Friday, February 26, 2010

Case Study; Using Amazon's Webstore and Fulfillment Sevices

Amazon has something to crow about with its Webstore and Fulfillment services -- and it's not shy about doing so.

Blue Harbor, LLC, a seller of cell phone accessories, started using Amazon Services in the third quarter of 2009, two years after setting up business in New Jersey. With the addition of the Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) and Amazon WebStore services, they have seen an unexpected spike in their online sales. According to Anuj Goel of Blue Harbor, "Sales volumes increased on average 40 percent to 65 percent for each product we listed on for fulfillment with FBA. The first spike in sales on Amazon occurred when we won the Buy Box in our category. The second, and perhaps more important, is when we started using FBA."

Goel describes Fulfillment by Amazon as a convenient and powerful tool to boost sales. Getting set up was straightforward and the user interface walked them through the process for listing and shipping inventory to Amazon's fulfillment center. With Amazon handling customer service questions, Blue Harbor can focus more on sourcing and sales of their products.

Blue Harbor finds people shop on because they trust the Amazon brand. They know they will receive their orders when promised; and they like the free Super Saver Shipping and Prime discounted shipping. Being able to offer these benefits to shoppers instills the same level of trust in Blue Harbor making their products all the more appealing.

Blue Harbor is eager to increase their offering through Fulfillment by Amazon. Currently, the cost savings on warehousing and the order processing is marginal. However, they calculate a substantial drop in overhead as they increase the inventory they offer through FBA and decrease the volume they fulfill themselves. Says Goel, "FBA is significantly more potent than we anticipated, it augments our business well, and the benefits far outweigh the costs."

Sterling Integrates Mobile Devices for SCM

Sterling Commerce has developed a pair of new mobile applications that extends the management of business-to-business (B2B) integration to mobile devices for users of its supply chain management solutions.

The Sterling Integrator Mobile and Sterling Control Center Mobile are intended to broaden access and control of the Sterling Business Integration Suite, the vendor’s collaborative tool for B2B integration and managed file transfer. Sterling is now making those capabilities available on the Apple iPhone, extending the management of B2B interactions beyond on-premise control consoles or laptop PCs.

The Sterling Integrator Mobile enables users of Sterling Integrator, a B2B gateway. It monitors key integration resources to ensure the on-schedule exchange of business documents, transactions and events, including purchase orders, acknowledgments, advance shipping notices and shipment-status messages.

Sterling Control Center Mobile gives users of Sterling Control Center a management tool for Sterling Managed File Transfer, a means of ensuring secure data movement. It provides access to file transfer system status, exception alerts and key system controls.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Calumet Photographic Selects iCongo eCommerce Platform

Calumet Photographic has selected has selected the iCongo eCommerce Platform as the backbone of its online global presence, because it was designed to meet the complex requirements of multi-national, multi-brand and multi-channel organizations. Calumet will leverage the iCongo eCommerce Platform and marketing suite to launch four country sites from a single platform with different business rules to support each country.

Calumet’s decision to re-platform will result in the organization’s ability to better service its customers with iCongo’s integrated marketing tools, including call center and CRM, e-mail campaign management, polling, surveys and advanced personalization capabilities. The integrated e-mail and CRM ensures that customers and prospects can be more effectively identified and targeted with advanced segmentation and CRM data to determine which promotions will yield the greatest results for each audience.

With more than 40,000 online products, a dedicated rebate center, in-depth education and product resource centers, availability of rental and other equipment through store integration, Calumet set out to find a robust solution that would best manage its highly interactive and customer-centric online channel. "Some of the key drivers in the selection of iCongo’s eCommerce Platform are the solution’s ease in creating complex layered promotions, advanced site search and integrated e-mail campaign management," says Tim Brennan, CTO for Calumet Photographic. "Communications with our customers is critical and we believe the iCongo eCommerce Platform provides us with the infrastructure and toolset needed to continue growing locally and internationally.”

SAP To Consolidate SaaS BI Platform

SAP today announced BusinessObjects BI OnDemand, a major upgrade and consolidation for the vendor's software-as-a-service (SaaS) business intelligence offering, according to Doug Henschen of Intelligent Enterprise.

The new BI OnDemand unites (and replaces) two formerly distinct offerings:, the company's simplest and most popular SaaS offering, with hundreds of thousands of users, and the previous version of BI OnDemand, based on the vendor's conventional software.

The new BI OnDemand not only delivers a single, consistent online environment in which to use familiar tools (CrystalReports for reporting, Web Intelligence for query and analysis, Xcelsius for dashboarding and data visualization, and SAP BusinessObjects Explorer for fast, in-memory data analysis), it also provides wizard workflows designed to simplify data access and analysis.

"SAP hopes to be a single source of on-premise and on-demand BI," says Henschen. "Users of conventional Crystal Reports software can already push a button to publish reports on What was missing in today's formal announcement was news that the next major 'Aurora' release of the on-premise BusinessObjects XI platform, which is expected in the second half of this year, will be loaded with data-export and report/visualization publishing options that will link conventional software to the SAP BusinessObjects online services.

"Also missing was detail on the pricing of the new BI OnDemand. subscribers and current BI OnDemand customers will be grandfathered into the new service under their current contracts, but they'll gain access to all the tools, wizards and workflows at no additional charge. A free Personal Edition will be limited to 10 MB/2,000 rows of data. An Essential edition will allow up to 2 GB of storage and will be geared to individuals, work groups and departments. An Advanced edition will be aimed at companies that require integration with on-premise data sources, advanced security features, and more storage (up to 5 GB). Add-on features will include hosted data warehouses, a development environment and single sign-on capabilities."

Some Slack on PCI-Compliance Audits?

The November 2009 PCI Council guidance provides some idea of how a merchant can be PCI-compliant even if they have missed a quarterly external vulnerability scan, reports StorefrontBacktalk. Specifically, if your QSA believes you met the intent of Requirement 11.2 and your risk has been sufficiently addressed through your overall efforts and practices, the QSA can assess you as compliant even though you did not meet 11.2 exactly as stated (i.e., the four quarterly passing scans)

Those “practices” would be having all your other controls in place as part of your overall vulnerability management, such as timely patching of all systems, conducting internal and external penetration tests whenever there is an application upgrade or infrastructure change, and having your quarterly internal vulnerability scans in place. For good measure, StorefrontBacktalk suggests also implementing an internal procedure so you don’t get in this fix again next year. With this approach, you might just be able to work with your QSA to make the case that you met the spirit and intent of 11.2.

Bear in mind that your acquirer needs to be comfortable with any compensating control because they have to accept your Report on Compliance (ROC) or your Self-Assessment Questionnaire (SAQ) if you self-assess.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Panjiva helps businesses search for, vet vendors reports: Josh Green and Jim Psota joined forces in 2006 to launch Panjiva, a company that scours shipping records to help companies learn more about vendors around the world. After a period of trial and error, Green and Psota have developed a search engine for eCommerce that can detect trends about suppliers and products, in addition to providing information about the vendors. Click HERE to read more.

Friedman Corp. Acquires Computer Solutions

Friedman Corporation, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Constellation Software Inc., has announced it has acquired Computer Solutions, Inc. (CSI), Miami Lakes, FL, which develops, sells, and supports "ORDER POWER," a fully integrated order management and eCommerce suite for the IBM iSeries, handling order entry, order processing and fulfillment, customer service, warehousing, accounting, and manifesting.

As a result of the purchase, CSI will become part of Constellation’s Friedman Operating Group and will continue to operate as an independent division of Friedman.

Eric Herrmann, Chief Financial Officer of the Friedman Operating group, commented, “The acquisition of CSI is an ideal match for the Friedman Operating Group. CSI has a longstanding and loyal customer base primarily located in the domestic United Sates. We have now extended our reach into the Multi-Channel Merchant and Direct-to-Consumer markets with an established partner. CSI’s expertise in the order management and fulfillment markets will be a wonderful compliment to Friedman’s existing business.”

Ernest Smith, Vice President of Sales & Marketing for CSI stated, “This was an extremely positive acquisition for CSI’s customers and employees. It reinforces our company’s commitment to the IBM iSeries platform and our product suite while provides CSI with the additional stability and strength of partnering with a much larger enterprise.”

About Friedman: Friedman Corporation is a wholly owned subsidiary of Constellation Software. Friedman Corporation develops enterprise computing solutions for the discrete to-order manufacturer. Friedman's advanced multi-platform technology and modular application design support customized enterprise-wide solutions to meet the unique requirements of the discrete to order manufacturer. Friedman's integrated single database architecture supplies the foundation for the manufacturer's e-business, remote dealer systems, and distribution chain.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Amazon Faces Sales Tax Threat

According to TechFlash, is facing new pressure by states to collect sales tax on web purchases. Lawmakers in Colorado, Virginia and Illinois are advancing online sales tax legislation, looking to plug budget holes. The stakes are high for Amazon, which currently collects sales tax in a only handful of states, giving it a key advantage over brick-and-mortar retailers.

Amazon engaged in skirmishes with various states over sales tax bills last year. Those bills sought to classify Amazon as having a physical presence — and thus the responsibility to collect sales tax — based on its ties to locally based affiliate marketers, who link to Amazon products for a cut of sales. Amazon threatened to end affiliate programs in states that enacted such laws, and did just that in North Carolina, Rhode Island, and Hawaii (though it later reinstated Hawaii affiliates after the governor there vetoed the bill in question).

Click HERE for more details.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Exact Abacus Set Processing Record

Exact Abacus set a new daily order processing record in a single day last week, with Carrier Direct Marketing (a fulfillment house with 250 clients) processing 40,750 sales transactions on EA's flagship order management and fulfillment system, 3EX.NET.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Augmented Reality in the Warehouse

This video, from SAP-TV, is an impressive use of Augmented Reality in a warehouse. Although it's an example of a manufacturing environment, it could very easily be adapted to any warehouse for managing picking and packing. You'll be hearing a lot more about AR in the next few years. (Click HERE to follow AR on Twitter.)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Choosing a Payment Processor

Electronic Retailer magazine has a good article online on Payment Processing: How Do You Choose the Right Partner? One conclusion: Make sure they really understand direct response! Click HERE to read the article in full.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

giggle Selects iCongo eCommerce Platform

iCongo, a leading provider of eCommerce and multi-channel marketing systems, announced that giggle, the one-stop source for today’s new parent, has chosen the iCongo E-Commerce Platform as the foundation for growing its online direct-to-consumer business.

In addition to being able to support a baby gift registry, giggle needed ncreased visibility to and availability of inventories to satisfy both Web and in-store sales. Fulfillment (pick/pack and ship) with integration to warehouse and delivery carriers was also mandatory.

iCongo’s solutions include B2C and B2B eCommerce systems, retail cross-channel systems, and a comprehensive suite of Internet marketing applications. RIS News recently named iCongo as one of their “Companies to Watch” in 2009. Forrester Research named iCongo a “Strong Performer” in the January 2009 report “The Forrester Wave™: B2C E-Commerce Platforms, Q1 2009.” iCongo’s clients include many world-renowned retailers and brands such as Timberland, Puma, and Lord & Taylor.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Verified by Visa: "Terrible Security"

StoreFrontBackTalk reports: At a presentation at the Financial Cryptography and Data Security conference, a Cambridge University computer lab team dissected the recent 3-D Secure (3DS) protocol—branded as Verified By Visa and MasterCard SecureCode 5. The team found that not only was the security lacking, but it sharply undermined other security mechanisms.

“3-D Secure has so far escaped academic scrutiny, yet it might be a textbook example of how not to design an authentication protocol,” wrote Cambridge University’s Steven J. Murdoch and Ross Anderson. “It ignores good design principles and has significant vulnerabilities, some of which are already being exploited. It’s bad enough that EMV Verified by Visa and MasterCard SecureCode 5 have trained cardholders to enter ATM PINs at terminals in shops. Training them to enter PINs at random E-Commerce sites is just grossly negligent.”

Click HERE to read the entire article.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Saks Adds Robots to Order Fulfillment System

Retail Info Systems News reports that Saks has launched a 30-month initiative to convert its fulfillment center from manual to automated operations using Kiva's Mobile-Robotic Fulfillment System in order fulfillment and warehousing operations at its Aberdeen, MD, distribution center.

The Kiva system uses hundreds of robotic units to pick and bring inventory directly to packers, in environments where other forms of automation are not as efficient or as flexible in handling peaks and valleys of demand.

"Given the growth of our Saks Direct business, and our need to support critical store initiatives, this the right time for us to invest in automation," said Michael Rodgers, executive vice president of service operations and CIO, Saks. "The Kiva solution is a terrific option that can more than double productivity of our operations while also offering the flexibility we need to support our multichannel, multi-brand fulfillment strategy well into the future."

Stone Edge Celebrates 10th Anniversary

Stone Edge Technologies, Inc., Plymouth Meeeting, PA, has announced a month-long celebration for the tenth anniversary of the Stone Edge Order Manager. The company is also celebrating a ten percent increase in sales in 2009 over the previous year. To mark both events, Stone Edge is offering a ten percent discount on sales of its popular order management system.

The first copy of the Stone Edge Order Manager was sold on February 16, 2000. In the years since then, the Order Manager has grown from a simple system for importing orders and printing invoices and packing slips into a complete system for managing small-to-medium eCommerce and general retail businesses.

In ten years, Stone Edge has sold the Order Manager to more than 2,500 merchants, making it one of the best-selling order management systems on the market today. "Most of our users are still small companies that ship 10 to 500 orders per day," said Barney Stone, founder and president of Stone Edge Technologies, Inc. "But as we have grown over the years, so have many of our clients, and in 2009 we had eleven users in the Internet Retailer Top 500, with some of them shipping four to five thousand orders per day."

Pricing is $6,000 for the Enterprise Version of the Stone Edge Order Manager. "That makes us an incredibly economical alternative for growing businesses," he said.

From its start, Stone Edge’s strategy has been to offer "big-company features" at prices that small companies can afford. By sticking with traditional desktop-based software, they have avoided the per-transaction and revenue sharing charges that often make Web-based systems substantially more expensive. The use of open source code for the program and industry standard Microsoft Access and SQL Server for data storage also allow for customization that is usually not practical with Web-based "software as a service" systems.

Stone Edge also continued its steady growth in 2009. "Even with the slow economy, we were able to increase our sales by ten percent over 2008," said Stone. "And we’ve heard from many of our users that they also experienced strong growth in sales and revenues in 2009." He attributes much of that success to the nimbleness of small businesses, which are often able to react faster to changing market conditions. "They’ve told us that the Order Manager made a big difference by helping them keep labor costs down."

As noted above, to celebrate both of the "ten" milestones, Stone Edge is offering ten percent discounts on all versions of its order management software, including the Order Manager Standard, Plus POS, and Enterprise versions, and on upgrades to the Enterprise Version. The discounts will be available throughout the month of February.
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