Monday, January 31, 2011

Facebook Shopping Cart Apps

ecommerceguide.com reports on five Facebook Shopping Cart Apps: "Some Facebook shopping cart application developers offer the basic cart for free with options to upgrade to access additional functionality or support on a purchase or subscription basis. Others may offer these additional features based on a percentage of the transaction. Be sure to read the FAQ posted on each Cart application page to learn of any fees before installing the application and setting up shop on Facebook."
  1. Payvment: this solutions lets users add a professional-grade storefront to a Facebook page, with an admin area built directly into Facebook to manage your storefront, products and sales. There are currently over 325,000 users. Wxtremely feature rich, Payvment claims to be the #1 Facebook shopping cart.
  2. Ecwid: free, with drag-and-drop customization, and lets you mirror your Facebook cart onto any Website,with a single Web-based management interface for all carts. 56K+ active users.
  3. BigCommerce: uses the BigCommerce SocialShop app that lets online sellers and merchants add a Shop tab to a Facebook Business or Fan page. Facebook users can browse products and buy through Facebook. The service is free for 15-days with basic pricing starting at $24.95 per month. Currently 33K+ monthly users.
  4. VendorShop: a free eCommerce shopping cart that lets users set up an online shop tab on any Facebook page. A PayPal checkout service is used for payments. 30K+ active users.
  5. Muncom: this free PHP shopping cart lets you create a cart on your Facebook profile or Facebook Business Page. You need to first design a free store on Muncom.com. The shopping cart service is currently in beta and the Facebook application has 2K+ active users.
In addition to the above, there are also the following Facebook shopping cart solutions:

iFanStore from milyoni: operates completely within Facebook, supports multiple product attributes, promotions, multiple shipping options, sales tax managment, and downloads of digital content. Currently has over 50 users, with multiple pricing plans.

Usablenet: part of a suite of applications that include mCommerce and kiosk platforms, it is used by 65 major retail clients in the US and Europe, including JCPenney. By using the 'Shop' tab on JCPenney’s Facebook page, users can search all products currently included in JCPenney’s product pages. Shoppers also can 'Like' and share items and purchases with their friends within the community.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Retail Shoppers More Connected To Info Than Store Assocs.

Website magazine reports that a new study from Motorola Solutions concludes that many brick-and-mortar retailers pay dearly for neglecting their increasingly tech-savvy customers.

The majority of retail associates surveyed believe that shoppers were better connected to consumer information than were in-store employees, ultimately hurting those retailers’ bottom lines. The study found that 28 percent of in-store visits ended with an average of $132 in abandoned purchases by mobile shoppers confident of locating lower prices, more plentiful stock, shorter check-out processes and better customer assistance elsewhere.

The study also indicates that 43 percent of shoppers who received in-store guidance from retail associates armed with their own mobile devices reported that the device improved their shopping experience. The survey also found that because today’s mobile shoppers can easily find deals elsewhere, 87 percent of retailers now consider in-store customer service - aided by access to real-time information – to be more important than ever.

According to Motorola,
  • Surveys were completed online from Dec. 2 through Dec. 17
  • Two complimentary surveys were fielded, one targeted to shoppers and one targeted to in-store associates or staff. 
  • Sample:
-  Consumer panelists, representing a general distribution of the consumer population over 18 years of age, were recruited for the Shopper on-line survey. 1,056 respondents completed the Shopper survey.
- Business panelists, representing a wide range of experienced in-store associates who work in full-time or permanent part-time positions, were recruited for the Store Associates survey. 545 respondents completed the Associates survey.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Browsers Attempt to Protect Online Privacy

USAToday reports that Google has rolled out a new Chrome browser privacy tool similar to Microsoft's for Internet Explorer 9, due out later this year.

For its part, Mozilla, developer of the Firefox browser, has announced a new feature which actually comes closest to addressing the FCC's call for Websites to implement a "Do Not Track" (DNT) mechanism that would enable consumers to opt out of having their activity monitored on the sites they visit.*

"Technologists and privacy experts say the latest privacy tools from Google and Microsoft fail to universally stop a practice called click-stream tracking, which ad networks use to index the websites you visit. This enables the ad networks to target certain ads to specific Web users," says USAToday. "'We have seen the industry try, and fail, to self-regulate in this arena,' says Rainey Reitman, analyst at the Electronic Frontier Foundation."

Browser Protections

•Chrome: Google's new tool, "Keep My Opt-Outs," strengthens the Network Advertising Initiative set up by a consortium of ad networks and advertisers to let consumers opt out of being tracked by NAI members. Some NAI members, however, merely stop sending targeted ads to the user, but continue to do click-stream tracking. All that "Keep My Opt-Outs" does is prevents accidental deletion of the user's opt-out request to the NAI members.

•Internet Explorer 9: Microsoft's new "Tracking Protection" works in a similar fashion, but instead of sending opt-out requests only to NAI members, IE9 will look for click-stream tracking and targeted ads coming from a broader list of ad networks and then block them. The list will be compiled with help from privacy and advertising groups.

•Firefox. Mozilla is working on a way to insert a simple request that gets sent to every Website you visit, asking the site not to track you if you select the "opt-out" option. This is part of Mozilla's effort to develop a standardized way of handling opt-outs across the Internet, but doesn't specify how it will prevent click-stream tracking per se. It still seems to say that it is up to the site you visit to abide by your wishes.

Concludes USAToday: "Experts say it may take a new law to compel the ad networks to heed Do Not Track requests."

Writing on Internet Evolution, Robert McGarvey says, "The only way not to be tracked may be the use of proxy sites. “Proxies truly work,” says [Darren Hayes, a computer science professor at Pace University and a leading expert in computer forensics]. Surf through a third-party detour and, suddenly, all the Internet ad surfers are baffled by your identity. Downside: Most proxies produce a very slow Internet experience, which is why they haven’t caught on."

*For more information on the FCC's Do Not Track initiative, see my blog post: Do Not Track: A Golden Opportunity?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Six Brands With Successful Online Communities

To create an online community you need to appreciate consumer behavior, attract users, encourage participation, and know how to retain membership. Sponge takes a look at six of the most successful online:

These communities, though very different from each other, all serve as a forum for discussions among peers with shared interests, and can be of significant value for the sponsor, as well.

Getting Online Personalization Right

Web personalisation is about delivering targeted content and adaptive web experiences based on what you know about each visitor. For ambitious web marketers looking for the next leap in returns, this is a massive opportunity.

Of course, it’s not without risks. Get it wrong, and you’ll confuse visitors, waste resources and depress conversions. But get it right and you’ll surprise and delight your web visitors while driving your website to new levels of effectiveness.

Personalisation can be taken from any or all of the following sources of insight in eConsultancy's Five principles for online personalisation.

Also check out Dynamic Personalization Produces Dynamic Results in MultiChannel Merchant magazine.

FatWire Launches Vers. 2.0 of its Mobility Server

FatWire has launched Version 2.0 of its namesake Mobility Server. The company says the new software gives organizations the power to easily mobile-enable their Web presence by reusing content as a key component of their marketing and customer experience initiatives.

The company explains Mobility Server 2.0 allows organizations to:

Build a mobile Web presence—content from traditional Web sites can be re-purposed for the mobile channel; navigation structures from the traditional site can be edited and re-purposed for mobile Web sites; and out-of-the-box mobile Web page templates enable fast, easy creation of mobile sites for different device families.

Edit Web content from one user interface—provides a central interface for managing the traditional Web site and mobile Web sites.

Preview mobile sites in context—developers can see how a site will look on different device types, optimizing Web sites automatically for every type of mobile device—existing Web site content can be automatically reformatted, including video and rich media.

Support Location-based services—Mobility Server Version 2.0 makes use of device GPS data to deliver location-based content and services to site visitors.

Provide Social Web experiences— Mobility Server 2.0 allows organizations to easily mobile-enable user-generated content and other social features.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Global Payment Options

Merchants who want to expand their base outside the U.S. can find more customers abroad by showing them what they’ll pay in their native currency, according to Planet Payment, an international payment processor that helps banks process multi-currency transactions and assists merchants in implementing the tools they need for multi-currency processing.

By simply adding foreign currency pricing, sellers either look like they are in the customer’s country or convey the impression that what they are selling is intended for the people in that country.

Even better: if you’re only able to sell in U.S. dollars, you’re leaving money on the table. Those international customers are frequently used to paying higher prices than U.S. customers.

I have written in detail how to implement and managing multi-currency transactions for sales outside the U.S. on the PaymentsU blog. Take a look. I'll be happy to answer any questions you might have (ernie@schell.com).

NRF Mobile Blueprint Vers. 2.0

The National Retail Federation has released of Version 2.0 of its Mobile Blueprint, which provides significant updates to the original document published last July by the Mobile Retail Initiative (MRI).

The MRI brings together the collaborative strengths of NRF's IT standards division, ARTS; digital division, Shop.org; marketing division, RAMA and NRF's CIO Council to provide the retail industry guidance in successful use of mobile in marketing, commerce and internal operations.

Mobile adoption in retail is moving rapidly, ABI Research reports that through December 2010 mobile commerce excluding travel will have grown 143 percent from $1.4 billion in 2009 to $3.4 billion in 2010, requiring a major update to the Blueprint. Version 2.0 includes: 

* A revised executive summary describing the latest mobile retail trends and applications of value along with a maturity model that forecasts how mobile will continue to impact the business of retailing.
* A significant improvement to the mobile payment section that describes more than 35 alternative payment methods, the potential impact of mobile on chip and pin (EMVco) security and the expected growth in the number of NFC contactless phones enabling expansion of the use of mobile wallets.
* An expansion of the operations section to describe new mobile POS applications including digital receipts that holds the promise of “mobile self checkout”.
* A revised Implementation Strategies section that describes how cloud computing and other new technologies can accelerate implementations of secure mobile services and drive down costs.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Five Big Themes in BI for 2011

Cindi Howson writes in InformationWeek that Business Intelligence will become more visual, mobile and social in 2011. So how should you balance central vs. departmental control, and does it make sense to upgrade your BI platform?

1. Advanced Visualization and Dashboards Will Go Mainstream
"Advanced visualization and discovery tools continue to draw interest because of their ease of use, visual appeal, and ability to speed the time to insight amid vast amounts of data. The challenge for companies is in understanding when technologies overlap and the degree to which they are converging. Should you look for these capabilities from your BI platform vendor or from a specialty vendor.

"For dashboards, the answer depends on your BI platform. Vendors such as Oracle and MicroStrategy have the most robust, appealing, and integrated dashboard solution.  If, however, you are looking for an advanced visualization product with dashboard capabilities, the better products remain with specialty vendors.

"Beyond these tools, businesses will continue to struggle to decide who owns them and who should develop related content: business or IT? First attempts at developing dashboards tend to look like glitzy pin ball machines, but as people gain experience and expertise, these tools become the most useful component of BI."

2. Mobile BI Gets Recharged

Mobile BI may take off with the widespread adoption of Apple's iPad. "The wider screen real estate and sheer beauty that this tablet brings to BI is reason to take stock of your mobile BI strategy.

"What devices will you support, and what is your vendor's strategy? Support for devices, content, consumer ability, and native-versus-browser support vary widely.

"MicroStrategy's mobile BI solution is the broadest and most robust, including support for iPhone/iPad as well as Blackberrys. QlikTech and Actuate also are further ahead than some of the larger platform vendors. Niche vendor RoamBI, which supports content from multiple BI vendors, is worth investigating.

Companies that fail to consider mobile BI's potential and limitations will be forced into reactionary mode; when you scramble to pull together a strategy, you risk security breaches, mixed devices, and inconsistent support."

3. Facebook Gives BI More Than a Facelift
"Social networking brings new data sources for analysis. It also brings new demands for how users respond to insights from data, and that is never in isolation.

"To date, a report may be viewed as part of a task or decision-making process. Any discussion around the report is typically offline. Key decisions from the insight are made verbally or shared via e-mail or in documents, sometimes held in a document management system.

"Envision a Facebook influence on BI: decision-makers bring together the right people virtually; users themselves control the flow and content instead of a central IT group who secures the data and subsequent analyses. Tasks, comments, opinions, and even new sets of data and analyses are brought together seamlessly.

"Sounds too futuristic? Some vendors have already offered annotations to BI content, such as Information Builders Performance Management Framework and Dundas Dashboards. Moving far beyond just a portal technology, consider the new BI-integrated collaboration capabilities built into Microsoft SharePoint 2010.

"Beyond SharePoint, Outlook 2007 has collaboration features that SAS has been quick to leverage.

 "Demonstrating further social networking's influence, last year SAP launched StreamWork (but without BI content), Oracle BI Enterprise Edition 11g included support for Web Center (someone should rename this product!), and IBM Cognos 10 shipped with Lotus Connection. So the BI heavy weights are making inroads, but niche vendor Lyzasoft seems to have gotten the "user-directed" aspect most right.

"So we've seen some innovation here, but the convergence of social networking with BI is still very young."

4. Economic Recovery Stretches BI Teams, Boosts Open Source
"BI budgets are once again expanding. The challenge is to continue to spend wisely, but also to keep up with insatiable user demand. Central BI can't handle it all.

"Bringing BI to the masses means balancing what to handle centrally and enterprise-wide, and when to let users do their own thing.... Sometimes it's a matter of intelligently separating responsibilities. SAP BusinessObjects 4.0 has an interesting approach to metadata development that supports such an approach. eThority also seems to nicely blend enterprise class with departmental control.

"If a shrinking economy helped spur open source adoption, what will a recovering economy do? I would argue that open source BI is not growing primarily because it's free; it's growing because it's open, allowing for easier embedability. Such aspects are more important to ISVs and others who build industry-focused applications, which in itself is a sizable market.

"For open source to compete more squarely with commercial BI, the products must continue to improve; some are strong in one or two core areas, but not across the BI spectrum. Beyond the U.S. market, open source BI is also attractive to governments and foreign companies that don't want such critical assets to be powered entirely by U.S.-based software makers."

5. Will New Releases Bring Upgrade Fever or Flu?
"Major new software releases mean powerful new capabilities, as long as the upgrade process is seamless. Painful migrations can leave IT resources strained with testing, bug resolution, and redesign.

The top-four BI vendors (IBM, Microsoft, Oracle and SAP) all had major new product releases in 2010. Customers who have been burned with painful migrations in the past will not rush to adopt the latest versions. In some cases, 2011 will be a time to assess the cost of upgrading versus the cost of switching preferred vendors.

"It has been interesting to see how both IBM Cognos and SAP BusinessObjects have a 'co-existence' strategy in their latest releases: leave old content as is, running on the new platform. That approach is fine as a transition strategy; but the proof point will be in how easy and quick it can be to shut down previous versions and move reports and metadata layers into the upgraded software. 


"If I added a sixth item, it would be continued growth of in-memory analytics. In-memory proved to be one of the biggest BI technology themes in 2010 (think Microsoft's PowerPivot and SAP's HANA). It will be a capability that many companies will implement this year, whether as part of visual discovery and dashboards (item 1), insatiable user demand (item 4), or instantaneous response time that mobile requires (item 2). It seems, though, that while in-memory is a cornerstone to some vendors' BI strategy, others are more reticent. Will vendors like Oracle continue to have a wait- and-see approach, or will they advocate greater focus on other technologies for fast, big data BI such as appliances, indexing, various caching, and columnar databases?"
 

Cindi Howson is the founder of BI Scorecard, an independent analyst firm that advises companies on BI tool strategies and offers in-depth business intelligence product reviews.

Easy Mobile Web Solutions

Bryce Marshall, Director of Strategic Services at Knotice (publisher of Harnessing the Power of the Mobile Web), suggests three ways to meet shoppers' needs on the Mobile Marketing Assoc. Website:

Deliver the best of online… to on-the-go consumers

Many consumers use mobile devices to search for information or make purchases while they are on-the-go. They want smaller and smoother interactions. The mobile Web allows a shopper to buy or start processing a purchase decision immediately.

Deliver the best of online… at the point-of-retail
Motorola released a study recently indicating 51 percent of retail shoppers around the globe used their mobile devices in some capacity to help make a buying decisions. Consumers want the kind of specific and detailed information they find online – like user reviews and discounts – to help make informed purchase decisions. Shoppers intuitively know this information is available, but not accessible in a traditional retail setting. This content should help shoppers make informed buying decisions at retail, and that is possible with the mobile Web.

Deliver the best of online to make retail portable
Many consumers use the traditional Web to research products, or create a shopping/wish list, intending to buy at a retail store, i.e. they are using online tools but not online buying. Marketers can embrace this online-to-offline migration by creating mobile solutions that combine virtual and physical experiences in a consumer-centric mashup. For instance, allow online browsers to create a mobile cart or shopping list, then forwarded it to their mobile device via SMS. The message should contain a link to the personalized mobile shopping list where shoppers can quickly reference product information, SKUs, pricing, and store location information. All of this ensures a seamless and profitable multi-channel retail experience, with the mobile Web acting as the glue.

If you can deliver these experiences on the mobile Web, your shoppers will be grateful and you will be more profitable.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Mobile Payment Options

Remote mobile payment for both physical and digital goods is expected to grow substantially in the next several years, according to a new whitepaper from Juniper Research. A summary of this research at MarketingCharts covers a number of options for remote mobile payment:
  • Direct-to-bill (D2B): Generally offered by mobile phone providers, D2B lets mobile phone users debit mobile purchases on their phone bill.
  • Premium Rate SMS (PRSMS): Retailers and content providers offer digital products and services via an SMS text message which the customer pays to receive (commonly used to charge consumers for downloading digital products such as ringtones and wallpaper).
  • Mobile Web/WAP Billing: Online payment for the Mobile Web enables retailers to bill goods or services from a mobile or standard Web site. Very similar to payment on standard eCommerce sites, it usually allows consumers to pay via a variety of payment mechanisms that may not be unique to mCommerce, usually credit or debit cards. Richer content such as gaming, music, and video is better paid for via the mobile web simply because of the ability to have previews before purchase, and because of the assurance of delivery.
  • SMS/Java/SIM Toolkit: SMS payments, excluding those under the banner of PRSMS, are when the mobile payment is initiated using SMS and the funds are transferred from a registered account or a mobile wallet. The registered account could be debit or credit based or be based on a SVA (Stored Value Account). Scheme operators include PayPal Mobile (owned by eBay), and SmartPay in China. Java applications and SIM toolkits can also deliver this functionality.
  • Person-to-person (P2P) Payment: P2P payments are when funds are transferred between mobile phone users and then the funds are redeemed for airtime, goods or cash at selected merchants. P2P is seen as a social money payment mechanism in the developed world - for instance, to allow a group of friends to share payment for dinner at a restaurant or for parents to send funds to a child at college to pay for school books etc. In the developing world P2P has considerable potential to act as a major payment method, as often there is a lack of traditional payment and banking infrastructure in these economies.
  • Smartphone Apps: Mostly paid for by credit card, these applications perform a wide variety of functions and are being offered by an increasing variety of companies on smartphone platforms including Android, Blackberry, iPhone and Windows.
The security issues surrounding any of these approaches should always be a concern. And as for PA-DSS compliance, forget about it.... but see a related blog post: Banks Rolling Their Own PCI Approval for Mobile Apps

And see this related story.

Converion Conference in SF in March

Conversion Conference West, San Francisco, March 14-15, 2011, is the only worldwide event focused exclusively on improving Website conversions.

Sessions will feature conversion improvement strategies and tactics by the leaders in the field, with practical advice and actionable takeaways for:
  • Optimizing Headlines, Copy & Graphics
  • Split Testing & Multivariate Testing
  • Landing Page Principles
  • Personalization and Persuasion
  • eCcommerce & Lead Gen Conversion
  • Using Google Website Optimizer
  • Optimizing Social and Mobile
  • Design & Usability Mistakes
Keynote speakers include
  • Tom Davenport
    Author, Competing on Analytics: The New Science of Winning
  • Tim Ash
    Author, Landing Page Optimization, Conference Chair
  • Bryan Eisenberg
    Co-Author, Call to Action, and Always Be Testing
  • Michael Summers
    Co-author, Creating Websites that Work
Amy Africa, CEO of Eight By Eight, will be speaking on "Mobile & Real-Time Optimization." For anyone dabbling in mobile, or planning on attacking it this year, this session is jam-packed with actionable tips and tricks you can implement immediately, without breaking the bank. You’ll learn the #1 reason why your mobile strategy should be different from what you’re currently doing online, what’s important (and what’s not) when it comes to increasing your mobile conversions, 7 creative mobile tactics that really work, how to deal with “abandons” and save up to 60% of them and the 8 things you simply must measure that nobody ever tells you about.

This should be a real killer session - and Amy is always worth the price of admission! Speaking of which, if you use Conference Code CCW901 you can save $250 on the registration. But do it NOW - Early Bird Pricing Ends January 31st!

Banks Rolling Their Own PCI Approval for Mobile Apps

Walter Conway reports on StoreFront BackTalk that while the PCI Security Council has declined to officially certify any mobile payment apps, some leading acquirers are approving mobile payment applications on their own and offering them to their merchants.


Points out Schuman, Visa’s mandate allows acquirers this freedom: while use of PA-DSS validated payment applications “is recommended, a payment application need not be included on Visa’s list of PABP validated payment applications or PCI SSC’s list of PA-DSS validated payment applications in order to comply with Phase 2, Phase 3 and Phase 5 requirements for use of PA-DSS compliant applications.... Acquirers may determine the PA-DSS compliancy of a payment application through alternate validation processes, which should confirm that payment applications meet PA-DSS requirements and should facilitate compliance with the PCI DSS.”


So an acquirer can support new technologies for its merchants, build customer loyalty, and thus make it harder for the merchants to switch acquiring banks. Down the road the acquirers or the merchants will have their PA-QSAs formalize the certification findings into a Report on Validation (ROV) that can be submitted to the PCI Council.

DMA To Hold Seminars on New Marketing Trends/Technologies

At the Direct Marketing Association's "Big Thinking. Small Commitment" event three of today's most progressive marketing thinkers will present thoughts that can transform your understanding of where the world is going and how you can take advantage of it -- now.

This opportunity for "transformative thinking" costs about two hours of your time and none of your money (if you're a DMA member, that is).

"Big Thinking. Small Commitment" features DMA's own CEO, Lawrence M. Kimmel, as well as presenters from Google and the Mobile Marketing Association.

The event, to be held January 28, 2011 in Cambridge, MA; February 4, 2011 in New York City, and February 8, 2011 in San Francisco, will cover:
  • A world of increased socialization and isolation
  • The exploration of new channels and reach more customers than ever before
  • The ability to go beyond the trends and increase engagement with customers
  • Engagement in real one-to-one marketing
  • Development of an integrated strategy that begins with data and merging new and traditional channels with emerging technology

Speakers include:
  • Lawrence Kimmel – CEO, DMA
  • Michael Becker – Managing Director North America, Mobile Marketing Association
  • Brian Schmidt – Director, Americas Sales, Google Inc. (MA)
  • David Shapiro – Director of Small Business Marketing, North America, Google Inc. (NY)
  • Brett Crosby – Director of Product Marketing for social products, Google Inc. (CA)

    Surge in UK mCommerce

    ForeSee Results has released new research showing that consumers in the United Kingdom are using mobile phones more than ever for retail purposes. Similar research was also released based on U.S. mobile shopping trends, and both reports are available as free downloads on www.ForeSeeResults.com.

    As part of a study of nearly 10,000 visitors to the biggest e-retail websites in the U.K. (determined by traffic, according to IMRG), customer experience analytics firm ForeSee Results used a patented methodology created at the University of Michigan to examine how mobile shopping trends during the holiday season could have year-long implications. The ForeSee Results’ methodology is able to show how customers’ satisfaction with mobile websites and applications impacts their future purchase intent, loyalty, and recommendations across all channels.

    • Shoppers are using mobile phones to access websites and apps more than ever before. 32% of respondents have used their phone to access a retailer website, and an additional 32% indicated they plan to access retailer websites or mobile apps by phone in the future. “It looks like nearly two-thirds of all shoppers in the U.K. will soon be using their mobile phones for retail purposes if they aren’t already,” said Kevin Ertell, vice president of retail strategy at ForeSee Results and author of today’s report. “Any retailer not actively working to develop, measure, and refine its mobile experience is leaving money on the table for competitors.”
    • Mobile purchase behaviour is exploding. A total of 8% of web shoppers reported having made a purchase from their phones this Christmas season, compared to only 2% at this time last year. This 8% figure lags the U.S., but only by a little; 11% of American shoppers have bought something on their mobile phone.
    • Shoppers use their phones for a variety of tasks. The majority of shoppers who used their phones for retail purposes did so to compare price information (47%). Shoppers also used their phones to compare different products (34%), to look up product specifications (20%), and to view product reviews (15%). 
    • Shoppers use their phones to look at competitor websites. While in physical stores, more than two-thirds of mobile shoppers (67%) used their phones to visit the store’s own website, but one-quarter (26%) used their phones to access a competitor’s website.  This proportion is up substantially from 2009, when only 17% of mobile shoppers accessed a competitor’s site from within a store.
    • Traditional websites satisfy shoppers more than mobile sites and apps. In general, shoppers rate their satisfaction with retail websites significantly higher (72 on the study’s 100-point scale) than their satisfaction with mobile experiences (apps and sites) (67). A similar score gap is present in the U.S., although scores for both websites (78) and mobile experiences (75) were higher. “It’s true that mobile sites have far less maturity than traditional e-retail websites,” said Larry Freed, president and CEO of ForeSee Results. “But I’m not sure that matters to consumers. Their expectations are being set by the best websites and the best mobile experiences. They aren’t going to have a lot of patience for excuses about the challenges that mobile shopping presents when it comes to design and usability. Retailers in both the United States and the United Kingdom need to step up their game in this area.”
    • Good experiences with mobile sites and apps have critical cross-channel impact. Shoppers who are highly satisfied with a mobile experience say they are 32% more likely to buy from that retailer online and 31% more likely to buy offline, as well as being far more likely to return to the main website, recommend it, and be loyal to the brand. “It’s another reminder and a nice way to quantify that every customer touch point matters to overall loyalty and sales,” added Ertell. “Retailers cannot afford to ignore or even neglect the mobile experience and assume it won’t hurt their traditional online or in-store business.”
    The full report is available on ForeSee Results’ website: www.ForeSeeResults.com

    About ForeSee Results

    As the leader in customer satisfaction measurement, ForeSee Results captures and analyses voice of customer data to help organisations increase loyalty, recommendations and marketing value. Using a patented, scientific methodology developed at the University of Michigan, ForeSee Results identifies improvements across all channels and touch points that drive customer satisfaction. With over 55 million survey responses collected to date and benchmarks across dozens of industries, ForeSee Results offers unparalleled expertise in customer satisfaction measurement and management around the globe.

    Tuesday, January 18, 2011

    Amazon FBA Merchants Get New Sales Velocity Report

    Amazon has introduced an "All Orders" report for US and European "Fulfillment by Amazon" merchants who use Amazon's fulfillment service for third-party sellers. The report, which does not include customer-specific data, will answer the question, "How much did I sell today, this week, this month?"

    The report presents current data on order volume in either flat file or XML formats and is availabe in near real-time to synchronize with a merchant's local system to determine product popularity and sales velocity. Sellers can also use the report to respond to spikes in order volume.

    The report is available through Merchant Web Services (MWS) and Seller Central, and on the Amazon Fulfillment Reports page when merchants sign in to their seller account.


    MS Announces Dynamics AX 6

    Dr. Dobbs reports that "Microsoft has announced significant architectural advancements to the next version of its Microsoft Dynamics AX Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) tool. Code-named 'Microsoft Dynamics AX 6.'"

    The enhancements will  give independent software vendors (ISVs) the ability to get products to market faster with lower product life-cycle investments.

    Dynamics AX 6 includes a model-driven layered architecture that the MS says will accelerate software development by requiring less coding. In addition to new developer maintenance and upgradability options, there is pre-built interoperability with Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2, Visual Studio 2010 and other Microsoft technologies, such as Microsoft Office 2010 and Microsoft SharePoint 2010." It will come with pre-built capabilities for five industries and 38 countries.

    A "Community Technical Preview" of Microsoft Dynamics AX 6 is slated for February, with eneral availability planned for 3Q 2011.

    mCommerce: KISS Principle & the Endless Aisle

    In Mobile Commerce, simplicity is a virtue, says Julie A. Ask, vice president and principal analyst who specializes in m-commerce at Forrester Research Inc.

    Quoted in an article in Internet Retailer (also available on Mobile Commerce Trends), Ask notes: “You have to keep the end goal of the shopper in mind," adding that "Target’s ‘endless aisle’ is a perfect example [see illustratoin below]. It features signs directing shoppers to send a text to a short code and the reply text sends them directly to a [mobile-optimzed] Web page [on their Smartphone] connecting them with more products from that style or brand, locations where those products are in stock, and more. And it allows people to scan bar codes, which is far more simple than typing.”


    Note that the "endless aisle" concept has been used (under that name) by a number of merchants (Sears, for one) and systems vendors (like iCongo) to refer to the use of mCommerce to offer merchandise to customers in a store that is available either from other locations or for shipping from the merchant's direct commerce warehouse.

    Target is on the ball in a lot of other ways, as well. Vertical Marketing Network summarizes these in its Blogging Out Loud: Right on Target.

    Sunday, January 16, 2011

    MyBuys eComm Health & Wellness Index Up 14.2% Dec. 2010

    MyBuys, the leading provider of personalization for multi-channel retailers, reported in the December 2010 edition of its E-commerce Health and Wellness Index™ that December was exceptional for the eCommerce industry, with total revenue increasing 8.3% overall on the strength of better-than-expected holiday online shopping sales.

    Even more important, revenue from full-priced item sales increased 15.6% versus the same period last year. Combined, these increases drove the index up 14.2% compared to the same month one year ago.  In addition to holiday, the increase can also be attributed to a 4.8% decrease in the number of orders with promoted items and a 5.6% decline in orders without promoted items present.  Revenue from promoted goods declined 10%, with the average percentage of discounting dropping 3 points to 25.7% compared to last year.

    “As we start 2011, we continue to see improved comps for online retail as retailers continue to sell more utilizing merchandising to sell the right product to each consumer than being reliant upon promotion as was the last two holiday seasons” said Robert Cell, CEO of MyBuys. “Retailers are healthy as a whole and are investing in technology to create future growth including mobile shopping and personalization.”

    Key Stats: December 2010 vs. December 2009

    MyBuys E-Commerce Wellness Index        ↑ 14.2%
    Total revenue year-over-year    ↑ 8.3%
    Total revenues from products sold at list price ↑15.6%
    Total revenues from products sold with a discount       �10.0%
    Depth of discounts      ↓ 3%
    Average Order Value for personalized transactions       ↑ 8%

    About the MyBuys E-commerce Wellness Index™
    The MyBuys Composite Index aggregates total sales, non-promoted sales, discounted sales performance, depth of discounts, AOV and consumer impulse response from our more than 300 MyBuys clients.

    About MyBuys
    MyBuys is the leading provider of personalization for multi-channel retailers. The company builds deep profiles based on each individual shopper's behavior, then uses a patented portfolio of algorithms and real-time optimization to deliver the most relevant recommendations. MyBuys' clients are increasing engagement by over 100% across all channels, average order value by 45 percent, conversion rates by 90 percent, and boosting overall online revenue 10-30%. Over 300 companies, including 69 of the Internet Retailer Top 500, partner with MyBuys to offer intelligent, personalized recommendations to their shoppers. Based in Redwood City, Calif., MyBuys is a privately held company. Visit them online at www.mybuys.com.

    Saturday, January 15, 2011

    Celerant Updates Software, Plans More Improvements for 2011

    Celerant Technology, a leader in the retail software industry, launched several new multi-channel offerings in 2010 including M-Commerce capability, as well as GunBroker.com integration for firearm dealers, and an integrated CMS for customizing websites with ease. 

    The integration of GunBroker.com enables retailers to more efficiently submit their firearms and accessories in a streamlined process, directly from their inventory within their Command Retail software. Dealers have the option to view open auctions, closed auctions, recently created auctions, recently closed auctions and auctions that are closing today.

    The integrated CMS provides retailers the opportunity to maintain the content of their E-Commerce sites, allowing them to keep it updated with blogs, brand pages, and an unlimited amount of news articles, press releases, images, and videos.
     
    “Throughout 2010, our staff has strived to design and implement new technology to stay on top of industry trends and maintain a high level of customer satisfaction,” stated Ian Goldman, Celerant Technology President and CEO. “We feel that having a strong multi-channel solution is important to Celerant’s growth and continued success. For 2011 we are looking to strengthen our current offerings by making advancements to upcoming versions, such as our data warehousing module for advanced reporting and the optimization of Command, enabling back office functions to be performed directly from a mobile device.” 

    Celerant Technology provides an all in one system for retail organizations; from point of sale, inventory management, warehousing, E-Commerce, mail order and more. Command Retail provides the tools to help retailers take control of their businesses and expand their reach to a wider audience of consumers. Celerant’s M-Commerce offering was developed as a way to create a mobile version of a website, allowing it to be more easily viewed and accessed on a mobile device. Overall site navigation is updated and functionality is optimized for ease of use within a mobile environment.

    Thursday, January 13, 2011

    Vivisimo's Velocity Information Optimization Platform

    A decade ago, Vivisimo was a competitor to AltaVista, one of the leading search engines before Google came along and dominated the space. Both Vivisimo and AV are still around, though: AV as a multi-lingual search engine and translation tool, Vivisimo as a leader in the Information Optimization (IO) field.

    Vivisimo builds, parses, and manages "information connectivity" on its "Velocity" platform, which makes them a major player in the "Navigation, Search, and Retrieval" information management field. (see AMR Research [now part of Gartner], "Enterprise Navigation, Search, and Retrieval: A Vendor Landscape"). An overview of the architecture of their "Velocity" platform (which won Vanguard's Product of the Year Award in 2010) appears below (click on the image to enlarge):


    Vivisimo's Information Optimization platform (or "Interaction Optimization") is designed to handle all of the following challenges:
    • Enable quick and easy customer self-service
    • Support eCommerce Site Search and Search Engine Optimization
    • Reduce inbound calls
    • Generate revenues and new sales opportunities
    • Increase site stickiness and capture new target customers
    • Provide quality customer experiences

    Specific functionality allows for the rapid classification of all available data for quick insight into information themes without ever entering a search query. This auto-classification capability uncovers data that managers may have lost or even not have known of to begin with — information that may prove critical to their business.

    Velocity’s search and navigation capabilities also deliver efficiency to eCommerce sites by providing features like facets that group results from product searches, ensuring that prospects have a better chance of finding all of the exact products, features, reviews and answers they are looking for. Velocity also can show product substitutions and highlight possible add-on products to support up-sell and cross-sell opportunities.

    Vivisimo’s Velocity Platform enables customers to save searches and configure alerts to notify them
    when out of stock or new products become available. You can also create search-based widgets that allow the Velocity-powered Website to track users and showcase products that users with similar profiles have purchased.

    For general Search Engine Optimization, Velocity’s log ranking capabilities enriches a Websites’ content as it strengthens the relevance of the information presented. Velocity’s social tagging and commenting features also allow users to share feedback and collaborate on information. With Velocity, says Vivisimo, "a Website becomes a trusted advisor."

    For a related post on Site Search, click HERE.

    The Vital Importance of eCommerce Site Search

    Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the cute, sexy sibling that gets all the attention. But when it comes right down to it, the success of your eCommerce Website is more likely to be determined by Site Search within the Website than it is by optimizing search engine results.

    As the FifthGear blog reminds us, "Successful ecommerce websites offer real-time product updates, advanced search options, and detailed product reviews. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how great your product selection might be or how flashy your eStore is: if your customer cannot find what they want, or if it takes too much time and effort to find it, s/he simply looks somewhere else" (emphasis added).

    There are dozens of specialized site search tools, including SLI Systems and the related SiteChampion, Endeca, SearchSpring, Adobe Search&Promote (formerly from Omniture), BayNote, PicoSearch, Nextopia, Fusionbot, jrank, CyberSiteSearch, atomz, and many many more. Each has it's strengths and weaknesses. The big challenge with Site Search (or any search) is that prospects or customers don't always (or usually) search for things in the way someone would who is intimately familiar with your product line. So not only do you have to accommodate mistyping and misspelling (or is it mis-spelling...and what do you do with mis-sepllling?), but you also have to take into account brand names vs. generic terms, model numbers (which can be different on identical products), and brief vs. full product names ("joy stick" vs."push-button joy stick"). And what about "gearbox" vs. "gear box"? A tool like FindWatt can help set up product information and categories that are search-friendly. Their services include things like:
    • de-abbreviation
    • de-concatenation
    • Basic Faceting
    • Advanced Faceting
    • Standardization
    • Normalization
    • Inference
    ...and several other items, all par for the course in this painstaking, detail-oriented, but quite creative discipline (and it IS a discipline; not for the faint-of-heart!).

    For more information on each application, see my guest blog at Fifthgear.

     Click HERE for a related post on Vivisimo's Velocity Information Optimization platform.

    See also Web Admin's Guide to Site Search Tools and Search Tools for Web Sites and Intranets.

    Cabela's Using Digby's mCommerce Platform

    Cabela’s, a leading multichannel outfitter of hunting, fishing and outdoor gear, has announced the launch of an optimized mobile Website through mobile commerce provider Digby, enabling mobile as a strategic channel that complements their eCommerce and catalog channels, plus a retail channel that includes more than 30 stores in the United States and Canada.

    Cabela’s optimized mobile experience will allow customers to easily search and purchase items when they visit www.cabelas.com on popular mobile devices including the iPhone/iPod Touch, BlackBerry and Android. Key features of the new mobile Website include: rich product photographs, complete product descriptions, customer-submitted product reviews, shop by category, shop by brand, store locator, e-mail and a complete site search. 

    Wednesday, January 12, 2011

    Delivra, SiteCatalyst In Adobe's Marketing Arsenal

    Website Magazine reports that e-mail services provider Delivra has announced an integration with Adobe SiteCatalyst (formerly from Omniture) which will enable marketers to send e-mail messages to specific list segments based on customer's online activity. Connecting e-mail marketing and Web Analytics together, marketers can optimize conversion of online transactions to increase revenue.

    “The integration of Delivra and Adobe automatically merges e-mail and analytics data and is providing additional insight to help us understand how our e-mail recipients utilize our website and how our e-mail affects other sources of Web traffic,” said Rob Schmalz of Central Restaurant Products. “I am equally impressed with the ability to create custom segments within Adobe SiteCatalyst that trigger timely and relevant e-mails in Delivra to target specific behaviors.”

    Delivra customers who subscribe to Adobe SiteCatalyst can personalize e-mail campaigns based on activity, interests and visits to the Website. Omniture enables marketers to identify customers and prospects with specific click-through activity from e-mail campaigns to landing pages, then pass that information back to Delivra for enhanced campaign reporting and remarketing efforts.

    Tuesday, January 11, 2011

    Social Commerce Optimization From CalmSea

    CalmSea, provider of a Predictive Commerce Platform for retailers, has announced the release of its new Social Commerce Optimization Solution, leveraging CalmSea’s Predictive Commerce Platform with Facebook APIs to provide retailers the ability to engage, grow and monetize their Facebook fan base, better understand their customers’ preferences, and deliver targeted promotions such as private sales, group-buys, sweepstakes, contests and more.

    Through a standard Facebook integration, promotions are built and managed within CalmSea, then deployed to Facebook where social interactions can then be measured and optimized in real-time.

    CalmSea’s Social Commerce Optimization Solution has driven results for retail customers such as Tobi, an innovative online apparel retailer, which is using the solution to test multiple types of promotions through Facebook.

    “Within the first few days of launching CalmSea’s Social Commerce Optimization Solution, we saw a 10% growth in fan base, while more than 25% of our fans adopted the application," said Jennifer Song, vice president of marketing at Tobi.  "As the number of engaged fans consistently grows, we are able to continuously understand, segment and provide offers to our fans appropriately."

    Jim Dai, chief executive officer at CalmSea, added “Retailers are increasingly recognizing the power of engaging their customers on Facebook. The question they face now is 'How do we personalize promotions and engagement to each fan and then measure the ROI of each promotion?' CalmSea’s Social Commerce Optimization Solution provides a turnkey way to do just that – to measure engagement levels of their Facebook fans.”

    At its core, CalmSea’s Predictive Commerce Platform is a science-based retail business optimization platform that helps retailers make smarter, more profitable promotion and price decisions. In addition to their new Social Commerce Optimization Solution, CalmSea offers a Price Optimization Solution, which helps retailers understand price-demand elasticity, consumer preferences, competitive prices and seasonality effects. These factors are combined with the retailer’s margin, revenue and inventory goals to determine the right products and pricing for each retail channel.

    mCommerce Continues to Surge

    Technorati reports that more than half of all online consumers in the US either already are using or plan to use their mobile phones for shopping.

    One-third of the 10,000 eCommerce shoppers questioned by ForeSee Results indicated they had accessed a retailer’s website using a mobile phone during the 2010 holiday season, compared with 24 percent in 2009. An additional 26 percent said they planned to use a mobile phone to visit a retailer’s website, mobile website or mobile app in the future.

    Mobile shoppers prefer m-commerce sites over apps, study finds
    A new study from Adobe Systems Inc.’s Adobe Scene7 finds mobile consumers generally prefer to shop on a mobile web site than through a mobile app. Two-thirds of those polled say they prefer shopping via the mobile web over apps. As for games, social media, maps and music, though, respondents prefer using apps.

    Notes Internet Retailer, which reported the story, "Among all four of the categories examined—consumer products/shopping, media/entertainment, travel and financial services—respondents report equal satisfaction levels with their mobile browser and app experiences and spend nearly equal amounts of time interacting with each."

    OtterBox Moves to Demandware Commerce

    Demandware, Inc., a global leader in on-demand eCommerce, has announced that OtterBox, who sell protective cases for technology devices, is powering its new ecommerce site – www.otterbox.com - with Demandware Commerce to support the company’s U.S. and global eCommerce growth plans.

    The Company plans to leverage the Demandware SiteGenesis pre-built storefront application to quickly launch several sites internationally in 2011 to keep up with its growth and product demand.

    DemandWare Update
    Big changes on the new Demandware-powered site for OtterBox include improvements to the checkout process and the addition of customized promotions not possible with OtterBox’s previous platform.

    To create a richer, more interactive shopping experience, OtterBox is also incorporating tech specs, ratings and reviews, Q&A’s, case studies and product videos on each of its product pages to help increase conversion rates.

    In addition, OtterBox tapped into the Demandware LINK Marketplace to leverage pre-built integrations from Bazaarvoice to power its ratings and reviews and Omniture SiteCatalyst for analytics. Demandware LINK is a growing community of technology partners committed to lowering the integration hurdles and costs associated with adopting ecommerce technologies.

    Demandware Commerce offers a sophisticated cross-channel merchandising engine, an open development environment for full platform customization and extension, and next-generation cloud computing.

    Monday, January 10, 2011

    The Xerox Global Services Competipedia: Using Social Media to Enable the Sales Force

    B2B marketers need a place, real or virtual, where salespeople can share information with each other and where marketing can feed them research and other contextual information to help shape their messages. Social media tools can expand the possibilities of competitive intelligence by driving such collaboration.

    Xerox Global Services (XGS) used social media tools and principles to create a "Competipedia," a wiki-based tool where salespeople can find and share competitive intelligence. The Information Technology Services Marketing Association has produced a Case Study on how XGS developed its Competipedia using social media concepts to create up-to-the-minute competitive knowledge from its entire organization on a secure, easy-to-use Website. Click here for further information.

    Conversational Marketing Technology

    Neolane's "conversational marketing technology" encompasses all the essentials marketers need to plan, create, execute and measure marketing activities. Applications in the platform include:

    * Neolane Campaign Management Software, for creating and executing cross-channel marketing communications.
    * Neolane Lead, for automating lead generation, scoring, routing and nurturing.
    * Neolane MRM, to help marketers create plans and manage costs and resources.
    * Neolane Interaction, for coordinating inbound and outbound activity and offers.
    * Neolane Message Center, for coordinating real-time, high-volume communications and transactional messages, automatically.



    Automated Marketing Software For B2C/B2B Marketers

    These five core applications combine to form Neolane's two solutions: Cross-Channel Marketing Optimization for high-volume, transactional B2C marketers, and Lead Management Optimization for B2B marketers and others who use multiple touches to transform a prospect into a customer over time. There are also a number of optional features that marketers can add to enhance their Neolane solution.

    All Neolane applications are built on one single, open Enterprise marketing platform. They were all developed by Neolane from scratch and share a single code base, which makes for ease of integration and implementation.

    The suite includes a versatile workflow engine and a graphical user interface. The automated workflow engine is role-based to enable marketers to easily define processes to plan and manage budgets, resources, and content; segment customers; define rules and triggers; create and re-use templates; execute campaigns; capture responses; define lead flows; and analyze results.

    The visual framework makes it intuitive for marketers to coordinate all marketing processes and customer interactions spanning multiple channels, dynamically formatting content upon delivery. The level of personalization is virtually unlimited, empowering marketers to deliver the right message to the right person via the right channel at the right time.

    eBay Offering mComm and Augmented Reality Tools

    Marketing Vox reports that eBay is upgrading the mobile apps for its various sites. "There is a new 'Half.com for iPhone' app that lets shoppers compare prices and sell products with barcode scanning functionality. Other enhancements let users pay for items with gift cards and coupons, share purchases on social networks and shop from other Apple devices."

    With the Half.com for iPhone app you can:
    • Shop, compare and sell with the barcode scanner. Use the barcode scanner to search for the item you are looking to buy or sell. Compare prices or see what you can sell your items for on Half.com. If you want to sell, simply enter a few details about the item and you’re done!
    • Easily search and browse. Half.com has millions of titles in books, textbooks, music, movies, games and game systems. With this app you can easily find what you are looking for.
    • Enjoy fast, secure checkout. Use the Speedy Checkout setting with Half.com to make purchases on the go—it’s safe, simple, and fast.
    • Manage active listings. Easily update, manage, or delete your current items for sale.
    • Use your gift cards and coupons.  Enter your gift card and coupon codes when checking out and save even more!
    • Share on social networks. Find a great deal? Want to increase the visibility of your listings? Share items via social networks like Facebook or Twitter, or even over email.
    • Shop from other Apple devices. This app is compatible with both the iPad and iPod Touch.
    Augemented Reality
    "eBay is also adding augmented reality (AR) to the mobile app that it launched five months ago for the iPhone 4, according to All Things Digital. A first for eBay, the new AR functionality gives users the choice to "See It On" as well as to build an outfit with "Outfit Builder."

    If a customer is shopping for sunglasses, for instance, "With the former, iPhone 4 owners take a picture of themselves and then pinch and zoom to fit the glasses to their face. With the latter, a user designates favorite items of clothing for their 'Personalized Closet.' Then the app mixes and matches the pieces into outfits that can be saved or shared."

    Epicor Supports iPhone, iPad, Mobile Tools

    Addressing retailers' desire to leverage mobile devices to drive transaction efficiencies, and improve operational visibility and customer engagement, Epicor Software Corp., a leading provider of enterprise business software solutions to the midmarket and Global 1000 companies, is demonstrating the power and functionality of its retail applications on the Apple iPad and iPhone at NRF 2011, the industry's premier retail technology showcase.

    Armed with only an iPad device and a small Bluetooth barcode scanner, retailers can use Epicor solutions to place orders, process sales transactions, and support other retail applications such as Business Intelligence, Enterprise Selling, and Customer Relationship Management to manage every aspect of business, from product sourcing and merchandising to customer loyalty and cross-channel sales transactions.

    "The iPad launch made 2010 the year of the tablet," said Randy Tofteland, executive vice president, retail software for Epicor. "And now tablets are the hottest consumer electronics devices, with new models from several major players just launched last week at the Consumer Electronics Show. Today, the ultraportable tablet computer is fast becoming a crucial business and productivity tool for retailers."

    Tofteland says that while he expects many retail vendors to announce support for stand-alone retail applications at NRF, Epicor's a value proposition is tablet support for its full suite of retail functionality, eliminating the need for one-off integration point projects.


    Mobile Tools
    Epicor is also supporting text messaging. "This year we're demonstrating new ways retailers can leverage text messaging functionality that are different and more strategic when compared with how the vast majority of retailers are using it today," said Tofteland. "Retailers have an opportunity to leverage mobile messaging for tremendous impact; however, they need to inspire consumers to take action outside of just reading the text."

    "By opting-in to text messaging, a consumer has already indicated their interest in receiving information and offers about a brand, which indicates some level of loyalty and/or preference toward that brand. In the U.S., there is a very high read rate for opt-in text messages (95%); however, many retailers are missing this tremendous opportunity by employing ineffective or underwhelming text messaging efforts that are not proving successful in driving revenue or conversion," he said.

    Google eMerchandising Tools You Should Know About

    FifthGear highlights a couple of new tools from Google that are very useful for eMerchants:

    Remarketing

    Remarketing is the practice of showing ads to consumers who have previously visited an eCommerce site or have left items in a shopping cart without purchasing (abandonment).  Google's Remarketing tool has the advantage of working with its own ubiquitous Adwords program.  Coodies are planted on the user's hard drive so that when they surf other sites, Google Adsense (Google’s advertising option for publishers that allow them to place ads on their content sites and make money when visitors click) will automatically show the prospect an ad for the abandoned product.

    You can easily set up and create a remarketing campaign through the new “Audiences” tab in AdWords. A remarketing campaign allows you to take advantage of the same features and reports you can use today in AdWords - it’s just a new way to reach the best audience for your ad.


    For further explanation check out Google’s official documentation on retargeting.

    Product Extension Ads


    Product Extension ads are designed specifically for eCommerce retailers with a wide selection of products, combining Google Product Search (Google Shopping) with Google Adwords. With  Google Product Search you can upload a feed of your product catalog to show up as shopping results when a user searches for a specific item, but these are only listed if a user searches specifically within Google shopping. With Product Extension Ads  you upload your product feed directly through Google Adwords to show up within the paid results on the right side of the Google results page. You can also write ad copy for these ads instead of relying only on the product descriptions that you have on your site. Read more on the Google Merchant blog, which in itself is a good resource to know about.

    Dept. of Commerce creating "Trusted Identity" Ecosystem

    BusinessWeek and other media outlets are reporting that the Obama administration is planning a new office in the Department of Commerce to oversee the government's implementation of what White House Cybersecurity Coordinator Howard Schmidt is calling a national online "trusted identity" ecosystem, based on a draft proposal, the National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace (NSTIC). published last June, but it remains unclear what that ecosystem will look like, and how it will function.

    speaking at the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke explained "We are not talking about a national ID card..... We are not talking about a government-controlled system. What we are talking about is enhancing online security and privacy and reducing and perhaps even eliminating the need to memorize a dozen passwords, through creation and use of more trusted digital identities."

    Schmidt added that such a system would still allow users to maintain anonymity and protect their privacy when surfing the Web. "I don't have to get a credential if I don't want to," Schmidt said, stressing that there are no plans to put together "a centralized database" of user information. 

    Further details are expected to be available in the next few months.

    Oracle Completes Acquisition of ATG

    Oracle Corp. announced that it has completed the acquisition of Art Technology Group (ATG).

    “The reason Oracle acquired ATG is that every business is going to want to offer all consumers and customers a cross-channel CRM, commerce and retail experience,” noted Thomas Kurian, Executive Vice President, Product Development, Oracle. “Together Oracle and ATG have a crystal clear roadmap” to bring that experience together quickly.

    Kurian pointed out that the two companies are tapping into a growing software marketplace where ecommerce currently is a $4.2 billion industry, retail application software is $8.3 million and CRM software has reached $15.7 billion.

    Both Oracle customers and industry analysts responded favorably to the acquisition. “As a customer of both Oracle and ATG, we view the integration of the two companies as a natural fit,” said Kevin Cunnington, Global Head of Online, Vodafone Group. “We look forward to new efficiencies that address our online and cross-channel business strategies and help us further provide superior customer experiences.”

    “Oracle has already assembled quite a few key components to the new connected commerce offering with robust CRM, merchandising, analytics, inventory management, etc. and with this addition to its portfolio, extends the platform significantly," said Michael Fauscette, Group Vice President, Software Business Solutions, IDC. "In particular, ATG adds a robust platform that works across online, in store and mobile channels creating the new omni-channel commerce offering,”

    “Oracle’s acquisition of ATG is important for current Oracle Retail users who’ve been contemplating an eCommerce refresh, but it also creates an opportunity for the mid-market, with end-to-end-to-end-to-end solutions available from a single vendor," said Paula Rosenblum, Managing Partner, RSR Research. "Oracle is assembling a stunning suite of retail products."

    GSI Acquires ClearSaleing Ad Analytics Services

    GSI Commerce Inc. has announced its Global Marketing Services division has acquired ClearSaleing, a Columbus, Ohio-based provider of advanced advertising analytics and attribution management. The acquisition of ClearSaleing broadens and deepens the division’s portfolio of marketing services offerings and overall market position. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

    ClearSaleing will operate as a wholly owned subsidiary of GSI’s Global Marketing Services division, which provides a comprehensive set of interactive marketing solutions to help clients drive customer acquisition, conversion and loyalty across multiple channels. With the addition of ClearSaleing, the division now includes eight marketing services companies: e-Dialog, FetchBack, M3 Mobile, MBS Insight, Pepperjam, Silverlign and TrueAction. The company plans to integrate ClearSaleing into these other marketing services platforms.  For more information, visit http://gsicommerce.com/marketing_services.


    “ClearSaleing’s innovative advertising analytics platform provides today’s marketers and digital agencies with an accurate way to measure, compare and optimize profit and ROI of their online advertising campaigns,” said Chris Saridakis, chief executive officer of GSI’s Global Marketing Services division. “The U.S. digital advertising market is $25.8 billion. ClearSaleing gives marketers the ability to understand the entire customer purchase path and how each online channel works to move a customer from acquisition to conversion, which helps deliver stronger performing marketing programs. We’re very pleased to welcome ClearSaleing to GSI.”

    “ClearSaleing’s advertising analytics and attribution platform is the solution for the limited last-click measurement model online marketers and advertisers have been stuck with for far too long.  ClearSaleing gives marketers the tools and intelligence to manage their overall media mix and fine tune the message of their campaigns,” said Randy Smith, chief executive officer of ClearSaleing. “GSI’s multichannel approach to marketing services and entrepreneurial culture makes this a strong fit for ClearSaleing and our clients.  We’ll be able to continue to develop our technology while taking advantage of GSI’s broader resources and market position.”

    Attribution Management

    Three fundamental attribution management issues must be addressed to properly assign value across an entire group of ads:
    1. Accurately “valuation” of the conversion event using a metric that measures the performance of each ad in the group.
    2. Comprehensively tracking and sequentially assembly all of the marketing initiatives and advertisements that contribute to the conversion event.
    3. Proper attribution of the overall conversion value to each of the participating ads on a relative contribution basis.
    This "big picture" analysis is where ClearSaleing adds value. Overall, this is should be a very valuable asset for GSI.

    ClearSaleing’s Attribution Management product was named a Leader in the independent October 2009 Forrester Research, Inc. report, The Forrester Wave™: Interactive Attribution Q4 2009, for its ease of use, custom analytics and appeal to a wide array of marketers.  For the past year, TrueAction, a full-service digital agency within GSI’s Global Marketing Services division, has been using ClearSaleing’s attribution marketing platform to help 60 of its clients improve efficiency in decision making and increase productivity from automation and reporting by providing more accurate attribution analysis.  Other ClearSaleing clients include companies such as American Greetings, Rosetta, Range Online Media and Nationwide Insurance.  The investment banking firm Petsky Prunier represented ClearSaleing in this transaction. 

    Thursday, January 06, 2011

    Holiday Shopping Online

    The graphic below from eCommerce solution provider Volusion shows that for the first time Cyber Monday lived up to its hype as the busiest selling day of the year. The gap between the biggest online shopping day and Cyber Monday has been steadily closing for years

    The number of days between the biggest online shopping day and Christmas day in 2010 was 25, dwarfing the 2009 number (9) and the 9-year average

    (Click on the graphic to display the image separately, then click on the image to enlarge the display.)

    Wednesday, January 05, 2011

    eCommerce Year In Review

    Mike Willoughby of PFSWeb has an excellent wrap-up of eCommerce during the past year, covering corporate mergers and collaborations, the role of the iPad and mobile apps, social media, international developments, and HTML5. It's succinct, to the point, and worth the 3 minutes it will take to read HERE.

    Time To Review Your Comparison Shopping Engine Strategy

    Steve Weber of Solid Cactus reminds us "Now that it’s a new year, it’s a great time to revisit your comparison shopping engine marketing plan." You should take a look at his four-point plan to review items listed, keywords, product data, and budgets and bids HERE.

    Have a Social and Mobile New Year

    As readers of this blog will know, we've seen a very rapid ramp-up of social and mobile commerce in the multichannel marketing world in 2010, with 2011 poised to see further and faster growth in these two hot areas.

    Internet Retailer has a good overview on this that we suggest you read HERE. It's a good overview of the current agenda, technologies, and opportunities. And it's brief.

    A sample: “We strongly believe that the onslaught of mobility products, including smartphones, iPads and tablets, will tip mobile as a significant demand generation channel for 2011,” says Chris Paradysz, founder and CEO of PM Digital, a search engine marketing firm. “It’s here. Bring your seatbelts.”  And: "Two-thirds of online retailers said they offered or planned to offer visitors the ability to use their Facebook log-ons on their e-commerce sites, according to a survey from social media optimization firm Gigya."

    What are you waiting for? Read it already!

    And if you want a gameplan? Check out Work.comhttp://www.work.com/mobile-marketing-for-small-business-10754/ and Marketing Systems Analysis.

    Tuesday, January 04, 2011

    Brooks Sports On Demandware Commerce Platform

    Brooks Sports, Inc. has taken its eCommerce site to the next level with its updated online retail store www.brooksrunning.com built on the Demandware Commerce platform that allowed them to have control over innovative merchandising initiatives designed to best meet the needs of high-performance athletes.

    Visitors to BrooksRunning.com can learn more about the technology behind Brooks’ footwear, read about featured athletes and events, find their perfect fit with Brooks’ Shoe Advisor, purchase footwear, apparel, and accessories as well as chat directly with customer service representatives.

    Brooks leveraged pre-built integrations to Demandware Commerce from PowerReviews (ratings and reviews) and CyberSource (payment processing), available through the Demandware LINK Marketplace. The pre-built integrations significantly reduced the time and effort required to implement these third party technologies.

    Demandware Commerce combines best practice customer experience applications for eCommerce and mCommerce, a sophisticated cross-channel merchandising engine, an open development environment for full platform customization and extension, and the efficiency and power of next-generation cloud computing.

    Brooks Sports designs and markets a line of performance footwear, apparel, and accessories in more than 60 countries worldwide. A subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway Inc., Brooks was founded in 1914 and is headquartered in Bothell, Washington.

    Monday, January 03, 2011

    DemandTec Acquires Assets of Applied Intelligence Solutions

    DemandTec, Inc., the collaborative optimization network for retailers and consumer products companies, announced that it has acquired the assets of Applied Intelligence Solutions, LLC (AIS), a developer of intelligent software solutions for the retail enterprise, with a specific focus on softline retailers.

    With this transaction, DemandTec has secured intellectual property applying complex pattern recognition techniques to softline and other short lifecycle retail categories. Additionally, the transaction brings to DemandTec industry expertise in software application development for retail softlines.

    DemandTec will leverage AIS's MarkdownXpert workflow and science in Markdown Optimization, a DemandTec software service currently used by multiple retailers which allows the design of optimal plans that set markdown timing and depth to maximize profitability and inventory objectives for clearance items. Markdown Optimization is a component service of DemandTec Lifecycle Price Optimization™, a comprehensive solution for managing and optimizing pricing across the entire store.
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