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E-commerce News & Analysis

Understand Your Customers with A/B Testing

2014-23-July-Choices.jpgImagine changing a flight or booking a hotel, comparing mortgage rates or researching healthcare providers. You’re probably thinking about specific websites that can help accomplish these tasks -- or maybe a search that could start the process.

Now imagine doing any of these things on a smartphone. Chances are it would take several false starts and -- if you were dedicated to the goal -- a lot of struggle before the job was done. It has little if anything to do with the screen size. Instead, it’s a reflection of design and content that doesn't match the contextual needs of the user. And it doesn't take an extreme example to illustrate this point.

Information Architecture: The Engine that Drives Retail

2014-22-July-Steam-Locomotive.jpgUnder pressure from pure play e-Tailers such as Amazon and eBay, brick and mortar retailers are scrambling to defend their businesses. To stay competitive, most have now added an e-Commerce channel. The challenge for many legacy retailers is that e-Commerce has involved a long learning curve and now mobile and web channels have become part of core functionality rather than a cutting edge addition to the brand.  Add to this that many traditional retailers still lack a core competency in the technical nuances necessary to compete effectively with the Amazons and eBays.

CX: It's Not Rocket Science But it's Still Hard

2014-22-July-Kennedy-Space-Center-Rocket.jpgThink customer service is a synonym for customer experience? Think again, suggests Alpharetta, Ga.-based customer experience (CX) consultant Jim Bass. "Customer service happens after the sale. Customer experience starts before the sale," he explained.

Bass stirred a lot of interest on LinkedIn recently with a post that explored the importance of pre-sale processes. The story got more than 15,000 views and 1,674 shares on LinkedIn.

This week, Bass talked with CMSWire to share more insights on CX — including the things companies tend to get wrong and the reasons why so many customer interactions are still so bad.

Nope, CX isn't rocket science. But it's not easy to get right, either.

Master Customer Experience in the New Age of Retail

2014-21-July-Sales.jpgProviding a high quality customer experience is critical for retailers, no matter the sector or audience. Delivering on this goal means more success in sales and more repeat business.

But our ideas around what constitutes a high level customer experience have changed in recent years. In the pre-internet days, it generally meant attentive sales people available to help with in store requests. But in today’s connected world, it’s more often associated with quick page loads, easily navigable sites and rich media.

3 Barriers to Delivering Omnichannel Experiences

2014-17-July-Caught-a-Fish.jpgI was recently searching for fishing rods for my 5-year old son and his friends to use at our neighborhood pond. I know nothing about fishing, so I needed to get educated. First up, a Google search on my laptop at home. Then, I jostled between my phone, tablet and laptop visiting websites, reading descriptions, looking at photos and reading reviews. Offline, I talked to friends and visited local stores.

The product descriptions weren’t very helpful. What is a “practice casting plug”? Turns out, this was a great feature! Instead of a hook, the rod had a rubber fish to practice casting safely. What a missed opportunity for the retailers who didn’t share this information. I bought the fishing rods from the retailer that educated me with valuable product information and offered free three to five day shipping.

What does this mean for companies who sell products across multiple channels? 

Customers Don't Care About Your Processes

2014-15-July-Milk-Processing.jpgIn January of last year, Macy's became the first major retailer to name a Chief Omnichannel Officer. In May of this year, Target announced the formation of a new Digital Advisory Committee to focus specifically on brainstorming omnichannel strategies.

Clearly the need to deliver true omnichannel experiences is something that retailers and their marketing teams are taking very, very seriously.

There's More to E-Commerce than Mobile and Social

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Mobile and social. Invest in them now, right?

Well, if it's not those two surging platforms that are doing the trick for your organization, why put so much stock in them?

EPiServer’s third annual 2014 e-Commerce Survey of e-commerce practitioners, conducted at the 10th annual Internet Retailer Conference and Exhibition, the world’s largest e-commerce event, revealed that mobile and social may not be as "surging" as they seem.

For instance, 64 percent of those surveyed claimed less than 20 percent of their business sales came through mobile transactions. But mobile ranked as the top priority in regards to future investments for those surveyed. 

Similarly, 93 percent of those surveyed said transactions are made through their website rather than their social site. However, social ranked third in terms of future investment areas for those surveyed.

EPiServer's message? Put your money in what's working now.

Oracle Targeting Micros in $5B Deal for Data, Applications

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You know how these things start. Someone hears something from someone who heard it from someone else.

Suddenly, you have a major story. Maybe.

The current something that is doing the rounds since late last night is that Oracle is in discussions with Micros Systems with a view to taking over the Point-of-Sale (POS) vendor for… wait for it … $5 billion.

If this comes to pass, it will be one of the biggest, if not the biggest, acquisition in terms of price this year. Again, its only rumors so far and there’s a long way to go before it’s a done deal.

ChannelAdvisor Helps Drive E-Commerce

ChannelAdvisor claims it "empowers retailers to sell more." Founded in 2001, the company is a provider of cloud-based solutions deployed by retailers and manufacturers to integrate, manage and optimize their merchandise sales across various online channels. 

In early May, ChannelAdvisor delivered strong results for the first quarter, with revenue up nearly 30 percent — including core revenue growth of 32 percent, the fastest organic growth in seven years — and record bookings. But investors weren’t impressed: the stock fell as much as 25 percent over the three sessions following the report.

Organizations use the ChannelAdvisor platform to do everything from manage their product listings and check inventory availability to optimize price changes and select the best search terms across multiple comparison-shopping sites, e-commerce marketplaces and search engines.

The company supports roughly 150 shopping engines, 35 marketplaces worldwide and all of the major search engines.

According to CEO and cofounder Scot Wingo, customers usually come to ChannelAdvisor with an acute need to solve a specific pain point across their e-commerce businesses. They almost always want to automate and expand online, then optimize return on investment across the various channels. 

E-commerce is growing. Is ChannelAdvisor poised to capitalize on it?

Are Best-Of-Breed Customer Experiences Really Best?

2014-6-17 e-spirit.jpgAt the end of May, e-Spirit upgraded its web CMS offering to make it easier for content creators to provide personalized content. It followed hot on the heels of the v5.1 release which aimed to significantly boost companies online time to market and improve the overall customer experience.

Both announcements form part of a wider strategy to offer users a best-of-breed web CMS. E-Spirit has from the start pursued the best-of-breed approach as opposed to creating an enterprise suite. But why best-of-breed?

We asked Oliver Jaeger, vice president for global marketing and communications at e-Spirit why his company has consistently taken this approach and where this strategy will take the company in the future.

If E-Commerce is Your Engine, Content is the Driver

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Remember when e-commerce was all we talked about?

Ten years ago, it seemed as if every company in the world was trying to figure out its "e-commerce strategy”. Analysts were touting the newest 3D catalogs, where shoppers could twirl images around to check out sizes and colors from all angles.

And it seemed like every day there was a new startup offering e-commerce related solutions. Then, the talk turned to social and content, and the search for e-commerce optimization declined.

Get on Board with B2B E-commerce, Forrester Warns

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The old theory that B2B companies can avoid selling through online channels is done, and B2B e-commerce solutions "contribute significantly to key selling metrics and incremental revenue," according to a new Forrester Research Report commissioned by EPiServer.

Forrester said 50 percent of B2B companies have plans to change or upgrade e-commerce technology in the next 18 months. 

"Every company that plans to compete in the future must transform digitally simply because all your competitors are planning for it now," said Bob Egner, vice president of product management at EPiServer, which sells an e-commerce platform. "There are no restrictions based on type of product or service, or on geography. In fact, many of our customers find they can expand geographically in a shorter time frame and at a lower cost by going digital."

Google Now Offers E-Commerce Analytics #GASummit2014

Google analytics e-commerce May 28 2014.jpgGoogle has taken up the challenge of shedding light on retail behavior by adding enhanced e-commerce capabilities to its analytics platform.

By combining analytics and e-commerce, Google claims it will be able to offer marketing and customer experience managers insight into not only what their customers are thinking, but also how effective their marketing campaigns have been.

E-Spirit CMS Promises to Improve User Experience

Content is still king. With the version 5.1 release of its FirstSpirit Content Management System (CMS), e-Spirit re-affirms its commitment to that principle.

Good content means good customer experiences, and good customer experiences helps to retain customers, the company maintains.

Customer-Centric and Easy to Use is the New Business Model

Truly customer-centric companies will dominate the Internet Age. 

Alibaba, a Chinese Internet company, is about to go public in the US. It is expected to raise more than the Facebook share sale.

According to the BBC, “The total value of merchandise sold on its platforms last year was more than that sold on Amazon and eBay combined.” Alibaba has 72 percent of mobile commerce in China.

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