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5 Must-Have Features of Enterprise E-Commerce

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5 Must-Have Features of Enterprise E-Commerce

E-commerce is everywhere — unless, of course, you look in the B2B space. Unfortunately, one segment lags behind all the rest when it comes to online sales: manufacturers. Just 38% of manufacturers have e-commerce websites, and only 6% of all manufacturer sales come through this particular channel. 

Part of the reason manufacturers are so slow to adopt e-commerce can be traced back to the old adage “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” The traditional ways of doing business largely haven’t posed a problem yet, so many manufacturers don’t feel a real sense of urgency to explore the increasingly relevant direct-to-consumer model. 

It also has a lot to do with technical hurdles. For many manufacturers, moving to e-commerce involves taking on yet one more system to master — that or an expensive integration with their current enterprise resource planning (ERP) software. It’s nearly impossible to get an e-commerce platform to talk to an old “closed” mainframe, so plans to upgrade often involve a two-year timeframe or longer to get everything up and running. They might also involve a million-dollar price tag. Not surprisingly, this tends to put e-commerce on the back burner pretty quickly. 

And it’s important to note, too, that most manufacturers work through distributors and dealers, making e-commerce seem like nothing more than a mere alternative to their current traditional sales channels. 

A Missed Opportunity

What many manufacturers seem to be missing, though, is that B2B customers are also B2C customers. Chances are that they’re already shopping online for their personal needs, and not having a way to buy their business products and services online can have a hefty negative impact on the customer experience. If you’re manufacturing a commodity product and your sales process lacks the convenience of shopping for that product online, your customers might begin to look elsewhere. 

Remaining passive about e-commerce is simply the wrong approach, especially with B2B buyers moving more of their purchases online all the time. As it stands, nearly half of all companies utilize online channels for 50% to 74% of all their corporate purchases. Not being online just means you’ve missed out on an opportunity — not only to secure additional sales, but also to broaden your reach to a global level

Also, remember that it’s easier than ever for competition and new players in the market to get in front of your customers via Google, Facebook, and email. Not having an e-commerce site could easily cost you market share, even if the competition’s product isn’t as good as yours.

Beyond the Basics

Knowing that it isn’t enough to conduct all business offline, know, too, that it isn’t enough to just invest in getting an e-commerce platform, leave it there, and call it good. Your site has to offer the functionalities necessary to run an online business. If your system doesn’t support multiple pricing tiers, it probably also doesn’t mimic your current sales process. Clearly, that’s not a good thing. 

Your site needs to be able to support multiple buying options, such as “requests for quotes” as opposed to a shopping cart model. It can take time to arrive at a number in a complex B2B transaction, and the last thing you want is for a customer to have to take the interaction offline just to finalize scope and nail down specifics. 

This naturally leads to my next point. Assuming your e-commerce site comes equipped with all the basics like browse, add to cart, checkout, email confirmation, etc., there are a few features to look out for at the enterprise level. Those often include the following:

System integration options

In e-commerce, a certain amount of coordination is necessary between the website itself and your back-end system that you use for inventory and accounting purposes. Without proper integration, order fulfillment can easily get problematic. Focus on maintenance, data input, and offering a seamless user experience. Most of all, understand all the system integration options of your marketplace website before going with one provider over another.

Proper data to support search

Product information is important. It’s what consumers see prior to making a purchase decision. But it can sometimes pale in comparison to the product data used behind the scenes. A number of data fields and HTML tags enable your products and website to rank in both Google and on-site search results. Make sure your platform accommodates these options. Also, inquire about the tracking capabilities of your on-site search function. It can be useful to monitor what users found — and didn’t find — during a visit.

Customer tiers

At the enterprise level, you’ll likely run across different types of customers. Being able to segment these customers into various tiers can come in handy. Based on their purchase history, for example, you might determine that one tier would respond well to a certain promotion while another’s browsing behavior could inform subsequent product recommendations. In other words, segmenting tiers allows you to personalize your messaging, pricing, and other marketing efforts to fit the needs of your customers. So look into this functionality while reviewing your e-commerce options.

Analytics integration

Whether you’re looking at an off-the-shelf platform or a custom solution, reporting is very important. At a bare minimum, make sure a standard tool like Google Analytics can be integrated with your e-commerce system. You’ll also want to inquire about the setup of advanced features like e-commerce tracking.

Merchandising

Generally, any platform you go with will provide the functionality of assigning products to categories. This can help with on-site search and make it easier for visitors to browse your product line. Beyond that, you might wish to feature certain products. The question, then, is what ability do you have in the platform to create banner ads, highlight related products on a product page, create landing pages around a spotlight topic for the month, and feature products in other ways? 

Providing a good online experience naturally makes customers feel good about doing business with you. It also increases the likelihood of driving new customers to your business without needing to invest in additional resources. 

Ultimately, you can handle more transactions with an e-commerce site in your corner. Just make sure your site provides you with all of the functionalities you need to keep your business running smoothly and your customers happy. 

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Michael Bird is the CEO of Spindustry, a digital agency focused on e-commerce, SharePoint portals, and enterprise websites. He has almost 30 years of experience in interactive development, user behavior, and business solutions. His successful agency, Spindustry, puts these strategies into practice to help businesses grow.

Giving Customers Choice: The Power of Personalized Delivery in the Age of Amazon

The past five years have paved the way for a new age of retail — where stores have become omnichannel-driven showrooms, checkout has become as simple as a flick of the phone, and teeming competition has driven retailers to create curated experiences for their customers. 

Most fingers point at the e-commerce giants, Amazon in particular, for putting pressure on brick-and-mortar stores to compete on convenience and personalization. Particularly around delivery, Amazon changed the game with two-day shipping for Prime members. As retailers have fought back by leveraging their physical footprints to improve fulfillment times with offerings like click and collect, Amazon upped the ante with one-day delivery. 

There’s no doubt about one thing: increasing consumer demand for convenience is as important as it’s ever been. The focus has been on enabling same- and next-day delivery, but that’s also been putting retailers under enormous strain and compressing already thin margins. 

If you’re solely focused on matching Amazon’s one-day shipping promise, you’re missing the bigger picture. Consumers want more than same-day, next-day, or scheduled deliveries – they want the freedom to choose

There’s no one-size-fits-all solution. Capgemini found that 73% of consumers think receiving a delivery in a convenient time slot is more important than receiving it quickly. It ultimately comes down to a question of time vs. money. Sometimes customers are willing to pay for something to be delivered in a few hours, and sometimes they’d rather save money and receive it in a week.

Instead of focusing on keeping up with Amazon’s expedited shipping, retailers need to focus on building better customer experiences. From a delivery standpoint, this means creating a logistics infrastructure that can reliably deliver orders when buyers want them delivered. This is accomplished by leveraging multiple delivery models and creating a reliable set of options that includes urgent, same-day, next-day, and more. 

For retailers determined to stay competitive, partnering with innovative providers for home delivery and last-mile logistics can add optionality while avoiding the challenges of building out owned asset networks or expanding service with traditional parcel networks.  

The bottom line is this: consumers want what they want, when they want it. The maturation of e-commerce has ushered in an era of personalization at scale and growing customer demand for convenient, flexible shopping experiences. Next-day and same-day delivery sit at the center, but customers are ultimately focused on choosing the right fulfillment option for each and every order.

Otherwise, they’ll leave and find the retailer who can. 

Will Walker is the Enterprise Manager at Roadie, the first on-the-way delivery service that connects people and businesses that have items to send with drivers already heading in the right direction. Roadie works with top retailers, airlines, and grocers for a faster, more efficient, and more scalable solution for same-day and last-mile deliveries nationwide. With over 120,000 drivers, the company has delivered to more than 11,000 cities and towns nationwide — a larger footprint than Amazon Prime.

Global Trade Magazine Opens Nominations for the 7th Annual “Americas 50 Leading 3PLs”

Global Trade Magazine has officially kicked-off its seventh annual “America’s Top 50 Leading 3PLs” nominations process, with the 2019 list scheduled to go live in the September/October issue. This year will feature the most competitive movers and shakers transforming domestic and international logistics by raising the bar higher while exceeding client expectations and maintaining an exemplary company profile and reputation.

Companies leading initiatives in specific industries will have the opportunity to showcase their expertise among a variety of categories including E-commerce/Omni-Channel, Temperature-Controlled, Innovation, Hazmat, Retail, and much more. Following last year’s focus on “needs-based” categories, the 2019 feature will spotlight specialty industries with the highest demand.

“It’s a measure of the quickly growing/changing/evolving global marketplace that arguably the most critical industry serving it, Third Party Logistic Providers (3PLs), continues to grow, change and evolve at a dizzying pace,” explained former senior editor Steve Lowery in the issue’s introduction.

“That evolution has been chronicled over the years in this, our annual Top 3PL issue, as we have written about such things as an increasing emphasis and reliance on technology, the constant march toward transparency and, most recently, the increasing pace of acquisitions and consolidations.”

Global Trade Magazine will determine the final 50 nominations based on industry reputation, outstanding operational excellence, game-changing initiatives, disruptive technology, and unmatched levels of innovation. This list not only showcases leading players, but also serves as a comprehensive list for manufacturers seeking new partnerships and opportunities.

“It is easy to say that one must move faster, deliver services quicker, be more innovative and have an organizational agility to flex with the world, but it takes something quite different to lead the cultural transformation that is required to make these goals a reality,” said Rich Bolte, CEO of BDP.

“Leadership will have to change as well. Leaders will be measured by their ability to innovate and create potential disruptions. The old paradigm of measuring only performance and execution has changed.”

Nominations are currently open and will be accepted through August 15 at 5 p.m. CST.

To see a complete list of recipients, please visit www.globaltrademag.com and view the current issue.         

IRCE @ RetailX: Ecommerce and Beyond

The International Retailer Conference and Exhibition features a staggering 130 sessions on a range of topics and trends in ecommerce and more, created by the editorial team at Internet Retailer Magazine.

Taking place at McCormick Place South in Chicago, retailers will gather at the event known as the “one stop shop” for e-retailers and all their
ecommerce needs.

Keynote and guest speakers from leading retail and ecommerce company’s such as Walmart, Groupon, Unilever, Amazon Business, Express and Airbnb will address marketing optimization solutions, product launches, retail innovations, and more.

From June 25-28, more than 130 in-depth educational sessions paired with 600 vendors will showcase all the latest trends, curated content, and unmatched presentations to meet and exceed all retailer’s needs.

To review the full conference agenda and registration, visit: irce.com

Brazilian Medical Tech Firm Selects Orlando’s Lake Nona for New Global Headquarters

Brazil-based medical technology firm Invel has announced plans to move its global headquarters to Lake Nona’s Medical City of the Orlando, Florida region. The firm, which creates biocearmic and far infrared apparel to help with blood flow, chronic muscle pain and cell repair, will open in its new space on Feb. 18. Invel will start operations at its Lake Nona headquarters with 10 employees and expects to add more jobs in later 2019.

Invel’s global headquarters will be located at the GuideWell Innovation Center of Lake Nona’s Medical City. Invel chose the Lake Nona Medical City, a 650-acre health and life sciences park, for its high concentration of medical professionals and status as the premiere global location for health and wellness innovation. The firm will join Lake Nona Medical City’s community that includes the University of Central Florida Health Sciences CampusVA Medical Center, the Johnson & Johnson Human Performance Institute and more.

The Lake Nona district also currently has more than $1 billion worth of projects planned for the next several years. This includes KPMG’s state-of-the-art $430 million new training facility. Amazon is also joining with a planned $120 million, 2.3 million-square-foot fulfillment center and a 3.8-million-square-foot Town Center is underway in partnership with shopping center pioneer Steiner + Associates and Alphabet’s Intersection, who partnered with Lake Nona to create a tech-forward plan to transform traditional brick-and-mortar retail.

Not only will Invel join Lake Nona’s community of medical experts, but it will also leverage Orlando’s diverse life sciences sector to advance its technology. Orlando’s life sciences industry is home to 4,800 companies and thanks to the region’s tech growth, Orlando is also a rising hub for medical technology innovation.

 

Small Retail Business? No problem.

It’s the holiday season and consumer demands are keeping small and large retailers up at night. For smaller retailers, the concern is how to keep up and maintain the course against their much larger competitors. Unfortunately, many get stuck with a quick fix approach with minimal results, specifically with SEO optimizations and keyword traps.

Director of Elemental Search Limited, George Weir, provides some insight on how to leverage a demanding market without wasting time on result-less outcomes, specifically for smaller retailers such as mom-and-pop businesses.

“If you’re a small or medium sized toy retailer, it’s going to be difficult to compete with the big companies like Walmart and Amazon because they can afford to pour more resource, time and money into optimizing their website assets,” Weir commented. “It’s a classic case of David and Goliath, so pick your stones and ready your sling.”

Weir provides three critical pieces of advice: Go niche with your keyword phrases, create more content-rich web pages, and plan ahead. Seems simple enough? As simple as it may seem, these elements can make or break your results for this and next year. When done the right way, sales can soar.

“Building a database of your customers for next Christmas is a no-brainer. Added to that, capture information about the ages of their children so that when those children are a year older come Christmas 2019, you can be more targeted with your marketing,” he adds.

“Point-of-sale software like Vend make this a no-brainer. The information is incredibly easy to capture and few customers ever decline, particularly if you’re offering incentives such as discounts or lucky prize draws,” he said. If Amazon or Walmart offer a link to your website from their homepage, take it.”

Source: EIN Presswire 

 

Asian Logistics and Maritime Conference 2018

Prepare to join thousands of global  industry experts at this year’s Asian Logistics and Maritime Conference from November 20-21 at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre.

A press release from October highlights the conference’s three main areas of focus on “Asian connectivity,  new retail revolution and its implications to logistics and logistics technology” in addition to the rapid changes in the industry (HKTDC).

An expected 70 industry experts are scheduled to speak along with Secretary-General Dato Lim Jock Hoi, who  will kick-off the conference at the opening session.

Other topics anticipated include supply-chain management, logistics, air freight, cold-chain logistics, e-commerce and the ” the International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) new air cargo security requirements and logistics technology in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area,” (HKTDC).

“Asian countries and regions are now pushing forward various trade agreements and regional development strategies, including the Hong Kong-ASEAN [Association of Southeast Asian Nations] Free Trade Agreement signed last year, the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area development plan, and the China-Singapore Initiative on Strategic Connectivity,” said HKTDC Deputy Executive Director Raymond Yip. “Under the Belt and Road Initiative, many major infrastructure projects, including new road transport systems and port developments, have been kick-started, with a number of them already completed. Such projects foster the development of trade and logistics in Asia, driving better connectivity within the regional supply chain,” (HKTDC).

In addition to traditionally seen forums and discussions, a “New Tech Dialogue and Tech Demo Session” will be featured, spotlighting some key insights and information in block chain technology and hyperloop transportation. Transpod co-founder and CEO Sebastien Gendron and Chief Analytics Officer of Blockchain in Transport Alliance are among those that will review industry tips and developments.

There are more than 100 exhibitors expected and more than 150 one-on-one business-matching sessions are being arranged in an effort to boost industry relations and spur business relationships. For a full list of noted speakers, please visit: ACNNewswire.com

 

Source: ACNNewswire.com, HKTDC

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

No USWC Port Labor Contract Worries Retailers

Washington, DC – Import cargo volume at the nation’s major retail container ports is expected to see a final surge and set a new monthly record in October as the holiday season approaches, according to the National Retail Foundation’s monthly Global Port Tracker report.

“Increasing congestion at the nation’s ports, as well as the ongoing West Coast labor negotiations, are ongoing concerns and retailers are making one last push to make sure they’re stocked up for the holidays,” said Jonathan Gold, the NRF’s vice president for Supply Chain and Customs Policy.

“Retailers are working hard to make sure customers can find what they’re looking for regardless of what happens at the ports.”

The contract between the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) affecting cargo movement at US West Coast (USWC) ports expired on July 1, prompting concerns among the nations’s retailers and others about potential disruptions that could affect back-to-school or holiday merchandise.

The Washington, DC-based NRF recently sent a letter to the heads of the PMA and the ILWU urging a speedy, successful conclusion to their on-going negotiations.

Dockworkers remain on the job as negotiations continue but the lack of a contract and operational issues “have led to record congestion” at ports from Seattle to San Diego, the industry group said.

“Finalizing a new labor contract is an absolutely critical component to working through the backlog of shipping containers now piling up at West Coast ports,” the letter read. “We are deeply troubled by the fact that no apparent progress has been made in the negotiations since August, when the PMA and ILWU announced a ‘tentative deal’ on health benefits.”

The NRF, the largest retail industry group in the world, chided both groups for their lack of transparency, saying that, “Whether intentional or not, the fact that neither the PMA nor ILWU has made any public progress report in more than a month is sending a very troublesome and disconcerting signal.”

Shippers, the NRF said, “look for certainty when making strategic long-term supply chain investments, or for placing transportation orders for discretionary cargo.”

The ongoing negotiations “and the degradation of operating efficiency, specifically at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, is making the region unattractive for future investment and will lead to a permanent shift of cargo,” the letter concluded.

Import volume at US ports covered by the Global Port Tracker report is expected to total 1.53 million containers this month, topping the 1.52 million monthly record set in August. Cargo volume has been well above average each month since spring as retailers have imported merchandise early in case of any disruption on the docks.

The 1.52 million TEUs (Twenty-Foot Equivalent Unit cargo containers) handled in August, the latest month for which after-the-fact numbers are available, was up 1.5 percent from July and 2.1 percent from August 2013.

The import numbers come as NRF is forecasting 4.1 percent holiday season sales growth and 3.6 percent growth for all of 2014.

Global Port Tracker, which is produced for NRF by the consulting firm Hackett Associates, covers the ports of Los Angeles/Long Beach, Oakland, Seattle and Tacoma on the US West Coast; New York/New Jersey, Hampton Roads, Charleston, Savannah, Port Everglades and Miami on the US East Coast, and Houston on the US Gulf Coast.

10/10/2014

2024 Mobile Commerce Sales Expected to Soar to $59 Billion

Chicago, IL – Many US merchants that place mobile at the core of their e-commerce strategy are reaping big rewards with “m-commerce” sales of $59 billion in 2014, up 74 percent from $34 billion in 2013, according to the Internet Retailer’s latest 2015 Mobile 500 report.

Mobile sales, the report said, will account for 23 percent of total 2014 online sales of the US merchants analyzed in the report.

By contrast, e-retail sales in the US grew 15.7 percent in Q2 2014, according to the US Commerce Department. With their combined $30.8 billion in 2014 mobile sales, No. 1-ranked Amazon.com and No 2.-ranked Apple Inc. command a 37 percent share of total Mobile 500 “m-commerce” sales, the report found.

“But since the mobile commerce market is far from mature, there’s still plenty of room for growth and new players, both domestically and internationally,” it said.

The 134 overseas retailers studied in the 2015 Mobile 500 are expected to reach $25 billion in “m-commerce” sales in 2014, up an impressive 96 percent from $13 billion in 2013.

The report estimates that the world’s 500 largest mobile commerce businesses combined will increase their mobile sales by 80 percent in 2014 to more than $84 billion.

“The quantum leap in mobile sales growth worldwide is prompting many retailers to prioritize their tech spending and match consumers’ online shopping behavior, which leans toward mobile shopping on apps as opposed to shopping on a mobile web site,” the report said.

“Mobile commerce is like a hurricane rearranging the coastline of e-retailing,” said Internet Retailer publisher Jack Love in Chicago. “For e-retailers trying to ride the wave rather than being swamped by it, the 2015 Mobile 500 is a survival guide to e-commerce in the mobile age.”

08/20/2014

Emerging Market Retail Growth Outlined in New Report

New York, NY – Chile ranks first place in terms of global retail market potential in A.T. Kearney’s latest  Global Retail Development Index (GRDI).

With Uruguay, Brazil, Peru, Panama, Colombia, Costa Rica and Mexico also in the index of top emerging economies ready for retail expansion, Latin America “continues to show strength as a regional retail growth market,” according to the business consultancy.

The region maintains its dominating position in the GRDI, with three countries in the Index’s top five positions, as an expanding middle class offers lucrative opportunities.

The “diverse retail ecosystem” includes Brazil’s huge market, Chile’s  sophisticated mid-sized market, and “small gems” such as Uruguay, where high consumption levels are attractive to luxury brands, the GRDI said.

“While some Latin American countries face economic and political challenges, continued economic and political stability in leading countries has led to increased consumer and investor confidence and created a favorable environment for retail.”

International retailers there “are entering and gaining ground in a highly competitive environment with local and regional leaders. This battle is most intense outside of the region’s capital cities, where new markets are emerging as consumers opt for modern retail formats.”

Asia

Asia has a number of fast-growing economies that offer fertile ground for retailers, as growing populations, rising incomes, and increasing affinity for modern formats helps retail sales increase rapidly. Modern retail is spreading beyond the largest urban centers to smaller, untapped cities and regions.

The region saw several improvements in the rankings, led by China, which rebounded into second place, Malaysia, which re-entered the top 10 for the first time since 2009, and Indonesia, which moved up four places from last year’s ranking. Other Asian countries in this year’s Index include Sri Lanka, India, the  Philippines, and Vietnam.

Even with less-bullish economic growth, “China remains impossible for retailers to ignore. Retail sales in the world’s most populous country increased 13 percent in 2013 to $3.7 trillion, and consumer confidence rose.”

The Middle East and North Africa

A dynamic retail region – the Middle East has a growing and young population, strong GDP growth, and increasing consumer confidence and spending.

With Qatar scheduled to host the FIFA World Cup in 2022 and Dubai recently winning the Expo 2020 bid, the region’s construction and infrastructure boom should continue, thereby benefiting retail.

Middle East and North Africa (MENA) consumers” are becoming increasingly more demanding, seeking formats to better meet their needs along with more interesting creative concepts. Some markets are saturating, particularly Dubai, and local developers are now expanding across the region.”

Fewer international companies entered in 2013, but those in the region “focused on expanding their footprint and growing local brands. E-Commerce in MENA is predicted to grow from $9 billion in 2012 to $15 billion by 2015,” according to a PayPal study.

Central Asia and Eastern Europe

The region’s highest-ranked countries are some of the GRDI’s most shining “small gems” – countries such as Armenia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, and Azerbaijan, whose location and unsaturated retail environment makes them attractive options for international retailers.

On the other end of the spectrum is Russia, which leaped back up the rankings this year “as its retail potential outweighed the country’s lingering risks.”

Sub-Saharan Africa

Africa is marked by distinct regional differences. In the West, Africa’s most populous region, international retailers including Walmart and Carrefour, have succeeded in navigating the challenging business landscape, targeting middle- and high-income consumers who are brand conscious and want convenience, quality and variety.

The East” is untapped and increasingly attractive, as the largely informal markets feature few international retailers. Regional retailers dominate the region targeting all income segments.”

In the South, the most developed region with stronger infrastructures, high incomes, and macroeconomic stability, South African retailers lead the growth with their close proximity and cultural alignment. Regional and local retailers are leading the e-commerce push, particularly among affluent consumers.

Mike Moriarty, A.T. Kearney partner and co-author of the GRDI said, “With GDP growth of 5 percent, rising household incomes, fast urbanization, and a growing middle class, Sub-Saharan Africa is a region of massive potential for retailers.”

Published since 2001, the GRDI ranks the top 30 developing countries for retail investment worldwide and analyzes 25 macroeconomic and retail-specific variables that help retailers devise successful global strategies to identify emerging market investment opportunities.

06/17/2014