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E-commerce News & Analysis

IBM and Fluid Take Watson's Big Data Smarts Shopping

Michael Rhodin  IBM Watson Group with Fluid Expert Shopper  app and  Brooke Aguilar VP Global Business Development Fluid.jpgFor those whose only association with IBM's Watson is its $1 million win on Jeopardy, that could be about to change. IBM announced Tuesday that it will partner with digital retail developer Fluid to turn Watson into ... a personal shopper.

Unfortunately you won't see Watson trying on lipstick in the aisles of your local shopping mall any time soon, but Watson will power Fluid's shopping advisor to offer personalized shopping tips.

7 Vendors Top the Forrester Wave for Customer Service Solutions

At a time when seven out of 10 online shoppers complain of unsatisfactory experiences, which vendors stand out as offering possible solutions? The authors of the latest Forrester Wave Customer Service Solutions for Enterprise Customers Q2 2014 (registration required) rated customer service vendors against 83 criteria and identified seven leaders.

According to the report, the vendors with the best strategy pursued excellence in a limited number of areas and avoided over diversified, Jack-of-All-Trade scenarios.

Make the Customer the Focus of Online Experiences

Nearly seven in 10 customers have had an unsatisfactory e-commerce experience in the past year, according to a new Forrester Wave on customer service solutions. That's a disturbing and eye-opening statistic, noted Kate Leggett, primary author of The Forrester Wave Customer Service Solutions For Enterprise Organizations Q2 2014 (registration required).

Leggett and co-authors Stephen Powers, Michael Facemire and Victoria Boutan identified the 11 most significant customer service solutions, but also warned that not all vendors are making the grade.

Reinventing Retail for the Omnichannel Era

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Retail represents a big chunk of the US economy. It contributes $2.5 trillion to the nation's annual gross domestic product, according to the National Retail Federation. So it's no surprise that there's so much interest in the quickly evolving, multichannel retail climate, as evidenced by events like the First Annual Symposium on Omni Retailing.

Held last week at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City, the symposium examined how fashion retailers are creating seamless customer experiences across channels. Organizers described it as "a forum and think tank" for retail business leaders to discuss best practices for future implementation of omnichannel retailing strategies.

Peter Nordstrom, executive vice president and president of merchandising at Nordstrom, presented a compelling keynote that addressed cross-channel convergence from his company’s perspective. Additional Speakers included Jean-Marc Bellaiche, senior partner and managing director at The Boston Consulting Group; David Cox, a global business manager for Microsoft's relationship with Bank of America, and Katia Beauchamp, one of the three co-founders and co-CEO of online retailer Birchbox.

"We help consumers discover products they didn't even know they wanted," Beauchamp said.

Adobe Marketing Cloud Partners with SAP HANA #AdobeSummit

Adobe Marketing Cloud Partners with SAP HANA #AdobeSummitSALT LAKE CITY -- The big boys are playing ball. Digital marketing ball.

Adobe and SAP announced today at the Adobe Summit Digital Marketing Conference the integration of the Adobe Marketing Cloud With SAP HANA and its hybris Commerce Suite. SAP will resell the Adobe Marketing Cloud with the SAP HANA platform and the hybris Commerce Suite.

It’s a move an Adobe official this morning called the bringing together of the marketing and technology departments through the combination of digital marketing and commerce solutions to deliver real time customer engagement across multiple channels.

Backbase Boasts 'Lean, Agile' Customer Experience Platform

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Backbase is a small company with big plans for customer experience management (CXM). The company markets a CXM platform that puts control in the hands of the business users, explained Jelmer de Jong, the company's global head of marketing.

"It's lean and agile," he said. "It lets users access all enterprise content from a single place and adapt it for optimal omnichannel experiences."

Rather than offer a unified platform, many customer experience management vendors offer a number of different applications that are only loosely tied together — and leave it to the customers to pull everything together. Backbase claims to be an exception.

"Many of our competitors, including IBM, Oracle and Adobe, grew by acquisition. They have big, bloated customer experience suites that take a one-size-fits-all approach.. We started with one integrated portal and grew on the basis of market research and client feedback to create a flexible platform that really empowers our customers," de Jong said.

Maybe Customers Should Choose: Privacy or Free Content

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With all the amazing content available for free on the web, why are customers surprised or upset that companies track your online behavior? Are they seriously "creeped out" that their web searches today drive some of the ads they'll see for the next few weeks? Why?

Does anyone think all that content is pure altruism?

Adobe, Intershop Integration Boosts E-Commerce

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Adobe just introduced another option for online retailers who are struggling to bridge the gap between content and e-commerce.

Only a week after Adobe enhanced its e-commerce options through a formal integration with Elastic Path, it announced it is integrating Experience Manager with Intershop, an omnichannel e-commerce technology vendor.

The integration could help businesses develop better and more personalized customer experiences, Adobe maintains.

Demandware Moves E-Commerce Applications to the Cloud

demandwareDemandware likes to boast that it enables the world’s premier retailers to move faster and grow faster in the changing face of retail. But in the past 12 months, the company's stock has grown just as furiously.

Shares of Demandware — a provider of cloud-based e-commerce solutions used by retailers and brands — nearly tripled in the past year. Recently trading at $75.30, the stock earlier this month hit a new all-time high at $82.23 after getting a bump from a strong fourth quarter earnings report, with subscription revenue advancing 46 percent.

Sitecore Apps Offer Mobile Customer Experience Analytics

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Sitecore wants to put the customer at the heart of customer experiences. And now that the world has gone mobile, that means optimizing the mobile customer experience.

With Sitecore's release of mobile apps for its experience platform, it's acting on that business strategy.

While it hasn't put its entire experience platform on mobile, it has made the platform accessible on mobile — a timely move given predictions by Forrester and others that the lines are blurring between physical and digital worlds.

Microsoft Wants to Change Business Culture, Technology #CONV14

Microsoft is running two big conferences at the same time. The SharePoint 2014 conference began in Las Vegas yesterday, while Dynamics Convergence kicks off today in Atlanta with a keynote from Kirill Tatarinov, executive vice president of Microsoft Business Solutions. According to the pre-conference notes, this year will all be about customer views and developing top customer experiences.

Rackspace Emphasizes Digital Marketing Infrastructure

Companies deploying digital marketing capabilities have the technology experts. And they have those who specialize in customer engagement.

On the surface, that's two "very different" disciplines, said Gerardo Dada, product marketing leader for open cloud provider Rackspace Hosting.

Rackspace wants to merge those two worlds and today announced the launch of a new practice focusing on digital marketing infrastructure needs, Rackspace Digital. The hybrid cloud platform, Rackspace said, will help marketers engage with customers via websites, portal/extranets, mobile apps or online stores.

Having an "online presence" is for marketers "becoming more important than ever," Dada told CMSWire.

WordPress Deal Transforms Bloggers to E-tailers

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WordPress is putting online retailing in the hands of bloggers by partnering with three e-commerce providers — Ecwid, Shopify and ShopLocket. The deal enables bloggers create slick, online storefronts.

The new plug-ins are only available to WordPress.com Business users, not to be mistaken with the self-hosted WordPress.org. That's the commercial arm of the WordPress parent company, Automatic, which offers fully hosted services to bloggers of all sizes, including TIME and CNN.

M&A Watch: Marin Software a Possible Target if Ad Tech Consolidates

Based on its valuation and growth profile, Marin Software — a provider of a cloud-based digital advertising management platform — could be an attractive buyout target for a larger player in the online marketing space.

At the recent market cap of $373 million, Marin’s forward revenue multiple of 3.9 times the 2014 consensus estimate of $95.8 million (within the company’s guidance range of $95 million to $96.6 million) is reasonable given expected growth of nearly 24 percent.

Marin is a so-called busted IPO because the shares trade below the March 2013 offering price of $14. In fact, Marin shares have been on a downward trek ever since the first trading session: they opened at $18.95 and hit a post-IPO high of $19.95 on the same day. While the stock has recovered a bit from the November low of $8.50, it’s still 18 percent short of the IPO price.

Sitecore Chases Personalization With Znode, SMITH Integration

Sitecore has just announced a partnership with .NET e-commerce platform provider Znode aimed at developing personalized customer experiences. This is the second major  announcement around .NET platforms from Sitecore in the past three months. Its purchase of commerceserver.net in November aroused considerable interest in the e-commerce space.

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