Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Shopatron Launches 1TEAM Elite

In January of this year Shopatron, which coordinates direct-to-consumer fulfillment for retailers, announced the Shopatron 3.0 commitment to rich customer experiences.

In the five months since the announcement, Shopatron has been at work delivering on the promises of their 5-point customer experience: star-white-5points
"We have been getting great feedback from clients, partners and customers on the upgrades that have been implemented so far with Shopatron 3.0."

Some enhancements that have been delivered or are soon to be launched in support of this commitment include system speed and security enhancements, PayPal checkout, guest checkout, instant order fulfillment, the customer experience bonus tool and the Fulfillment Partner of the Month program. Over the next weeks you will be learning more about instant order fulfillment, which will speed orders through the assignment process, and the customer experience bonus tool, which will allow merchants to reward their best fulfillment partners.

Shopatron has also simplified its fee structure with the 1TEAM program as a framework for customer service both online and in stores.

1TEAMelite.png"One of the biggest rewards we added to the program is the opportunity for Shopatron fulfillment partners to qualify for our 1TEAM Elite program," the company reports. 1TEAM Elite rewards fulfillment partners who consistently provide excellent customer service. Partners that meet the criteria for this program enjoy significantly lower fees.

Industry research has shown that trust, ease-of-use, rich content, and flexible delivery options are key to sales and customer loyalty. Shopatron's efforts to make fulfillment easier and more streamlined for its retail partners are intended to support "an unparalleled customer experience"

Riding With the Devil: The Enterprise Systems Dilemma

In the next month or two I will be writing a brief eBook entitled "Riding With the Devil: The Systems Dilemma and Tough Truths About Enterprise Software."

It will cover two main themes:
(A) the vast gulf between customized/modified enterprise solutions (which are fraught with bugs, slow to implement, and difficult to support) and those systems that rely on integration of packaged applications with very little if any modification except for the User Interface (and even then, kept to a minimum). Obviously, the former tries to comply with the user's business rules, while the latter usually requires significant changes in business methods. Neither alternative is optimum, but I will explore the spectrum that lies along these two poles.

(B) Agile Software Development, and whether using Rapid Application Development approaches offers a useful "Third Way," or only opens Pandora's Box, pushing companies deeper into the mire.

I invite your comments and insights on both of these topics.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Demandware Files IPO

Demandware, a leading eCommerce solution provider, has filed a registration statement with the Securities and Exchange Commission for a proposed initial public offering of shares of its common stock. The number of shares to be offered and the price range for the offering have not yet been determined.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

eComm Sales Solid in 2Q11 for Leading Retailers

The Mercent eCommerce Performance Index (MEPI), a report that measures the year-over-year growth of same-seller gross merchandise value (GMV) of national brand name retailers selling across eCommerce sales channels, today announced that for the second quarter FY2011, same-seller GMV for retailers selling through the Mercent Retail online channel management platform was up 17% relative to 2Q2010.

Same-seller GMV for Mercent clients participating in Amazon's "Selling on Amazon" third-party marketplace program 35% and through all Google retail sales channels grew in the second quarter  21%. (*Note: Historical MEPI figures previously reported on only Google Product Search.  The 2Q2011 MEPI reports results collectively for Google’s retailer focused programs: Google Product Search, Google Product Listing Ads and Google Affiliate Network).

“The Mercent eCommerce Performance Index reflects solid but slightly decelerating year-over-year growth in retail eCommerce sales, with same-seller GMV sales growth of 17% in 2Q2011,” commented Eric Best, Mercent CEO.  “Based on Mercent’s data and market analysis, overall 2Q2011 performance figures reflect market factors that include: (1) continued challenging FY2010 baseline comparables across all channels; (2) evolving and maturing channel performance dynamics, most notably as they relate to Google and its algorithm changes, stricter seller/advertiser data policies, and shift toward more aggressive traffic and ad monetization in retail; and (3) ongoing price and offer sensitivity on the part of the consumer.”

Across its portfolio of more than 170 major retailers sourcing and processing a forecasted $1.2B in FY2011 GMV through the Mercent Retail™ SAAS platform, Mercent observed other notable trends and drivers in 2Q2011 - reflecting trailing eCommerce performance in the second quarter and setting the stage for the remainder of FY2011:

  • In line with 1Q2011 figures, year-over-year same seller growth only slightly decelerated from April 2011 through June 2011, reaffirming challenging FY2010 comparables; evolving and maturing channel performance dynamics, particularly related to Google and its algorithm changes, stricter seller policies, and platform focus shift to more aggressive channel monetization; and lastly, (3) price conscientious consumers.
  • Amazon’s third-party seller marketplace remains the consistent top performer, leading the eCommerce market in both volume and growth, delivering retail sales results that steadily outpace organic eCommerce.
  • Growth from Google’s free product advertising program, Google Product Search, shows significant deceleration, while growth of paid retail ad programs including Google Product Listing Ads and Product Extensions to AdWords, continue to demonstrate acceleration.
  • eBay continues to generate growth in line with organic eCommerce industry trends with 2Q2011 stronger than 1Q2011.  Further, with recent acquisition news, eBay has potential to accelerate marketplace performance, specifically in fixed-price listings and in the upcoming holiday season.
  • Shopping engines and CSEs continue to face headwinds, trailing the industry overall and posting low single digit growth rates in 2Q2011.
  • Mercent observes that retailer investment in eCommerce growth is focused on both tactical programs like behaviorally targeted display advertising and price optimization (catering to price conscientious consumers) and emerging strategic investments in hyper-growth channels that include social networks, and local and mobile shopping programs. Based on analysis of current and historical MEPI data, we anticipate the 2011 holiday selling season to deliver solid double-digit figures trending slightly weaker to in-line with holiday 2010.
Mercent eCommerce Performance Index™ Methodology
The methodology for the Mercent eCommerce Performance Index comparison matches all prior studies and reports retail transactions driven through Mercent’s network of online shopping and advertising channels, including comparison shopping engines (CSEs), third-party seller marketplaces, and affiliate programs. To ensure continuity and to eliminate artifact associated with new customer ramp, the Mercent eCommerce Performance Index only references retailers live on the Mercent Retail platform prior to and during the entire reported term. Information regarding Mercent Retail shopping feed management technology, Mercent Performance marketing services, and the complete list of online marketing channels in the Mercent Shopping Network are available at

About Mercent
According to Mercent, the company "ensures the world’s leading retailers are visible, competitive and profitable wherever consumers are shopping online" through paid search, comparison shopping channels, online marketplaces, and social media outlets.  Through its Mercent Retail™ SAAS technology and Mercent Performance™ professional services, Mercent helps the world’s most successful online merchants including 1-800-Flowers, Bass Pro Shops, GUESS?, L'Occitane USA, REI and others, maximize their online shopping channel marketing performance to drive inventory velocity, customer acquisition, revenues and profits. Supported online shopping destinations include, Google, eBay, Bing, comparison shopping engines (CSEs), affiliate networks, social shopping sites, and paid search and display advertising campaigns.  The company was founded by a seasoned team of veterans and is a venture-funded company based in Seattle, WA.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Endeca Offers New "InFront" CXM Solution

The new "InFront" solution from Endeca is a customer experience management (CXM) platform designed to power adaptive digital experiences for customers through multiple channels, integrating backend technologies and data sources with an eCommerce site to deliver enhanced customer experiences to display to the shopper relevant content and merchandising across unpredictable customer paths.

What's more, retailers can create and manage experiences without IT assistance, and deliver content without having to predict customer paths or set up scenarios in advance.

Utilizing all underlying product data and content, merchants are able to influence customer behavior regardless of where or how customers choose to engage: online, on-the-go on their smartphones, or on a kiosk in a retail store. And with integrated analytics and agile business user tools, InFront solutions help businesses adapt to changing market needs, influence customer behavior across channels, and scale a relevant and targeted experience for every customer.
 Integrates with Other Endeca Solutions
Put the business in control: business teams want to make customers happy, but they also need to meet business goals. Using Endeca's Page Builder lets business teams guide and influence customers along every unpredictable path or unforeseen context with advanced merchandising and content targeting tools.

Leave no content and data behind: consumers expect access to relevant and intelligent experiences, wherever and whenever they find you. Page Builder lets businesses get personal by extending the investments they’ve already made in content, technology, and data to target and personalize every click. And InFront Intelligence helps business teams make decisions that drive business performance, by providing insight into what’s happening inside and across the entire organization.

The new release also is expected to provide fast insights into all customer touch points by leveraging Endeca’s Business Intelligence product, Latitude

Endeca's solutions give IT departments the agility to adapt to diverse and changing information through its MDEX Engine technology, a patented hybrid search-analytical database. This drives the industry-leading Guided Navigation user experience while consistently helping end-users find the information they need and understand what they found. Of the top 100 online retailers, nearly half use Endeca’s technology to make products more "findable," including,, and The Home Depot.

eGain Offers Interactive Sales Suite

eGain, the Mountain View, CA, provider of cloud and on-site customer interaction software, now offers the eGain Interactive Sales Suite for transforming B2C websites into interactive shopping destinations.

The solution helps eBusiness and marketing teams quickly deploy, assess, and refine customer engagement strategies with contextual promotions and proactive assistance. As an integral part of eGain’s "Customer Interaction Hub" solution set, the new suite works seamlessly with eGain's service applications to ensure consistent customer experience at all touchpoints.

The need for an agile Web sales and service strategy
Despite escalating investment in online initiatives, B2C businesses struggle to keep up with proliferating touchpoints and rapidly evolving interaction preferences. Abandoned shopping carts, discarded forms, and fractured experiences are still the norm. eGain Interactive Sales Suite addresses these challenges by enabling deployment of holistic customer engagement strategies with a solution that is both quick and complete.

“The multichannel Web is rapidly becoming the central point for business-to-consumer interactions,” said Johan Jacobs, Research Director for Gartner. “Organizations that do not focus on leveraging web channels for unified sales, marketing, and service will struggle with customer engagement and ownership."

The Interactive Sales Suite enables Websites with rich interaction choices by means of the following products, all built on a eGain’s knowledge-powered customer interaction platform:
  • eGain® Offers™ to enable proactive, real-time, rule-based offers to engage Website visitors; offers include coupons, promotions, personalized content, contextual self-service, and agent assistance.
  • eGain® Social™ to monitor social media, proactively publish offers, and privately engage with prospects.
  • eGain® Multibrowse™ to enable customers and phone or chat agents to jointly navigate and fill forms on any Website securely in real-time with no downloads required.
  • eGain® Chatbot™ for avatar-based, brand-aligned natural language conversations.
  • eGain® Chat™ and eGain® ClickToCall™ to provide Website visitors the ability to chat or request a callback.
  • eGain® Notify™ to offer customers the ability to sign up for multichannel sales and service alerts across social networks, mobile apps, voice updates, email, and SMS.

eGain Interactive Sales Suite enables B2C marketing and sales teams to easily test alternative customer engagement strategies.

No IT help is needed to deploy, measure, and refine website offers, except a single-line Javascript addition to the website footer. Users get out-of-the-box A/B testing capability and a fully configured customer engagement dashboard. In addition, businesses can extract unique customer insight using the eGain Multichannel Analytics capability.

Going beyond proactive chat, the eGain solution spans all assistance options (chatbot, chat, click-to-call, cobrowse, and FAQs) as well as personalized content (coupons, promotions, and newsletter subscriptions).

It is also the industry’s only suite to include next-generation cobrowsing and multimedia chatbot capabilities.
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