Is your solution Ready for Smarter Commerce?

Business Partner Ready for Smarter Commerce

Earlier this year IBM announced a partnership with over 16 new partners who have created integrations with the IBM Commerce platform. That number is now up to an astounding 35 partners in less than a year later! You can check out the total partner list here. IBM has a very easy process to get started in this space and get your solution into the certified partner list. Click the picture below to get started:

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Greenwheels version 2 comes to Shop.Org – don’t miss it!

greenwheels2This year at one of the IBM pedestals you will see the extension to the original demonstration given at the Smarter Commerce Summit (you can watch that video here).

The greenwheels company is focusing on three main company imperatives in this story.

  1. A new cross-channel riding kit campaign
  2. Enhancing our progressive profiling through gamification (a new polling application)
  3. Pushing out a behavioral base rewards program (loyalty points)
  4. Expanding our cross-channel experience through the new store associate mobile application


 Katie’s story continues:

katieSince the purchase of her road bike, Katie has been on many rides with the online community and is starting to venture into mountain biking. Katie uses the greenwheels mobile application and community to help her decide on which mountain bike she should buy.

In this story you will watch Katie interact with the greenwheels site and see her participate in the new polling application. Katie quickly realizes she gets rewarded by participating socially on the site.  Katie’s buying experience is then extended into the store where she is presented with a last chance offer for a riding kit with a heavy discount if she purchases it with her new mountain bike.

Make sure you come by the IBM booth and see a live demonstration of this story! For more information you can follow @IBMRetail or #IBMRetail and watch their videos on YouTube.

Webinar on leveraging WebSphere Commerce business tooling to implement one-to-one marketing


On June 18, 2014 Join WebSphere Commerce thought leader, Jerry Lewis, VP Smarter Commerce at SysIQ, and IBM panelists Errol Denger, Director Product Management and Strategy, Bob Balfe, Brand Solution Architect, Smarter Commerce, and James Fong, IBM Commerce Product Manager,  for a Webinar on leveraging WebSphere Commerce business tooling to implement one-to-one marketing – click here to register today.

Learn how to get the most out of WebSphere Commerce personalization and precision marketing by employing out of the box capabilities of Management Center.  In this webinar we not only describe how to deliver 1 to 1 marketing, but we also show you exactly what to do to make it happen using live demo stores.  Topic areas will include personalization techniques for promotions, search, advertisements, offers, cross sells, landing pages, static contents, closed loop marketing, segmentation, merchandise attributes, and more.  We will also show a few content management tricks and tips for increasing the flexibility of merchandized landing pages and content spots.  Finally, we’ll offer tips and caveats for personalization in a responsive website design, so that your personalized content and offers display correctly and effectively no matter the device your customer is using.

Space at this Webinar is limited so sign up today!

Note: registrations are subject to approval by SysIQ.

Smarter Commerce: Having trouble putting the pieces together?

So you are at the Smarter Commerce Global Summit and you are seeing all kinds products and services from IBM and Business Partners. If you are asking yourself questions like this:

  • What value do I get choosing IBM for a specific piece of my Smarter Commerce puzzle?
  • What is the value of choosing IBM for multiple products?
  • What value is there in having these solutions integrated versus a competitor?
  • What business partner would you recommend for X, if any?
  • Why should I choose IBM for our eCommerce vision?

If you didn’t get these answered during the sessions, meeting with our executives, from a business partner or even from your IBM sales team then you should know this:

My team is a team of Smarter Commerce architects responsible for all products in the Industry Solutions portfolio specific to eCommerce for all of North America. We specialize in Smarter Commerce Strategy and architecture. We can help you find your gaps and help fill those gaps with an IBM product and service or through a Business Partners products and services. If we don’t know the answer we can quickly find the answer. Hit me up if you have any questions here at the Summit. I am @bobbalfe on Twitter, direct message me or simply Tweet me for a meeting.

Smarter Commerce Info Graphics on Pinterest!

Just in case you missed this, the Smarter Commerce team has created an Infographics category on their Pinterest place. I am a very visual person and I really like these kinds of graphics to tell a story.

It also looks like they are preparing for the Smarter Commerce Global Summit in May and created a Gayload Opryland Hotel & Convention Center category so stay tuned!

If you have not signed up for this event then make sure you do. It has a packed agenda of IBM’s customers giving testimony to their Smarter Commerce story and how IBM’s solutions are helping them in execute their eCommerce strategy.

Baiting the Big Guy, the Smarter Shopper has arrived

BaitingBigGuyCustomers are getting smarter. Smarter about products, brands, services, and most of all the way social works. The younger generation catches on quickly and often thinks outside of the box to get what they want. They call you out when they learn things, often using social media to tout their findings. In this post I outline two approaches “kids” use to figure out about a brand or get that special discount. I say kids but the reality is many internet savvy people are doing these things every day and you as a brand need to understand what happens when you are called out.

The Spam Finder

The first scenario is a disgruntled holiday shopper that all of the sudden started getting many “spam” emails from all kinds of companies. The shopper knew they purchased gifts on four different sites and wanted to figure out which site sold their email. The trick was they created four different emails on GMail and registered one email per site. Within days, two of the email accounts started getting unsolicited emails, that’s 50%! This could be harmful to the brand if something like that goes viral on Facebook or Twitter and calls you out. Be upfront and tell them their information is being sold but if you really want loyalty then clearly claim you will not sell their information. The later seems to be more the mode of operation on most sites because they want to build that loyal customer.

Abandoned Cart? No problem, here is your coupon!

The next story is a very interesting one to me indeed as I have often written about “abandoned shopping carts”, customer dialogs, and coupons. Did you ever wonder why your company has so many abandoned shopping carts? It only takes one person to abandon a cart, get an email with a coupon the next day because of the abandoned cart and next thing you know everyone that person knows is abandoning carts to get the coupons! Yep, you might want to do a few extra checks before issuing that coupon or only issue them under certain conditions like a return customer or a customer that has previously ordered from you.

If you have any stories around “baiting the big guy” I would love to hear them.

Rewarding the influential customer – Part 1

So you have heard of Klout Scores or Kred Influence and are not sure what it means in the end. One scenario I have played out is rewarding an influential social person when they comment or rate a product on a commerce site. This will be a two-part post where I set up the logic engine in the first step then show the result in the second post. In the scenario below I have extended the Management Center tooling with a new Klout Score checker, allowing the marketing person to target customers with a specific Klout Score or a Klout Score range.

In this scenario we want to reward a person who has posted at least 3 reviews on our site and has an influence score above a certain number. I will set up two rules in the WebSphere Commerce tooling Management Center. The first rule will put the qualified customer into a dynamic customer segment :

Click for larger image

Let’s look at what this rule does. The first icon checks to see if the customer has reviewed at least 3 products and has rated those products with a rating of 3 or higher. Here is a screen shot of that flow elements definition:

The second icon checks the customers Klout score. If the customers Klout score is 60 or higher, then continue to add the customer into the dynamic customer segment named “Influential Customers“. In order to even get the customers Klout score they will need to supply their Twitter Id or authenticate with their Twitter Id. Once you get that id you can call the Klout REST API’s to get the scores and then cache them into a table. According to the Klout API docs you can cache the Klout score for up to five days. I highly recommend caching so your calls are going against the database versus the live REST call for performance reasons. More information on the Klout API here.

Next we create a promotion for the 20% off and simply select the customer segment “Influential Customers”. That should be pretty straight forward so I wont show any screen shots here.

Lastly, in the second rule we want to advertise to the customer that they are eligible for this promotion and show an advertisement on the web site:

We will use the Promotion Checker target to see if the customer is eligible to see the advertisement. The great thing about this tool is once the customer uses the promotion the advertisement will no longer appear.

The next blog post will show an end to end video of the different rules and site in play.



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


Enabling a second extended site to use Distributed Order Management

While WebSphere Commerce (WC) can do basic order management very well, you may have some requirements that will push you to a third party order management system. One example would be a cross-channel call center, like the one in Sterling Order Management, another solution in the Smarter Commerce portfolio. If you have the developer edition of WC 7, feature pack 4 you can configure the base Madisons store for the external order management function by following these instructions: link here.

Now, if you create other sites from the same asset store (a peer to the Madisons store) the only thing you really have to do is Step 12 from the same link above:


This sets the inventory system to a third party one, that is what the -5 value represents. Once that is complete you need to make sure the INVCNFREL table either has entries for your store id or make sure the STORE_ID is NULL for the items you want handled by the external system. Being NULL means any stores set to “-5” will use the external management system. Here are a couple of records from that table:

select * from INVCNFREL;

1 1 10002 NULL NULL 1
2 1 10004 NULL NULL 1

Quick links for IBM Cross-Channel Commerce

I stole this little snippet for my reference. It has a lot of great links to various pieces of IBM’s Smarter Commerce story.

IBM Cross-Channel Commerce
IBM’s selling and order fulfillment products are the industry’s leading e-commerce and order management solutions, helping B2C and B2B brands deliver a consistent shopping experience across all customer touchpoints. With advanced social commerce, mobile commerce, web store, microsite, merchandising, and global order and inventory visibility, brands can allow their customers to buy or return anywhere, anyhow and across any touchpoint and truly deliver a Smarter Commerce experience on-premise or in the cloud.