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World-Wide eCommerce Trends: Asia Pacific Ranks Fastest Growing Region

February 28th, 2011 Pankaj Kumar No comments

While the ecommerce market in the U.S. is now considered to be a mature segment of the retail industry, In Asia Pacific the expansion of this space remains in its early stages. eCommerce in USA still continues to outpace traditional brick and mortar retail. However in Asia Pacific the growth in eCommerce is staggering. However, unlike traditional beliefs that Asian consumers are averse to shopping online a report released in 2010 on Global Trends in Online Shopping revealed that only 13% of Internet users in Asia Pacific had never shopped online which was lower than the global average where 16% of users had never shopped online. This forecasts the ecommerce in Asia Pacific will continue to grow fast and only may become one of the largest markets world-wide. The report surveyed over 27,000 internet users in the world.

  • The China Internet Network Information Center said the number of internet users in the world’s most populous country jumped 28.9% in 2009 to 384 million, which is more than the entire population of the U.S.
  • According to this article on CNBC , “Sales done online nationwide in China have doubled to almost $80 billion in 2010, according to iResearch data, compared to total retail sales, which have grown nearly 20 percent per year in the last five years.”

While this spending burst could be a result of many things, experts say shoppers in Asia Pacific are fast-becoming comfortable with the ease of mobile e-commerce, compared to their Western counterparts. In addition to their web savvy ways, their economy is experiencing a consumption boom which should last for many years. Users in Asia Pacific are more likely to do a purchase using the mobile phone than users in North America.

Here are some key trends we’ve discovered by reviewing all the surveys including the Nielsen one referred to above and others from ComScore and Forrester Research:

  • What they are buying: Outside of travel, Items that Asia Pacific shoppers like to buy online are books, clothing/accessories/shoes, cosmetics, videos/DVDs/games, and groceries in that order.
  • Where within Asia Pacific are they buying: Total online spending as a percentage of total monthly spending varies by country with Chinese and Korean online consumers allocating the most via the web than any other in the region. Online consumers in New Zealand, Australia, Malaysia and Hong Kong allocate the least.
  • Who is buying: The developed countries in Asia Pacific such as Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, South Korea, and Japan follow the same online gender profiling as North America where women dominate men in the traffic to online stores. Less developed countries like India, Vietnam and Philippines have men more dominant in visits to online retail stores.

World-Wide eCommerce Trends: Asia Pacific Ranks Fastest Growing Region

So with this information, how can you begin marketing to the Asia Pacific part of the world through your ecommerce site ? How can you get their attention and keep it? Here are some tips on what you can do to build out your Asia Pacific ecommerce store.

  1. Offer diversity in your online product catalog: The #1 reason shoppers in Asia Pacific go online is when they cannot find products in the store or for diversity. This is very different than the North America buyer where price is often a very significant reason to shop online. So you don’t need to be the cheapest price in town if your store can bring significant diversity. The more products you can offer the higher your chances of success will be in this market. Those testing the market with a very narrow catalog may find that they are setting themselves for failure.
  2. Stay simple: While a broad catalog is desired, the store should be simple, easy to navigate and not overly complex. Most online retailers in Asia Pacific make the mistake of throwing a lot of flash and a dizzying array of colors. A busy look and feel is the most common and the least successful. Go for the clean and simple look and feel with a powerful offering.
  3. Reviews: Online product reviews are more important than in North America. The strong social connection in Asia pacific means that consumers will like to read and research a lot more before they buy. Reviews (both negative and positive) will help increase the conversion on your store. Don’t sanitize your reviews
  4. Promotions: The least used and yet most successful promotion in Asia Pacific is Free shipping. While it is hard to make shipping cost-effective in the region – if you can make that your strength. How do you make shipping pay for itself – tie the free shopping offer to a minimum order size e.g. the equivalent of $50. That will drive up your order size and the difference will pay for the shipping. The free shipping in itself will increase conversion significantly. Shoppers in Asia Pacific are very sensitive to shipping cost.
  5. Mobile: The web should be your #1 priority. However the mobile experience should be a close second. Users in Asia are much more comfortable with the cell phone than consumers in North America. Take advantage of this and put in place a mobile offering much sooner than when you’d do it in North America.

Email us at ecommerce@ignify.com for more tips.

Pankaj Kumar is the Chief Technology Officer at Ignify. Ignify eCommerce is the only PCI certified eCommerce solution in the market that is available in the Asia Pacific region. Ignify has been included as the fastest growing business in North America for four years in a row by Deloitte, Inc Magazine and Entrepreneur Magazine. Ignify was ranked in the Red Herring Global 100 in 2011 – this list represents the top businesses world-wide with disruptive and innovative technology.

Categories: CTO, eCommerce Tags:

Borders goes Bankrupt – importance of getting Ecommerce right for Retailers

February 18th, 2011 Ranjit Goray No comments
Borders goes Bankrupt – importance of getting Ecommerce right for Retailers

Borders yesterday announced that it had filed Chapter 11 Bankruptcy. Poor technology, the lack of a strong ecommerce offering and the Kindle unraveled Borders. It is unfortunate yet brings home a strong message to retailers. Get your ecommerce strategy right or face dire straits.

Other retailers that have gone through this include Circuit City, Barnes & Noble, Linens N things are examples of venerated brick and mortar stores with strong brands that become history because they didn’t transform themselves fast enough. It’s easy to dismiss this as a US or North America trend but this is a trend moving fast to other parts of the world. Several stores in UK have closed. That effect has also has spread to Asia-Pacific.

For example, Angus and Robertson – an Australian book store- went down hours after Borders went under.

We’ve seen our customers that use the Ignify eCommerce platform see revenue growth of over 20% on their online stores. While retail has been flat or negative ecommerce-done-right remains a shining star. However, eCommerce has become more challenging – just having a store is not enough – you need a mobile offering , table compatibility, personalized promotions, chained promotions, rich content, videos, product reviews, SEO friendly pages … and all of this without breaking the bank. This article by our CEO speaks about the trends for ecommerce in 2011 and what a merchant can do to be successful in this year.

We are proud that Ignify ecommerce provides just that and more in a very reasonable budget. For more information, email us at ecommerce@ignify.com .

Ranjit Goray is the Director of the eCommerce practice at Ignify. Ignify eCommerce is the only PCI certified eCommerce solution in the market that integrates with the Microsoft Dynamics ERP and Sage ERP solutions. Ignify has been included as the fastest growing business in North America for four years in a row by Deloitte, Inc Magazine and Entrepreneur Magazine. Ignify was ranked in the Red Herring Global 100 in 2011 – this list represents the top businesses world-wide with disruptive and innovative technology.

eCommerce Trends for 2011

February 14th, 2011 Sandeep Walia No comments

While Retail has generally been lagging with the exception of a few specialty retailers who have carved out a niche, eCommerce continues to buck the trend and 2010 was one of the most successful holiday seasons ever for online retailers. Both the Chase Paymentech's Pulse Index and MasterCard's Pulse Index round the Q4 2010 online holiday spending season to be the largest on record. Forrester's five-year forecast predicted a 13% growth rate for online retail in 2010 over 2009; online holiday sales were predicted to grow by 16% in the US Online Holiday Retail Forecast, 2010.

A recent report published in January 2011 Five Retail eCommerce Trends to Watch in 2011 by Forrester Analyst – Suchitra Mulpuru shows that web growth has outpaced non-web growth for years. In a survey that Forrester conducted with Bizrate Insights in December 2010, 49% of recent online shoppers agreed with the statement "I shopped in stores less because I shopped online instead" when thinking of their Thanksgiving shopping experiences.

Forrester Research Online Retail Forecast, 2009 To 2014 (US)

The growth however has slowed down. Just a few years ago, online shopping was growing at more than 20% per year. But today, that growth is stabilizing, as shopping habits have shifted to make buying online a more regular occurrence. This means ecommerce competition is even fiercer than in previous years. So how do you define your online brand and be successful in this intensely competitive market?

Here are some tips for you based on expected trends for eCommerce in 2011

  • - Mobile ecommerce and Tablet commerce: The trend for mobile has deepened and strengthened. More buyers now not just browse but will also shop online. Ms. Mulpuru in her Forrester report calls the Table Commerce T-commerce. Mobile optimization requires a few things. At the low end, you want your website to render appropriately in a mobile browser without errors. Most mobile operating systems including Windows Phone 7, iPhone, and iPad do no support Flash. So it is time for you to get rid of the flash and use simpler AJAX or Animated GIFs to provide similar effects. At the higher end you want to have an optimized mobile browsing experience. The latest version of Ignify eCommerce brings to the market an experience optimized for mobile with a separate mobile store in addition to the web store that is optimized for PCs. Finally – if you have enough traffic and volume you may want to consider a mobile app – but that requires you to have enough scale to justify a download by the consumer. The Forrester report points to the fact that putting store hours and locations center-stage in the mobile version is important as most consumers looking up a store on a mobile phone are typically looking for this information while the ‘T-commerce’ will go deeper into the product catalog.
     
  • - Marketplaces: Most successful online retailers now realize that they need to not just depend on their web store but need to further the channel by listing their catalog on marketplaces such as Buy.com, Amazon.com, eBay, Bing Shopping etc. Ignify eCommerce integrates with Microsoft Dynamics commerce services to offer the ability to publish to multiple marketplaces. That allows our customers to be able to take a single catalog and publish it into multiple marketplaces without having to create listings for each marketplace individually thus increasing revenues and lowering costs of selling online.
     
  • - Multi-channel: Brick and mortar (BAM) retailers may find delight in this one. The ability to buy online and pick up in store is gaining currency. BAM retailers with effective and integrated online web stores are able to. Ignify ecommerce in its next version integrates with the Microsoft Dynamics AX for Retail point of sale to allow for this to be a reality where customers can buy online and pick up in store.

Email us at ecommerce@ignify.com to learn more ways on how Ignify ecommerce can also help you stay ahead of the fierce online competition.

Sandeep Walia is the Chief Executive Officer at Ignify. Ignify eCommerce is the only PCI certified eCommerce solution in the market that integrates with the Microsoft Dynamics ERP and Sage ERP solutions. Ignify has been included as the fastest growing business in North America for four years in a row by Deloitte, Inc Magazine and Entrepreneur Magazine. Ignify was ranked in the Red Herring Global 100 in 2011 – this list represents the top businesses world-wide with disruptive and innovative technology.

Connector for Microsoft Dynamics ERP and CRM integration available now

February 7th, 2011 Sandeep Walia No comments

I’m very pleased to see that the standard out of the box Connector for Microsoft Dynamics ERP and Microsoft Dynamics CRM is available. The connector integrates Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 or 2011 with Microsoft Dynamics AX , Microsoft Dynamics GP and Microsoft Dynamics NAV. The connector provides out of the box bi-directional integration between the ERP entities and the CRM entities such as customers, invoices, sales orders and items. For example, the screen shot below shows the integration between Microsoft Dynamics GP and Microsoft Dynamics CRM entities.

Connector for Microsoft Dynamics integrates MS Dynamics CRM and ERP

Figure 1. Connector for Microsoft Dynamics integrates MS Dynamics CRM and ERP.

I reviewed the architecture of the connector as well as the functionality provided and I was impressed with what I saw. I liked what I found. The Connector for Microsoft Dynamics is an elegant and simple data integration tool that will automate the integration between the CRM and ERP. The Connector for Microsoft Dynamics works with both Microsoft Dynamics CRM on-premise and online. The nice part is that the integration is a web service to web service integration – which means your ERP and CRM can be located anywhere and will be able to talk with each other. Moreover, the Connector for Microsoft Dynamics is Free as long as you are current on your Microsoft Dynamics ERP Business Ready Enhancement Plan and have a Microsoft Dynamics CRM software assurance plan.

I liked what I saw. The integration architecture is very similar to the one we’ve built for Ignify ecommerce to integrate with Microsoft Dynamics ERP. The integration is comprised of an NT Service which binds together web services for both Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Microsoft Dynamics ERP to read and write data. The integration service also leverages a transform engine to convert the data between the interfaces to ensure that the data moving between the two systems is compatible and in correct form. The connector uses the standard Dynamics ERP and CRM APIs to do the integrations. For example with Microsoft Dynamics AX the connector uses the Application Integration Framework (AIF) web services for the Dynamics AX source adaptor.

The integrations are uni-directional or bi-directional depending on whether or not a single application should be a system of record. As an illustration, I’ll go into the details of the integration between Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Microsoft Dynamics AX. The customer record in Microsoft Dynamics AX integrates in a bidirectional manner with the account record in Microsoft Dynamics CRM. Therefore any changes made on either system will move over to the other system. Similarly Contacts, and Sales Orders are bi-directional. However, Microsoft Dynamics AX is the system of record for financial transactions and the financial setup. So the Sales Invoice, Currency, Exchange rates and Items are uni-directional from Microsoft Dynamics AX to Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

Integration of Microsoft Dynamics AX ERP and Microsoft Dynamics CRM entities with the Connector for Microsoft Dynamics.

Figure 2. Integration of Microsoft Dynamics AX ERP and Microsoft Dynamics CRM entities with the Connector for Microsoft Dynamics.

You do not need to, however, use all of the integrations above. These are the list of the standard integrations that come out of the box. For example, you could choose to only do customers and contacts and not the rest. Some integrations are dependent on others. For example, to ensure the Sales Orders integration works you will need to have the CRM picklist integrated with the Microsoft Dynamics AX enumerated values (enum) for Shipping method. Here are some other examples of logical dependencies.

Customer (ERP) to Account (CRM)
Employee to ERP System User (For SALESPERSON/OWNER)
For a customer that has a parent customer dependency, Customer to Account might be dependent on the parent customer integrating first.

AX Contact to Contact
Employee to ERP System User (For SALESPERSON/OWNER)
Customer to Account

The connector provides two things

  • Source adaptors for the ERP/ CRM: The source adaptor is an intelligent adaptor and will only integrate changed (updated or deleted records).
  • Maps between the entities: The maps come pre-built for the records types /entities I listed above. However, you do not need to use the standard maps. You can either create a new map or take the existing template map and edit it to change the field mapping or to map to new fields. E.g. if you have custom fields in your customer master and want those to be mapped –you could add these fields to the template Customer-Account Map provided with the connector.

In addition, similar to Ignify eCommerce , you can configure a schedule as to how often you’d like the integration to run for each entity. You can do this by editing the map’s schedule. So for example the Orders may integrated every hours but items may only update once a day. The connector supports integration with both standard and custom entities in Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

I’m impressed with the connector and what it does. It provides a great way to integrate the out of the box entities as well as factor in any extensions or customizations you’ve done to the application. The fact that it is free is very helpful and makes for a seamless out of the box experience with customer facing systems and back-end systems. We are in the process of implementing this for Ignify to tie together our ERP and CRM systems. Email us at dynamics@ignify.com for any questions.

Sandeep Walia is the CEO of Ignify. Ignify is a technology provider of ERP, CRM, and eCommerce software solutions to businesses and public sector organizations. Ignify has been ranked as Microsoft Partner of the Year Finalist in 2010 and has been a Microsoft Dynamics Inner Circle Partner ranked in the top 18 Microsoft Dynamics partners. Ignify has been included as the fastest growing business in North America for 4 years in a row by Deloitte, Inc Magazine and Entrepreneur Magazine and ranked as one of 100 most innovative companies in the world in the Red Herring Global 100 in 2011. Sandeep was ranked in 2010 in the Microsoft Dynamics Top 100 Most Influential People List by DynamicsWorld.