Wednesday, September 29, 2010

AOL Buys Three Startups

From Bloomberg Businessweek: AOL Inc., the once-dominant Internet service provider that saw its market value, subscriber base, and influence dwindle or evaporate over the past decade, bought three dot-com startups yesterday (Sept. 28) in a bid to restore its relevance.

 "Chief Executive Officer Tim Armstrong appeared on stage during a tech industry conference in San Francisco to announce the purchase of TechCrunch Inc., an influential news blog and the host of the event. AOL paid about $25 million, according to two people familiar with the matter, who asked not to be identified because the terms weren’t made public. The company also bought 5min Media, a network of online videos, and Thing Labs Inc., a creator of social-networking tools."

In the last few years AOL had morphed into a news aggregator/originator that, unfortunately, few people were even aware of. At the very least, these acquisitions have revived its profile -- if only temporarily.

Lise Watier Implements iCongo eComm Suite

iCongo Inc., a leading eCommerce platform provider with B2C, B2B, multichannel, Order Management and Marketing systems, announced today that Lise Watier, a leading global beauty brand, has selected iCongo’s E-Commerce Platform, Order Management and Comprehensive Marketing Suite as the foundation for its online growth and brand extension.

With iCongo, Lise Watier will have "a robust and flexible platform and suite of tools to create a successful social commerce channel," says iCongo.

The online storefront will provide customers with complete self-service access, while supporting social interaction and user contributions, with features such as customer ratings and reviews, user recommendations and social applications. Lise Watier Customer Service representatives will be available via phone and online chat to quickly respond to customer inquiries.

With the iCongo E-Commerce Platform, Lise Watier will leverage a centralized marketing engine allowing content to be accessed and shared for various online marketing activities including microsites, galleries, search marketing, email marketing, promotions and more.

“Lise Watier is eager to become even more accessible to women across Canada by offering them a unique beauty shopping experience through a user-friendly online channel. We have selected iCongo because they have demonstrated how – through both their technology and services – Lise Watier can achieve healthy results and see continual growth by driving greater value for our customers” stated Serge Rocheleau, CEO of Lise Watier Cosmétiques.

“We are pleased to be working with a globally recognized and leading beauty brand like Lise Watier.The iCongo eCommerce Platform will provide Lise Watier with a comprehensive suite of marketing and eCommmerce functionality enabling them to drive continual revenue growth for the organization.” added Irwin Kramer, CEO of iCongo.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Fits.Me's Shape-Shifting Robot Lets You Try On Clothes Online

Fast Company reports that, an Estonia start-up, is offering a robotic mannequin that takes your body measurements and mimics your shape, so that you can see online exactly how clothing would fit you. A German eCommerce test-run showed that the robots increased sales 300%, while reducing returns 28%.

"When I was a kid, I had this dream that one day, I would have an army of robots to rule the world," says Heikki Haldre, Fits.Me's CEO. "I've only got a couple now, but that's okay."

The robot is capable of replicating 2,000 body shapes. When a retailer signs up with, they first send in their clothes. Each size is placed on the robot, which then cycles through all the body shapes it knows. While that's going on, a camera is taking pictures of each permutation. This photographic log is then stored in an online database. Once you go online and type your measurements into the retailer's site, it calls up the photo corresponding to your precise body type and clothing size. is now pursuing several new retail partnerships. Though there's only a male mannequin for now, they'll be unveiling a female mannequin in November. The expansion was funded by a $3.5 million second-round of financing; the lead investor has been the Estonian development fund.

The company retained four different university research groups to create the mannequin. The first prototype took three years to perfect. Virtual Fitting Room

The New World of Interactive Retail

Here's a quick look at the coming world of interactive everywhere retail (shown at, Sept. 28, 2010 - created by Resource Interactive...nice job!)

Widget Benefits from Maginus Multichannel Software

Widget UK Ltd, a fast-growing consumer electronics distributor, saw its business double in three years after it began using IT solutions from Maginus, providers of integrated software solutions for multi-channel retail and distribution companies.

Maginus lets Widget manage business-to-business orders in a single, fully integrated system, enabling the company to buy and stock more efficiently because the solution provides extensive reports on sales and margin by product, season, promotion and customer.

Widget was initially a supplier of third-party products for Psion handheld computers. In 2002 the company became the first distributor to specialise in GPS, and was TomTom’s first distributor in the UK.

The fully-integrated Maginus solution provides purchasing, sales and order processing, accounts, returns, EDI, warehousing and supply chain, white label web sites and reporting, giving Widget a 360° view of its business.According to Mark Needham from Widget, “Customers often call us to find out detailed information regarding their credit, an invoice or a sale. With Maginus the user can easily drill down to get the necessary information. This means customers get detailed information immediately and staff are able to handle calls quicker and more efficiently, improving our customer service offering.

The solution has allowed Widget to improve their processes across the business. While the company’s turnover has doubled, staff numbers have increased by only around 20%.

The technology also helps Widget get money back from suppliers. Needham said, “The market Widget operates in has low margins, hence the need to get supplier rebates through as quickly as possible. Maginus’ technology handles supplier rebates automatically, a process that had to be managed manually before and was very time consuming.”

Going forward the company is looking at implementing business intelligence and data warehousing solutions which will help it assess both trends and market analysis. It also wants to increase flexibility and introduce microsites for specific events.

See also "Widget improves collection of channel stock and sales information."

M&S Wins Big With mCommerce

According to Internet Retailing, UK merchant Marks & Spencer’s mCommerce site has attracted 1.2million visitors since its launch in May, with more than ten million page views and 13,000 orders from the site – including one single order for £3280 – shown in figures from the company and the Mobile Interactive Group (MIG), which consulted on the sites user experience, functionality and design.

The most popular handsets to hit the mCommerce site are iPhones, followed by Android. Types of orders range from clothes and food to widescreen TVs and even furniture – the largest single order through the site so far being £3280 for two sofas.
Sienne Veit, Social and Mobile Commerce Development Manager, Marks & Spencer said, “We approached MIG because of their success in the Retail space, their capabilities in delivering great mobile campaigns and for their in-depth understanding of the mobile consumer experience.

“For M&S the mCommerce site is all about getting product quickly and easily to consumers via mobile and paying for their product on their mobile device," Veit explained.  Our aim is to integrate mobile as a channel to stand alongside web, phone and stops as part of ‘Shop Your Way’, to increase basket size and drive sales.  We’ve also incorporated a customer feedback facility to enable customer review’s, we’ve also given consumers a choice of delivery method.”

Consultancy for the development of the mCommerce mobile internet site between M&S and MIG, in conjunction with Usablenet, commenced in early April this year and took a phased approach. Phase one was ‘Discover and Definition’, moving through to ‘Concept look and feel’, ‘Design Refinement and Approval’ to ‘Making sure the site worked on Multiple Handsets’. Throughout all phase’s user experience, design and usability were the focus of discussions.

Features on the site, which includes full product ranges for Women’s, Men’s, Kids Clothing, Home and Furniture, Technology and more. include a store finder to locate your nearest outlet and the ability to search per product and then to refine these searches to a specific item. The site also allows the shopper to register account information.

To learn more, join MIG’s interactive Webinar focussing on how to implement a mobile strategy in Retail.  The 60 minute webinar, which takes place on Wed. 5th October at 9am, is being run in partnership with the IMRG and will give participants the opportunity to put their questions to Sienne Veit, Social and Mobile Commerce Development Manager, M&S and Tim Dunn, Director of Strategy at MIG. Please visit the Webinar registration page here

Monday, September 27, 2010

New Payment Tokenization Service Unveiled for the Akamai Cloud

Akamai Technologies, Inc., a leading provider of cloud optimization services, today unveiled its Edge Tokenization electronic payment security service. Seamless and undisruptive to a retailer's existing eCommerce workflow, the Akamai solution enables credit card data to be converted to a token prior to Web transactions landing on a merchant's infrastructure.

By alleviating the requirement for retailers to route customer credit card data on their own infrastructure, the service helps reduce information theft and compliance risk while lowering Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) compliance costs. Edge Tokenization automates credit card tokenization within the Akamai cloud, providing payment security and operational convenience for Web retailers without the need to increase spending on internal infrastructure.

To facilitate its Edge Tokenization, Akamai has integrated its cloud-based technology with tokenization solutions from its partner CyberSource, a Visa company. The relationship with CyberSource, one of the world's leading payment management services providers, offers Akamai's customers turnkey integration to enterprise payment tokenization services.

"We've always maintained merchants shouldn't seek to secure payment data, but instead, eliminate contact with it," said Michael Walsh, president and chief executive officer, CyberSource. "Akamai's Edge Tokenization automatically combines the concept of hosted payment acceptance and payment tokenization with cloud-based web infrastructure, making it easy for online merchants to meet compliance requirements with less cost, complexity and time."

Relying on Akamai's distributed and massively-scalable EdgePlatform, Edge Tokenization enables consumer credit card data to be identified and replaced with an anonymous token, which along with the true card number, is stored in a secure data vault managed by the tokenization provider.

Although hosted payment acceptance and payment tokenization solutions that eliminate the need to route or store credit card data on merchant infrastructure have been available for some time, Akamai's focus on next-generation, cloud security has produced the industry's first offering that automatically incorporates these technologies as a part of a merchant's web infrastructure, making it easier for merchants to adopt and maintain an Enterprise Payment Security 2.0 strategy.

"Meeting stringent PCI compliance standards often takes repeated efforts, significant investment, and regular maintenance, translating into high costs and significant IT resources," said Tom Leighton, chief scientist and co-founder, Akamai.  "We developed Edge Tokenization as a cost efficient solution for Web retailers to complete transactions in the cloud securely and at scale, while improving performance."

For a variety of product information and white papers related to Akamai's Edge Tokenization offering, please visit Each quarter Akamai also publishes a "State of the Internet" report with data gathered across Akamai's global server network about attack Internet traffic, average & maximum connection speeds, Internet penetration and broadband adoption, and mobile usage, as well as trends seen in this data over time.

MyBuys Launches First Fully Personalized Mobile Commerce Solution

MyBuys, a leading provider of multichannel personalization solutions, today introduced MyBuys Mobile, the industry's only personalization-driven, full-service mobile offering for eCommerce.

The MyBuys solution optimizes the shopping experience for every consumer on any mobile device including iPhone, Android, Blackberry and iPad by its delivery of a consistent brand experience and ease-of-use across all devices to allow the shopper to quickly and easily find enticing products and transact a purchase.

According to the experience of its early adopters, retailers using MyBuys can improve their mobile commerce traffic, conversion and repeat revenue by more than 300 percent in just a few weeks with no IT or consulting fees with MyBuys Mobile.

MyBuys cites ABI Research to project that US consumers will spend $2.4 billion in purchases using their mobile phones in 2010, up 100% from $1.2 billion in 2009. Amazon alone has reported more than $1 billion in sales orders using mobile devices. However, many retailers are struggling to connect with the mobile consumer [I visited three major retailers on my Android phone over the weekend for store hours and locations, and none of them had mComm-configured sites - not a pretty picture!].

Because mobile shopping sites display fewer products than online shopping sites, it is paramount that the products that are displayed on the smartphone by sites that are mCommerce-enabled are relevant to each consumer.

Every customer who visits a retailer’s mobile website using MyBuys is recognized as an individual with unique preferences and shopping behaviors. What they see is based on both explicit and implicit information about the shopper’s tastes, self-identified preferences, purchase history and website activity. MyBuys matches the product to the shopper with technology that intuitively displays real-time changes in content and inventory, thus requiring no implementation efforts and no feeds from a company’s IT department.

In addition, MyBuys’ mobile functionality includes catalog, search, ratings and reviews, cart integration, store locator, and more.

“The mobile channel is the largest growing portion of eCommerce and already a significant revenue opportunity for retailers,” said Bob Cell, CEO of MyBuys. “Our new mobile offering provides a consistent, personalized shopping experience by making dynamic changes to a retailer’s website to fit a mobile platform, with no intervention from the retailer. For the shopper, it makes purchasing as simple as texting - whether they are impulse shopping or working through a well thought-out holiday shopping list.”

MyBuys mCommerce interface for Babyphat
MyBuys leadership in the personalization of eCommerce combined with preferences captured on over 200 million anonymous profiles and the company's deep understanding of each retailer's catalog and merchandising events allows MyBuys to predict what shoppers want to buy, and to dynamically present multiple options to each consumer across all channels including display advertising, email, direct mail and now mobile.

MyBuys has partnered with Branding Brand, an industry leader in mobile commerce design and development, to leverage the MyBuys personalization leadership, algorithms and profiles and deliver the only full-service, personalized mobile sites available in the market today.

Here's a side-by side comparison of the MyBuys mCommerce platform with three other leading mCommerce solutions:
About MyBuys
MyBuys is a leading provider of personalization for multichannel retailers. Using deep profiles based on each individual shopper's behavior, the company uses a patented portfolio of algorithms and real-time optimization to deliver the most relevant product purchase recommendations. MyBuys's clients are increasing engagement by over 100% across all channels, average order value by 45 percent, conversion rates by 90 percent, and boosting overall online revenue 10-30%.

Over 300 companies, including more than 65 of the Internet Retailer Top 500, partner with MyBuys to offer intelligent, personalized recommendations to their shoppers. Based in Redwood City, Calif., MyBuys is a privately held company. Visit them online at

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Measure and Forecast Marketing’s Impact on Revenue

Marketers know that measuring the impact they have on revenue is an essential part of transforming marketing from a cost center into a revenue generator. But oftentimes, marketers don't have the tools to accurately forecast and measure the business performance of marketing initiatives.  Based on the same principles that Marketo was founded on, Marketo has launched Revenue Cycle Analytics (RCA).

Revenue Cycle Analytics can help your organization:
  • Create the foundation for precise marketing analytics and forecasting over time
  • Understand all of your metrics with easy-to-read dashboards
  • Forecast revenue from current and future marketing activities
  • Easily highlight the metrics that matter to the board and executives
 For more information on becoming a revenue driver at your organization, check out:
  • A deep-dive webinar on October 7th about the metrics that matter, featuring Jon Miller, VP of Marketing at Marketo, and David Raab, renowned industry analyst at Raab Associates.
  • This new white paper from David Raab entitled, “Winning the Marketing Measurement Marathon”, on the marketing analytics required for marketers to more accurately predict and accelerate revenue.
  • Marketo Revenue Cycle Analytics in action! Sign up for a live demo.

Klaggle Puts Product Reviews On Merchants' Websites

Klaggle is "the Zagat's for product reviews," helping online merchants improve their business results by providing immediate and unique review content collected and measured from across the Web. Although consumer reviews are the No. 1 social media tool that increases online sales, most merchants find it too time consuming and costly to provide enough customer reviews and harness their true value. It can take sup to nine months to aggregate sufficient content to be meaningful to purchasers. And the cost and effort to aggregate and maintain this content can be staggering.

Klaggle solves that problem by identifying and rating the most talked about product features mentioned in such reviews and how users felt about them. The service aggregates the most reviewed features and attributes of a product in a visually compelling and interactive format from a high volume of consumer product reviews. By embedding Klaggle’s nSight™ review content directly into a merchant's product pages, retailers provide rich, compelling consumer review information at the point of sale, increasing engagement, retention, order size and total sales.
  • Works with any e-commerce platform
  • Hosted on Klaggle's servers
  • Completely browser-based
  • "Easy set-up"
  • No new pages or files to upload to your site
  • Customizable to fit your existing product page design
  • Maintenance Free
The company is currently offering a free 30-day trial of the latest version of the Klaggle nSight™ solution for retailers. Check it out HERE.

Web Analytics, SEO, and Website Design

The author of the SEO Training Blog was recently at a business network meeting in the UK where he spoke to many small and medium-sized business owners that had websites. He notes: "I was struck by two things. Firstly, the proportion of the business owners that were either in the process of redesigning their website or were of the belief that they needed a redesign. In many cases these website owners were prepared to pay anything from £3,000 to £30,000 for a new website design.

"The second thing that struck me was that most of these business owners had arrived at a conclusion that their website didn’t work without access to or study of any objective data. Generally this data is referred to as web analytics. The business oweners were relying purely on sales feedback or a gut feel that things weren’t working.

"At the simplest level you cannot tell why your website isn’t working if you haven’t analysed its performance. Once you have access to the data you can work out whether the problem is one of traffic, that is unique visitors, or conversion, that is the proportion of visitors that carry out some form of positive action once they visit your website.

"Google Analytics and Statcounter are just two free/low cost analytics programmes that can yield a massive amount of high quality information about your website performance. In both cases, these analytics programmes should yield the information that forms the basis of an SEO programme.

"How many visitors, where they come from and how they behave on your website are the three key pieces of information that web analytics provides. Once you have this information you can decide what to do with your SEO programme. To decide to redesign website and incur further costs without this information is foolhardy."

We concur with these conclusions wholeheartedly. For free Web Analytics, you might also consider Another compelling voice in favor of the above, plus Website designs that are effective rather than merely glitzy, is Amy Africa. Check her out, as well.

Commerce V3 Debuts New Product Comp Function

Commerce V3 (CV3), a leading on-demand eCommerce platform provider, has introduced a product comparison feature that lets shoppers check "compare" boxes to display side-by-side comparisons of the features and benefits of the selected products.

Designed from the ground up for direct commerce merchants, CV3 features integration with many Order Management Systems as well as tools to customize pages, drive traffic, manage online inventory availability, process orders, and track revenue. CV3 provides merchants direct access to all functionality, but backs this up with a full suite of support, design, production and marketing services, so you can tailor a solution that works for your specific budget and needs.

Direct commerce order management and fulfillment systems with which CV3 has integrated include:

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

3DCart Has Smartphone Interface

eCommerce software developer and services vendor 3DCart includes the capability to shop via smartphone in version 3.2 of its cloud-based shopping cart software, and gives the small business owner or authorized eStore administrator the convenience of managing and querying the site from a smartphone, as well.

"For the first time, 3DCart retailers can post their products to Twitter or Facebook with a single click, easily integrate YouTube videos into product descriptions, and allow buyers to browse and buy from their iPhones and smartphones," according to 3DCart.

3DCart, a product of Infomart 2000, Corp., has about 10,000 merchant customers worldwide, including, a site that sells John Deere merchandise owned by John Deere tractor dealership Fillmore Equipment. The company has ten stores, and has been using 3DCart since 2007. They even use its Gift Registry feature. And because John Deere customers and aficionados are community-oriented, says Paul Bondsfield,'s eCommerce Manager, he's also interested in trying out some of the new social network capabilities in the latest version. For instance the site could use Twitter to send tweets about specials or new products. Rungreen also has a Facebook page that could be linked to the website. The company has already been using the blogging capability, Bondsfield added. However, there is another feature he likes -- it's easy to use. "You don't need a lot of technical ability to get started," Paul told

MC = E2: A New Formula for eCommerce Success

Jack Love, Publisher of Internet Retailer, suggests Einstein had it backwards, because Mobile Commerce is a revolution that's taking eCommerce into a whole new dimension. He gives us "some numbers to ponder. There are now 60 million smartphone users in the U.S., more than double the number of a year ago, and Nielsen projects the number will more than double to 140 million web-based phones by the third quarter of 2011, when smartphones will overtake conventional cell phones. Mobile commerce this year will generate upwards of $5 billion in revenue, more than double the prior year. When people talk about m-commerce, you hear the words "more than double last year" a lot."

 Mobile commerce is not quantum physics; it doesn't even involve reinventing your existing e-commerce business. It does mean vastly expanding your online sales by taking full advantage of the millions of new customers your e-business can serve. And that's exactly what 29 expert speakers will address in detail at the first annual Internet Retailer Mobile Commerce Forum (MCF) sponsored by Internet Retailer at the Hyatt Regency Chicago on October 12-13.

Attendees at MCF will also receive a free copy of the premier edition of the Internet Retailer Mobile Commerce Guide, a 200-page research guide ranking and profiling the leaders in the mobile commerce business, describing markets they serve and the capabilities of their mCommerce sites, and reporting on the latest mobile commerce strategies and technologies and providers of mCommerce solutions. This research guide will sell for $75, but it is free to MCF Conference attendees.

Click here for more information.

Building Relevant mCommerce Relationships (Webinar)

Retail TouchPoints sponsored a Webinar today with Sterling Commerce (an IBM company), on Mobilizing The Shopping Experience: Tips for Building Relevant mCommerce Relationships
John Stelzer, Sterling's Director of Retail Industry Marketing, presented a compelling argument on gearing up to support mCommerce: 
  • Mobility is undeniably the next major Retail Channel
  • Retailers want to increase sales via this new channel
  • Consumers want increased convenience from the mobile channel
  • Retailers must offer consumer convenience to incent consumer adoption and use of retailer-specific mobile apps/sites
  • Applying mobile capabilities (whether in the hands of store assocs. and/or consumers) to recover from or avoid stock-outs provides the highly promising potential to boost sales while increasing consumer convenience and satisfaction
  • Any retailer mCommerce offering must successfully address consumer awareness, adoption, and ease of use in order to be successful
He also provided some screen shots of Sterling's mobile commerce solution. The first three sets are what an in-store associate would see on an iPhone app, the last two iPhone screen shots are what a consumer would use, and the final slide summarizes the customer's mCommerce experience (searching for product information, checking availability at multiple locations, checking fulfillment options [store pick-up for drop-shipping], and completing an order selecting a fulfillment option [picking up the item in the store is the final "frame"]):

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Neiman Marcus Has mCommerce Site

Neiman Marcus now has a dedicated mCommerce platform to which shoppers are automatically directed if they enter the company's URL on their mobile phone. The mCommerce-optimized site, designed by mCommerce technology specialist Usablenet Inc., lets shoppers search for a product through a site search box or they can drill down by category and sub-categories from a list of category names underneath the site search box. The site gives shoppers access to the retailer’s full online merchandise assortment.

Customers can sign into their Neiman Marcus accounts to access complete account information, including order history and status, and default payment, billing and shipping information. The site gives shoppers access to the retailer’s full online merchandise assortment.

mCommerce Site Boosts Fossil's Conversion, Revenues

Retail Info Systems News reports that global multi-channel retailer Fossil noticed in 2008 and 2009 that more and more people were accessing its eCommerce site via mobile devices, so the company, striving for a single brand image across its stores, catalogs and web sites, decided to add mobile to the mix in a way that would be consistent with its other channels.

According to Philip Thompson, vice president of marketing and operations for e-commerce at Fossil Inc., "The mobile site had been designed for eCommerce, so it was too small and leaving too much white space on mobile devices' screens. Mobile 'real estate' is expensive, so we improved the usability of our mobile home page, making the product shots big, bold and beautiful, and adding product reviews and peer to peer capabilities."

The changes created dramatic improvements during holiday 2009, according to Thompson. "We increased our conversion rate through the mobile channel by 30% just by improving mobile usability," he said. "We also saw increased revenues of 43% on mobile devices for the holiday period."

Thompson spoke on Making the Case for Mobile ROI at the Fourth Annual RIS News Cross-Channel Retail Executive Summit, held September 15-17 at the Four Seasons Troon North in Scottsdale, AZ.

Execs Wary of IT for Project Management

SupplyChain Brain reports that "Corporate executives generally lack confidence in the ability of IT to provide the insight and control that is required throughout the lifecycle of a project and would like to see better integration with their business software. These are the findings of a study conducted by the International Project Management Association (IPMA) on behalf of IFS among 273 CEOs or COOs and project managers at project-based businesses across the U.K., U.S., Australia, Scandinavia and the Benelux countries."

Reporting on the study, the IFS site notes that:
  • Nearly three quarters (72%) of CEOs/ COOs and Project Managers identify the ability to manage projects as critical or absolutely critical to the future growth of the business
  • Despite this, just 11% of CEOs/ COOs and Project Managers are very confident of their ability to manage business critical projects in the most efficient way
  • Only one quarter (25%) of businesses surveyed have fully integrated IT systems for project management and just 12% of all businesses are very confident they have full visibility of information to run projects effectively despite identifying IT integration and real time data as priorities for project control
The research also highlights the economic downturn’s effect on business demands placed on project-based industries; 66% of respondents agree or strongly agree that post-recession, enterprise software tools have become even more important to run projects than ever before.

IFS CEO Alastair Sorbie said. “Change is the nature of projects, and we know from many years working with project-oriented companies that flexibility and scalability in project-based solutions is crucial to project success. Together with achieving a holistic view, where businesses have full visibility, control and insight into real-time data tracking, this is vital to manage the new generation of mission-critical projects, and to future organizational growth.”

Both the C-Suite executive leaders and Project Managers questioned agreed that the top three most important factors for consistent and efficient project management were resource planning (55%), integrated Enterprise systems (52%) and real-time data (47%). These results mirrored organizational IT and project-based solution investment priorities with 49% stating integration of IT as a top priority. Real-time data (40%) was the next priority, followed by resource planning (37%).

Despite being stated as an investment priority and being crucial to business success, just one quarter of organizations have fully integrated IT systems in place for project management.

Eleanor Walsh Joins Omnica

Eleanor Walsh has joined Omnica, a leading UK-based vendor of multichannel solutions, as Head of UK Sales & Marketing.

She joins Omnica from Sanderson Multi-Channel Solutions, where she held positions as Account Manager and  Marketing Manager. Eleanor has over nine years of experience in catalogue, mail-order, and multi-channel software solutions.

Harry Manley, Managing Director of Omnica, commented “We are growing rapidly and have recruited some of the most capable and experienced individuals in the industry. Eleanor is one such individual and makes an excellent addition to our team.”

About Omnica
Omnica provides software solutions for Multi-Channel Retail and Distribution based the Microsoft Dynamics AX platform. Founded in 2007 by Harry Manley and Jon Whiteley, Omnica customers include Direct Wines,, Orbital Marketing and The Scout Shops.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The UPS Logistics "Rebranding" - Plus Examples

At first blush, the UPS branding campaign, "We [heart] logistics," or "the new logistics," seems bland enough, and somewhat pointless. "The new logistics lets you operate with the heft of a big guy, no matter what size you actually are." Further down on the home page of the branding campaign, UPS restates the point and adds a reference to their own facilities: "You don't need a large warehouse, distribution center, or global network to access this new logistics. You just need UPS. We've built a massive integrated network of physical, technological, and human assets that lets you tap into the power and passion of logistics."

The power and passion of logistics? Really? You have to be truly, deeply committed to this field to get that enthusiastic about it, don't you think? And few people are....

Anyway, if you dig even deeper into the site, you finally find what this campaign seems to be largely about: using UPS's own third-party fulfillment facilities and services. "Take advantage of our expansive, highly efficient network. Let our people manage the logistics. Use space in our facilities (over 35 million square feet) to stage the right amount of product at the right place. Turn servicing warranty obligations into a competitive advantage."

And the message continues: "With access to sites in more than 120 countries, you can be mere hours from your customers--wherever they are in the world--without investing in physical resources. With the new logistics, you can flex and grow as your business needs."

Originally, I thought what was missing from this campaign was a set of case studies that would add a dimension of useful specifics to a mass of generalities.A reader kindly pointed out the obvious, however: they are right there as plain as day under "Customer Stories." Not buried...just hiding (from me!) in plain sight!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Burberry's Retail Theatre

There is no reason why the following concept from Burberry, reported by Pursuitist (a luxury retail site), couldn't be adapted to an eCommerce environment, especially since they want you to wait seven weeks(!) for delivery:

"Fire up your iPad, as Burberry is installing ‘Retail Theatre’ environments in 25 flagship stores worldwide so that it can live-stream its catwalk shows. The idea is to roll out enhanced acoustics and visuals in the shops to encourage shoppers to buy clothes straight off the runway. Customers can sift through collections on iPads through a Burberry app.

'“This concept allows us to broadcast our multi faceted content all over the world, directly to our stores, creating a modern and pure brand environment,' says Christopher Bailey, Burberry chief creative officer. 'Customers at the exclusive in-store digital events will experience the clothes, the music, the energy and the atmosphere in real time and have the unique opportunity to receive their orders in just 7 weeks'.”

Critical Steps In System Selection

As a reference for anyone undertaking the process of specifying and selecting an eCommerce solution and/or a multichannel order management and fulfillment platform, here's a summary of the key steps involved (from my Choosing & Using Direct Commerce Order Management and Fulfillment Software):
  • create a Systems Project Team (which should include representatives from all relevant departments)
  • produce a detailed Request For Proposal (RFP) (known as an Invitation to Tender, or ITT in the UK
  • develop a targeted list of potentially qualified solution providers/vendors
  • send the RFP to the vendors requesting their formal, written proposals
  • score and review the vendor proposals
  • develop a short list of the vendors
  • invite short list vendors for a site visit
  • conduct online vendor demos
  • conduct on-site vendor demos for "proof of concept"
  • evaluate the vendors’ implementation strategies
  • evaluate the vendors' training and support capabilities
  • conduct a total cost of ownership (TCO) analysis
  • identify the best-fit solution
  • conduct user reference checks
  • make a final decision
  • produce an audit report of the selection process
  • negotiate the contract
  • notify winning and losing vendors
The book, of course, goes into considerable detail on each of these steps. But I would like to focus on the vendor demos steps here, because it is one of the more critical phases of the entire process.

There are really two types of demos required: one is a vendor-driven event in which the vendor sets the agenda and shows off the system to its best advantage. This type of demo is best done online: it saves everyone time (to say nothing of travel expenses), and if the demo reveals early on that there are significant gaps in a system, you can terminate the demo early without much inconvenience (the opposite, in fact).

The on-site demos, for those vendors who have passed the vendor-driven demo test, should be driven by you and your team, with a detailed list of features and functions you want to see demonstrated, preferably using a small sample of your own data that you have provided the vendors in advance. The important point here is to make the detailed list as meaningful as possible, focusing on mission-critical functions that are either "must haves" or "nice to haves" in running your business. Certainly the "must haves" need to be front-and-center, since you don't want to compromise on functions that are critical to your operations (including merchandising and response analysis).

Of course, any new system is going to work differently from what you are currently using. But the difference in the new system should be a step forward, an improvement, not a step backward. For instance, if you can currently achieve six steps in the order entry process on a single screen, you don't want to have to use three different screens to do those same six steps. Bear in mind, of course, that anything that was customized in your current application might have to be customized in your new application, as well, and that takes us into a completely different topic that we'll look at another day.

Questions? Give me a call at 267-987-7638. I'd be happy to talk with you about your own systems selection project.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Going Global With

Catalogue & eBusiness reports that, the company behind wall-art website, has extended its online operations into Argentina, the Czech Republic and Turkey with three localized websites. already operates localized sites for Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Each site is translated into its country's respective language and currency and offers local email support.

" Inc. is now one of only a few eCommerce retailers with such a broad global portfolio of country-specific websites," Geoffroy Martin, chief executive officer of Inc. told Forbes magazine.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Seevolution Offers Real-time Site Tracking

Seevolution, now in beta, is a real-time analytics, heatmap and alert system that to visualize how visitors are using and interacting with your Website in a movable, transparent overlay. Tracked clicks and scrolling from thousands of visitors are represented visually with overlay heatmaps that display your web page's 'hot spots' as well as links, images or text that receive less attention.

From Mashable

Seeing where visitors are coming from, where they are spending the most time on your site, and why they may or may not navigate away from the site is crucial information for optimizing the user experience.

You also get Web analytics with one click via a tool panel that lays discreetly on the Web page, allowing you to monitor real analytics as it happens without navigating away from the page. Seevolution aggregates visitor behavior data and site trends in real time, so any elements that could be impeding usability are immediately apparent and relayed to you instantly via email.

Within the feed, users are organized into groups according to the behavioral characteristics that you choose: Junk, Lookers, Shoppers and Buyers for eCommerce, for instance. This breakdown provides a clear visual representation of when and where the types of visitors who are most likely to result in a sale or conversion are navigating on your site.

On Forrester's New Book: Empowered

P. P. Gownder of Forrester Research blogs that Forrester’s new book, Empowered, (which is free for U.S. based Amazon Kindle owners from September 7 to 10!) "helps companies thrive in the new era of disruptive technologies like social media and mobility."

Written by Forrester consultants Josh Bernoff and Ted Schadler, Empowered tells companies "to give their most innovative employees – their highly engaged and resourceful operatives, or HEROes – the permission and tools to serve customers using these same emerging technologies....

"It also lays out a strategy for engaging your most influential customers. Consumer product strategy professionals should wield Empowered concepts for exactly that reason – to energize your best customers. In the mobile space, product strategists are looking for ideas to help them develop innovative, leading-edge applications for Smartphone users on platforms like the iPhone or Android.

"Empowered mobile product strategies entail following a modified version of the IDEA framework (laid out in chapter 3 of the book). IDEA follows a simple process: Identify mass influencers, deliver groundswell customer service to those influencers, empower customers with information, and amplify your fans. For the mobile product strategist, we've refined this a bit, as this figure shows:

Click here for a full copy of the report.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

BigCommerce Offers New Release, with mCommerce Option

BigCommerce has launched its latest multi-channel eCommerce software platform designed to help small and mid-sized merchants capitalize on current industry trends such as mobile and social commerce.

The enterprise features in BigCommerce 6.0 are available in packages starting at $24.95 per month and will allow merchants to sell on Facebook, eBay, mobile devices and via shopping comparison sites such as, PriceGrabber, Shopzilla and more.

The new release includes major features in the following areas:
•    Mobile Commerce: Customizable mobile store templates, an iPad-specific mobile store and a webkit-based design for iPhone, Blackberry, Palm Pre and Android devices to enable its more than 6,000 small and mid-sized merchants to launch mobile commerce sites. Entering a retailer’s URL on one of these mobile devices automatically redirects shoppers to the mobile-optimized site.
•    Social Commerce: Merchants can promote and sell their products on Facebook and eBay, make their own sites more social by adding Like buttons and tools that allow shoppers to share comments and product reviews, and list their products numerous popular shopping comparison sites.
•    E-mail Marketing: Merchants can automate their e-mail list development with the new SmartList technology and set up autoresponders and promotions in MailChimp to follow up with customers and share a coupon code after purchase.
•    Analytics: The new “Customers who viewed this product also viewed…” feature gives merchants valuable product search-related data and keeps shoppers on site longer
•    Shipping: Three-click integration with Shipworks
•    Product Photos: Merchants can edit images directly from the BigCommerce control Panel using

An ATG study has indicated that a high percentage of mid-market eCommerce merchants are not satisfied with their current online storefronts. The new platform from BigCommerce is specifically designed to give those merchants the latest in enterprise-level features on a small or mid-sized budget, or to try them free for a 15-day trial.

Kenneth Cole: Setting Up a Dedicated mCommerce Platform

This past April, Tom Davis, VP eCommerce at Kenneth Cole, discovered that 1.5% of the apparel and accessories retailer’s revenue came from shoppers buying via the Kenneth Cole eCommerce site on a mobile phone.

“To get our site working on an iPhone is a mess,” Davis told Internet Retailer magazine, “so for people to go through the whole ordering process on their iPhone, that’s big.”

He decided to move quickly to set up a dedicated mCommerce site. Working with mobile commerce technology provider Usablenet Inc., Kenneth Cole launched the new site in July and now supports a much easier mCommerce shopping experience.

To execute an mCommerce strategy, you need not only an appropriate technology platform, but you have to learn who your mobile customer is, as well: what devices they are using and how they are behaving. In addition to product selections, do they look for ratings/reviews? Do they leave feedback? Do they want to match/group products? And so on. That will help you determine an appropriate mCommerce strategy and help you define the needs and requirements, and features and functions, you will want to support in order to execute a forward-looking mCommerce strategy.

Nokia to Acquire mComm Analytics Firm

Nokia has announced it has signed an agreement to acquire Motally Inc., a privately-held US-based company.

Motally's mobile analytics service offers in-application tracking and reporting, and is designed to enable developers and publishers to optimize the development of their mobile applications through increased understanding of how users engage.

The service offering is planned to be adapted for Qt, Symbian, Meego and Java developers. Nokia also plans to continue serving Motally's existing customer base.

"The acquisition underpins Nokia's drive to deliver in-application and mobile web browsing analytics to Ovi's growing, global eco-system of developers and publishers, enabling partners to better connect with their customers and optimize and monetize their offering",  said Marco Argenti, VP Media, Nokia.

The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions and is expected to close during the third quarter of 2010.

Motally Inc. was founded in 2008 in San Francisco, employs eight people, and has patent-pending technology to ensure accurate data collection and analytic reporting for publishers' mobile sites. 

Monday, September 06, 2010

15% of consumers have made purchases on their phones, new survey says

Internet Retailer reports that "15% of consumers have used their mobile devices to make purchases, and nearly 25% have used their devices to compare prices while in a store, according to a new study..."

This online survey was conducted on behalf of e-commerce and m-commerce technology vendors Sterling Commerce and Demandware Inc. by SmartRevenue in June/July 2010 and surveyed 3,611 male and female consumers ages 18 and older living in the United States.

"The survey also found that 96.2% of respondents own a mobile phone and just under half own a smartphone, which render richer mobile commerce shopping experiences."

The study also found that:

• More than 60% of consumers believe using their mobile phones while shopping to verify product availability at a store location is important to very important.
• 20% currently use their phones to create shopping lists and slightly more than that would be interested in a mobile app to help with shopping list management for their favorite retailers.
• 67% are interested in using their smartphones to scan and purchase items to bypass checkout lines.
• 25% believe receiving specials and promotions, such as coupons, would be an important use for their mobile phones when shopping.

“'Mobility is more than a channel, and as consumers begin to use mobile devices in all aspects of their shopping process, cross-channel will be essential for retailers to succeed,' says Jim Bengier, global retail industry executive at Sterling Commerce. 'Today’s consumers are transforming the shopping experience with their mobile phones, and retailers who have not broken down their siloed channels will not be able to keep up.'

"The survey also found some concerns that may hinder the adoption of m-commerce among some consumers. The concerns include:
  • Difficulty with the small screen size (34%) and therefore difficulty in visualizing the products (31%).
  • Security issues (28%).
  • Slow performance of an m-commerce site (22%).
  • Difficulties entering information because of small keypad (21%).
"Although security issues were mentioned as a concern by only 28% of respondents, the top services that would encourage more mobile phone purchases all to a degree address security issues, the survey says:
  • Nearly half of consumers would like the option of using PayPal.
  • Nearly 40 percent would feel secure knowing that a mobile phone app would not store their credit card number.
  • A quarter of consumers would prefer that the mobile phone would show only a truncated credit card number (last 4 digits).
  • About 20 percent would like to be prompted to enter their 3-digit credit card security numbers."
Notes Mobile Commerce Daily, "While the increasing consumer adoption rate of mobile devices has long been recognized by retailers, these survey findings suggest that offering mobile access to the brand is no longer just a 'nice to have' — it has become a necessity, according to Demandware. The mandate for retailers is not only to create a mobile channel to give consumers more options, but also to find innovative ways to leverage mobile to influence consumer shopping and purchase behavior across all sales channels."

    How to Meet Consumer Expectations in a "Transformative Time" (Forrester)

    According to, a recent Forrester Research Report, "we are in a highly transformative time as changing customer expectations, commerce capabilities, and technology continue to evolve rapidly. Initiatives that just a few short years ago would have seemed a long way off — such as mobile commerce, app stores, multichannel order management, or embedding shopping on Facebook — are now squarely on the priority list of eCommerce business and technology leaders. And as consumer expectations, client needs, and the competitive environment continue to evolve, pressure on executives to make the right choices in technology and operational capabilities continues to mount." The Forrester report, says PowerRetailer, highlights the key factors that retailers need to understand and consider in order to remain competitive. These include:
    • Focusing on development of key services that expose core data, business logic, and enable long-term flexibility in driving end user experiences across various channels including, social media, mobile applications, third-party marketplaces and rich internet applications. In addition to this, consumers expect consistent information, policies, fulfillment options, and service options across all of these channels – making it necessary for retailers to reply in kind or risk losing custom.
    • Investing in systems, such as, order management, commerce platforms, product content management, customer data management and intelligence, to manage the online multichannels and service their customer base. [my emphasis]
    • Using existing content as an asset, by aggregating, testing and optimizing it routinely.
    • Understanding customers and their needs and using this information to build business cases for the development of new multichannel customer experiences.
    Conclusions: "The report notes that often bureaucracy can play a role in limiting companies moving into multichannel customer experiences. In order to be innovative and competitive within this highly dynamic landscape, understanding and support from senior level leadership is crucial."

    Friday, September 03, 2010

    Industry Group Urges PRC to Deny Proposed USPS Rate Hike

    From the PostalNews blog: "The Affordable Mail Alliance – a growing coalition of non-profits, Fortune 500 companies, small businesses, major trade associations, consumer groups, and citizens representing the vast majority of the mail sent in the United States – filed comments urging the Postal Regulatory Commission to help rein in the USPS’s excessive costs by denying the proposed rate hike."

    “'The Post Office needs to reevaluate their approach,' said Jerry Cerasale, Affordable Mail Alliance Spokesperson and Senior Vice President of the Direct Marketing Association. 'Instead of trying to keep things afloat with a giant tax on consumers, the USPS should focus on improving management and controlling costs to get out of this mess. To do otherwise is just bad business.'

    "This is the Alliance’s final legal step before the PRC announces their decision on October 4. The comments also highlight the Postal Service’s flip-flop on the cause for their request. The USPS previously claimed that such a severe rate increase was needed to alleviate an immediate and unforeseen cash crisis. But at the public hearing held on August 10, a top official admitted that the 'crisis' would not prevent them from operating in their current fashion for at least the next year. The Postal Service now claims that the rate increase is needed to prevent a longer-term profit slowdown over the next decade.

    “'Our comments make the same case that businesses and working families are making all over the country,' said Cerasale. 'The Postal Service’s proposed rate hike is unreasonable, unhelpful, and unlawful, and the more than one thousand members of the Alliance are not going to let the Postal Service take advantage of its customers.'"

    "The comments reiterate what the Alliance has argued all along – that the Postal Service has failed to show that it would suffer from its projected losses if it followed 'best practices of honest, efficient and economical management,' and has failed to meet the “extraordinary or exceptional” circumstance test of the 2006 Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act. The increase thus should be rejected, especially at this time of economic uncertainty for America."

    Digby Adds Users to mCommerce Platform

    Two new users for Digby's mCommerce Platform: Northern Tool and Equipment and Lilly Pulitzer. The Lilly Pulitzer mobile Web storefront from Digby provides comprehensive features for shoppers that are optimized for their mobile phones, such as:
    • Ability to browse and search across the entire catalog
    • Rich product descriptions and full-color images
    • Address book integration
    • Mobile optimized checkout
    • Store locator
    • Quick access to new arrivals
    • Seamless integration with existing backend cataloging and order processing systems
    • Expanded optimization for Android and iPhone to build on additional extensions
    "Working with the team at Lilly Pulitzer is inspiring, because they truly 'get' mobile and how important it is for interacting with consumers now and in the future," said David Sikora, CEO, Digby. The Digby and Lilly Pulitzer mobile commerce agreement was a catalyst for the recently announced alliance between Digby and Venda, Lilly Pulitzer's on-demand eCommerce platform provider.

    Venda's Advanced Mobile Platform Powered by Digby

    Venda, which claims to be "the world's largest on-demand eCommerce provider," has introduced the Venda Advanced Mobile Platform (A.M.P.) powered by Digby, an enterprise mobile commerce offering that provides multichannel merchants a unified shopping experience between in-store, online, catalog and mobile devices.

    Venda A.M.P., powered by the Digby Mobile Commerce suite, is a feature-rich mobile portfolio that is integrated with the Venda Enterprise eCommerce platform. This seamless solution, supported by Venda's global customer support organization, provides brands and retailers with a unified platform to connect with their audience and customers, delivering unique and personalized shopping experiences anywhere, anytime.

    According to a recent survey of 1,052 consumers conducted by Deloitte LLP, 21% of consumer shoppers have used a web-enabled mobile phone to assist them in shopping. The survey also reported that 36% of those surveyed have used their phone to go to a web site to shop for products or services. Venda believes that brands and retailers must harness the opportunity mobile presents in a comprehensive and scalable manner to match customer expectations. Most current mCommerce offerings deliver generic first-generation mobile sites that are hard-coded to web sites. Venda A.M.P. allows brands to fully deliver a cross platform personalized commerce experience to any customer at any location.

    Like all Venda offerings, Venda A.M.P. leverages an underlying SaaS model that ensures clients receive future-proofed, enterprise-scale technology supported by a global development and client care network, giving them the autonomy to more effectively manage their front-end user experience.

    Digby's singular focus on retail aligns with Venda's legacy of enabling a deeper and richer approach to commerce for brands. Integrating seamlessly with inventory, catalog and historical order information housed in the Venda platform, Venda A.M.P. will drive brand efforts to identify, customize and incentivize a customer while they are in-store, at home or on-the-go for "dramatic improvements in the customer experience." With Venda A.M.P., merchants can:
    • Enable Website viewing on mobile devices including iPhone, iTouch, iPad, Blackberry and Android while coping with the constant innovation cycle of new mobile devices, operating systems and screen sizes/resolutions;
    • Run geo- and time-specific marketing and eCommerce programs with location targeting capabilities;
    • Deliver highly-personalized and sophisticated "Rich Mobile Web" experiences;
    • Enable a fully-transactional mobile (search, shop, buy, pay, service) experience with an expanding universe of "must-have" capabilities like:
      • In-store check-ins with timely and personalized offers pushed directly to a user's device;
      • Bar code scanning for pricing and comparison information via mobile phone cameras to share with friends via Facebook;
      • Wish-list and registry management, product reviews, order status and stock availability
     "Our vision for hosted eCommerce is to free our clients to engage with their customers in a more meaningful, direct and cost-effective way, making Digby's mobile technology a perfect strategic fit in terms of features, operations, support and cost," said Jeffrey Max, CEO of Venda, Inc. "Brands that thrive in the future will embrace mobile as a unifying customer experience, and with Venda A.M.P. they will be able to focus on delighting customers with the comfort that our platform will continue to scale and mature alongside their business."

    Wednesday, September 01, 2010

    Good Questions About Net Neutrality

    The subject of "Net Neutrality" has been much in the news, in response to Google and Verizon's joint proposal on the subject. If you are interested, Mark Underwood offers a thorough background on the subject at Tech Republic, with a set of seven very sane questions.

    Blue Harbor Grows with Fulfillment by Amazon

    eTailer Blue Harbor started using  Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) and Amazon WebStore services in the third quarter of 2009, two years after setting up business in New Jersey, which led to a spike in online sales averaging 40 percent to 65 percent for each product listed on for fulfillment with FBA.

    The first spike in sales on Amazon occurred when they won the "Buy Box" in their category. The second, and perhaps more important, was when they started using FBA.

    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.

    For more details, see the full story here.

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