Is Pinterest in your marketing plan?

We all have our favorite stores and products and usually expect marketing emails to come from the company itself. But did you know Pinterest has been sending “Price drop emails” since last year (2013)? This is great for people who pin products to a “Wish List” board or simply “like” a product and may have intentions of buying it later.

From a consumer perspective I really like the Pinterest model for two primary reasons:

  1. I provide no information to the actual company and don’t receive “tons” of emails daily or weekly on things I could care less about
  2. I only receive price updates for the products I personally pin

I pinned this watch last year, unfortunately I pinned it because I got the watch as a Christmas present so I really don’t care about the price changes. Maybe Pinterest should have a “Did you purchase this?” option when pinning a product so these emails are not sent.

Screen Shot 2014-09-19 at 10.43.20 AM

 

Today, I received an email telling me the price has dropped:

Screen Shot 2014-09-19 at 10.46.02 AM

Short URL: http://bit.ly/YYqPJc

Easily Creating Widgets In WebSphere Commerce Composer

WebSphere Commerce Composer is a very powerful addition to the tool set. It allows marketing and HTML developers to pretty much design a web site to their heart’s content.

In this video I show how you can use jQuery and the REST services in WebSphere Commerce to display a product list. One thing you will notice in the JavaScript I use a substitution variable [storeId]. These things come in very handy and allow you to create reusable code snippets across pages and store fronts; to learn more about them check out the info center. If you are really adventurous you can even create your own substitution variables, check out this info center page to learn how to do that.

 

Short URL: http://bit.ly/1qTlUmF

Taxonomy matters and colorful attribute names

The taxonomy, or often called navigation, of a site is probably one of the most important pieces of an online commerce system. Being able to narrow down to a product through search and a faceted navigation system is very important to the site visitor. One example of this is being able to describe a product through facets (or attributes in some systems). Many times eCommerce systems provide attributes that can be tied to a product and these attributes ultimately drive the faceted navigation system. A brand would use these attributes to aid the shopper in finding the right product. Sometimes a brand may want to have a hierarchy of facets like colors. You may want to promote your colors through high level categories and then drill down to specific colors so your faceted navigation might look like this:

facetsThe facets to the left could be a single facet in the system named “Color”. But because we could assign multiple values to a single product, the product could potentially show up under “Blues” and possibly “Periwinkle, Powder Blue, or Baby Blue”.  This lets the shopper navigate to a single product in multiple ways. You might want to consider offering multiple options for your products to make finding them easier. I mean, who doesn’t want to click on Periwinkle?

Short URL: http://bit.ly/1oDt6xK

One of THE best new features in WebSphere Commerce Feature Pack (FEP) 7

In Feature Pack 7, the advanced configuration allows you to federate and cluster WebSphere Commerce search. This means you can now scale your servers more inline with your sites demand – separating transactional operations and search operations independently. 

Marco Fabbri outlined this in an excellent blog post back in June this year. 

As shown on the pictures I got from IBM Knowledge Center it’s possible to create two different clusters, one for transactional and the other dedicated to no transactional traffic and using CBR (Content Based Routing) functions of a dispatcher to distribute REST calls to the different servers depending on their content (or better on his URL pattern).

- Marco Fabbri

sdsearchadvcluster

Photo From the IBM InfoCenter

Short URL: http://bit.ly/1ooW7SC

BlueMix URL Rating widget on WebSphere Commerce for product ratings

bluemix-ratings-wc

Ok, this is really just a teaser post as I will divulge the process used to get my Blue Mix URL rating widget into the WebSphere Commerce Composer framework a bit later.

I will say, now that the widget is in a real application I was able to test out some more use cases and fix a few bugs to make sure the widget is re-usable across a site. In this use case I am using it to rate products. I made a few changes to the NodeRED flow including adding more data saved for some future ideas I have. Here is the current block of data saved in the MongoDB for each rating received:

{
 "url": "http://mytestserver.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/en/aurora1/electronics/tablets-10229--1/budget-tablet",
 "rating": 4,
 "host": "mytestserver.com",
 "cookie": "1406562990550",
 "date": "Wed, 30 Jul 2014 18:31:35 GMT",
 "_id": {
 "$oid": "53d93a07cb353621005aaadf"
 }
}

Notice I added “date“, “host” and “cookie” to the output. The date is actually filled in by the server for consistency and the cookie is a time stamp saved in the shopper browser for the page using HTML5 storage. I figure I will be able to use this data for reporting later and possibly as a WebSphere Commerce precision marketing action to get me a list of “top products” for a given domain.

The other change I had to make was to allow my service to respond with cross domain calls. I just put a little JavaScript between the post request and response nodes and added “Access-Control-Allow-Origin” to the call. I could probably isolate this to the specific domain eventually.

Cross Domain Setting

The next addition I made was if the browser already rated a product (cookie + URL) is already stored into the database send back a piece of data in the response of the “getRating” call to notify the browser to not let that person vote again. I really like how I can just connect nodes together conditionally and essentially introduce some complex decision making flows into the mix. Here you can see my decision “Check for cookie” and then ultimately append the flag in the “Check for already voted” function:

already voted logicHere is the Check for already voted function:

already voted code

Continue reading

Short URL: http://bit.ly/1kobzys

URL Rating application on BlueMix – Part 2 – the user interface

starsThe next step in my Node-RED application on BlueMix is to create some user interface that calls the services I defined in my Node-RED flow sheet. If you recall from the last post, I created two services:

  • /postrating – which will post a rating for a given url
  • /rating – which retrieves the average rating for the url

For now, I will use the index.html to test the user interface. I want to make it dead simple for someone to use this in the end so the only need is to include the javascript file and define a div with an id of “urlRate”, like so:

<div class="row2">
    <div class="grid">
        <div class="col-1-2" id="urlRate">
	</div>
    </div>
</div>

In this next video I create a basic jQuery user interface that allows the user to click on a star and register their rating for the given page. There are no checks and balances in the application as of yet – ie. I can click as many times as I want so I can test my services.

Continue reading

Short URL: http://bit.ly/1qE0Pi7

Creating a URL Rating Application in Node-RED on BlueMix – Part 1

starsThis is the first part of a new application I am creating using Node-RED on BlueMix. With very little programming, I show how you can get a basic URL rating application up and running very quickly using Node-RED. In this first part I focus on the two primary web services, posting a rating and getting a rating for a URL.

Continue reading

Short URL: http://bit.ly/1nxDmeL

Today’s Bluemix Virtual Meetup Live On YouTube and Google+ starts in 5 minutes!

Originally from Ryan Baxters blog here.

You can watch today’s Bluemix Virtual Meetup on mobile cloud services live at 10 AM EST on YouTube.  There are 3 options for watching.

  1. Watch out on the YouTube page.
  2. Watch on the Google+ page.  If you watch on Google+ you will be able to ask questions.
  3. Watch right here

Short URL: http://bit.ly/1rKpJd3

Using the Eclipse client for editing BlueMix projects on Git Jazz Hub

In this tip of the day I show how easy it is to setup your IBM BlueMix and Jazz Hub project in the Eclipse client for editing. This will allow you to edit your project off-line and take advantage of the many plugins the Eclipse client has to offer.


Continue reading

Short URL: http://bit.ly/1jYrKlV

Who is watching your videos on YouTube?

I understand the types of videos I make will never go viral as it is a niche channel but I am always interested in finding new ways to have broader coverage. I have monitored things like the video retention rate and have attempted to make the videos somewhat compelling along the way to keep the retention high throughout the video however I often find the results are variable and still don’t have it down completely.

I see I have a fairly large viewership in the US and India, and not bad in the UK, Canada, and Brazil but then its starts to decline pretty quickly.

I promote the videos here on this blog, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google Plus, Tumblr, and even Facebook. So the question I have is, how do you get more viewers in these other countries? Are there other social platforms I should be targeting to get the “word out” on? What social networks do you publicize your videos on in these other countries?

Screen Shot 2014-07-18 at 9.35.32 AM

Short URL: http://bit.ly/1qO3JN1

Integrating IBM (Unica) Interact with WebSphere Commerce Part 1

In this video I show off the GreenWheels demonstration where I created an IBM Interact Widget. In this first part I show how Interact and WebSphere Commerce connect together. I explain the setup of the zones in Interact and how I mapped those zones to areas within the product page layout in Commerce Composer. I then walk through how I used the new widget framework to call into Interact and construct the offers for the web page.

Short URL: http://bit.ly/1zIhdjl

Adding a new node type to your Node-Red flow application on BlueMix

Screen Shot 2014-07-09 at 12.02.32 PMIn my last post I introduced a project on GitHub that provided 26 new Node-Red nodes you can use in your Node-Red flow. Today I am going to show how you can bundle up one of those nodes and deploy it to your application on BlueMix.

I have had problems with my blog service provider in that the database server goes off-line at random times. While it only happens maybe once or twice every other month it is very annoying and most of the time I get notified by some of my avid readers that my ‘blog is down”. If anyone knows WordPress, if your database server is down the blog is pretty much dead.

In this video I show how you can bundle up a node and deploy that new node to your Node-Red application flow to be used in your flows.

Short URL: http://bit.ly/1pZXMQZ