The Fish Farm: Salmon’s favourite commerce related posts and articles – Feb 2011 edition

The Fish Farm links to the best new posts and articles, related to commerce, that Salmon have found on the internet in the past month. This is February 2011′s fresh catch.

Exciting Commerce : Bonobos, Birchbox & Others: Who Has The Stuff To Become The Next Zappos? [Jochen Krisch]
Originally posted in German by Jochen Krisch, and adapted for excitingcommerce.com by Jason Soo, we are told that US investors are seeing the next Zappos as something more like a Bonobos, Birchbox, ModCloth or Shoedazzle. Krisch explains that these ventures have business models which employ unique and difficult to copy components.

Hitwise Blog :  Which retailers are leveraging the marketing power of Facebook? [Robin Goad]
Hitwise UK’s Research Director Robin Goad analyses which merchants are making the most of Facebook’s enormous marketing potential, highlighting 10 brands doing better than most.

Practical Ecommerce : JC Penney Incurs Google SEO Action : How to Protect Your Own Company [Jill Kocher]
How far should a company trust an SEO agency to act on its behalf?  Recent stories of Google blacklisting of JC Penney and Overstock.com might make retailer’s take stock of their SEO outsourcing arrangements.

Locayta Blog : eBay launches augmented reality fashion app [André Brown]
Augmented reality technology is finally being embraced by the retail community. Whilst many merchants are still investigating its potential, Ebay is forging ahead with a fashion app that mimics (replaces? lol) a traditional offline shopping habit  i.e. trying something on, with a virtual try-before-you-buy feature for sunglasses shoppers. Nice.

Econsultancy.com : Six reasons why your brand should hop on the api bandwagon [JD Lasica]
In this JD Lasica explains how APIs can take a brand into promising new directions by harnessing the power of a community.

ReadWriteWeb : Amazon Prime includes streaming video service [Audrey Watters]
Audrey Watters examines the new benefits of Amazon’s premium service, Amazon Prime, which has been expanded beyond its initial focus of cheaper and expedited shipping.

ReadWriteWeb : Eye Tracking & User Testing Made Easy with YouEyetracking [Audrey Watters]
Audrey Watters looks at user testing and in particular ‘eye-tracking’ which ordinarily is an expensive undertaking. However startup YouEye may offer a way to simplify that process – both in terms of cost, testers and technology.

Logic + Emotion : Social Search Will Force Your Business To Recalibrate [David Armano]
As a result of Google’s latest foray into indexing social network content in its search results [Quora, Flickr and Twitter content for example], David Armano highlights how businesses might want to evolve to stand a chance of being found in the future.

Media Futurist Data is the new oil [Gerd Leonhard]
Having had the privilege of seeing Gerd Leonhard present ‘Data is the new Oil‘ at eConsultancy’s Future of Digital marketing, I was delighted to see an online version where Gerd explains the concept during a discussion on media innovations for AME Info [Dubai].

Web Strategist : Beyond social: disruptive technologies to watch [Jeremiah Owyang /Charlene Li]
Altimeter’s Charlene Li presents her viewpoints on disruptive technologies to watch –and those to ignore.  Charlene used ‘Zipcast’ a no-download video+slides technology that allows anyone to give a ‘keynote’ speech to an online audience in real time. Nice.

FutureNow / Grokdotcom : Testing: where to begin [Natalie Hart]
Natalie Hart highlights how testing can yield a great amount of insight & revenue.  But where do you start?

In No Particular Order : Growing pains etailing in the noughtweens [Ian Jindal]
Ian Jindal reflects on a trend seen in the etail sector to move to a more pan-channel, commercial set of demands from ecommerce professionals.

Wired : HTML5 will be done in 2014: What Comes Next? [Scott Gilbertson]
Scott Gilbertson says the web doesn’t move at the pace of standards bodies, but at the pace of web browsers and innovative developers. So now that the web’s governing body have announced that HTML5 will be complete by 2014, what come next?

Retail Week News : Games new strategy aims to triple digital revenue by 2013 [Nicola Harrison, Requires Retail Week Registration]
Nicola Harrison highlights how Game aims to triple its digital revenues as part of a three-year strategy to evolve into a fully multichannel business.

Guardian Newspaper : Is this the start of the second dotcom bubble? [Dominic Rushe]
Loss-making Twitter has been valued at $10bn. Facebook is said to be worth more than Ford. Now, for some investors, the alarm bells are starting to ring. Dominic Rushe investigates.

Six Revisions : Anatomy of an Effective Product Page Design [Kean Richmond]
Kean Richmond outlines that to overcome the inability to touch or try a product, pureplays have to be better than brick-and-mortar equivalents. He outlines how providing as much information , being price competitive, and providing a flawless user experience is essential.

Social Media Today :  Why Facebook Could Dominate the Next Generation of Ecommerce [Matt Ambrose]
Matt Ambrose says that day by day, Facebook’s tentacles continue to spread and pull in more of the web into its domain. We’ve already seen the announcem,ent of Facebook Deals, but what is the wider impact on the world of ecommerce. He says competitors need to be afraid. Very afraid.  Are you?

Did we miss anything important?  Please let us know.

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Salmon sponsor Team Cobia in London-Paris 2011

London Paris

Salmon is delighted to be sponsoring and participating with Team Cobia at this year’s London To Paris (L2P) bike ride.  L2P is one of the world’s most exciting cyclosportives in the cycling calendar (and the closest the amateur rider can get to a Tour de France experience) spanning a 520km route, from Hampton Court to The Eiffel Tower.

Competing in the team is our own Mike Hill, a senior technical architect and equity stake holder in Salmon.  Mike’s experience of completing the L2P last year, and participation in numerous other events (including marathons, Iron man 70.3 and adventure races) will undoubtedly help the team in one of the Daily Telegraph’s top 25 mass participation events.

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Video saves the eCommerce stars

 

Anyone would think video has a chequered past. Folklore would have you believe the medium killed the radio star back in the early 1980′s. But radio star murder apart, video has been on-the-up for over 30 years.

And today, 6 short years since the YouTube domain was first registered, the daughter of video – online video – is simply blossoming.  Some would even say exploding. So I propose that today, video saves the eCommerce stars, giving leading and innovative merchants a renewed basis for differentiation and online growth.

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Morrisons Buys Kiddicare (and its robust, scalable & highly advanced technology platform)

Kiddicare Homepage

Good to hear that Morrisons are keen to develop the grocer’s etail operation.  In an announcement today regarding the purchase of Kiddicare (a Salmon client) for £70m, Dalton Philips, Chief Executive of Morrisons said;

“This acquisition brings not only a respected, successful and fast growing specialist retailer into the Morrisons group but also a robust, scalable and highly advanced technology platform around which we can begin to build our e-commerce offer.”

Kiddicare’s platform leverages SAFE™ (Salmon Application Framework for eCommerce) and IBM WebSphere Commerce, as well as a number of other complimentary technologies. Here is more information regarding Kiddicare’s technology platform.

Retail Week’s announcement about the sale of Kiddicare is here [requires registration].  The Guardian’s cover the story here.

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Pets at Home “Click & Collect” doubles order expectations

The Retailer MagazineThe Retailer” magazine (n.b. hyperlink opens up the Jan/Feb 2011 digital edition) is established as essential reading within the retail industry – featuring an entertaining mix of interviews, news and features with contributions from industry experts, retailers and government figures.

As The Retailer is authored by the British Retail Consortium, we are delighted that a Salmon retail project has been showcased; namely our Multi Channel work with Pets At Home.

To assess the full story click the image above, or simply go to www.theretailermagazine.com (the Pets at Home / Salmon story is on pg. 16 of the digital magazine). Alternatively you can read more on http://www.salmon.com/CustomerPetsAtHome.aspx.

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Back to the future of eCommerce

Back to the Future of eCommerce

Trying to keep my head above the January deluge of posts on eCommerce trends for 2011, I thought it might be interesting to look back on previous years’ forecasts.

I found a post from eCommerce Times (published in 2002) called “Five E-Commerce Trends” and have been reflecting on the issues from a 2011 perspective.

1.    Multi Channel retailing arrives

Nine years on, has Multi Channel retailing actually arrived? While it is certainly true that most retailers do now have multi(ple) channels, they are still on a journey towards offering a truly joined-up Multi Channel experience. With the ongoing proliferation of channels and technologies, retailers are having to work very hard to figure out what is right for their customers and how to prioritise the huge number of possible initiatives. One of the key challenges in 2011 is cross-channel optimisation, both at the customer facing end of things and within back office systems and processes. Legacy product, stock and warehouse systems, designed to meet the needs of ‘old-style’ retail and manual processes that cut across traditional department boundaries, are a huge inhibitor to cross-channel success.

2.    More satisfied customers

Hmm, an interesting one. It’s probably worth putting this one into the context of the time the article was written. In 2002, eCommerce was still recovering from the shake-out of companies that followed the ending of the dot com bubble and there were some high profile customer satisfaction disasters. The 2002 article refers to research showing that ‘eCommerce companies made consumers happier than offline retailers’. Interestingly, in 2010, internet pure plays again outperformed Multi Channel retailers in customer satisfaction (Christmas 2010 Online Retail Customer Satisfaction Index).

While still a key issue for all retailers, customer satisfaction is not normally headline grabbing compared to technology-related topics that typically feature in trend lists. Part of the challenge for retailers is that customer satisfaction is ‘only as good as your last order’ and it’s always relative.  The impact of their customers’ ‘hyper-connectivity’ is a key challenge in 2011. Customers now expect much more than they did in 2002 and can share poor experiences quickly and easily with large numbers of people.

3.    Consumers do their own thing

While there certainly are many sophisticated tools on the market to track and analyse online customer behaviour, it is still difficult for retailers to grapple with the vast quantity of data and translate it into meaningful insight. They are struggling with both the volume of data available and the challenges of making sense of data across channels. With the speed of technology innovation, it’s hard to predict precisely how customers are going to use each new device and how and when retailers should develop new services and offerings.

Personalisation has been talked about for a long while but still very few retailers execute successfully on this.  The holy grail of a ‘single view of the customer’ is a long way off for most Multi Channel retailers.  With the arrival of social commerce, consumers are revealing (consciously and sub-consciously) a lot more about their likes and dislikes, so this should enable retailers to make their offers more relevant. However, as humans we will always do our own thing – thank goodness !

4.    Death of the mid-size e-tailer

Well, since 2002, we’ve certainly seen large e-tailers like Amazon, eBay and Play massively grow and develop their operations. As well as organic growth, they have developed their offerings in ways no one of could have predicted – via massive range expansion, as well as business model and product innovation (e.g. Kindle and eBay’s own brand fashion).

But there’s also been significant consolidation among online only operations, notably Amazon’s recent acquisition of LoveFilm. With the availability of open source and software as a service platforms, it is still possible for small-scale businesses to operate successfully in niche areas. However, for medium sized retailers, the middle ground is a dangerous place to be; lacking the scale of the large players to compete effectively, but with a higher cost base and less differentiated offering than the smaller (more agile) niche businesses. We’ve certainly seem some of the mid-sized Multi Channel retailers struggle and go under in recent years – e.g. Woolworths, Zavvi – and there will be further challenges ahead I believe.  To be able to survive beyond 2011, it seems you need either massive scale or a distinctly niche offering.

The internet start-ups that have made it big since 2002 (Facebook, Netflix, Zappos and Nakedwines for example) have tended not to be traditional e-tailers (now there’s a phrase I never thought I’d use!) but have created brand new business models around social commerce, streaming media or a service culture.

5.    More profits

This was very much an issue in the post dot com bubble days and remains an issue for companies like Twitter and Facebook, where investment to achieve operational scale still runs ahead of profits.  However, for Multi Channel retailers it’s becoming increasingly difficult to separately measure profits from online sales.  With the eCommerce market still growing, channel usage and technology still evolving rapidly, online success needs to be considered across a range of key performance indicators, including the contribution made to the overall business.  With the growth of cross channel transactions (e.g. Reserve and Collect) this should become easier to monitor and report.  However, in the current economic climate, strategic investments with long payback periods will be difficult for mid-sized retailers to justify.

Conclusion

So, what does this all mean for merchants today?  Three thoughts stand out from my brief journey back to the future.  Firstly, while the detail may have changed the topics are still relevant nine years later.

Secondly, so many elements of 2011 eCommerce that seem important today just weren’t on the radar in 2002.

And thirdly, a question: what will happen in the next 9 years that doesn’t feature on any of the 2011 trend lists?

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Reports from a Multi Channel Retail summit

Show Guide Cover

I was lucky to squeeze in a full day at Retail Bulletin’s Multi Channel Summit 2011 on Wednesday.  In this post I thought I’d document a few take-away’s from the key presentations, and additionally high-spot a few quotes from the various speakers and panels .  All in all it was a good day, and I recommend you add it to your calendar for 2012.  Enjoy the notes.

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Jl Logo

Session: A Profitable Future Strategy in a Multi Channel World. Speaker: Simon Russell, Head of Multi Channel, John Lewis (JL)

To begin here are a few quotes from Simon’s presentation:

“Multi Channel does not mean online”
“What is key, is a seamless experience across the very many channels”
“Customer shopping habits are dramatically changing”

“How quickly can you change your business – to be able to sweat the asset – when the foundation is there to do so?”

Simon also highlighted the three typical categories of customers;

  1. Acquired
  2. Retained*
  3. Reactivated

*Simon said notably that Retained customers spendby far the most” with JL. Read more »

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