Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Multi-Channel Analytics

It is well known that multi-channel buyers are more profitable, and often more loyal. But how do you leverage that knowledge? I think you will be interested in reading this Q&A from Intelligent Enterprise with Matt Smith, Senior Director, Customer Insight, at Best Buy, showing how the company not only makes use of solutions from Visual Sciences (formerly WebSideStory) and Unica's Affinium, but also implements marketing/merchandising methods that best-in-class merchants employ to create a pro-active context for taking advantage of insights gained.

Friday, May 25, 2007

CommercialWare to Become MICROS-Retail

We learned at the Annual Catalog Conference in Boston earlier this week that CommercialWare, or rather "Datavantage/CommercialWare," a wholly owned subsidiary of MICROS Systems, Inc. and one of the major providers of multi-channel and direct commerce solutions, will be rebranded as "MICROS-Retail."

The first official public announcement of the name change will be made at the Datavantage/CommercialWare User Group meeting in Austin in September, with a major unveiling of the new MICROS-Retail brand at the National Retail Federation show next January in New York.

The CommercialWare Suite of solutions includes:
- CWSerenade
- CWDirect
- CWStore
- CWLocate
- CWCollaborate
- CWData & Analytics
- CWIntegrate
- CWValueCard

Junction Signs Brownells

Brownells, the world’s largest supplier of firearms accessories and gunsmithing tools, has selected applications from Junction Solutions for e-commerce and the management of its multi-channel business.

Brownells will be using both JunctionEOD and JunctionMCR for managing its multi-channel retail business. JunctionEOD, a scalable on-demand (SaaS) e-Commerce solution built on Microsoft .NET 2.0 and Microsoft SQL Server 2005, seamlessly integrates with JunctionMCR, a multi-channel order management and fulfillment solution built on Microsoft Dynamics AX. Together, these solutions are expected to enable Brownells to better manage and analyze catalog and Web campaigns through order entry, shipping and returns with greater efficiency and high-touch customer service.

Datamann Partners with Epoch on POS Solution

Computer Connection, a division of Datamann, Inc., located in Vermont, and Epoch Software Solutions, located in New Jersey, have announced their partnership for the sale and support of CounterPoint software, a retail management and point of sale solution from Radiant Systems in Memphis, Tennessee (only available through authorized business partners).

Computer Connection will maintain its status as an authorized CounterPoint Business Partner, meeting the requirements set by Radiant Systems. Epoch Software Solutions will continue its business in the Mid-Atlantic region, while using Computer Connection for additional resources and as its bridge to Radiant Systems.

Pindar Manages Digital Assets via Web

Pindar Graphics has introduced a digital asset management solution, WebImage, geared toward the distribution and management of assets via the web.

WebImage is integrated with Pindar Graphics’ product information publishing system, AgilityCMS, and handles digital assets such as images, documents and video. Users may search the assets by clicking nodes in a tree categorization view, or by searching in metadata fields.

WebImage has comprehensive access and security controls to ensure users can see and do tasks for which they have permission. These controls also allow for preprogrammed custom formatting of images on the fly and default locations of FTP sites, etc. When integrated with AgilityCMS, there is a two-way flow of assets and sharing of metadata without redundant actions required.

DMA Opposes “Simplified” Sales Tax Bill

Washington, DC, May 25, 2007 - The Direct Marketing Association (DMA) is cautioning legislators about a bill introduced earlier this week that would allow states to force online sellers to collect sales taxes for all state and local taxing jurisdictions.

S. 34, introduced by Senator Michael Enzi (R-WY), would mandate provisions of the Streamlined Sales and Use Tax Agreement (SSTA), a voluntary agreement that 21 states are currently participating in. SSTA claims to offer a simplified, streamlined solution, but in fact would only add a new layer of complexity, expense and burden for businesses around the country.

“Unfortunately, the ‘The Sales Tax Fairness and Simplification Act’ is neither fair nor simple,” said Steven K. Berry, DMA’s Executive Vice President, Government & Consumer Affairs. “A truly workable simplification plan would standardize definitions of taxable goods across state borders and offer a single tax rate per state for all types and channels of commerce.”

In decisions in 1967 and again in 1992, the Supreme Court ruled that in order to be able to tax sales originating outside their boundaries, states must remove the burden placed on retailers by the complexity of having to comply with the requirements of thousands of different taxing jurisdictions.

There are currently more than 7,600 different sales tax jurisdictions in this country, including states, counties and municipalities, and even block-by-block areas. Currently, only businesses with a physical presence or "nexus" within a state are required to collect taxes for the jurisdictions within that state. “The failure of S.34 to address the need for a reduction in the number of tax jurisdictions remains a critical obstacle to a viable streamlined sales tax program,” said Berry.

Berry pointed out that many companies would not have sufficient resources to collect and remit sales taxes for each of the thousands of jurisdictions, much less to bear the cost of a possible audit at any time by 46 different state revenue departments (45 states plus DC impose sales tax).

DMA also cautions that the bill does not lay out strong enough requirements for creating consistent definitions of taxable goods. For example, in some jurisdictions tennis shoes are considered nontaxable clothing, and in others taxed as "athletic gear."

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Steps to Prevent "Google Hacking"

SRI Dynamics is offering a free White Paper on protecting your Website from "Google Hacking," i.e., using crawl data that has already been collected and indexed to look for vulnerabilities on your Website (Yahoo, MSN, and all the other major search engines can provide this same data).

The primary focus of the White Paper is how to best use a "vulnerability scanner" such as WebInspect to identify unsuspected "back doors" on your Website. It's a quick read, and worth at least a glance to make sure you've got these bases covered.

You can register to view the White Paper via Information Week.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Another Golden Gate Acquisition

Limited Brands Inc., the owner of Victoria's Secret, agreed to sell a majority of its Express unit and put its Limited Stores up for sale after first-quarter 2007 profit fell to half the company's previous forecast.

The buyer? Golden Gate Capital, which will buy 67 percent of Express for $548 million.

Golden Gate Capital has become a major player in the direct commerce field. Last month it acquired Blair Corp. for $173.6 million in cash through Appleseed’s Topco, a portfolio company of Golden Gate Capital and another major direct commerce organization. Already in the Golden Gate Capital Catalog Holdings family are direct merchants Norm Thompson, Solutions, Sahalie, Carabella Collection, A.B. Lambdin, Wintersilks, The Tog Shop, Haband, Newport News, Spiegel, and Herbalife, all acquired within the last three years.

On the technology side, Golden Gate owns Escalate Retail (Ecometry/Blue Martini/GERS), Infor (B2B distribution), and Aspect (ACD solutions), among many others. Golden Gate also owns companies in semiconductors, electronics, financial services, and media.

Headquartered in San Franciso, the private equity firm has over $2.6 billion in capital under management. Many of its principles were formerly associated with Bain Capital LLC in Boston, the private equity firm founded in 1984 by Mitt Romney with several partners, including El Salvadoran billionaire Ricardo Poma. One of Bain's early acquisitions was Brookstone, so direct commerce investments are in the Bain/Golden Gate DNA, as it were. Bain's biggest coup was the start-up of Staples in 1986.

The acquired companies, which are left essentially intact (or, as in the case of Escalate Retail, strategically consolidated), stand to benefit from Golden Gate's experience in specialty retail and direct commerce for men's and women's clothing, plus the strong financial resources available to the private equity company. So it's a "good news" story, although change is always challenging, even when it's "for the better."

Monday, May 14, 2007

Ecommerce Stats

Two interesting Ecommerce stats were published today from a survey conducted by Forrester Research for Shop.org, the National Retail Federation's digital division, compiling data from 170 retailers:

1) For the first time, clothing surpassed computers in U.S. online sales, with online shoppers spending $18.3 billion on apparel, accessories, and footwear last year and $17.2 billion on computers. The gains in online clothing sales were attributed to a range of benefits and incentives, including free shipping, free returns and exchanges, and applications that allow customers to better view products on retail webites; and to a contrast with difficulty in finding products at all in some stores.

2) Even so, Ecommerce is years away from saturation, says the report, with double-digit growth expected for several years to come. The industry's 25 percent growth in 2006 to $220 billion was above expectations of 20 percent and matched growth seen in 2005, fueled not only by better Ecommerce sites but by the proliferation of broadband. Nevertheless, says Scott Silverman, executive director of Shop.org, "At some point it's going to have to slow down." But while growth rates might start decelerating, retailers are still in the early stages of recognizing the positive impact a sophisticated online strategy can deliver, he said. "Retailers are just beginning to see what that potential is," Silverman said. "[And] a lot of them are fairly far behind in terms of having an appropriate investment level to take advantage of that opportunity."

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Campus Classics Selects SigmaCommerce

Campus Classics has selected SigmaCommerce to run their eCommerce and catalog business, with rapid deployment scheduled for later this summer.

Campus Classics, Indianapolis, IN, is a recognized industry leader of official licensed sportswear and gift items within the college fraternity mail order market. Said Byron Wilson, Chief Executive Officer of Campus Classics, "We chose Sigma after reviewing numerous other systems because we're impressed with the power and flexibility of SigmaCommerce, Sigma's vision and product roadmap for the future.... especially...the E-Commerce module as that is critical to our future growth plans."

Sigma Micro, LLC, celebrating its 25th year as a leading provider of enterprise solutions for multi-channel retailers, is headquartered in Indianapolis, IN. SigmaCommerce, its flagship product, is a .Net application built on a single relational Microsoft SQL database.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Flaghouse Seeks IT Director

FlagHouse, a global supplier of physical education equipment and products, equipment and programs, is looking for a new Director of IT to manage a staff of seven. In addition to preparing and managing the annual operating budget and capital budget for the IT department, the Director of IT is expected to manage the technical infrastructure; ensure the company has well-defined and efficient cross-functional and inter-departmental business processes, which also link to customer and supplier processes; and produce significant revenue-generating innovations that help the company differentiate its products and services.

Candidates should have a thorough understanding of the direct marketing/catalog industry and business practices, a Bachelor's degree (B.A.) from a four-year college or university, and 15 years' experience and/or training on computer systems with management/supervisory responsibilities or an equivalent combination of education and experience.

For further information, contact
Catherine A. Evanisko, SPHR
Director, Human Resources
601 FlagHouse Drive
Hasbrouck Heights, NJ 07604
Tel: 201-329-7549
Fax: 201-288-3729
Web Analytics