Thursday Jun 25, 2015

Visual Commerce – Content + Commerce Evolved

Unlike a lot of folks around my age who are migrating toward city living and fighting a move to the suburbs, my husband and I recently took the opposite approach.  With a toddler, a massive dog, and a baby on the way, we made the decision to pick up our life in Boston and move to a more laid-back (read: less expensive) place to call home - Montana.   There have been many positives to the move, but one major downside is the lack of local retail options I’d become accustomed to in Boston.  I’ve always been a big fan of shopping online for items such as clothes and make-up but I was use to being able to go into a store to touch and feel bigger purchases – like furniture, sporting equipment, etc.

As if the move wasn’t complex enough, we purchased a home that needs a complete renovation.  If you’ve ever gone down the renovation path, you know it requires lots of imagination, creativity, and of course new, big purchases – everything from cabinets to light fixtures to furniture.  How was I going to do this with the limited options of physical retailers in my area?  Luckily, a lot of brands are taking the next step with their online sites to improve the experience, but I was surprised by how many brands still don’t incorporate anything more than standard product shots to help shoppers make decisions.    

In my quest for the perfect new purchases for my house I started thinking a lot about the types of experiences brands are offering to bring their products to their customers so they can visualize how the product looks, feels, and functions while shopping online.   I want to see what that new couch will look like in my living room, know how the motion activated on/off feature of the facet works…you get the picture.   The term visual commerce is used often to describe this type of content or experience but what does that actually mean?

[Read More]

Tuesday Jun 23, 2015

It's Cloudy. While SaaS and The Cloud create confusion in commerce, opportunity calls

SaaS. Cloud. On-demand. On-premise. Managed Services. Hosted. Multitenant. Single tenant. Public cloud. Private cloud. Hybrid cloud.

We are surrounded by these terms, but if you really know the differences, you are part of a seriously small minority. So when half of retailers say they want to go cloud in the next year – in commerce, what do they mean? And from a product perspective, what’s the right fit?

Software has been eating the world for years now, and Software as a Service (SaaS), hosted in The Cloud makes it all easier, faster, cheaper.

In an effort to be ready for the SaaS boom, “SaaS” and “cloud” in the commerce space have become interchangeable. But good messaging and subscription-like finance terms does not define a SaaS product.

And software doesn’t just live a singular “Cloud,” there are many clouds, and not all clouds are created equal. Public clouds, private clouds, hybrid clouds all vary in security, scale, performance, capabilities, and hardware depending on provider.  

From a product perspective, here’s what "cloud" can mean today:

SaaS (multitenant) delivers upon the promise of commerce in The Cloud: zero infrastructure or upgrade management, housed in a public cloud/data center on a server with other storefronts (multitenancy) to take advantage of automatic push upgrades, elastic scaling, and shared cost. True SaaS is appealing as it requires no CapEx budget, implementations are typically less expensive, and customers are typically billed via monthly subscription. Today’s SaaS commerce solutions offer slick tooling and beautiful templates, but not the brand control, features, or proven scale for growth needed by marquee brands (or those aspiring to be). For these vendors, in order to push a single release of software without breaking sites, the ability to customize each storefront is limited – leaving many sites looking the same. Questions about infrastructure and scalability raise concerns with performance and security.

On-demand / hosted solutions (single tenant / “private cloud”) can simply be an on-premise technology (or an on-premise platform re-architected for the cloud) deployed on a private server on or off site. It can also be a hosted in a private or hybrid cloud at a commerce vendor or hosting provider, and may feature a full or limited feature set of on-premise software that can be customized. On-demand / hosted deployments typically require moderate CapEx budget, and billing models vary. While these solutions offer benefits of multi and single tenancy, they are not SaaS products. An IT staff may not be maintaining the deployment on-site – but someone somewhere is still maintaining it, and someone is paying for that maintenance.  Longer custom deployments and upgrade management still leave much to be desired in terms of true agility with on-demand / hosted cloud solutions.

Then, there's:

On-premise (single tenant, on-site, private) ensures total customization – and everything that comes with ownership from a cost perspective. Many merchants welcome this approach, as it is the only option that can meet their requirements. They may look to the cloud – or move elements of their deployment to the cloud – but they see no other realistic option for their core site. Requires more substantial CapEx budget, billing models vary.

Today, the reality is that there is no perfect SaaS or cloud solution. Many merchants happily compromise because they have to – whether it’s scale, growth, control, customization, or cost. Some are left with a dilemma: do I lower my management and infrastructure costs, or do I make sacrifices with the customer experience?

Complex commerce organizations craving total control and customization won’t get what they need from a SaaS or on-demand solution. Growing organizations with limited resources kick the can down the road until their SaaS solution becomes restrictive to the brand experience, and cost prohibitive.  On-demand users can say they are cloud, but are still left wanting more in terms of agility and cost savings.

What if there was an opportunity in the market to marry the agility and cost-savings of a true multitenant SaaS solution, with the brand control and experience customization you’d get with an on-premise platform?

In a landscape peppered with cookie-cutter sites and environments that can’t scale, it’s time for a shake up. Online businesses have been waiting!

Stay tuned for an interview with Oracle Commerce Development to hear how we are working to solve these challenges…

Monday Jun 15, 2015

Hacking Growth: eCommerce Innovators Re-Imagining Familiar Consumer Markets

I distinctly remember the evening I learned about Uber from a work colleague in 2012. It was a moment that forever changed my level of work-travel-stress forever – it seared into my memory.

We finished dinner at a restaurant just outside of Philadelphia – a location just exterior enough to the city that it would be a pain to call and then wait for a taxi. Probably a wait of “only” 20 mins – but just long enough to become irritating when you desperately just need some shuteye before the next long day.

So if you can travel back in time to the olden days of 2012 – still a moment in time before we did everything (well, everything mundane at least) on your mobiles – Uber seemed truly magical. My colleague pulled up her phone, showed me the little ant-like cars nearby, ordered one – and we were at the hotel in less than 10 mins … exiting the car without worrying about having enough cash, giving directions to the lost driver, or tipping. We pulled up to the lobby. Jumped out. Done. Done!

Problem solved. New loyal customer gained.

In the 3 short years since that evening, terms like “just Uber it”, “it’s an Uber-like” business – have entered the daily lexicon. And not just for companies like Uber – Airbnb, Amazon Prime, Instacart, Warby Parker are all changing the way companies sell online forever. 

More importantly – for us consumers -- the most innovative ecommerce startups are revolutionizing the mundane parts of our day-to-day lives. Saving us precious time! Making things easier for us – so we can use those collective saved minutes to become more interesting, read more books, travel the world, have more mind-space. At least that is what I’m using my extra time for … ;)

Just take a look at the list of top ecommerce startups for 2014-2015. They are all applying innovation to industries / services where shopping experiences haven’t changed in decades.

They are all about creating an “x” experience that looks nothing like the “x” experience of the olden days – a disruptive re-imagining consumer experiences in established industries.

[Read More]

Tuesday Nov 25, 2014

The Increasing Role of ERP in Customer Experience and B2B E-Commerce

When most people in e-commerce talk about B2B they often talk about the consumerization of B2B and things they can relate from their experience in Retail (B2C).  I always want to tackle the bigger issues that are very specific to the B2B e-commerce community and the challenges that you face.  One of our greatest challenges is the role that our ERP systems play.

The increasing role of the ERP system

The complexity of our ERP systems is one of the key differences between B2B and B2C.  The reality is that we have to focus a tremendous amount of resources on integrating the ERP as it is the lifeblood of our company.  Think about this:
  • Integrating to the ERP system(s) will most likely be one of your biggest initial and ongoing cost in your B2B e-commerce project.
  • Most B2B companies have more than one ERP system because of multiple acquisitions and the time and cost involved in consolidating into a single ERP.
  • Many of the B2B features that exist on websites today are really just about making ERP functions customer facing.

You may now be asking "With all of that complexity, you see the role of the ERP system increasing?"

I do.

ERP the Foundation of a Great Customer Experience

In an  article by Manufacturing Business Technology magazine, their survey describes the increasing role of the ERP system in the Customer Experience.

The ERP has a significant role in streamlining interactions with suppliers and customers:

  • Nearly 40% of all IME manufacturers surveyed believe the ERP is vital as the platform that connects the back office and front office
  • Nearly 85% of large IME organizations with 5,000 employees or more indicated that their ERP is a vital platform for delivering a good customer experience
  • IME manufacturers have come to realize that providing superior customer experience has to be one of their top initiative

To improve our Front Office, we have to consider our Back Office.

When you think about it, most B2B e-commerce sites are simply about exposing specific functions of their ERP system to customers.

Take for example the shopping cart.  By providing an online shopping cart you move the transaction from your inside sales team entering orders into the ERP,  to your customer.  By giving them their pricing based on their terms and conditions and contract online moves that function from the back office to your customer.

Customer Facing ERP

Order status, inventory availability by location, ATP (available to promise), taking payments, and even providing the catalog itself is about giving your customers transparency into your back office.  Product content used to be housed only in marketing catalogs and cryptic codes in the ERP, now we have customer facing product content.

This transparency started very basic, but take a look at your backlog of customer requests.  Do you pick up any patterns related to your ERP?  I do not see that stopping.  If I am correct in stating the secret of B2B e-commerce is about helping your customers do their job easier on your site then that means giving them more and more access to complete self service.   ie More transparency into the ERP.  The new Customer Facing ERP.

Tuesday Jul 29, 2014

What the Content+Commerce Equation is Missing: the Customer and Their Context

There’s been a lot of talk about content and commerce and the role of each in the customer experience. But we think there’s a lot to the story that isn’t being addressed. So, we’ve joined the conversation – and brought a unique perspective. This perspective is what drove our major product release last week, and a new whitepaper on content and commerce environments.

 

It’s no secret that content and commerce have collided. Enabling brand exploration and selling product should now be thought of as the same process. But the unification of content and commerce goes beyond having a single website URL or videos on the product detail page. Shoppers want to see rich content in context of their product searches – and in turn, they want to be inspired to explore brands in new ways. Bottom line: how consumers engage is not predictable. Researching, buying, advocating or seeking help is no longer tied to specific steps in the funnel, or to touchpoints. It’s all just interactions, filtered by their need at that moment.

 

But delivering this type of experience is hard. Inside of organizations, legacy ways of thinking about Marketers telling authentic brand stories (inspiring) and Merchants as being the eyes of the business (selling) has forced everyone to ask: who and what should drive our collective experience?

 

It’s not just org charts that create confusion over what path to take at this crossroads, it’s the technology each team has separately invested in over the last decade. Marketers have historically used WCM/WEM (Web Content or Web Experience Management) systems to inspire, and Merchants typically leverage the eCommerce platform to sell. Over the years, each technology camp has evolved to include capabilities that now overlap in certain areas, creating more confusion over which technology to use where, especially when it comes to powering the “glass” of the customer experience. Some firms lead with WCM/WEM, others with commerce, others with a hybrid side-by-side approach.

 

But the question people aren’t asking is the most important one. It shouldn’t be about what group or what technology should drive the experience, the focus should be: how can we leverage the customer and their context to deliver relevant experiences. We believe this is what the CX movement is all about, and its what drives our product, and our customers’ results.

 

A predetermined page shouldn’t define what’s delivered, the consumer’s context should. This is the core of the Oracle Commerce product, and the basis of our stance that content and commerce is only part of the equation.

[Read More]

Monday Jul 21, 2014

Bringing Content, Commerce and Digital Experiences Together: Oracle Commerce V11.1 Release Announcement

ORACLE COMMERCE V11.1 NOW AVAILABLE

A short six months after the v11.0 release, Oracle Commerce 11.1 provides an impressive payload for enabling our customers to deliver differentiated digital commerce experiences. Oracle Commerce is a Digital Experience Platform that approaches content, commerce and experience in a fundamentally different way than any other solution on the market. Oracle Commerce 11.1 brings the Oracle Commerce 11 series to the next logical step to the unification of content, commerce and experience, solving the challenges around creating, automating and scaling inspired selling experiences to any shopper, in every context.

From the shopper’s perspective, v11.1 provides further enhancements to deliver relevant, persistent commerce experiences wherever they are. From an internal operations perspective, v11.1 makes creating and scaling these experiences across all enterprise sites simpler.

The Oracle Commerce 11.1 release continues four major themes, which are in direct response to challenges our customers have shared with us:

1. Omni-channel Experience Delivery

2. Digital Experience and Content Management Business User Control

3. B2B Commerce Feature-set Enhancements

4. Platform TCO Enhancements & Integrations

Summaries below describe what we have done in v11.1 in each of these areas and why. For more detailed information on key release features, read the v11.1 What’s New Document or join the Oracle Commerce Product Management team for a live webcast, demos and discussion of the latest release.

[Read More]

Wednesday Jul 16, 2014

My Real-Life Commerce Experience

Babies need a lot of stuff.   I have an almost 1 year old son and this week alone (it’s only Wednesday) I’ve purchased diapers, baby wipes, a travel high chair, first birthday party supplies, and let’s not forget about the birthday presents.   Thinking back, I made all of these purchases through different channels and had different experiences along the way.   

Being a working mom, I’m constantly on the go.   Everyone has different reasons for purchasing whether it is price, customer service, selection… but for me it is all about convenience.  I need to be able to research and order what I’m looking for immediately when I think about it, so this week it meant I placed orders from my mobile phone, my laptop, and I even ordered online and had my husband pick-up in-store.   Along the way, I expected my experiences to be tailored to my needs and preferences no matter the channel.   The retailers that got it right got my business (and most likely will again).  

The best part about my job at Oracle is that I work on a product that is at the forefront of enabling businesses to truly deliver the relevant, personalized experiences that we all expect when shopping.   Many companies are exceeding customer expectations when it comes to the buying experiences they deliver, but there are also many companies that are falling short.  In fact, according to a 2014 Accenture report on “The Secrets of Seamless Retailing Success” a significant 38 percent of retail shoppers still cite delivering a seamless customer experience as the main area for retailer improvement. 

So, what can companies do to make sure that they deliver the best experience possible to each of one their customers no matter the interaction point?   Take 5 minutes to watch our new Oracle Commerce demos so you can see what’s possible today in B2C commerce and B2B commerce

Tuesday Jul 15, 2014

What's New in Oracle Commerce v11.1

Are you a current Oracle Commerce customer or are you interested in learning about what's new in the latest release of Oracle Commerce?  Join us for a live webcast on July 24th at 11:30am ET to learn more about the exciting enhancements being delivered with Oracle Commerce v11.1.

Why should you attend?  Oracle Commerce product experts will highlight the most exciting and critical updates, and provide:

  • In-depth reviews of new features and benefits for Oracle Commerce v11.1
  • Comprehensive demonstrations so that you can see new features in action
  • Answers to any of your questions via chat or phone

During this in-depth 90 minute webcast, you will learn about important updates including:

  • Business user tool enhancements to Experience Manager and Business Control Center including creating and managing site specific pages and web content assets.
  • Core platform enhancements including Single Sign-On, Coherence Web Support, and Guided Search.
  • Channels and accelerators including expanded multisite capabilities, and enhanced integration with Oracle POS.

Don’t miss this comprehensive update on Oracle Commerce and the opportunity to talk with Oracle Commerce product experts.  

Register Now

Thursday Jul 03, 2014

Design for complex ATG applications

Overview

Needless to say, some ATG applications are more complex than others.  Some ATG applications support a single site, single language, single catalog, single currency, have a single development staff, single business team, and a relatively simple business model.  The real complex applications have to support multiple sites, multiple languages, multiple catalogs, multiple currencies, a couple different development teams, multiple business teams, and a highly complex business model (and processes to go along with it).  While it's still important to implement a proper design for simple applications, it's absolutely critical to do this for the complex applications.  Why?  It's all about time and money.  If you are unable to manage your complex applications in an efficient manner, the cost of managing it will increase dramatically as will the time to get things done (time to market).  On the positive side, your competition is most likely in the same situation, so you just need to be more efficient than they are.

This article is intended to discuss a number of key areas to think about when designing complex applications on ATG.  Some of this can get fairly technical, so it may help to get some background first.  You can get enough of the required background information from this post.  After reading that, come back here and follow along.
[Read More]

Key ATG architecture principles

Overview

The purpose of this article is to describe some of the important foundational concepts of ATG.  This is not intended to cover all areas of the ATG platform, just the most important subset - the ones that allow ATG to be extremely flexible, configurable, high performance, etc.  For more information on these topics, please see the online product manuals.
[Read More]
About

The place to get informed about customer experience and how it impacts your success.

Stay Connected


Subscribe
Subscribe to our RSS feed.

Search

Archives
« July 2015
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
   
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
31
 
       
Today