Friday, December 12, 2014

Avalara and Shopgate Form Global Partnership

Avalara, Inc., a provider of cloud-based transactional tax compliance solutions, and Shopgate, a software-as-a-service mCommerce platform, have announced a new global partnership to help merchants remain tax-compliant when taking mobile payments.
The partnership integrates Avalara’s AvaTax™ sales tax compliance solution with the Shopgate mobile commerce platform. The collaboration will allow Shopgate to offer its merchants fully-automated sales tax compliance services as it expands into North America, while continuing to support its 5,500+ merchants across Europe.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Sanderson Wins Best Technology Solution Award

Sanderson, the publicly owned provider of multi-channel retail software, won the "Best Technology Solution" award at the Direct Commerce Supplier of the Year Awards ceremony held at Queens Club in London this week.

The Direct Commerce Supplier of the Year Awards recognize the best of the UK’s specialist suppliers to the direct commerce sector, acknowledging the outstanding contribution these companies make to the multichannel retail market.

The Direct Commerce Supplier Awards takes nominations from client companies, asking them to vote for the suppliers that have contributed the most to their businesses. Hundreds of nominations were made with 30 companies reaching the short list and 10 successful winners.

Monday, November 17, 2014

No Online Sales Tax Legislation On the Horizon

According to Website Magazine, "Legislators are apparently split over whether they should pass the Marketplace Fairness Act, which forces online retailers to collect sales tax in those states where they have no physical presence (or nexus).

"The bill is backed by national brick-and-mortar retailers (e.g. Walmart, Target), who have to collect sales tax on the Web because they have physical operations in the states that collect sales taxes. They often are competing against smaller Web shops that are located out of state and therefore are not required to collect sales tax under the existing Supreme Court precedent."

"A bipartisan group passed the Marketplace Fairness Act out of the Senate last year on a 69-27 vote, led by Sens. Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill., and Michael B. Enzi, R-Wyo., but it has languished in the House."

Note, of course, that eCommerce merchants DO have to collect sales tax where they DO have any presence (HQ, call center, warehouse). 

Wednesday, November 05, 2014


The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) is migrating from version 2.0 to 3.0 on January 1, 2015.  Though a refinement of 2.0, 3.0 consists of 12 requirements to provide a "baseline of technical and operational requirements designed to protect cardholder data." They are as follows:

Build and Maintain a Secure Network and Systems
1. Install and maintain a firewall configuration to protect cardholder data
2. Do not use vendor-supplied defaults for system passwords and other security parameters 
Protect Cardholder Data
3. Protect stored cardholder data
4. Encrypt transmission of cardholder data across open, public networks
Maintain a Vulnerability Management Program
5. Protect all systems against malware and regularly update anti-virus software or programs
6. Develop and maintain secure systems and applications     
Implement Strong Access Control Measures
7. Restrict access to cardholder data by business need to know
8. Identify and authenticate access to system components
9. Restrict physical access to cardholder data 
Regularly Monitor and Test Networks
10. Track and monitor all access to network resources and cardholder data
11. Regularly test security systems and processes
Maintain an Information Security Policy
12. Maintain a policy that addresses information security for all personnel   

For the official document on PCI DSS changes in 3.0, click HERE.

Friday, October 10, 2014

PCM Takes an H-P "Snapshot"

PCM, a major H-P distributor and services provider, has produced a very informative graphic encapsulating the H-P split. Thanks, PCM!

Thursday, October 09, 2014

HP's Corporate Evolution

October 8, 2014: It was all over the news this week that Hewlett Packard CEO Meg Whitman will be splitting the company in two, with Whitman leading Hewlett-Packard Enterprise in selling business IT. The other company, HP Inc., will focus on PCs and printers. (Each will have revenue of more than $55 billion.)

Whitman went on to explain that the H-P Enterprise company will be dedicated to helping companies "get from traditional IT -- and by the way, run that traditional IT better -- but to get from there to the new style of IT characterized by cloud and security and big data and mobility." Whitman said the four main parts of the enterprise business are infrastructure ("the foundation for the new style of IT"), services, software, and the cloud.

As Chris Murphy pointed out in InformationWeek, "HP is adapting to a world where the data center matters more than ever as an engine for business growth, but the individual pieces of that data center matter less."

Many Incarnations
Hewlett-Packard has been through many, many incarnations. It got its legendary start in Palo Alto in the single-car garage of William Hewlett along with his partner David Packard in January 1939. They both got electrical engineering degrees from Stanford in 1935 and established their company with an initial investment of $538. It was incorporated in 1947 and went public ten years later. 

According to Wikipedia, "Of the many projects they worked on, their very first financially successful product was a precision audio oscillator, the ModelHP200A. Their innovation was the use of a small incandescent light bulb (known as a "pilot light") as a temperature dependent resistor in a critical portion of the circuit, the negative feedback loop which stabilized the amplitude of the output sinusoidal waveform. This allowed them to sell the Model 200A for $54.40 when competitors were selling less stable oscillators for over $200.... One of the company's earliest customers was Walt Disney Productions which bought eight Model 200B oscillators (at $71.50 each) for use in certifying the Fantasound surround sound systems installed in theaters for the movie Fantasia" in the 1950s."

In the 1960s they specialized in electronic test equipment: signal generators, voltmeters, oscilloscopes, frequency counters, thermometers, wave analyzers, and so on, most of which which were more sensitive, accurate, and precise than other comparable equipment.

Hewlett-Packard's HP Associates division, established around 1960, developed semiconductor devices primarily for use in test instruments and calculators. Some of these scientific calculators were extremely sophisticated and purpose-built. I still have an HP-12C Financial Calculator in its original packaging, designed for finance, real, and banking applications, programmable up 99 steps on 20 storage registers, "RPN logic" to reduce keystrokes, do bond management functions, calculate depreciation, and do statistical analysis (mean, standard deviation, linear regression, and correlation coefficient). It was a gift to me from HP when I paid them a visit in the 1980s, and I have the original packaging because I can barely understand what it does, let alone how it works!

HP got into the computer market in 1966 with the HP 2100/HP 1000 series of minicomputers. These had a simple accumulator-based design, with registers very similar to those used in the Intel x86 architecture. 

"Wired" magazine called HP the producer of the world's first device to be called a "personal computer," the Hewlett-Packard 9100A, introduced in 1968. The company called it a desktop calculator because Bill Hewlett said, "If we had called it a computer, it would have been rejected by our customers' computer gurus because it didn't look like an IBM. We therefore decided to call it a calculator, and all such nonsense disappeared." An engineering triumph, the logic circuit had no integrated circuits; the CPU was made of discrete components. With a CRT display, magnetic-card storage, and a printer, the price was around $5,000. The machine's keyboard was a cross between a scientific calculator and an adding machine and had no alphabetic keys.

The HP3000
This is where it gets interesting, and close to home. The HP 3000 series is a family of minicomputers released by Hewlett-Packard in 1972. It was designed to be the first minicomputer with a full-featured operating system with time-sharing (for access by multiple users simultaneously). The first model of the 3000 was withdrawn in 1973 until speed improvements and OS stability could be achieved. When reintroduced in 1974, it became known as a reliable and powerful business system that regularly won HP business from companies using IBM's mainframes. Hewlett-Packard initially called it the System/3000, then changed that to the HP3000.

It was a "workhorse," a rugged and powerful machine that was extremely popular in a wide variety of business environments. The Energizer Bunny of computers, it refused to die and was not withdrawn from support by HP until Dec. 31, 2010(!). 

The Sales Phenomenon
The reason I wanted to write this blog post is that I became personally acquainted with this very important part of HP's corporate culture in the mid-1980s, when I began a 30-year career consulting with direct marketing and catalog companies (now also eCommerce companies, of course) to help them select a system to manage their business. There were a couple of dozen systems designed specifically to manage that kind of enterprise at that period of time, and one of the most aggressively marketed of these ran on the HP3000.

This was no accident. And this is the key thing here. HP hired a very professional sales force of field sales reps who had a simple but nearly fool-proof approach to getting the job done. Their success in the catalog field will serve as an example of their methodology.

The HP rep in New Jersey was contacted by the Musical Heritage Society (MHS), a company in Ocean, NJ, near Asbury Park, that sold LP records by mail on a club basis, much like a book club (one of their most popular records included Pachelbel's famous and much-loved Canon in D.)  Since MHS mailed millions of packages of club offers and LPs each month, it needed a powerful computer system that would help it manage these activities more efficiently, and better yet, analyze the results of their mailings.

The person who contacted HP was a fellow by the name of Will Smith, their in-house programmer who had already developed his system, tailored specifically for MHS, and discussed migrating it to the HP3000. Very shortly thereafter, Smith, sensing a major opportunity, decided to leave MHS and set up a software company with a partner, Gary Brooks. The company was called Brooksmith Associates, and the catalog management system they brought to market was called "Prophit." 

And here's where the story really takes off. The HP rep in New Jersey, now in league with Brooksmith Associates, had rocket fuel in his engines. He approached a major, very well known company, Edmund Scientific in Barrington, 12 miles southeast of Philadelphia, with a compelling but simple sales pitch: "I have a system designed specifically for catalog companies that happens to run on the HP3000, one of the most durable and reliable hardware platforms available." I don't know for sure, but I'm quite certain the lead time on this sale was extremely short. An in-depth demo or two, plus the knowledge that Edmund Scientific would be the first "showcase" user of the Prophit system and would have Prophit tailored specifically to meet their needs, would almost certainly have sealed the deal. I doubt there was much in the way of a discount on the system cost, but the modifications to meet Edmund Scientific's requirements could have been done at a reduced price, or some such similar deal (maybe a few years of free "support" fees). 

In any case, it worked like a charm. Goldberg's Marine (another catalog company, now in NYC but I believe at that time in New Jersey) bought it shortly after Edmund Scientific.  

The system was a huge success for the following reasons: (1) it worked! That was more than could be said of many competing catalog management systems in those days. (2) It was being used by two very well known direct marketing companies, MHS and Ed Sci. (3) It ran on an undisputed workhorse of a computer that was already widely acknowledged as a rock-solid machine. (4) It had the HP sales force as a ready-made sales behemoth to sell the system nationwide, although Will Smith was a very effective salesman in his own right and always liked to brag that whenever a Prophit user needed to upgrade his hardware Will would sell him "more disk." And disks in those days were plenty expensive!

The National Roll-Out

That chemistry is the critical piece of this entire puzzle. The New Jersey rep from HP was not a lone wolf. He was just like a dozen or so other HP reps in other territories across the country. BSA could focus mostly on software development and system implementation and configuration, while HP was almost completely in charge of sales and marketing, which they did very well, indeed, working in league with BSA's very solid systems sales team.

This was a "marriage made in heaven." And it depended on the very strong, exceptionally tenacious sales skills of the HP3000 sales reps. This was an elite team, and they had a powerful weapon in Prophit that they employed with world-class success. 

Hewlett-Packard in those days was exactly that kind of company, very well-tuned to selling hardware with a software solution tailored to both the HP3000 platform and to what we now call "the vertical market" that the software would be used by. 

Not long afterward, Gary Brooks cashed out and Will Smith partnered with Allan Gardner to form Smith Gardner & Associates, Inc. They renamed Prophit as "Ecometry," and in the mid-'90s relocated from New Jersey to Florida, did an IPO in 1999, and then in 2004 sold the company to a partnership consisting of equity firm Golden Gate Capital and a group of Ecometry executives led by then-CEO John Marrah. Via Golden Gate they also brought the Blue Martini eCommerce platform into the fold. When John Marrah took over, Smith and Gardner cashed in their chips, leaving behind one of the single largest groups of HP 3000 application customers in the world.

At about the same time under Golden Gate Capital, Ecometry merged with a company called GERS Retail on the West Coast to become “Escalate Retail,” developing an “open” version of the system running on either SQL/Server or Oracle on Windows or UNIX boxes. They were actually ahead of the game in supporting mCommerce apps. The company was acquired by software giant Red Prairie in 2011, then in late 2013 it was sold to global powerhouse JDA, with Escalate Retail rechristened “JDA Direct Commerce," which is how things stand today.

The Moral of the Story

HP has long since abandoned its aggressive hardware field sales force and its software-leading strategy, at least as far as I know and at least in the terms described above. To the best of my knowledge, it has gone through quite a few "incarnations" since the 1980s when BSA and Prophit got off the ground on the strength of HP's sales chops. 

But obviously the company continues to evolve. The whole point of this blog post is to demonstrate that what HP just did in splitting itself in two is not a break with the past but rather a continuation of a tradition that goes back to the founders, emphasizing technical innovation, corporate refabrication and reincarnation, and redefining the state of the art in systems management. 


I remember in either the late '80s or the early '90s when HP starting pushing its newly developed laser printers (which quickly became the most popular printer for awhile), there was a rather public cadre of "purists" both inside and outside the company who complained that this was a "distraction" from their primary corporate mission. It was anything but, and is another example of HP's being a step or two ahead of the market.

In that same general category, HP also has a line of major digital presses and label/package printing presses. These are industrial grade and industrial size. They've also got an entire line of other digital printing services. Although not generally known outside of professional printing circles, it is definitely a major player in that space, and I suspect an innovative one, as well. [A small footnote: before I was Editor of Target Marketing from 1981 to 1983, I was an Assoc. Editor of Printing Impressions for about six months. The same company published both trade journals in Philadelphia.]

P3S Consistent with all of the above, HP has often been at the forefront of handheld computing devices. Back in the late 90s/early 00s I absolutely loved my Jornada, like the one pictured below. It had a touch screen and a stylus (the silver bar on the right front base is the end of it that you pushed it out from), and of course Web connectivity. I used it partly for Web surfing but mostly for checking and writing email and as a PDA for note taking. Having the keyboard was a pleasure! I once left it on a plane in the seat pocket and realized it just as I deboarded. When the attendant I spoke to about it saw the frantic look on my face, she kindly let me back on to retrieve it. Probably against the rules, but all's well that ends well.

I think it had 16 MB of RAM, a 6.5 inch screen, and weighed about three pounds, by no means light but not a total brick, either. It fit nicely in my briefcase, and could be used virtually anywhere, even in sunlight. It ran on Windows CE, which detractors liked to call "Wince," but I never had any problems with it. Everything was searchable, file structure was standard Windows, it had versions of Word and Excel, and the battery life was quite long. I don't remember ever worrying about charging it, which meant it was efficient, as well. It connected to my PC to synchronize files, if I wished. For the truly geeky or curious, here is a link to the manual for a model virtually identical to mine.

Friday, October 03, 2014

MarketLive Offers Cloud-based Transaction Processing Platform via Amazon Web Services

Online commerce platform MarketLive has announced mCloud, a hosted database and online transaction processing engine based on Amazon Web Services (AWS). After extensive pilot testing, MarketLive is offering the AWS infrastructure for all customers. 
Some of the benefits of mCloud on AWS include:
  • Auto-scaling — the ability to automatically increase capacity as traffic spikes during peak times
  • Enhanced Disaster Recovery — provided at no additional cost to all customers
  • Real-time analytics of transaction data — allows retailers to monitor and constantly optimize their commerce
  • Global Commerce Expansion — AWS provides MarketLive with ability to rapidly expand into international markets.
In addition to global infrastructure, customers will benefit from redundancy capabilities.

"At both the technology and the service level, mCloud is one of our strongest offerings to date for our commerce customers," said Ken Burke, founder and CEO of MarketLive. "We can continue to offer the highest performance levels, state of the art integration and security, and redundancy across all customers. In addition, we can help our customers rapidly expand into new international markets with minimal cost."

Monday, September 15, 2014

GoECart Partners with Kount for Fraud Protection

GoECart is putting an emphasis on security before the holiday season begins, as the eCommerce solution provider has announced a new partnership with Kount, a supplier of fraud protection and sales-boosting technology.

With this new partnership, GoECart merchants can take advantage of Kount’s fraud protection services at a discount and without any integration barriers. 

Although GoECart already offers secure, PCI-compliant and scalable solutions for B2C and B2B merchants, this new partnership adds another layer of protection, according to Manish Chowdhary, CEO of GoECart. 

To provide its security services, Kount analyzes hundreds of relevant variables associated with online payment activities in real time worldwide. Kount uses this information to flag an order when components of the transaction appear suspicious, based on norms involving similar variables from other transactions. This minimizes the effort, time and volume of transactions merchants must manually review for suspected fraud.

“Public concern over fraud, data breaches and other cyber criminal activities continues to rise as millions of consumers have been exposed to identity theft, spurring online merchants to provide the best protection for themselves and the customers they serve.” said Brad Wiskirchen, CEO Kount. “Our partnership with GoECart extends the reach of our technology to thousands of merchants through fully-integrated solutions. Together we share a common goal, to help online merchants succeed by boosting sales and reducing costs and losses, especially those caused by fraud.”

Friday, September 12, 2014

Sales Tax DataLINK Gets Patent for Sales Tax Filing and Analytics Solution

Sales Tax DataLINK in Bentonville, AK, has received one of only 15 sales tax-related patents ever issued by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office for sales tax software known as its “System and Method for Tax Filing, Data Processing, Data Verification and Reconciliation.”

“Sales tax compliance becomes more sophisticated and complex every day, so businesses need new technologies to stay ahead of these challenges,” said Noel Hamm, CEO of Sales Tax DataLINK. “The new era of filing software needs to safeguard businesses and accounting firms that want to be certain their sales taxes are being collected and remitted in the most accurate way.”

 “Sales Tax DataLINK is first and foremost a tax-filing software company, producing a suite of sales and use tax tools that engage sales tax analytics,” Hamm said. “Our software brings an unprecedented visibility and patterning to your tax data that eliminates the error gap from invoicing to tax filing.”

The patent was awarded on the basis of innovative technology that gives companies the ability to evaluate the health of their sales tax systems and to make educated corrections resulting in more accurate tax filing each month, Hamm said. Other sales tax software, according to Hamm, merely populates forms with no means of automatically validating the numbers.

More information is available at

Monday, September 08, 2014

TaxJar Handles Sales Taxes for Square Sellers

According to Website MagazineTaxJar, an online service that manages sales tax filing for eCommerce merchants, has announced that it has opened up its services to Square users.

The new integration lets merchants link their Square and TaxJar accounts so TaxJar can manage and report the merchant’s taxes to state and local authorities, saving sellers the time and effort of doing it themselves and helping to avoid missed deadlines and tabulation errors.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Yahoo Launches Robust eCommerce Platform

According to FierceRetail, Yahoo has introduced Stores, an eCommerce platform for retailers to build and grow businesses online.

"Yahoo Small Business took the best of everything we've learned from our million-plus customers over the past 16 years, and applied it to Yahoo Stores to give small business owners a more powerful, streamlined and beautiful way to turn their ideas into a business," wrote Amit Kumar, head of Yahoo Small Business, in an announcement.

The new platform makes it easy to create an online store and automatically integrate a PCI-compliant payment processing system, which connects retailers to a payment service provider in just a few clicks. The new platform also includes automatic SEO. 

Stores is intended to give neophyte eTailers the same serving technology used on, including relevant keywords in the Website URLs, concise descriptions of the Website's content, a full product catalog schema, and tools for merchants to organize and promote their products.

Additional features include assistance with Website building and Website aesthetics, as well as the Live Web Insights mobile app that allows users to manage their Websites from their smartphones.

The Yahoo site offers three price points for Stores: $10.95 per month for the Starter edition (less than $12,000 a month in sales), $25.95 per month for the Standard edition ($12,000- $80,000 in monthly sales, with upsell/cross-sell capabilities), and $254.95 for the Professional edition (more than $80,000 per month in sales, and featuring the lowest transaction fees).  

Yahoo is actively competing with other search engines in the eCommerce platform business. This past spring, reports FierceRetail, Google launched a program to help retailers understand how their online ads were generating in-store sales

Friday, August 01, 2014

HSO Named 2014 Microsoft Dynamics ERP Partner of the Year

HSO, a global provider of Microsoft Dynamics AX business management solutions, have announced they were named the 2014 Microsoft Dynamics ERP Partner of the Year.

The award, which recognizes the top Microsoft Partners for their ability to solve customer challenges with
innovative technology solutions, was presented to HSO at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference  in Washington, DC, July 13-17, 2014.

With over 400 professionals throughout Europe, North America and Asia, HSO combines innovative technologies including Microsoft Dynamics AX, Dynamics CRM, Office365 and BI solutions and extensive business process experience in the Retail, Distribution, Manufacturing, and Services industries to help their clients’ improve business performance and achieve and maintain a competitive advantage.

In addition to the Partner of the Year Award, HSO was named a member of the 2014 Microsoft Dynamics Inner Circle for the eighth year in a row. The Inner Circle honors an elite group of strategic partners across the globe with a commitment to customers, as reflected in their business performance and high level of sales

Monday, July 21, 2014

Visa Checkout for Online Purchases

Visa has announced the launch of Visa Checkout, a payment service that replaces and enables consumers throughout the United States, Canada and Australia to pay for goods online, on any device, in just a few clicks, according to a press release. 

Consumers can enroll any Visa debit or credit card, plus other branded cards, in Visa Checkout to make purchases from a PC, mobile device or within a mobile app. by entering their username and password to complete the payment process directly on the merchant’s website.

A new mobile SDK (Software Development Kit) is available, allowing developers to build and implement a native in-app checkout experience for iOS and Android-based devices. This can be downloaded from the Visa Developers website at

The Marketplace Fairness Act and the Internet Tax Freedom Act Would Kick The Can Down the Road

As Multichannel Merchant magazine has reported, the Marketplace and Internet Tax Freedom Act, which was introduced in the U.S. Senate on July 15 by Senators Mike Enzi (R-WY), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Susan Collins (R-ME) and Mark Pryor (D-AR), if passed, would keep the Internet free of across-the-board sales taxation for 10 years, while giving states the ability to enforce their sales tax laws on businesses selling to consumers located within their borders. Currently, based on the 1994 Quill decision, Web purchases are taxable only in states where the merchant has a "nexus," i.e. a store, warehouse, or other physical facility.
There are three salient issues here:
1) From the point of view of the consumer, if they are active direct purchasers now (via their computer, tablet, catalog, or phone), they may notice higher purchase prices on many items because the Nexus requirement will be eliminated. I doubt that this will depress sales much, however, since the convenience of direct sales will not be hurt by this. If you live in a state that collects sales taxes, it will eventually bring price parity to the marketplace.
2) From the merchant's point of view, this will place an even greater premium on free shipping than exists already, in those states with sales taxes (and likely in all states). 
3) From a systems perspective, the imposition of sales taxes on items shipped to virtually every state will mean that third-party sales tax management solutions will become even more popular (or necessary). Keeping track of all the rules and regulations is not something that any OMS vendor is going to willingly embrace, while the third-party sales tax collection services obviously excel at this. Since these packages are typically rather expensive (mid-five-figures), we may see more entries into this niche, which will give merchants more choice and potentially lower the pricing on them. 
Overall, though, it will make direct sales more expensive, and shift the complexity from keeping track of nexus for each merchant to keeping track of tax rules in each of the 44 states that collect sales taxes.
Ultimately, a universal direct sales tax, by being simpler, would reduce overall costs, level-the-playing field, and most likely result in higher direct sales revenues across the board. Like many compromises, the proposed legislation just kicks the can down the road.

Friday, June 20, 2014

PRC Approves Potpourri Holdings' First-Ever Catalog NSA

Last March Potpourri Holdings Inc. filed the first-ever catalog Negotiated Service Agreement request, which The Postal Regulatory Commission recently approved (Click here for the complete ruling.)

Demonstrating both the USPS’s commitment to growing catalog volume and its improved understanding of how the unique catalog business model functions, this is the third Market-Dominant NSA approved since 2006’s postal reform act (PAEA) It took a lot of time and much hard work by Potpourri to come to fruition, but the American Catalog Mailers Association (ACMA) expects it to pave the way for other cataloger NSAs. ACMA also anticipates it will be among several initiatives by the Postal Service to boost catalog mail volume.

According to ACMA, the essential moving parts of the NSA are as follows:

  • The Postal Service has established annual and quarterly thresholds to recognize Potpourri Group's recent catalog mailing activity.
  • Carrier Route and High Density mail above the quarterly threshold receives a lower postal rate, making incremental mail volume feasible for Potpourri and generates additional, incremental contribution volume for the Postal Service.
  • Covering five years, the thresholds are adjusted to recognize volume growth from the increased circulation.
  • The discounts apply only to Carrier Route and High Density volume, and are tiered at 10%, 15%, and 20% off published rates, dependent on the actual volume mailed
  • Frugi's Growth Required Scalable Solution

    Frugi, a fast-growth Cornish based ethical organic clothing brand started by Lucy & Kurt Jewson, recently celebrated its tenth year. The business has experienced unprecedented growth and has won the Queens Award for Export.

    Fortunately, a new scalable retail platform from MNP helps keep the fast-paced growth on track. The immediate challenge was inventory management and real-time integration to ensure a consistent brand experience regardless of channel, which for Frugi’s include direct sales via catalogues, online marketplaces, and separate B2B and B2C eCommerce sites. In addition, B2B is a major part of the business for Frugi, including sales to John Lewis and a significant number of independent stores.

    The capacity to deal with high double-digit growth, manage inventory by channel, provide a holistic view of customers, and support top-line scalability were key factors for Frugi, as they are for many of MNP’s fast-growth client base.

    MNP's OMS (order management system) was selected to provide the central enterprise retail platform, real-time inventory management for all sales channels, and bi-directional Web service feeds with the bluCommerce eCommerce platform. The OMS centralizes customer data for customer service and to enable the marketing team to grow top-line sales from the extensive customer data available. Marketing will be driven from segmented customer-level attributes, with outputs to third-party service provider More2.

    MNP provides a modular approach to enterprise retailing solutions including PLM, PIM & Buying, OMS, WMS, and in-store tablet solutions in the UK, Germany and USA.

    Tuesday, May 20, 2014

    Honolulu Cookie Company Implements CORESense to Manage its eCommerce Operations

    CORESense, a provider of all-in-one, cloud-based retail management & eCommerce software solutions, has announced that Honolulu Cookie Company has successfully implemented CORESense's Ecommerce Enterprise Solution to mange its growing eCommerce business, including their online storefront,

    Founded in 1998, Honolulu Cookie Company is dedicated to spreading the spirit of Aloha around the world with gourmet cookies made in Hawaii.  With a wide variety of cookies and packaging to choose from, Honolulu Cookie Company’s customers can currently purchase items online or in one of their shops. By leveraging the flexible design capabilities of the CORESense eCommerce software solution, Honolulu Cookie is serving up a search- and user-friendly shopping experience across desktop and mobile devices. 

    “We needed a next generation eCommerce platform that would not only deliver a great shopping experience but also enable us to deliver great service after the sale,” said Jaynel Panquites, Ecommerce Manager, Honolulu Cookie Company. “We selected CORESense because they were able to deliver a robust Website combined with the end-to-end operations management capabilities needed to streamline our operations, enabling us to deliver great customer service. Having everything managed by one Web-accessible system provides us with the real-time view of our business we need to proactively respond to customers and profitably grow our business.”

    Friday, May 09, 2014

    Widdowson Group Selects MNP for Fulfillment Improvements

    Widdowson Group, a mainstream logistics provider with extensive warehousing and a fleet of over 120 vehicles, headquartered in Leicester, UK, has chosen its WMS solution from MNP-Media Ltd. to manage its fulfillment services for Internet retailers.

    Established over a century ago, Widdowson Group offers a range of storage, distribution, transportation and value-added services, mainly to the retail and wholesale industries. The company has recently increased its scope to offer logistics services to Internet retailers and realized its WMS was not designed for high volumes of small orders picked in eaches.

    Widdowson Group turned to MNP, an experienced provider of supply chain solutions specializing in efulfilment, to provide a WMS solution optimized for this kind of operation.

    “We chose MNP because of their expertise in Web order management, e-fulfillment and parcel carrier
    integration. They really understood the differences between traditional pallet or case picking and the
    processes required for managing Web orders. They were able to demonstrate high competence in this area and we are very pleased to partner with MNP to provide improved service to our clients together with a reduced cost base,” said Paul Caygill, Head of IT for Widdowson Group.

    Pierre D’Arbost, Managing Director of MNP added “Widdowson Group is a very highly regarded logistics provider and we are delighted to be able to help them expand their operations into large scale fulfilment of web based orders.”

    Wednesday, April 16, 2014

    Perry Ellis Rolls Out Starmount Mobile POS

    Starmount has announced that Perry Ellis has completed rollout of its mobile POS and mobile selling software to approximately 60 stores. 

    The retailer reports that its top stores conducted 16.4% of all transactions on mobile devices during the busy holiday season. Moreover, Perry Ellis saw an average increase of 14% in the size of transactions conducted on mobile devices, compared to normal POS registers — underscoring the value of using mobile devices to engage with customers on the store floor.

    Island Pacific Providing Mobile POS for Shoe & Accessories Brand

    The Dune Group is one of the most influential global players in fashion footwear and accessories. Multichannel OMS provider Island Pacific has been in close collaboration with this leading retailer to introduce mobility solutions to store staff, which have created significant sales increases and improved inventory management.

    The result has been doubly satisfying. The Dune Group is fulfilling customer demand with greater precision – always a major goal of any solution –  plus, the solution has been recognized by the judges of the prestigious BT Retail Week Technology Awards 2014 and shortlisted in the Multichannel Service of the Year category. Winners will be announced on June 11.

    Tuesday, April 15, 2014

    Colorado Puts Burden of Proof on Ecomm Merchants re Nexus

    According to The Denver Business Journal, "Organizations like the Colorado Retail Council have supported HB 1269 because retailers are tired of being undercut by online sites like that don’t have to pay local taxes or fund the physical staffing and infrastructure costs needed to maintain a store.

    "But state officials acknowledged during a committee hearing that the connections outlined in the bill would not require Amazon to pay taxes unless it undertook an action like opening a warehouse or distribution facility in Colorado.

    "... so, House Republicans focused instead on another clause in the bill — one that creates a presumption that an online retailer has a nexus requiring it to remit taxes and to have to prove otherwise to Colorado. That provision, they said, would lead state officials to harass smaller companies that won’t have the resources to fight back rather than go after giant corporations whose legal departments can bat away such a presumption."

    All Systems Go? A Checklist for the Transition from Domestic to International Ecommerce

    I have posted a blog entry on the challenges of managing International eCommerce on the Pitney Bowes Global Ecommerce Solutions site (note: Pitney Bowes is a client)
    - See more at:

    Tuesday, March 25, 2014

    Marks and Spencer: This is a leading company?

    M&S has a top-drawer reputation in retailing in the UK. After expanding to Ireland, M&S now has 300 stores in some 40 countries all over the world.

    But in my opinion, their reputation is way-overblown, particularly in terms of multichannel integration. The problem is less channel integration than the way M&S is organized as a company, with different "types" of stores (typically based on size and merchandise mix). Although virtually all M&S locations are supermarkets and department stores, some do more of one than the other.

    And therein lies the rub. An item purchased in one store "type" cannot be returned at a different store type, and sometimes the "type" is not displayed in the signage.

    Resolving this issue should be relatively easy, but M&S can't be bothered. They seem to be doing well enough without making the effort, but as for being a leading multichannel merchant? Not in my book!

    Jacques Vert Group Relies on MNP's Modular OMS for Multichannel Management

    Evolving from a concession-only store-based business to an omnichannel retailer requires strategic thinking. Jacques Vert Group, the British fashion house and womenswear concession retailer, resolved this by making new internal appointments to ensure the business had a new retailing platform fit for its purposes and best placed to take the business forward.

    Key to the business is to harmonize the inventory, ensure availability, and deliver the brand promise to both the trade and a growing number of direct customers.

    Jacques Vert relied on its incumbent Merrit retail sales platform supported by Retail Assist for the Product Lifecycle Management and buying function, as well as the merchandising, plus a WMS for logistics. They implemented a new eCommerce platform from DemandWare with its ability to scale and manage the challenges of cross-border direct retailing; this was handled by London-based Tryzens.

    But the big challenge for the business was how to join all this together to provide a robust, efficient end-to-end solution centrally supporting the business with real-time information. A modular OMS platform from MNP Media Ltd. in Salisbury now provides the crucial middleware. Integrated to receive the basic SKU information from Merrit, the OMS further embellishes product information, manages the local inventory, and presents this to all direct sales channels. Receiving orders from 9 concurrent websites, the OMS allocates inventory in real-time to ensure customer expectations are managed. A Sunderland-based customer service team uses the OMS to provide order taking and customer services for all channels.

    The selection of the OMS platform was based on MNP’s proven track record of high volume order processing together with its experience in multi-channel retail both in the UK and overseas. As MNP's clients include Lakeland Limited, Kurt Geiger, Pure Collection and LK Bennett, Jacques Vert Group considered it was in good company.

    Tuesday, March 18, 2014

    With acquistion of Priam, elucid, and One iota, Sanderson prospers

    Sanderson will celebrate its growth in Omni-Channel Retail at Internet Retailing Expo (IRX) by showcasing its new, extended range of software solutions which are enabling some of the UK’s best known multi-channel retailers to prosper effectively.

    Sanderson now has over 250 multi-channel retail customers using its proven solutions for stores, eCommerce, mobile commerce, and supply chain operations. 

    Littlewoods and Mamas & Papas are two good examples of the multi-channel retailers the company has added to its extensive customer base, following the recent acquisition of cloud solutions specialist One iota and multi-channel software company, Priam.

    IRX visitors can discover the very latest range of software, including the renowned Elucid system, at the Sanderson stand (K40); from multi-channel retail software for managing all sales channels and back office fulfilment operations, to state-of-the-art solutions for integrating your on and offline retail channels, including:

    Smartpod – bring ecommerce in-store with an ordering facility offering instant access to your complete product range - boosting store sales, increasing conversion rates and avoiding potential lost sales.

    Mobile PoS – a queue-busting, assistive tablet ordering and payments solution - assisting customers with a premium service and seamless shopping experience.

    BI Dashboards – providing a greater insight into your business - enabling faster, data-driven decision making and highlighting opportunities to improve performance.

    Multi-Channel Retail Systems – whether you’re looking to manage all your sales channels in a single system, or achieve smarter stock control and faster delivery timescales, we’ll help you to deliver a joined-up customer experience.

    The complete Sanderson product portfolio will be on show at Internet Retailing Expo including the latest releases of the highly successful multi-channel retail systems, Elucid and Priam. And the team will be on hand to discuss the substantial business benefits Sanderson has brought to its customers.

    Managing Director, Ian Newcombe says: “We are excited to bring together all our solutions and omni-channel expertise for the first time at IRX and look forward to showing the capabilities of our powerful new solutions to the industry."

    Thursday, February 06, 2014

    What's The Prognosis for Dynamics/AX?

    CRN, which provides news, analysis, and perspective for Value-Added Technology Resellers and technology integrators, suggests that Microsoft's selection of Satya Nadella as CEO is not a good omen for Microsoft's Dynamics/AX and other Microsoft "ERP" solutions because "he is the guy that actually presided over the decline of the Dynamics ERP line."

    Says NetSuite president and CEO Zach Nelson, "I certainly don't think it is going to get a ton of attention from him. It didn't have attention when he actually ran it."

    Wednesday, January 15, 2014

    Celerant Introduces Web-based Stratus Retail

    Celerant Technology Corp is offering anticipates further enhancements to its existing omni-channel retail solutions in eCommerce, mCommerce, and mobile solutions.

    “During this past year, we have laid the groundwork for omni-channel retailing with the introduction of new mobile technology, vertical-specific interfaces and even standalone applications that do not require a wireless connection,” said Ian Goldman, CEO of Celerant. “Celerant’s integrated system will provide retailers with greater flexibility and efficiency in selling and fulfilling across multiple channels and locations and thereby increasing their earning potential.”

    Celerant’s new web-based, complete system, Stratus Retail, which was unveiled at the NRF Show, as well as several Command Mobile and standalone inventory applications, including mobile POS, price check, physical inventory, transfers, purchase order entry and receiving, enable retailers to manage their business from anywhere in the store, and from almost any location. Celerant also introduced catalog interfaces with a wide, and continuously increasing, range of vendors for any vertical, including bicycle, sporting goods, firearms and more.

    PayPal Streamlines Online Checkout, Expands Mobile Payments

    While PayPal announced Beacon last September to support hands-free mobile payments for in-store shoppers, it has also recently improved its legacy online business.

    According to mCommerce Daily, "Now when people select the 'pay With PayPal' option at checkout from an online store, the entire process of logging in and entering billing or other information takes place on the retailer’s site, instead of having to first go to a PayPal page."

    “In addition, merchants only need to do one integration to get the same seamless checkout experience on a computer, tablet, or smartphone,” according to Don Kingsborough, VP, retail services, PayPal, in a blog post announcing the upgrade and other developments. PayPal is testing the updated checkout system with selected partners and will make it generally available to large online merchants in the first half of 2014, then roll out to small and medium-sized businesses.

    Later this year the company will also allow customers to log into a retail site with their PayPal ID to further speed up checkout.

    “If you are logged in and check out, all of your shipping, preferences and payment information is automatically populated. All you need to do is click the checkout button and you're done,” stated Kingsborough. Notes mCommerce Daily, "That’s similar to the 'Login and Pay with Amazon' service ... introduced in October to let people make purchases on other sites using their Amazon credentials."

    "PayPal also announced the expansion of Payment Code, a new capability it recently debuted that lets shoppers use a scannable QR code or four-digit short code to pay in-store via PayPal’s smartphone app. Already available at 1,500 locations in the U.K., the service will extend to many merchants using the MICROS and Discover point-of-sale (POS) systems starting in February."

    Regarding Beacon, PayPal's Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE)-powered system for physical stores that lets PayPal app users automatically check in and pay at retail locations, Kingsborough said the company is testing Beacon at few merchant locations in the U.S. and Australia, with more soon joining the trial in the U.K., Canada, France and Germany, with integration into the PayPal app expected early this year.

    Friday, January 03, 2014

    ShopSocially Adds A/B Testing Component

    In an article by Calvin Azuri, TMCnet Contributor on the Five9 Outbound Call Center site, ShopSocially announced that the company has added an A/B Testing component to its eCommerce platform, which will enable retailers to measure the impact on specific metrics such as sales conversion and revenue generation from onsite social commerce modules added to their eCommerce Websites.  "The move is a big leap towards addressing the challenge of quantifying the social commerce impact into tangible benefits," notes Azuri.

    ShopSocially’s A/B Testing framework allows retailers to strategically channel Web traffic, routing some users to social commerce campaigns and not routing the other users. This will enable the retailer to measure the impact from the social commerce campaign, since all other aspects remain unchanged (a true A/B test). Retailers can also use the A/B Testing framework to route users to various versions of a social commerce campaign to measure the impact of different commercials.

    Thursday, January 02, 2014

    Staples Wins Supply Chain Innovation Award With Smart Packaging

    With excessive packaging as the top complaint of customers, Staples found a technology that created the right size box for every item shipped from its eCommerce centers, reports SupplyChainBrain.

    With Packsize's On Demand Packaging technology, boxes are now customized for each order through an integration of systems, equipment and processes. As a result, they have reduced percent of occurage by more than 15 percent, benefited from approximately 60 percent reduction in air bags and reduced break-pack cube by about 20-percent. Overall, there was roughly an 8-percent improvement in overall cube of orders.  Plus, 74 percent of Staples workers say the solution has made their job easier. 

    Each day, SupplyChainBrain reports, Staples ships 650,000 - 1,000,000 cases from its U.S. fulfillment centers, operating  under well-tuned logistics system that guarantees any order placed before 5 p.m. will be delivered the next day to 96 percent of the population.  Approximately 40 percent of these cases are less-than-full-case orders.  These so-called break-pack orders have traditionally been picked into 7 to 14 different sizes of corrugated box types with the system selecting the best-fit box type based on the dimensions of the items in the order.  Nevertheless, almost 40 percent of the cube is wasted.

    When Staples first considered the viability of the Packsize system, a major requirement was the solution’s ability to keep pace with the parameters of Staples’ current order cycle times. “We could not reduce Staples’ ability to meet its customer service in any way,” says Kiessner. “One of the primary challenges was the total speed.”

    "With delivery time sacrosanct," says SupplyChainBrain, "Packsize officials adapted their technology to interface with Staples’ order management system to automatically calculate via an advanced algorithm the optimal box size for every incoming order and route it to the proper fulfillment center and the most suitable machine at that center."

    Click HERE to read how the On Demand Packsize technology works in practice.
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