Thursday, March 28, 2013

JDA and RedPrairie Merge

JDA, a leader in supply chain planning, merchandising and pricing solutions has merged with RedPrairie, a major player in warehousing, workforce management, store operations and eCommerce solutions.

Hamish Brewer, CEO of JDA, will lead the combined company as its CEO. Mr. Brewer has more than 20 years of industry experience and a proven track record of successfully integrating large businesses.

RedPrairie's CEO, Michael Mayoras, will remain on the board of the combined company.

The Board of Directors of the combined company will be composed of the current members of the RedPrairie Board, including: Alok Singh, Michael Mayoras, Nanci Caldwell, Martin Hiscox, Lawrence Jackson, Thomas Manley, Peter Masucci, Tim Pawlenty and Janet Perna. Upon closing of the transaction, RedPrairie expects that Hamish Brewer will join the RedPrairie Board of Directors.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Sanderson Announces New Appointments

Sanderson, a publicly owned provider of multi-channel retail solutions, has announced new appointments in its Multi-Channel Retail business. These appointments are the latest in a series of new appointments, boosting the capacity of the Operations team during a period of continued business growth.

Jason Ayres joins as Programme Manager for the Elucid multi-channel retail solution, a new role responsible for the management and allocation of projects to the Development and Professional Services teams. Jason brings a wealth of experience in both IT programme and project management from the retail and wholesale market sectors.

Shannon Oakley has been appointed as the new client facing Project Manager responsible for the successful delivery of customer projects by the Elucid Professional Services team. A qualified and experienced project manager, Shannon has a strong background in skilfully managing and delivering a wide range of IT services projects.

Commenting on the latest appointments, Ian Newcombe, Managing Director of Sanderson Multi-Channel Solutions says: “Both Jason and Shannon’s appointments are key additions to our expanding Operations team at this exciting stage of our business development. Increasing our resource and capacity reinforces our continued focus on customer service and driving further growth in the multi-channel retail solutions market.”

The Emperor's New Clothes: Customer Experience Management

In the last couple of years the field of "Customer Experience Management" (CXM) has become a big focus for combining "Customer Relationship Management" (CRM) and "Content Management Systems" (CMS) or "Web Content Management" (WCM) with Order Management Systems (OMS), eCommerce platforms (plus mobile, tablets, etc.), and social media.

This would seem to be a nirvana of systems confluence, the holy grail of multichannel customer activity. The thinking underlying CXM is that this places the emphasis where it belongs, on how the customer navigates a Website (or possibly a store) to find what they want to purchase, and how the purchase itself can be most effectively supported and enhanced (from cross-sells and upsells to product reviews, guarantees, warranties, and so on). A lot of this, of course, will be based on analysis of customer activity, both in real-time and historically. Typical direct marketing database challenges.

One practioner refers to it as "a marriage that empowers the eCommerce platform to create experiences rather than simple transactions."

Fair enough. But there's only one problem with all of this: as Forbes pointed out a year and a half ago, "No one vendor offers all the components, though some – like Adobe, IBM, and Oracle – are working on acquisitions." I don't think any of them have achieved that goal as yet.

A Management Challenge
Which means that CXM is more of a management challenge than a systems challenge. It requires configuring each of the components to make the customer's experience as simple, straightforward, and pleasing as possible. And this is not at all easy.

Take site search, for example. In January 2011 I wrote a blog post on the subject, pointing out some of the complexities of this rather arcane functionality. Not for the faint of heart! But in many ways, site search and other "utilities" like it are probably at the core of any successful CXM suite.

Essentially, I see the problem as somehow juggling technology, statistical analysis, content, customer data and profiling, affiliate management, and corporate hierarchies on behalf of customers whose business you are competing with the rest of the world to earn and profit from. This is nothing new: back in the heyday of the specialty catalog (1975 - 1995), designers were very strategic about what they put on the catalog cover (they still are!), but that didn't mean you would always have it in stock to meet demand, or that customers would always be satisfied with their purchase. It was sometimes a "political" decision (as in "the company president and chief buyer just got back from Thailand and this is what they bought a thousand of"), and of course that is always a dicey proposition.

So CXM is going to be a work-in-process for some time to come. Maybe five years from now, with some new technology (including advances in interface tools and gadgets plus social media) and some new blood in middle (if not upper) management, things will be easier. For the time being, though, it's the same-old same-old, and CXM is just another acronym puzzle floating in the alphabet soup.

For some articles on CXM, see:
The Emergence of CXM Solutions: Forbes
Focus On Customer Experience To Navigate Digital Disruption: Forrester
The Content Repository is the Key to Customer Experience Mmanagement: mindtouch
A New King In Town For Managing e-Commerce Experiences: CMS Wire

And as always, I welcome your feedback, input, and comments. Very much so, in this case!

Dydacomp Introduces SaaS System

Dydacomp, vendor of the Multichannel Order Manager(M.O.M.) system and SiteLINK eCommerce platform, has announced its first new product in many years: Freestyle Commerce. 

Freestyle is a cloud-based order management solution for retailers who are automating order processing for the first time. It‘s functionality is intended as a subset of the existing capabilities in M.O.M., with a few new things made possible because it’s an online-only system. The system was developed from scratch, however, with no code reused from M.O.M. or SiteLINK. 

M.O.M. and SiteLINK will continue to be sold, enhanced and supported. They are Dydacomp’s core products and M.O.M. will remain their only on-premise order management software solution. SiteLINK will work exclusively with M.O.M.

Freestyle is an alternative for new customers to consider when automating their order management processes. It is not an upgrade to or replacement for M.O.M., and it is not a hosted version of M.O.M. Many of the more advanced features in M.O.M. are not initially available in Freestyle but will be added over time.

There is no end-of-life planned for the M.O.M. or SiteLINK products, either. Dydacomp intends to continue to enhance, sell and support both those products. 

With Freestyle Commerce, retailers can:
  • Keep customers informed about in-stock, committed, back-ordered, packed, or shipped items
  • Seamlessly integrate fulfillment operations across multiple channels into a single workflow from shopping to shipping
  • Sell their entire stock or just a small subset through Amazon.
  • Automatically download new orders, publish product information and synchronize inventory across channels

GoECart’s Integration with Avalara Sales Tax Solution Officially Certified

GoECart, a leading provider of multi-channel eCommerce order management solutions, has announced its official certification with Avalara, a leading provider of cloud-based sales tax automation services.

Avalara's AvaTax service helps GoECart merchants reduce audit risk and achieve compliance with a suite of automated sales tax services that make it easy to calculate tax rates, file forms, remit payments and simply reporting.

“We’re always focused on helping our clients consolidate systems and manage their businesses more efficiently,” said Manish Chowdhary, CEO of GoECart.  “Avalara’s official certification of the GoECart eCommerce and order management solution means that our clients can remain confident that they are fully up-to-date on handling today’s highly complicated and rapidly changing tax regulations.”

The integration gives GoECart merchants several benefits that include:
  • A complete set of automated end to end compliance services including sales and use tax calculation, exemption certificate management, filing and remittance, and a broad array of related services
  • Complete automation of sales tax compliance areas that include situs, nexus, tax tiers, tax holidays, exemptions, certificate management and product taxability rules
  • Rapid application of sales tax calculations to eCommerce and call center transactions via a secure, encrypted Internet connections
  • Reduction of time spent on sales tax return and RMA processing
  • On-demand reports containing information necessary to prepare and submit accurate sales tax returns
  • Seamless remittance payments by Avalara for each jurisdiction where the merchant has a nexus
  • The ability to manage all aspects of tax compliance via familiar, web-based administration panel
Avalara’s SaaS solution provides a complete set of transactional tax compliance services developed specifically to serve the needs of small- to medium-sized businesses. Avalara CEO and Founder Scott McFarlane said, “Avalara’s cloud solutions help thousands of customers stay focused on their core businesses by eliminating the angst of a statutory requirement that has no strategic value, and we do so in a fast, easy, accurate, and affordable manner. We’re pleased to welcome GoECart into our ever expanding community."

Monday, March 11, 2013

Soldsie Receives Seed Funding

Soldsie, a service that enables purchases within comments on Facebook, has received $1 million in seed funding from institutional investors including 500 Startups, and FundersClub. Former Facebook employees Yun-Fang Juan and Jonathan Ehrlich, Peanut Labs founder Prosper Nwankpa, and angel investors Elliot Loh and Tom Kelly also participated.

Soldsie allows brands, merchants and small business owners to use Facebook’s social features to increase online sales. The technology turns Facebook posts into digital shopping carts. Once a user has registered with Soldsie's app, commenting with the word “Sold” lets them purchase the item posted. Since its start, more than 100,000 Facebook users have registered with Soldsie's app.

On the backend, Soldsie’s platform completes the transaction and gives businesses a streamlined interface for processing and tracking sales.

“F-commerce needed a fresh perspective, and that’s what Soldsie’s technology provides,” said Alex Mittal, CEO and co-founder of FundersClub. “Cracking the code on this market would be huge, and from what I’ve seen, Soldsie is well on its way.”

How Brands Have Succeeded with Soldsie

The Soldsie platform includes more than 1,500 merchants and is currently processing over $1 million in transactions a month from clothing boutiques like Jenny Boston Boutique to professional sports teams like the San Jose Earthquakes. The platform processes payments via credit card or PayPal.. To date, more than 100,000 Facebook users have registered with the Soldsie app.

After registering with Soldsie, simply posting a photo on Facebook turns into a valuable sales tool for any business. Because Soldsie’s technology works inside of Facebook and on any device, Soldsie posts convert better than sending fans to an outside link to make a purchase. It also gives brands an opportunity to create demand that extends outside of Facebook itself.

“Before Soldsie we just weren’t engaging people enough on Facebook. We started using Soldsie about six months ago and began running Wednesday night sales to test it out,” said Jenny DeMaria, owner of Jenny Boston Boutique. “Our Facebook sales are a huge success, and they help us drive people into the store. We can’t put a price tag on the buzz these sales created.” 
Web Analytics