Thursday, November 26, 2009

IKEA's brilliant Facebook campaign

From Chris Matyszczyk on CNet: IKEA, the Swedish purveyor of fast-food furniture, decided to open  a new store in Malmo, Sweden, and didn't really have a lot of money to let people know about it.

So it engaged a rather outre advertising agency called Forsman and Bodenfors to create a rather special launch campaign.

The agency created a Facebook profile for the store manager, Gordon Gustavsson. Over a two-week period, it uploaded images from of IKEA showrooms to his Facebook photo album.

Then it put out word that the first person to tag their name to a product in the pictures, won it.

Facebook being what it is, word got out and needy, enthusiastic Swedes begged for more pictures so that they could tag themselves to a new sofa, a new bed, or a new vase into which they could stick their plastic flowers or their dead grandparents' ashes.

Before Facebook could take credit for its own wonderful ingenuity in creating the world's most needed Web site, thousands of Swedes were spreading pictures of IKEA showrooms all around the personal galaxy known as their profile pages.

This was truly a case of "Build It and They Will Come!"

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Asos (US) Launches Twitter-linked Micro Review Site

From Catalogue  eBusiness magazine:  Continuing to set the pace for retailers’ use of social media, fashion etailer Asos has launched, “a Twitter-powered feedback and reviews microsite” that enables customers to post real-time comments.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

AmEx Take Aim at PayPal

From the Associated Press: With its deal to buy Revolution Money, American Express is taking aim at the growing market for online and alternative payments, in a challenge to recognized leader PayPal, analysts say.

AmEx announced plans Wednesday to buy the Web payments firm started in 2005 by Internet firm AOL founder Steve Case, with the purchase price set at $300 million.

Analysts say AmEx is most interested in the so-called peer-to-peer services of Revolution, which enables low-cost money transfers among individuals and businesses.

"I think it's a challenge to PayPal, but it's more than that," said Ed Kountz, an analyst who follows financial technologies at Forrester Research.

"AmEx is positioning themselves for more effective innovation, and for the next generation customer."

Kountz said a variety of new technologies are emerging for person-to-person and alternative payments, but that few companies have been able to get the critical mass with both consumers and merchants to gain a foothold.

Revolution also aims to compete against traditional credit card firms by handling payments at a lower fee.

Joe Weisenthal at the online analysis site Business Insider said Revolution is "frequently described as a PayPal killer," but has been unable to grow during the financial crisis.

The action by AmEx comes with PayPal expanding its offerings with new ways to transfer money using mobile phones or social networks like Facebook.

Revolution "offers a unique card that seems to blend the idea of traditional credit and debit cards with Internet-based payments along the lines of PayPal and Google's service," said Jim Kim of the financial technology website FierceFinanceIT. "We'll see how the other big boys react."

"New payments products and platforms are evolving rapidly and it's important for us to keep identifying cutting edge technologies that can extend our leadership beyond the traditional payments arena," said Kenneth Chenault, chairman and chief executive officer of American Express in announcing the deal.

"This is a smart, nimble business. It's run by an accomplished management team who have quickly developed some cutting edge e-payment offerings," he said. "Joining with American Express will help unlock their potential, while allowing us to deliver competitive online payment products more rapidly and efficiently."

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Elusive Web Measurement Strategy

Brent Dykes has a very good post on the Omniture blog on developing a Web Measurement Strategy. He notes that "In a recently released report by e-Consultancy, we continue to see that many companies still don’t have a measurement strategy in place. After surveying more than 800 digital marketers, e-Consultancy found “…that just one in five companies (22%) has an internal strategy that ‘ties data collection and analysis to business objectives’ and only 27% say their web analytics ‘definitely drive actionable insights.’”

That's alarming...but seems like a realistic assessment, unfortunately. Why bother with the exercise? Dykes sees "four main benefits to developing a web measurement strategy," which I quote below:
  1. Gain a clearer understanding of your company’s online business performance. Without well-defined KPIs, you’re not going to truly understand business performance and take appropriate action.
  2. Achieve greater buy-in and adoption by involving key executives and stakeholders in the business requirements gathering phase.
  3. Align your organization around shared measurement objectives that are tied to key business goals. Having everyone focused on what’s most important to the business is extremely valuable.
  4. Avoid costly missteps that may require re-implementation and delay “time-to-value”. Measure twice, cut once.
The difficulty seems to lie, however, in the challenge of including the right people in determining an appropriate strategy for conducting online sales. Says Dykes, "At a successful high tech company, I met with 15-20 product marketing managers to discuss their business requirements. After some debate about what they wanted to measure online, the product marketing managers told me to ask senior management what their web strategy was and “let us know when you find out what it is.” Ouch." He calls the process of inclusive strategy building "alignment" (point 3 above) and concludes that what you need to do is summarized in the following chart:

Next Generation Web Content Management

The Aberdeen Group has produced a report on "Next Generation Web Content Management: A Comprehensive Assessment of Current Challenges and the Future of WCM," documenting the trouble companies are having in using Web Analytics effectively to serve personalized Web content. They suggest that Adobe's acquisition of Omniture in October was a positive step in a direction that portends future trends in coordinating Web content with profiling and analysis tools.

According to Aberdeen, the next generation of WCM tools might look like this:
The paper concludes with these comments on the "gaping void in today's marketing technology landscape":

Click HERE to read a copy of the full report.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Processors Imposing "PCI Insurance Fees" on Smaller Merchants

From "practical ecommerce" -- Since June of 2008, all merchants accepting credit cards have been required to become PCI-DSS compliant to help prevent and control loses from businesses losing card holder data. For smaller merchants, compliance with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard requires merchants to complete a self-assessment security questionnaire and complete quarterly vulnerability scanning of their servers and network connections.

Until recently, Level 2, 3, and 4 merchants (those with fewer than six million Visa direct commerce transactions per year) have largely been ignored by the Security Standards Council. For Level 4 merchants, who do not generally need their quarterly scanning to be conducted by an official "Qualified Security Assessor," or QSA, there were no repurcussions for non-compliance. PCI's focus was on ensuring that large businesses were secure because more damage could result from a single data breach as observed with the TJX and processing services breaches.

But that has been changing. Under pressure from card issuers, the government, and consumer advocacy groups, Level 4 merchants who are not certified as PCI-compliant are now being charged a monthly "PCI fee" which can range from $20 - $50 per month. This trend started in July of 2008, and it looks to become the standard in the processing industry. While your processor may not have a PCI non-compliance fee right now, there's a good chance that they will in the near future.

Why are processors charging this?

Card issuers don't have the means to police the millions of businesses in the US and around the world, so they are placing liability for a data breach on credit card processors. Essentially, this means that the processor could be liable for all costs incurred if a non-compliant business suffers data loss. Most processors don't have near enough cash reserves for even a few small data breaches. Even a small breach of a few hundred card numbers can result in millions of dollars in damages.

The only option is an insurance fund to cover costs from data breaches that a processor is liable for. These funds are made up from the newly appearing fees that processors are passing to their non-compliant customers. Unless processors are removed from the liability circle, these fees are likely to become a standard.

What can you do to avoid these fees?

The only way to avoid these fees is to become officially PCI-compliant. PCI scanning from an officially designated Qualified Security Assessor (QSA) ranges from about $50 per year to hundreds of dollars annually, but in almost every case can be cheaper than the additional fees that processors have been forced to pass down. The PCI Standards Council maintains a list of approved PCI scanning vendors that are allowed to perform the required quarterly scanning for compliance. Click HERE to view the relevant page on their site.

PCI compliance is more than simply filling out the questionnaire and having your networks scanned for vulnerabilities: it requires you to actually maintain secure networks, computers, servers, software, and equipment. But most small businesses can't withstand the cost of a data breach, and security is a business owner's responsibility, no matter their size, whether they want it or not.

Top 50 Third-party Shopping Sites

Website Magazine has published a list of the Top 50 "Virtual Product Shelves," i.e., third-party eCommerce sites that provide pricing comparisons, social shopping, or special deals on merchandise from participating merchants.

Says the magazine, "The top few positions on this month’s list are filled with the product-side interfaces of major search engines and large product networks like Amazon. But the real action happens further down the list. Comparison shopping engines such as, and present major opportunities for e-commerce merchants looking to acquire more traffic and vital impressions from consumers.

"Social shopping engines and tools are also noteworthy. As social media continues its rapid rise, these resources are becoming an integral part of the online experience for researching and buying products. Kaboodle, StyleFeeder and ThisNext make their mark in shopping circles and, as a result, increasingly importance to merchants.

"Deal sites may be your best bang for the promotional buck. Pronto, DealTagger, Sortprice and Dealtime established modest followings with serious shoppers. Price-sensitive shoppers are aware of their existence, and so should you.

"It may be difficult to ensure your products appear on each and every one of these virtual product shelves, but doing so may be what makes this holiday season a festive one. "

Click HERE to see the list.

Runa Offers Conversion Marketing Shopping Cart Tool

Runa (Mountain View, CA) has announced the release of “Conversion Marketing,” designed to enable retailers to offer customers real-time individualized pricing incentives online, picking up where SEO and Search Engine Marketing stop by pro-actively converting Web traffic into sales.

While traditional price optimization solutions have been rule-based tools, using data analysis from historical patterns, Runa Co-Founder & CEO Ashok Narasimhan pointed out that conversion marketing-focused solutions are goal-based and designed to allow real-time data to be combined with underlying data such as cost of goods. Rather than simply setting a price and establishing a corresponding markdown and promotion strategy, Narasimhan said conversion marketing tools are intelligent and learn over time.

“From the outset, we set out to address this opportunity in online marketing with a new approach; one that works within the conversion optimization funnel — not outside of it,” said Narasimhan. “Runa focuses on 'the last inch' with a new approach to convert traffic into sales for our customers.”

Runa has defined conversion marketing by several key factors, including:
  • Real-time shopper segmentation: Understanding the context of shoppers by using pre-click and post-click information.
  • Prediction of purchase intent: Dynamically determining the purchase intent for the items a shopper is currently looking at.
  • Profit-optimized sale pricing: Using the e-tailer’s business rules and analytics to determine the best sale price for each shopper (see last paragraph below).
  • Real-time delivery of profit-optimized sale pricing: Dynamically delivering profit-optimized sale prices to individual shoppers while they are still on an e-tailer’s site. Additionally, the presentation and offer acceptance must be seamless on the e-tailer’s site.
The demo on their Website shows how runa can be used to make a pre-determined offer to a shopper who is about to abandon a shopping cart, but not how it can determine the "best sale price for each shopper." Presumably the demo is for the legacy version, not the just-introduced Conversion Marketing module. If the new platform truly has the level of AI described, it will live up to its name, which is Scandinavian for "undiscovered knowledge."

What's interesting at the moment, though, is that runa doesn’t cost anything to operate. You pay runa only for sales where it helped you close the deal with a "dynamic" sale price.

New FTC Guidelines (Dec. 1) re Product "Endorsements"

New FTC Guidelines go into effect December 1 requiring bloggers and other social media participants to disclose their connections with vendors and products that they mention or endorse.

The revised Guides specify that while decisions will be reached on a case-by-case basis, the post of a blogger who receives cash or in-kind payment to review a product is considered an endorsement. Thus, bloggers who make an endorsement must disclose the material connections they share with the seller of the product or service. Likewise, if a company refers in an advertisement to the findings of a research organization that conducted research sponsored by the company, the advertisement must disclose any connection between the advertiser and the research organization. And a paid endorsement – like any other advertisement – is deceptive if it makes false or misleading claims.

The Guides are administrative interpretations of the law intended to help advertisers comply with the Federal Trade Commission Act; they are not binding law themselves. In any law enforcement action challenging the allegedly deceptive use of testimonials or endorsements, the Commission would have the burden of proving that the challenged conduct violates the FTC Act.

Click HERE for more information.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Epicor Commerce Enables Order Management, Fulfillment

Epicor's new Commerce module enables manufacturers and distributors using Epicor's ERP solutions to process and fulfill eCommerce orders from a seamless, fully integrated platform, while providing a personalized shopping experience for both businesses and consumers.

When orders are placed, Epicor Commerce lets customers select shipping methods and determine their freight cost. There is support for multiple payment options, including purchase orders, COD, credit card, or via customer-specific credit terms. The solution also features merchant account/gateway integration, and can provide advanced automated tax calculations via Epicor Tax Connect using on-demand tax service from Avalara.

Once orders are placed, online tracking allows customers to see when their product was shipped and lets them track the shipment through the carrier.

One of the latest applications with Epicor Extend, Epicor Commerce enables any individual in the business to manage the company’s eCommerce activities, to deploy Website content and images, and configure marketing promotions and programs. Epicor Commerce provides automatic synchronization of information on products, pricing, customers and inventory levels directly from Epicor ERP systems through standards-based Web services.

The Advanced version of Epicor Commerce supports sophisticated requirements in Website design (Flash, Flex, interactive media, product ratings, advanced filtering capabilities, etc), affiliate marketing, gift cards, product configuration, advanced search, and advanced reporting and analysis.

Payvment turns Facebook into "online shopping mall"

According to Internet Retailing, US firm Payvment has introduced an eCommerce application that enables retail store functionality to be added to Facebook. “By harnessing the power of the PayPal X global open payments platform, customers will now be able to shop from multiple vendors in a single shopping cart, turning Facebook into an online shopping mall,” says the company.

The new application uses PayPal's new Adaptive Payments APIs, a set of building blocks that gives developers tools to create highly customised payment services, and is built on the company’s existing shopping cart service that uses a single line of code to add eCommerce functionality to standard web pages.

“One of the big innovations made possible by Adaptive Payments is our ability to let users search and purchase from multiple storefronts throughout Facebook — then pay for everything with a single checkout using PayPal,” says Christian Taylor, Payvment founder and CEO.

“Payvment’s work is a great example of how third-party developers can use PayPal X to create a new generation of payment options,” adds Osama Bedier, PayPal’s vice president of platform. “Facebook’s 300 million users will now be able to go shopping on Facebook. PayPal takes care of the payments and Payvment the shopping cart experience.”

PRIAM "appease" creates "SEO-friendly" URLs

PRIAM Software, a UK-based multichannel direct commerce solution provider (celebrating its 20th anniversary this year), has launched a new module for "appease," it’s eCommerce content management system to provide "Search Engine-friendly" URLs that allow a non-technical user to convert the site’s dynamic URLs to a friendlier format.

A traditional dynamic URL may look like

appease can now rewrite the address to give the user a friendly URL, such as:

There is optional functionality that allows appease users to define their own friendly URLs using a supplied database.

PRIAM suggests that friendly URLs can be time-consuming to create and maintain, but that appease can do the work for you.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Nordstroms Budgets $45MM for Tech Upgrades in 2010

From Retail Info Systems News: Nordstrom recently announced its plans to invest approximately $40 to $45 million in technology upgrades next year, maintaining its level of IT spend year-over-year.

Over the past year, the luxury department store has been heavily focused on evolving its multi-channel business. Its steadfast focus on evolving its multi-channel has clearly paid off since the luxury department store most recently reported in its latest quarter that sales for its online Nordstrom Direct business increased 16.4 percent.

The department store also has recently updated its inventory platform so online orders could be fulfilled from the stores or any Nordstrom location.|

According to Blake Nordstrom, President and Director, Nordstrom, "This continues our ongoing effort to improve our customers' experience by providing them with greater access to more of our inventory whenever and however they want to shop."

Nordstrom continues, "For the customer to go online and be able to leverage the entire inventory throughout the company represents tremendous opportunities. There's significant learnings that are coming from this about our allocation of inventory and, again, our supply chain, but we view it as a real positive and view it as another confirmation on behalf of the customer in the feedback that they're giving us that this multi-channel strategy is super important to our future growth."

Friday, November 13, 2009

PMG Pushes for 5-day Postal Delivery

According to DM News, John Potter, postmaster general and CEO of the US Postal Service, used the open session of the November 13 USPS Board of Governors meeting to press again for structural reform of the agency, insisting that real reform must reduce the number of delivery days from six to five per week. Click HERE for more details.

National Semi's WEBENCH Visualizer

On her Outside Innovation blog, Patty Seybold of The Patricia Seybold Group, author of and The Customer Revolution, has a good look at National Semiconductor’s New WEBENCH® Visualizer that allows B2B customers to use his Website and tools to design, specify, simulate, and test complete circuitry, which they can then purchase either as a complete priced-out Bill of Materials from dozens of partners or purchase an evaluation board that is built same day and shipped overnight.

"What interests me about National Semiconductor's WEBENCH Visualizer," says Patty, "is:

1. It's a tool that enables customers to create better designs and to make better design decisions.

2. It's a tool that helps engineers (National's customers) do their jobs and helps them make trade-offs based on the criteria that matter most to their customers (electronics manufacturers like Nokia, Apple, and others).

3. It uses a variety of visualization techniques to let customers work the way their minds work (spreadsheets, dials, graphical bubble chart, circuit diagrams, parts and price lists, waveforms) all in one interactive dashboard.

4. It is interactive and iterative with real-time feedback. As I change my mind or try something different, I see the results.

5. Behind the scenes, there's a lot of data and number crunching going on to provide results that are optimized for my changing criteria.

6. There's an entire customer-centric ecosystem of suppliers, distributors and other partners integrated into this dashboard. Over 100 suppliers' products are integrated into one simple dashboard for customers to use to create their designs and their multi-supplier bills of materials.

7. Customers can share their designs with their customers and engage with them in experimenting with different trade-offs.

8. It's a powerful tool that is provided free of charge to customers because National Semiconductor has learned that the easier they make it for customers to design their products, the more of their business they get."

For more screenshots and details, click to Patty's Blog.

Off The Wall Supports Facebook eCommerce

According to Internet Retailing, US digital agency Resource Interactive has launched Off the Wall, an "ecommerce experience" for brands and their fans on Facebook, allowing Facebook users to purchase products directly from a brand or user stream without leaving the Facebook "wall"environment.

Says a company spokesperson, "several of the agency’s Fortune 100 clients have signed on to implement brand-specific versions of Off the Wall in the 2009 holiday season."

With Off the Wall, brands and retailers can post an item for purchase as a status update to their Facebook page. In turn, fans can purchase the product directly from their live feed, news feed or the brand’s wall. They can also share the status update with their friends and its eCommerce functionality is maintained wherever it appears in Facebook.

"It makes sense from the perspective of both the brand and the fan," says Dan Shust, director of emerging media at Resource Interactive’s research and development lab. "It gives brands an opportunity to reward their fans with privileged shopping access to hot items or time-sensitive deals. It also addresses the on-demand consumer’s desire to engage in and share relevant brand experiences without leaving their social networking environment."

Off the Wall features include a fully customizable look and feel, a complete in-wall checkout process (product details, customer information and shipping options), eCommerce platform independence, a PCI-compliant hosted environment, and a "performance-based compensation model."

"Not only is enabling Facebook users to shop from the feed without leaving the experience ground-breaking in itself, but the sheer network effect is also worth considering," adds Shust . "The average Facebook user has 130 friends. If a brand with 100,000 fans published an Off the Wall eCommerce update, it's merely one click away from being shared with 13 million Facebook users. Imagine the possibilities for the holiday season and beyond."

Shop4Sport on 3EX eComm Platform

Multichannel sports retailer Shop4Sport has gone live on the 3EX.NET eCommerce Software platform.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

IBM Beefs Up Support for Mobile Commerce

According to InformationWeek, IBM has introduced software that it says will allow consumers to shop online through mobile devices more easily while letting retailers reach customers more effectively.

The software, the Mobile Store component of WebSphere Commerce 7, includes social networking features and hooks that retailers can use to add personalized messages and offers to individual consumers.

"New sales channels and points of interaction now define and fragment consumers' retail journey, forcing companies to change the way they market, build relationships, and deliver brand value," said Beth Smith, IBM's vice president for its WebSphere brand, in a statement.

The application provides an eCommerce front-end for online merchants that lets them provide consumers with advanced features like side-by-side product comparisons, real-time inventory updates, and store finders on their mobile devices. It also links to back-end services such as IBM's WebSphere Application server and DB2 database.

Retailers can use the software to deliver targeted text messages or e-mails to shoppers or reach them through Facebook or other social networking sites.

"WebSphere Commerce is designed to help retailers around the world execute marketing campaigns and build rich customer relationships that span sales channels and interaction models," said Smith.

According to IBM, the new software underscores IBM's commitment to the mobile space. In June, the company announced a five-year, $100 million research initiative aimed at improving mobile services and capabilities for businesses and consumers worldwide.

USPS Discounts for Small Parcel Shippers

In January the US Postal Service will be offering several new products aimed at small–package shippers, including cubic volume-based pricing for large-volume commercial Priority Mail shippers and a Priority Mail half-pound price, based on distance, in the Commercial Plus pricing category.

As reported in the Multichannel Merchant, the USPS’s half-pound option will likely capture a lot of new interest, according to Gerard Hempstead, president of Hempstead Consulting and a former vice president for DHL, “because an awful lot of 1-lb. shipments moving today weigh far less than 1 lb.”

And the Postal Service’s cubic volume-based pricing means customers who ship small dense, space-efficient packages will receive a financial incentive through a new, tiered pricing option. Hempstead says this new offering is the opposite of what the commercial carriers do, which is charge the higher of the actual weight or the cubic weight (L x W x H / 194). “The USPS is sharing its productivity improvement with incentive based lower pricing.”

The USPS purchases containers on the FedEx network and it operates its own surface transportation network that has excess capacity on the trucks, Hempstead explains. As a result, the more weight USPS can get into a cubic foot, the lower its costs are going to be to transport and the better yield it will have.

The Postal Service is also offering a Priority Mail Flat Rate padded envelope just for Commercial Plus shippers. The 9-1/2” x 12-1/2” envelope is specially designed for jewelry, electronics and other delicate goods.

A complete listing of 2010 prices is available HERE. The new prices and product innovations are pending Postal Regulatory Commission review.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Vodat, Broadvision Have Shopping Cart Incentive Solution

Vodat International, a leading communications solution provider to the UK retail sector, has announced an exclusive partnership with BroadVision USA for hosting and supporting the eMerchandising shopping cart incentives Software-as-a-Service solution in the UK.

eMerchandising is a real-time, context-aware incentive solution that works independently from the eCommerce Website and makes it easy to set up incentives, promotions, cross-selling, product recommendations, bundles, offers, companion deals and shipping discounts.

The incentives are pushed to the customer with contextual messages appearing at key moments during the online shopping process and in the shopping cart. eMerchandising can increase an e-commerce retailer’s average order value (AOV) by up to 40%, and reduce shopping cart abandonment rates.

How does it work?

eMerchandising is a hosted software solution which pulls information from an eCommerce Website’s database. It’s a form-based tool and does not require any technical expertise, allowing eCommerce websites to create buying incentives in real-time. Product Managers can control eCommerce Website promotions directly, or create an individual price based on the customer’s real-time behavior and product choice.

Most eCommerce platforms offer limited functionality for creating and deploying complex comparisons, product bundling and incentives. eMerchandising manages complex rules across thousands of SKU’s for upselling and cross-selling offers. It purportedly delivers higher conversion rates and strengthens online customer relationships.

In addition, Vodat’s PCI-DSS-compliant payment portal gateway can authorize and provide settlement of all card transactions from in-store sales, eCommerce, mail order and telesales.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

SATMAP Call Routing System Reduces Costs 7%

JoAnna Brandi, customer loyalty specialist, has found and recently begun representing a product for call centers that can increase customer satisfaction by almost one standard deviation point on a five point scale.

This product is the next generation of call center routing, as it uses "neural networking" to match the call center rep and customer based on over 100 psychographic and demographic factors of the caller (such as age, gender, income level, geographic location and education) to send the call to the next BEST rep, not the next available rep.

SATMAP, as the product is known, is returning an increase of between 15 - 22% in conversion rates for clients, typically decreasing cost for call handling by 7% and keeping customers and employees happier for the largest financial institutions, telecoms and hospitality firms. The product has quietly been installed since 2007 in over 25,000 seats at 20+ customers.

This artificial intelligence product has 24 patents and learns from each and every interaction to return business intelligence back to the company. There is no capital investment involved and it can be up and running in 30 days (on a hosted or on-premises basis). There is a 60 Day risk-free guarantee and they work on a share of the upstream revenue. All results are measurable and auditable.

Here's the catch - it only works in call centers that have over 200 seats and are in a B2C environment. If you want to hear more about how some smart companies are suceeding with this product, contact JoAnna at 561-279-0027 or e-mail

Burberry Launches Social Media Site

On Monday, Burberry introduced a social networking site,, to encourage people to share their own trench coat stories with an interface that combines the best of Twitter and Facebook -- boasting a fetching array of classy photos by world-famous photographer Scott Schuman ("The Sartorialist") plus a great soundtrack by The Kooks.

It is the latest step by CEO Angela Ahrendts and her creative director, Christopher Bailey, to build on the brand’s British heritage and trademark plaid with a more modern twist, according to The New York Times.

"It’s our differentiator," Ms. Ahrendts said, although she adds, "It’s not so different from what competitors do. Maybe one was born from shoes and another from luggage; we come from a coat. It’s our job to keep that category hot and cool and relevant for all ages."

Luxury goods companies have generally failed to figure out how to sell their wares online. Indeed, many have shunned the Web as a place for bargain hunters to search for knock-offs or counterfeits.

“The biggest thing that keeps me up at night is how can we continue to evolve this organization in order to stay ahead of the curve,” Ms. Ahrendts said during an interview with a NY Times reporter at company's new global HQ in London last month. “My job is to always look two to three years ahead and look round the corner and see what’s coming.”

With this new "social media" site, she is doing just that!

After a roughly 8 percent decline this year, the $226 billion global market for luxury goods is expected to grow again next year as younger consumers and working women replace retiring baby boomers as the dominant consumer group, according to consulting firm Bain & Company. That’s one of the main reasons Burberry is now focusing on the Internet. Ms. Ahrendts said she gets a lot of inspiration from her three children, who spend time surfing the Web and buy most of their clothes online.

Ms. Ahrendts said she is proud that Burberry has more than 699,000 Facebook fans. The company, founded as a maker of outdoor wear in 1856 by the British draper’s apprentice, Thomas Burberry, is also attracting customers via Twitter and Youtube.

According to The New York Times, Ms. Ahrendts recently revived a 108-year old company trademark of an equestrian knight carrying a flag with the words Prorsum — Latin for forward. The image now features prominently in the headquarters’ glass-walled entrance hall.

Forward indeed! The company is reportedly in talks with a licensing partner to add a make-up and beauty range next year, and is planning to offer more men’s accessories, such as bags and scarves.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

ChannelAdvisor Posts Strong 3Q, Intros New Amazon Solution

ChannelAdvisor, the Morrisville, NC, solution provider that helps merchants sell on eBay, Amazon,, etc., as well as paid search and comparison shopping sites, has announced strong third-quarter results with $2.6 million in bookings and 229 new customer additions.

New customers are driving this growth by signing on for multiple three-commerce channel solutions to maximize their revenue potential. These customers include Foot Shop Limited, Green Cartridge Company Europe BV, Solaris Sport S.L.R. and Tory Burch.

"While our third quarter brought us continued growth across all channels, there was significant escalation among apparel, consumer electronics and media, which are in many cases necessities for consumers," said Scot Wingo, ChannelAdvisor CEO. "Whether shopping for essentials or luxuries, more than ever we are seeing consumers using comparison shopping sites and bargain hunting across multiple websites, leading our customers to embrace a multi-channel selling approach to maximize visibility."

The third quarter also saw the release of ChannelAdvisor's next-generation Amazon solution. The solution has reportedly been well-received due to its ability to provide online retailers control over the Amazon sales channel with actionable information, eliminating the need for online retailers to involve their IT department in every minor change.

"Within one week of implementing ChannelAdvisor’s new Amazon solution our sales increased 34 percent," said Steve McCarty, president of Ultimate Paintball. "We're anticipating continued growth and a successful holiday season with ChannelAdvisor support of the Fulfillment by Amazon program."

Highlights of the next-generation Amazon solution include:
  • Product Match technology that discovers which Amazon Standard Identification Number (ASIN) to select for products based on the listing’s title, price, sales rank, whether or not Amazon is a competitor and more – folding all the variables needed to make a decision into a sleek, simple-to-use interface
  • Categorizer technology that offers intelligent recommendations and dynamically populates Amazon’s complex item classification keyword requirements, categorizing each product as accurately as possible and saving hours of manual data entry
  • A revised dashboard that, for the first time, presents a simple, dynamic, birds-eye view of the status of listings to ensure that all products are live and that all listings are fully optimized for maximum visibility and sales
  • Full integration with the Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) program to create, track and modify products, shipments and orders, which are then fulfilled by Amazon’s shipping service
Additional third-quarter product updates include the following:
  • Comparison Shopping
    o Full support for Bing Shopping Cashback, including transaction reports
  • Paid Search
    o Advanced network targeting for Google campaigns
    o Negative keyword support for Google ad groups
    o Bing Search Cashback support including transaction reports
  • Rich Image
    o URL-based commands to easily resize and apply filters such as image quality, sharpen and contrast
    o Watermarking and dynamic text overlaying for merchandising
    o Automated cropping for image files
    o Ability to summarize workflow actions into a single URL-based command
  • RichCatalog
    o New message panel allowing images text and external links to be inserted anywhere in the book; the text and links are used to display instructions, highlighted products, vendor offers and sign-up fields

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Nordstrom's Website Goes International

Nordstrom has introduced international shopping on its Website, enabling customers to buy merchandise online in foreign currencies and ship to 30 countries.

Available currencies include the euro, British pound, Canadian dollar and Czech koruna.

The new feature is designed to make it easier for customers abroad to shop on Nordstrom's Web site, as well customers in the United States to send merchandise overseas, Jamie Nordstrom, president of Nordstrom Direct, said in a statement.

The retailer said it worked with FiftyOne Global Ecommerce to introduce the feature.

Google Releases Dev Tools as Open Source

[From PCWorld] Google has decided to release as open source several of its key application development tools, hoping that they will prove useful for external programmers to build faster Web applications.

Google has used the tools in some of its most popular Web applications, including Gmail, Google Docs and Google Maps, said Amit Agarwal, a Google product manager. "By enabling and allowing developers to use the very same tools that Google uses, we hope that they can not only build rich applications but also make the Web really, really fast," says Agarwal. "That's our primary motive in getting these tools outside to the global community."

The tools include Closure Compiler, which streamlines, optimizes and consolidates Javascript code to make it run faster and more efficiently, increasing the chances that the application will perform well even for users with slow connections.

Google is also releasing Closure Library, a Javascript library that contains a set of standard application services and components that run across different browsers, and Closure Templates, designed to automate the dynamic creation of HTML. The templates can be used within Javascript in client machines or in Java on servers.

Google Launches Commerce Search

[From LA Times/Technology] Google has launched Google Commerce Search as a service designed to help make the Web sites of large online retailers easier to search.

Google says the service, which costs $50,000 and up each year, will improve user experience and boost sales. Says Nitin Mangtani, a lead product manager at Google. "If it takes shoppers eight to 10 seconds to search for something, and they can't find it easily, they leave the Web site."

The main selling points are that everything that has made Google a dominant company (vast computing resources, algorithms that provide right results, and even the ability to fix your typos and find what you're looking for) will help people navigate clunky retail Websites that cause a major stumbling block to sales. (Of course, if the check-out process is equally clunky, the merchant is even more likely to loose the sale!)

Also, according to Forrester Research, page load speed is crucial to keeping shoppers on your site. Two seconds is how long a typical online shopper waits for a retailer's site to load before getting frustrated and bailing out....
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