Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Ecometry, GERS, Escalate Retail Update

We spoke with John Marrah, President of Escalate Retail, who clarified a number of issues regarding the merger of Ecometry with GERS.

We already knew the name of the new company was derived from Escalate, a Tier One order management system GERS had purchased in September 2004, with users such as Eddie Bauer and Williams Sonoma. It was a leading provider of eCommerce, order management, and order fulfillment systems for the retail industry, which became the hosted Java-based "MultiChannel Commerce" solution in the GERS suite of products, with its development and support out of Redwood Shores, CA.

In the next six months, GERS and Ecometry will fully integrate and rebrand all of their existing solutions, modules, and components, including Nextor and Blue Martini, which was fully integrated with Ecometry in July, and integrate them all on a Web Services platform.

The new company will have three primary target markets:
1) direct marketers (catalog, eCommerce)
2) general retail
3) specialty retailers, such as furniture (a GERS area of specialization)

As CEO of Escalate, Stewart Bloom will focus on financial issues, while John Marrah, as President, will be handling product strategy and top-line revenue generation, plus additional acquisitions.

The objective of the Escalate Retail, a $100 million company, is to become a "Multichannel Retail Powerhouse." This does seem to be, at this stage, a marriage of two companies (and their extended families) that stands a reasonably good chance of working as planned.

As for legacy Ecometry users, "they should see no difference in support or in migration to the open platform" whether they migrate now or in the future. Current users of the open platform should also notice no significant change in features and functions, although the system will migrate to the Web Services platform.

So there you have it. Obviously, we'll keep you posted as time goes on....

Ecometry and GERS Retail Systems Combine to Form Escalate Retail

DELRAY BEACH, FL, August 21, 2006 – Retail, E-Tail and Direct Marketing solution provider Ecometry Corporation and GERS Retail Systems, the San Diego-based leading provider of planning, merchandising and supplier collaboration software solutions announced today the combination of their organizations. The transaction was funded by Bay area private equity firm Golden Gate Capital.

The combined organization is named Escalate Retail reflecting the focus on improving retailer profitability through customer-focused solutions. By combining the front-office strengths of Ecometry, customer-interaction and loyalty, with GERS strengths in merchandise planning and execution, the company will provide retailers advanced capabilities to meet their customer demands across channels. The newly formed company will be led by CEO Stewart Bloom, President John Marrah, and CFO Michael Larkin.

The company will have headquarters in San Diego and Delray Beach. Six additional satellite offices are located across North America and in Europe.

"We are excited about our ability to bring integrated and customer focused solutions to the industry," said Stewart M. Bloom, CEO of Escalate Retail. "The synergies created by merging GERS and Ecometry into a significant new entity, Escalate Retail, have immediate benefit to our current customers and create a compelling new option for retailers who are looking for a unique technology partner to help with their business growth agenda."

Market analysts see significant growth potential for the combined offering as retailers demand market choices other than monolithic ERP applications and isolated point solutions. Additionally, no other vendor has made customer intelligence available, across all customer touch-points and in back-office merchandise and planning applications.

"After analyzing opportunities in the market for over a year, we are very excited to join forces with GERS,"said John Marrah, President of Escalate Retail. "We are both committed to the goal of delivering highly extensible retail solutions that can be delivered individually or as a comprehensive suite."

Escalate Retail has over 650 retail clients across North America and Europe. Current clients include Home Depot, Williams Sonoma, Nordstrom, Hot Topic, Sainsbury, Harry Rosen, Louis Vuitton, Blue Fly, Z Gallerie, Brooks Brothers, Saks, Lamps Plus, Sony and Raymour & Flanigan.

"Hot Topic uses GERS solutions for merchandising, inventory management and analytics and Ecometry's Blue Martini solutions for e-commerce, online order management, loyalty programs, and marketing analytics" said Tom Beauchamp, CIO for Hot Topic. "The consolidation of these two, highly customer-centric solution providers offers opportunities for Hot Topic to leverage our current investments. The application portfolio of the combined company will provide more efficient integration of applications across our enterprise, both in-store and on-line, ultimately creating an even more satisfying shopping experience for our customers across all sales channels."

About GERS
GERS Retail Systems is a leading supplier of software solutions for consumer-centric retailing. By facilitating the real-time flow of transactions and information across the entire retail organization, our solutions enable retailers to consistently anticipate, understand, and fulfill their customers' expectations for products that are priced, located, and timed to provide the optimal shopping experience. GERS solutions manage the merchandising life cycle, multi-channel selling, planning, business intelligence, and supply chain synchronization to create a great customer experience.

About Golden Gate Capital
Golden Gate Capital ( is a San Francisco-based private equity investment firm with $2.6 billion of capital under management. Golden Gate is dedicated to partnering with world class management teams to invest in change-intensive, growth businesses. They target investments of up to $100 million in situations where there is a demonstrable opportunity to significantly enhance a company’s value. The principals of Golden Gate have a long and successful history of investing with management partners across a wide range of industries and transaction types, including leveraged buyouts, recapitalizations, corporate divestitures and spin-offs, build-ups and venture stage investing.

Natural Solutions: Enterprise Ready, Adds Six Users

Natural Solutions, vendors of the Natural Order, Natural Web, and Natural Retail solutions for multi-channel direct commerce, has achieved a new level of enterprise readiness with the appointment of Richard Carter as Vice President of Development. Carter, who was with Sigma-Micro Corp. for twenty-six years, where he worked as a developer and programmer on the GAP, Lands' End, and East Bay accounts, brings industry expertise in working with large user organizations. He will be working at Natural Solutions to realize a more mature, more fully integrated application.

More than 200 users in the US, Canada, and Australia currently use Natural Order.

With Version 8.0, released earlier this year, the system now offers:
* Internationalization for addressing and currency
* Expanded security definitions
* User-definable order entry setup schemes
* Assortment kits
* Gift recipient lists
* Expanded picking selection criteria
* Email schemes
* Additional 3rd-party interfaces

"We are very excited about the release of Natural Order 8.0, which allows us to provide much more flexibility and functionality within our suite of software offerings," says Tyce McIntosh, VP of Marketing. "We will be implementing version 8.0 for six new users by the end of the year."

Three points in the above list invite comment. The first is the use of "schemes" in Natural Order. These user-definable template interfaces supporting parameterization of system functionality will become the norm in future development on the system. In order entry, for example, schemes specify the order of field navigation, what fields are called, and rules for using each field. You can also designate different sets of fields by user log-on, so that you can have specialized fields for new users and fewer fields for advanced users.

In addition to e-mailing, schemes currently manage royalties and advanced discounting options.

The second point is internationalization. Natural Solutions joins a select group of software vendors who can support virtually any currency and contact (phone, address) conventions worldwide.

Finally, with regard to third-party interfaces, Natural Solutions recently announced integration with Independent Solutions, a provider of sales tax software. This is in addition to integration with POSitive Technology's POS solution (using Microsoft's Retail Management System), the Satori worldwide address verification solution, and Commerce V3 for Web storefronts.

Natural Solutions will start migrating all users onto the same platform in the near future. Says Tyce, "Our latest version is stable and mature. We have an aggressive R&D schedule to continue to extend its functionality, and we're looking at partnerships with additional Ecommerce vendors."

CommercialWare Update

Title Nine has chosen the CommercialWare suite of cross-channel retail software products - CW Direct, CWData and CWAnalytics, CWStore, CWValueCard, and CWLocate – for its eight retail stores, storefront retail operations in its call center and supporting the website operations. Also, Sur La Table has completed the implementation of CommercialWare's CWDirect and CWCollaborate for improved and accelerated inventory visibility and managing its processes for drop-ship orders. In addition to improved coordination between the stores, website, and catalog call center, Sur La Table can now obtain reports and more easily access information including comprehensive order activity, trending views, and operational metrics.

CommercialWare also announced that Restoration Hardware, Payless, Vermont Country Store, and the Metropolitan Museum Of Art will all be going live later this year or early next year.

In other news, CommercialWare is now fully PCI-Compliant, having become PABP (Payment Application Best Practices)-certified. The PABP is currently a voluntary VISA program, which will be mandatory in the near future.

Finally, six months after its acquisition by Datavantage, a wholly owned subsidiary of Micro Systems Inc., the two companies are on course to integrating their solution suites, according to Mark Lightbody, Senior Business Consultant at CommercialWare. Datavantage provides specialty retailers such as Coldwater Creek and JJill with POS and analytical applications, with some users having more than 10,000 registers in place. CWI’s users tend to have a total of fewer than 50 cash registers to manage.

When the two companies’ application suites are merged, the final result will rely on components from each. For instance, “Relate” is the Datavantage CRM application, which can house the Retail Master File and populate it to the POS. For the Inventory Locator and Gift Card management, it will be CWI applications they will use.

The two sales teams are beginning to coordinate and work together, and to market together as well. Europe, Asia, and South America are already covered by Micros, and eventually both Datavantage and CWI will be serving specialty retailers on a truly global basis, too.
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