Thursday, June 28, 2007

RBS Launches US Payment Gateway

The Royal Bank of Scotland Group (RBS), which has been handling overseas transactions for U.S.-based online merchants, has unveiled a new service that will compete for transactions generated within the U.S. as well as those coming from foreign customers. "Now we can handle merchants’ transactions through a single gateway," says Josh Groves, president of the San Francisco-based Retailer Solutions, North America unit of RBS. "We’ve been selling in the U.S., [saying] let us do your non-U.S. transactions. Now with this combined gateway we can do everything."

The new service combines three platforms RBS operates in Europe and the U.S.: Atlanta-based merchant processor RBS Lynk, Bibit Global Payment Services, based in the Netherlands, and Streamline, a U.K. acquirer. Bibit provides back-end settlement and authorization for all card transactions funneled to it via RBS Lynk and Streamline, which can convert 14 currencies. The gateway currently serves 2,000 merchants, about 100 of which are in the U.S., including job site Groves refuses to disclose current or projected transaction volume.

The RBS service is PCI-compliant, enabling merchants to accept online credit card payment without having to store the card information or become PCI-compliant themselves. The gateway also helps merchants determine the level of risk for transactions before they are sent for authorization, meaning that merchants can lower the risk of incurring charges for fraudulent transactions.

The new business unit has a U.S. sales force of 20 calling on large and medium-size merchants. A distribution strategy to reach smaller merchants through e-commerce software developers, hosting companies, and larger IT developers is under development.

Pricing will be key. “In the U.S., pricing is very competitive,” says Groves, who will not give details beyond noting that "we’re competitive with [gateways like] CyberSource."

Ironically, last fall Island Pacific, Inc., a leader in retail POS and Merchandising software solutions, inked an agreement with RBS Lynk to offer full-service integrated payment processing solutions through its Retail Pro Payment Solutions division. The three-year agreement with RBS Lynk would allow Retail Pro to offer an embedded payment solution with support for credit, debit, check, gift, loyalty club payments and more.

The Island Pacific software is an integrated application suite consisting of POS and store operations, merchandising, planning, business intelligence, and customer management/CRM available in 18 languages and localized for use in 73 countries around the world at over 35,000 retail customer locations.

"This is an exciting arrangement for us, as well as RBS Lynk," said Kerry Kodatt, Vice President of Retail Pro Payment Solutions. "As a registered ISO ["Independent Sales Organization," or middleman] through RBS’s US subsidiary, Citizens Bank, we are now well-positioned to deliver robust, multi-faceted payment solutions which provide our customers reduced costs through very competitive rates and create a significant new revenue stream for Island Pacific/Retail Pro and its business partners."

Monday, June 25, 2007

Stone Edge: #3 Among Top 500 E-tailers.

The Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide lists the order management systems (OMS) used by the 500 largest E-tailers. Of the 500, 167 listed something other than "n/a" or "in-house" for their OMS. Looking at the list below (showing the vendor and number of users listed in the Top 500), it is interesting to note that Stone Edge lands at a very respectable Number 3, behind two giants, Escalate Retail and GSI Commerce. Way to go, Barney!

The entire list is actually quite fascinating, and provides some provocative food for thought:

Escalate Retail: 34
GSI Commerce: 17
Stone Edge Order Manager: 13
CommercialWare: 9
Dydacomp: 6
Oracle: 5
Everest: 4
Sterling Commerce: 4
SAP: 3
ATG: 3
Epicore|CRS: 3
Microsoft Dynamics: 3
NetSuite: 3
Sage: 3
Kewill Systems: 2
Avexxis: 2
Island Pacific: 2
*Amazon Services: 2
Alexander Interactive: 2
OrderMotion: 2
Acadaca Internet Solutions: 2
QuickBooks: 2

41 others had a single user each.

*I am interested in learning what any of you may know about Amazon Services, or what your experiences have been. Please let me know. Thanks.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Google Analytics Leaves Beta

Google Analytics, Google's Web site analysis service, graduated from beta yesterday with several new features, according to Intelligent Enterprise.

As part of the announcement, Google said that the old version of Google Analytics will be removed on July 18th. Google introduced the new version in beta back in May.

Google Analytics began life as Urchin On Demand, a hosted Web analytics service offered by San Diego-based Urchin Software Corp. Google acquired Urchin in March 2005 and initially offered the Web traffic measurement service for $199. In November 2005, Google re-branded the service Google Analytics and began offering it for free.

The updated version now includes the option to view site traffic on an hourly basis, a feature from the old version that didn't make it into the recent interface upgrade. Google also added the ability to click through to external pages from links in Google Analytics reports.

Users can also now cross-segment reports by network location, which means they can view traffic from different network locations separately. The company has also made it easier to integrate a Google AdWords account with Google Analytics. In addition, the new interface now shows up to 500 rows of data on a single report page, up from a previous limit of 100 rows.

Earlier this month, Google acquired content syndication and management service FeedBurner, which offers similar traffic analytics for RSS feeds. Google has yet to say how or whether FeedBurner will be integrated with Google Analytics.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

RSAG Publishes MultiChannel Fulfillment Report

RSAG, the Retail Systems Alert Group, has published a White Paper/Survey called The State of Multi-Channel Fulfillment: Benchmark Report 2007-2008, sponsored by DataVantage/CommercialWare.

This 25-page report is definitely worthwhile (though a bit discouraging on the challenged state of the art) for anyone interested in both the technologies and operations of multi-channel commerce.

To get a copy, visit the RSAG Website; the link is at the top of the right-hand column, "Industry Research."

Table of Contents
Executive Summary
SECTION I: Overview
Why the Study Was Conducted
Survey Respondent Characteristics
SECTION II: The Business Challenge
Retailers Struggle With Customer Service and Channel Synergies
Retail Winners Track Changing Consumer Behavior
Experienced Multi-Channel Retailers Value Channel Synergy
The Cross-Channel Window Gets Smaller Every Day
SECTION III: Opportunities
"Multi-Channel" Means a Lot of Different Things
Little Movement between Channels, Even As Maturity Grows
Retailers Focus On Efficiency and Customer Service Opportunities
Customer Service Options Remain Sparse
Emerging Best Practices: Fulfillment Methods
Emerging Best Practices: Inventory Management
Cross-Channel Order Fulfillment Is Still Immature
Retailers Tackle the Hardest Things First
SECTION IV: Organizational Barriers
Technology and Cultural Issues Hamstring Multi-Channel Fufillment
Overcoming Organizational Inhibitors: Contradictions Abound
Figure Out the Org Structure First
SECTION V: Technology Enablers
Top Technology Enablers: Inventory and Order Management
Kiosks Not Considered "Multi-channel"
Experienced Multi-Channel Retailers Use More Technology
Technology Adoption: The Advantage and the Curse
SECTION VI: "Bootstrap" Recommendations
Multi-Channel Fulfillment Follows a Learning Curve
Establishing A New Channel
Maturing the Secondary Channel
Driving Synergy across Channels
A Note on Mobility
Appendix: Methodology
Defining Retail Winners
Report Sponsors

New York Mint Selects Junction Solutions

New York Mint, one of the largest rare and collectible coin marketers in the United States, has selected JunctionMCR, a multi-channel retail solution to manage its business across multiple sales channels and better integrate its warehouse, order management, fulfillment and customer service processes.

New York Mint, headquartered in Edina, MN, is one of several collectibles retailers that have chosen JunctionMCR this year, including Royal Canadian Mint, another provider of collectible coins and currency. Besides a wide selection of rare and hard-to-find U.S. coins, New York Mint offers many other collectible products, including paper currencies, coin jewelry, foreign and ancient coins, ancient coin jewelry and specialized numismatic services. Through an international partner, Aber & Levine, based in Israel, New York Mint also offers a variety of custom-made jewelry and ancient artifacts to collectors.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

DMA Launches New Tech Council

The Direct Marketing Association (DMA) has announced that its former "Marketing Technology and Internet Council" will be reborn as the DMA "Marketing Technology Council" (MTC).

The Council's mission states that it will serve as ‘a resource that represents, educates, and communicates the benefits of technology-enabled marketing, creating the most efficient and effective marketing processes that deliver superior shareholder and customer value.’“

The MTC plans to reach out to the membership, create a dialogue, and help them to understand how to solve their marketing technology issues so their marketing processes will work more efficiently. Technologies involved include sales force automation, enterprise resource planning, marketing operations management, marketing automation, data quality, digital asset management, marketing resource management, and customer relationship management technology.

The old MTIC was a doomed, rudderless disaster. The new MTC may fare better; it will be doing a session at DM Days in New York this month on understanding and implementing a marketing technology plan. Let's see if it can provide not only guidance but leadership (and a little vision, maybe), which was absent from its predecessor.

The odds are dicey, though. In the list of technologies, if "ERP" is meant to stand for order management and fulfillment, then why didn't they label it something more appropriate than ERP? And if they do mean ERP, then where is order management (and why is ERP a "marketing" technology)? One assumes "marketing operations management" relates to campaign management, no?

And where is the Web in all of this???? Conspicuous by its absence, I'd say!

If the Council itself is confused and wobbly on its own foundation, how can it bring clarity to the marketplace and the user community?

Frankly, if this were a stock, I'd short it.
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