The team over at Exchange Solutions have really out done themselves this time. Their Smarter Loyalty plugins for WebSphere Commerce are clean and easy to use. They have created seven easy to use widgets that can be placed on page templates for use throughout your store. These widgets deliver a personalized experience to your shoppers and your loyalty program.
Check out the video to learn more about Smarter Loyalty (or click here to see the full-page).
We had an amazing time at Amplify this year. The IBM Commerce Showcase was pretty busy despite the poor location of the solution center room. We captured some great analytics for the demo use; where customers could use the IBM Commerce tooling live on the big screens. But enough about showcase, today I am writing about two very slick-looking solutions that can easily integrate with your WebSphere Commerce sites.
The first one is from Exchange Solutions, I watched a really nice demonstration of their loyalty package called Smarter Loyalty that plugs into WebSphere Commerce. This is honestly one of the most feature rich loyalty systems I have seen to date. With tight integration with the purchasing process on the site you can not only gain points for doing activity on the site but use the loyalty points as “cash” to pay for products. It also comes with a very nice individualized incentive program – which once I returned home I started searching around for more information. Check out this article on loyalty360.org which describes how it works.
The second one is from Powerfront, Asia-Pacific CEO, Michael Browitt, gave me a quick demonstration of their live support/chat feature. I saw a very slick virtual store front user interface which was a 3D layout of an online e-commerce store, showing different person icons browsing different categories on the site. Clicking on a person gives you all kinds of statistics and you can even start an online chat request with the customer.
There will be more to follow and possibly a demonstration on these two partners, stay tuned.
This year we will have some hands on tutorials which take anywhere from 3-6 minutes to complete at Amplify. Check out below some of the cool features you can play with live in the IBM Commerce tooling. Some key things you will be able to try:
- Commerce Composer – adding marketing content to a page and creating new layouts
- Search Rules – control which products rank higher in search results
- Merchadising attributes – hidden attributes that can be used in precision marketing
- Mixing advertisements with product results
- Promotions and Promotion codes
- Dynamic categories – categories based on attribute values
Make sure you schedule some time in San Diego to play with the IBM Commerce tooling!
Showcase hours are:
Monday – 6:30 – 7:30 pm
Tuesday – 9:30 am – 7:30pm
Wednesday – 9:30 am – 7:30 pm
Not registered for Amplify, register today here!
In the past, companies were faced with two primary models for a web site design:
- Responsive or Adaptive design with a single source
- A separate “m.” sub domain for the mobile version of the site
As Google promised back in February, a site with a mobile design will have priority in the Google search result index. So if you went down the m.domain.com route you may be losing search results ranking according to Google. Check out your site URL to see if your site is “mobile friendly” using the Google Mobile-Friendly Test.
The WebSphere Commerce starter store “Aurora” is built on a responsive design framework similar to bootstrap. Basing your eCommerce store code on the Aurora template means you will be mobile friendly right out of the gate!
If you recall, one of my previous posts about SNOW you will also realize that just being mobile friendly with an adaptive or responsive approach is not the entire picture. SNOW gives your site the ability to send properly sized images for the devices hitting your site. This is not only a screen real estate problem being solved but a bandwidth problem. Smaller resolution images also mean faster connections when going over 3G, 4G, or LTE.
Is your site mobile friendly?
With today’s order management solutions and insight into inventory and warehouse management it still surprises me that stores don’t have a way for a shopper to order out of stock items. Instead of just preventing the order from happening why not offer an email or SMS alert when the item becomes in stock?
I purchase many different kinds of consumables and some of them are very hard to come by because of demand. I can order some things online and have them shipped to me or to the store (depending on shipping rules for New York) but many times the web site doesn’t list the item when it’s out of stock. So instead, I have to wait for a newspaper or flyer from the store and show up at 8:30am on the day of the sale to buy the item – and hope the line in front of me is not too big.
Imagine if you had a way to be notified when an item becomes in stock right from the store front. Or, even better, be able to order the out of stock item with a ship date well into the future. I am not saying this would really work for all products but we all know hot items sell out fast and being able to be notified when it is in stock would go a long way in my opinion.
Lastly, eCommerce systems would have to do two things to make this work:
- The first thing is to show items that are not in stock. Many eCommerce systems hide items under certain inventory levels, in order for this to work you need to at least have the products in the catalog regardless of inventory.
- You will also need a notification mechanism that has visibility into your inventory. The system should handle (by user profile) how to notify the customer. If they signed up for email or SMS notifications, or if they are a mobile user a rich notification in the store front mobile app.
If you know an online site that allows this today comment here, I am always interested in seeing how companies carry out features like this.
Optimized image delivery has been around for a long time and one open source technology that has provided this to thousands of sites in WordPress is ImageMagick. I have been a huge fan of ImageMagick because it’s so darn simple and straightforward.
Trilibis, a certified IBM Commerce partner has a WebSphere Commerce extension (SNOW IO) that brings image optimization delivery to this extensible platform. The way it works is you install the ImageMagick software on your server and configure it to point to where your images are stored on the server. You then configure a job to run frequently (hourly, daily, weekly) to resize images stored in that directory. The default setup will create three versions of your images – Desktop, Tablet, and Phone sized images.
Check out my video below where I show how I configured SNOW IO to work with the out of the box Aurora starter store in WebSphere Commerce.
You may have missed this but three videos were published last month by IBM Think Academy covering three different topics in the IBM Commerce space: Insights, Personalization, and Fulfillment.
Regular readers of my blog know that I’m a fan of CoreMedia and the impressive content management integration that they have developed with WebSphere Commerce. They launched the product last year at the Smarter Commerce Global Summit in Tampa and have been hard at work developing enhancements and lining up customers.
I’m happy to announce that all of their work has really paid off. Their first joint WCS integration project officially went into production last November and I’ll tell you more about that in this blog soon.
On top of that, however, the company announced last week that retail giant, Office Depot, will deploy CoreMedia LiveContext (Office Depot press release) to enhance the customer shopping experience for officedepot.com. Based on the strength of the REST APIs that they developed with the WCS team, CoreMedia was able to integrate their technology with Office Depot’s homegrown e-Commerce system in less than a week.
This is not only big news for CoreMedia but for the retail e-commerce space in general. Since merging with OfficeMax back in 2013, Office Depot has become one of the biggest players in Internet retailing with over $7 billion in web sales according to Internet Retailer. Given the high volume of online visitors that Office Depot supports as well as its large presence in the B2B space, this is a great validation of CoreMedia’s ability to operate in a very challenging enterprise environment. This is as challenging as it gets!!!
Given that the recently released WCS Release 7 Feature Pack 8 is designed to accelerate time-to-market for next generation B2B e-commerce, the timing of this announcement couldn’t be better. My sources tell me that CoreMedia has had Feature Pack 8 in their development environment since before its release last November and will be validated by IBM’s Labs in February.
The news around Office Depot – as well as the recent joint customer wins – will kick start some more well deserved attention for this solution.
I got this feed URL passed on to me by a colleague and if you use an RSS or Atom feed reader then this is right up your alley. You can view the feed in your favorite reader or even subscribe to it with browsers like FireFox. You can also just view the partner page to see the list of partners and their solutions.
You will immediately see there are three new partners on board already this year:
There are a lot of tools out there that help you measure how effective a tweet is doing. Did you know Twitter added a nice analytic package for your tweets? Last year Twitter launched a new page where you can measure the effectiveness and engagement of your tweets. Here I present two options that can help you figure out how well your tweets are doing in your network.
The first option is the new Twitter activity page on the Twitter site itself. Just follow this link (https://analytics.twitter.com) to view your engagement levels. You can gauge three different categories: Tweets, Followers, and Twitter Cards. Here are some screen shots on what you can expect:
In this video I show a free way to develop responsive design advertisements using a combination of Eclipse and inline editing with Chrome. I showed this technique last year in the post “Tip Of the Day: Modifying and saving CSS with Google Chrome” and now I combine it with managed files in WebSphere Commerce Management Center.
Each year I read around the net how different blogs did for the year and attempt to compare myself to those blogs or just simply learn how I can do things better. I also get asked many times by aspiring tech bloggers how much traffic to expect. I always say “not much at first” but focus on “green content” – ie. content that will forever get hits from SEO and search engines, or timeless content. As you will see below, a majority of my top posts came from previous years. My average bounce rate was 1.37 for 2014, meaning each visitor viewed almost 1.4 posts on each visit. This at least tells me the majority of people who get sent to my blog look at another post for some reason or another.
This year I focused on developer and business content and cut way back on personal information and relied more on platforms like Facebook for that stuff. I also focused on what I considered better content and less frequent posts unless I had something good to share or it was time sensitive. So here are my results for this blog:
Santa has come early for IBM Business Partners!
I remember the days when I worked at Key Services and any time we wanted to try out new software it had to go through all kinds of approval processes because it was expensive. Usually it would require approval for a server and then the man hours to go through the installation and configuration process. Needless to say it was very costly to try out new things or even prototype things on new platforms.
What if I told the IBM Partners they can get going on the latest and greatest for under $200 a month? Well you can. In my previous post (Is your solution Ready for Smarter Commerce?) was the entry point to start building widgets and integrations into the Smarter Commerce platform. If you select the developer option and then WebSphere Commerce you get presented with two options:
If you select option two you could get a fully configured WebSphere Commerce instance up and running in minutes! Just look at all of the different areas you can provide solutions for:
It is that time to reflect on the past year and this year I am starting with my YouTube channel. In case you missed any of these blockbuster hits you can watch them now!
This year I had over 32,000 views (up over 10,000 views from last year, Thank You) on my YouTube channel and gained over 150 new followers. This is the first year where I had five videos over 5 minutes long in top ten. I still stand by the YouTube law that videos over 3 minutes rarely get fully watched but in the end content is king – so maybe I did something right with those 5. I gained 3% in audience retention from last year.
Only two of the top 10 videos were actually published this year (Editing and Saving CSS with Google Chrome and Data Load Utility in WebSphere Commerce Introduction) a 57 second video and a 14 minute video.
Most of my views believe it or not still come from external search (mostly Google) or YouTube search, accounting for almost 50% of my traffic sources.
Before we get to the list let’s look at some demographics:
The United States and India are by far by largest viewership.
I actually started published videos and content at my night-time so it is available to the east in their morning, I have already started seeing shifts in views – it will be interesting next year to see if it made any difference.
So here are the 2014 Top 10 videos:
Yes, this news is actually about 9 months late but I am realizing not many customers know about this so I figured I would re-announce it today. This is the place where you can vote on features and even submit new ideas for features and get them voted on. And it is not just WebSphere Commerce but all the products in the B2B & Commerce portfolio.