental level, particularly marketing. But scientists are creating new algorithms to establish the relationship between customer information and social data, writes Glagowski. "The ideal scenario is to tie outside data with internal information to make decisions based on holistic data," says Oguzhan.

Integrated data "can explain what is driving people to a site, what they did when they got there, and why," says Mark Chaves, an SAS product manager. "It is a way to get from correlation to engagement." Other data sources primed for integration with social media data include outbound marketing campaigns data and voice of the customer insight, he suggests.

If it were easy to do, opines Glagowski, companies would have integrated their social data already. But integration poses many challenges. "The biggest challenges are that it is unstructured data and that it is not a representative sampling of customers," says James Taylor, CEO and principal consultant at Decision Management Solutions, and coauthor of Smart (Enough) Systems: How to Deliver Competitive Advantage by Automating Hidden Decisions. "To use the data effectively you must adopt text analytics technologies to mine the text and you must be able to map it to customer records so you can see what kinds of customers you are talking about."

Chaves adds that much of the data collected from social media are short-term, in 30-, 60-, or 90-day increments. That may not be a long enough timeframe to give a complete picture to integrate with other data. However, social data quickly changes. Companies must be able to manage the data in near real time.

In additoin, says Oguzhan , the amount of social data available is growing quickly, causing data warehousing and scalability issues. In addition, there are privacy concerns when companies use publically available individual information without permission. "Social media tools are housing more individual information than on any other platform," he says. "You don't want to use it in ways that aren't appropriate or that customers don't appreciate."

Cloudy with a Chance of Insight

Cautious retailers think that storing critical data off premises in "the cloud" entails major risks such as service outages that halt business operations, poor response times that hamper productivity, and questions about data ownership and transfer at the end of a contract.

While these are genuine concerns, major retailer Dollar General relies on a cloud computing platform to manage its $12 billion enterprise with 8,800 stores. They executed the implementation carefully, chose a provider that relies on farms of "plain vanilla" servers instead of big iron (and that had experience supporting the New York Stock Exchange), and most of all, relied on a consolidated database in the cloud for rapid and actionable analysis of pricing trends, promotion and campaign effectiveness, and demand affinities between unrelated products.

Quoted in an article in Retail Info Systems News, Jim Thorpe, SVP of consumables merchandise for Dollar General, noted there were major measurable productivity gains. "We used to wait to look at item-level performance at the end of the month, but now we can use it every day," said Thorpe. "Extracting data frequently helps up increase productivity and better run our business, not only in merchandising but across multiple functions such as supply chain and finance."
Two other big benefits Thorpe noted were: "One, we can now make decisions in absolutes and not in averages, which is important when you have 8,800 stores and averages tend to level things. This makes us a much better merchandising team, because we can more accurately assess current campaigns and adjust much more quickly on the fly. And two, we can build item clusters and store clusters by doing analysis faster and in more detail. We are even beginning to determine affinities in the basket and analyze patterns by day of week or time."

As the RIS article asserts, the bottom line is cloud technology "may be more bullet proof than many retail CIOs think" -- especially if that's the most effective way of consolidating disparate databases and improving analytic/BI effectiveness.

Even small businesses must adhere to PCI Standards

In the current issue of Forbes, David Carr points out that "The PCI rules [regarding data security] really represent the minimum security standards businesses must meet to be fair to their customers, who, after all, are trusting the merchant every time they hand over a credit card number."

He notes that "Many small businesses are still under the impression that the rules don't apply to them because they're too small, or because they don't conduct e-commerce. Actually, the rules apply to any business--and even any nonprofit--that takes credit card payments. You can look for ways to lighten the compliance burden, but you can't get yourself off the hook entirely. Even if no one has yet compelled you to complete a questionnaire or conduct an automated scan of your networks, you're still supposed to be locking down your systems."

If you don't fully understand the PCI requirements, or think you don't have to bother with them, read Carr's brief article and take appropriate action NOW!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Washington State Gives PCI-Compliant Vendors "Safe Harbor"

StorefrontBacktalk reports that a new law signed by Washington State Gov. Chris Gregoire "gives a pass to any breached retailer that certified PCI compliant at the time of the breach.... the law then specifies that a retailer 'will be considered compliant, if its payment card industry data security compliance was validated by an annual security assessment and if this assessment took place no more than one year prior to the time of the breach. For the purposes of this subsection, a [retailer's] security assessment of compliance is nonrevocable.'”

"Finally, someone has bought into the concept of safe harbor. If a chain gets certified, it will be safe, at least from processors and banks in the state of Washington. (Speaking of Washington, if the feds do the same thing, we’ll be really getting somewhere.)

"That said, the Washington law isn’t perfect. First, there is no reference to consumer compensation for the breach, so that issue is still active. Consumers who are impacted by the breach (such as time spent getting money back and bounced checks fixed and credit records repaired) but suffer no financial losses (because of reimbursements)—courtesy of zero liability—are still unprotected, even in the state of Washington, because the bill simply doesn’t address consumer compensation.

"In addition, the law has a vague reference to encryption, namely that the chain also gets a pass if 'the account information was encrypted at the time of the breach.' But it doesn’t specify the level of encryption, nor does the law mention what happens if the cyberthief also obtained the encryption key. That’s not a hypothetical concern; it was an issue that TJX raised in an SEC filing shortly after announcing its data breach: 'We believe that the Intruder had access to the decryption tool for the encryption software utilized by TJX.'

"Flaws aside, the Washington state law at least gives Washington-state-based retailers (are you listening Amazon, Costco and Starbucks?) and retailers who have a substantial presence in the state a little more cost justification for PCI. And that can’t be a bad thing."

We thank SFBT editor Evan Schuman for this important new information.

The Skinny on QR Codes

QR Codes, big in Japan, have yet to catch on in a big way elsewhere. But these versatile, two-directional "bar codes" (which already appear in some magazine ads and on some products, where you can take a picture of them with your cell phone to link directly to the merchant's Website), may find wider popularity in such applications as Loyalty Program management.
Here are three resources for learning more about QR Codes and how they are being used:
Explore the future of QR Codes
The Three Rules of QR Codes
Create and Track QR Codes

Social Media Revolution 2 (video)

You've probably seen the Social Media Revolution video (1.8 million views on YouTube). Well, the original from 2009 has now been updated. See below (via SocialMediaToday).

My favorite slide from the video: "The ROI of Social Media: Your Business Will Still Exist in Five Years!"

Note: Music on this video is "Right Here, Right Now," Fatboy Slim

B2B Not Very "Social" (But Those Who Are Excel At It!)

The following is from eMarketer Digital Intelligence:
Despite social media marketing’s popularity, business-to-business (B2B) companies are still fairly new to it. According to a survey from, 73% of B2B respondents have less than two years of social media marketing experience.

March 2010 research from marketing automation firm and BtoB magazine found that about one-half of business-oriented marketers are staying away from social tools such as blogging and Twitter. Facebook was more popular, with nearly three-fifths participating, and business-focused social network LinkedIn was used by three-quarters of B2B marketers.

Both business-oriented social networks and general social networks offer B2B companies a variety of opportunities. They can improve communication between customers, prospects and suppliers; aid collaboration between business partners; help with product development; and identify leads.

B2B companies also have an advantage when using social media because they tend to focus on goals and results, such as leads, that visibly affect their bottom line. found in 2009 that those B2B marketers who do use social media tend to do so more extensively than their business-to-consumer counterparts. [emphasis added]

Those with at least one profile  were more likely to manage a presence on several sites than the general B2B respondents to the survey, and were more likely than B2C companies to measure their social success.

[Click HERE to see Leading Social Media Initiatives Among B2B and B2C Companies in N. America]

Thursday, May 13, 2010

ACHICA selects GSI Commerce

GSI Commerce Inc., a leading provider of ecommerce and multichannel solutions, has announced a new partnership with ACHICA, the newly launched UK online private members store that offers luxury lifestyle brands at exclusive prices.

GSI has been commissioned to manage and operate ACHICA’s storage, packaging and shipment operations. Under the agreement, GSI is providing a pick, pack and ship solution to ACHICA for its UK and European customers, integrating its systems with ACHICA's design and hosting agency.

As soon as an ACHICA promotion is concluded, orders are confirmed to suppliers and products are shipped directly to GSI Commerce’s UK warehouse in Manchester. Once the items are received and confirmed on GSI’s systems, customer orders are released and items are packed and shipped. Due to the fragile nature of some of the products, such as glasses or mirrors, GSI Commerce also repackages items to ensure that they are fit for shipping.

Will Cooper, co-founder of ACHICA commented: “GSI clearly demonstrated their expertise in the fulfilment ... management area as well as their technology experience of system set-up and file integration. As a new company – one that was looking to work to a tight launch date, right after the peak season – we were and continue to be very impressed by GSI’s enthusiasm to make our business a success. We are excited at the prospect of a successful on-going partnership.”

M&S (UK) Launches mCommerce Site

Catalogue & eBusiness reports: Marks & Spencer has unveiled its new site optimized for mobile browsing. The new website enables customers to search, browse and buy from Marks & Spencer’s 24,000-strong product range via any web-enabled mobile phone or device.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Panasonic Europe to Use Demandware eCommerce Platform

Demandware  Inc. has announced that Panasonic Europe Ltd. has selected the Demandware eCommerce Platform to power its online commerce business, beginning with the development of three new sites which are currently live, including, and, and additional sites to follow.

Demandware was selected as a scalable eCommerce platform that allows Panasonic in Europe to build many sites quickly from a common architecture, with the ability to continually deliver country-specific consumer experiences. In addition, Demandware’s on-demand model eliminated the need to maintain a geographically dispersed IT infrastructure for running a pan-European online business.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Parature Launches "Support Tab" for Retailers on Facebook

As Salesforce’s Service Cloud, Get Satisfaction and other applications have launched deep integrations with Facebook to allow companies to engage with the 400 million plus consumers on the social network, TechCrunch reports that Parature, an on-demand customer service solution backed by Accel Partners, is launching a customer service product for Facebook Pages that integrates a branded “Support” tab. Customers can post a comment to a corporation’s Facebook Support wall, which is then pushed into Parature’s software as a ticket with the Facebook customer listed on it. A customer service representative can push an update by responding directly on the wall.

The support app also allows companies to include a number of commonly asked questions about a product or brand, which allows customers to search for a service answer from within the Facebook page, and if a customer's question hasn’t been answered, Parature’s technology will allow the customer to create a second ticket, or provides the option for live chat.

Parature's users include Rosetta Stone, NPR, Turner and T-Mobil. Twitter support was recently added to Parature’s software as well.

More on Project Management

Following up a recent post on PCI and Project Management, in which I pointed out that "PCI-compliance is not a one-shot effort: it is an on-going commitment. Getting everyone on board with the program, and keeping them there, requires not only good planning and communications skills, but good project management skills as well," I ran across the following Master Project Management Checklist Template and Forms and thought these might be of interest as well: (with material from author Jim Highsmith, author of Agile Project Management, an offshoot of "agile programming," which includes "incorporating agile values, scaling agile projects, release planning, portfolio governance, and enhancing organizational agility. Project and business leaders will especially appreciate Highsmith’s new coverage of promoting agility through performance measurements based on value, quality, and constraints."
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