Images from NRF 2014



Finding eSpots in WebSphere Commerce

As a followup to my post “What the heck is an eSpot?“, I created a video where I show how easy it is to use the site preview function in Management Center to find the names of eSpots throughout the site. I also explain how the Aurora starter store automatically defines different eSpot names for all catalog categories, making eSpots unique across your product catalog.

Shopperception – The future of shopping and some new metrics!

Location, location, location.

Check out this new video shown at CES 2013 where a system based on the Xbox Connect technology shows where the most physical activity is on a shelf in the store. While most products “sell themselves” this kind of data could be very useful in making sure the most popular items are “in the right spot” on a given shelf. A couple of possible metrics I can see coming from this:

  • Products on a shelf that get picked up a lot but have little sales might prove to be valuable. What if the flashy box attracted the customer but they read the ingredients or looked at the product description and put it back.
  • It might start a bidding war for product placement. For instance, if a product sells more but is placed at a less active spot on the shelf it may be time to change it.
  • A/B testing! Test placing different products in different places or near other products to optimize sales.

After you click the buy button

You get an email from your favorite store and see a coupon for 20% off now through the next weekend. You click on the link and you are now shopping online. You add a few items to the cart and finally click that “Buy” button. Ok, it is probably a check out button but that didn’t sound as good as the way John Mesberg said it in his post on the Smarter Commerce Blog.

Now what?

The first thing the customer does after hitting the button is go through the checkout flow. This is a critical piece in an online site. Make sure you get a very seamless and easy check out flow. I can’t tell you how many companies spend a lot of time streamlining this check out process to prevent abandoned shopping carts. Next is inventory. A well designed site should have some kind of “At Time of Purchase” or ATP of the inventory. Whether it’s an online purchase or pickup in store your site should be smart enough to know whether the items in the cart are available. Accepting the major credit cards and even a service like PayPal is very important. Many people use services like PayPal to “protect their identity” and its important to support these types of payment systems.

After check out, the customer will most likely be anticipating a confirmation email for their purchase along with a pickup or delivery date. Having your e-commerce site tied into your fulfillment centers and warehouse delivery system is key here. This allows for a streamlined delivery from the shortest packaging center, often referred to as Distributed Order Management. To put it simply, you don’t want to ship from China to a U.S. location if you have a fulfillment center with inventory in the U.S.

What if something is wrong with the order or the person wants to make a change? Maybe they clicked the “buy button” too quickly and need to “call support”. Your call center needs cross-channel visibility into all orders. Some orders may come from the phone, the web site, the mobile store, or even the brick and mortar store. Having a single call center to support all channels is ideal.

Now that the order is all set, the customer waits for delivery.

Let’s just say the customer gets his product delivered, then the fun starts. The power of social media is now at play.

They will most likely Tweet, Post to Facebook or even Google+ (just so Google’s employees know about it) that they either love the product and buying experience or didn’t. They will then use the product or wear the product and post pictures, likes, dislikes etc. Maybe even be asked if it was clothing where they got it and how much, etc. After a period of time they might have another opinion of the product – it’s still great, its out of date, it no longer works, etc. And if they are a nerd like me they will most likely blog about it. I do this quite often in my “Things-I-Like” category.

In the end it is no longer a simple “word of mouth” rule. People have access to opinions (good and bad) at their fingertips. They can quickly find the good, the bad, and the ugly of your products, your brand, and your online experience.

Related article: eCommerce Trends: The Infographic


Is Buy Online and Pickup In Store interesting to you?

I do a lot of shopping online and many times I use my mobile phone or my laptop to see if a product is available at a store. Best-Buy for instance has Buy Online and Pick-Up in store. To me this plays right into the instant gratification we humans are adopting more and more – yeah that is probably a bad thing but oh well.

I actually used this during Christmas because a present was back-ordered and I got notified about a week before Christmas the item was no longer for sale. I then used the Best-Buy site and found that a store near me in Syracuse actually had the item. I was able to transfer the order to a Pick-Up In store order very quickly.

To me, this is a must have on any site that has traditional brick and mortar stores. This would clearly be a benefit to keeping some stores around for these large retailers.

Now, if only every online store out there had the business to business (B2B) visibility into their brick and mortar stores then this would essentially be a commodity feature.