All posts in “Business”

These new Twitter ads mean more autoplay, but shorter web page load times

Why it matters to you

Sure, the change means you will probably be seeing more autoplay video ads on Twitter, but those webpages will load faster, too.

Twitter’s latest video ad will bring more autoplay along with faster website loads. The company recently launched video cards, a type of ad that pairs a video with a web page preview instead of a simple text link. The company says the new Twitter ads are designed to create more personalized interactions between brands and users.

Video cards mix the visual content with the web page preview, instead of showing just a text link with the video. Underneath the autoplay videos, a web-page preview with a headline is displayed, allowing users to see more about what a website contains than a URL alone.

The web page below the video will also load while the video plays — which means if you do follow that link, you won’t be sitting idle while waiting for the page to load. The video serves both to grab attention and to keep attention while the website loads. The move also means Twitter users will be seeing more autoplay videos as Twitter expands the different advertising options.

For businesses, Twitter says the new format has a 2 times higher clickthrough rate because of the engagement from the video. The link after the video serves as a way of continuing the conversation sparked by the video. Once it was operating, the pre-loaded web page feature generated a 60-percent increase in retention, Twitter said, referring to the beta test of the new feature. Companies can also choose whether to prioritize video views or website clicks in the campaign.

“The Video Website Card is designed to work across a variety of brand objectives, as well as in the gray spaces that often exist between objectives,” wrote Sean Huang, a Twitter revenue team member. “So whether a brand is pairing the Video Website Card with the high reach of First View to announce a product launch, inviting travelers to click through to learn more about a featured destination, or showcasing game play to drive advance sales of a new video game, the Video Website Card removes friction for the consumer to engage, learn, or convert at their own rate.”

The new video card ads launched on Tuesday, October 17 with global availability.

Accenture, SAP Plot One CX Platform for All

Accenture Interactive and SAP Hybris on Wednesday announced a partnership to create a new platform that will let users build and curate end-to-end contextual, personalized customer experiences — from marketing, e-commerce and offline shopping to customer service and loyalty management.

The joint platform will target B2C and B2B firms in retail, telecommunications and resources.

It will help companies

  • discover aspects of their commerce offering that impact the customer experience;
  • identify the impact of their current technology on the way people experience their brands, offerings and services; and
  • act quickly upon insights using the platform’s capability to create, launch and harmonize experiences across channels that drive tangible business outcomes.

“Personalized experiences for customers across all aspects of their interaction with a company are a big challenge for many companies, particularly those that have disconnected sales, service and marketing arms,” noted Rebecca Wettemann, VP of research at Nucleus Research.

“We’ve found that disconnected data sources and silos are one of the biggest challenges companies face in advancing their customer experience goals,” she told CRM Buyer.

Accenture Interactive has conducted pilot projects with retail clients using an early-stage version of the platform, and initial results indicate sales have increased by up to 30 percent; operational costs have declined by as much as 25 percent; and ROI soared up to 700 percent.

“There are good pilots in place, and the experiences are compelling,” observed Ray Wang, principal analyst at Constellation Research.

However, “the challenge is the work it takes to orchestrate all these touchpoints,” he told CRM Buyer, “and, more importantly, implement digital marketing techniques along key metrics — attribution, conversion rate optimization, lead scoring and SEO, among others.”

Constituents of the New Platform

The joint platform will combine several proven, proprietary B2C and B2B commerce applications: SAP Hybris solutions; solutions built on SAP’s Leonardo technology; and Accenture Interactive’s data-driven personalization solutions.

Its functions will include customer analytics, content management,user experience design, marketing, customer service, omnichannel management and personalization.

“There’s a lot to build out in Leonardo for it to support all the requirements of modern commerce organizations,” Wang said.

The platform will use existing client applications and point solutions, integrating with them as necessary.

The key is “not just how SAP and Accenture can accelerate the delivery of solutions for customers, but how they can deliver solutions that can be flexible enough to adapt as consumer preferences and competitive challenges evolve,” Nucleus’ Wettemann pointed out.

“For customers in a cloud world, expectations are of rapid deployment timelines and a more iterative, rather than big-bang, approach,” she cautioned.

Granular Microservices

The joint platform will give future customers a highly targeted consumer microservices platform called “SAP Hybris as a Service,” aka “YaaS,” observed Holger Mueller, principal analyst at Constellation Research.

YaaS will let users “compose their e-commerce solutions as needed for differentiation in the marketplaces,” he told CRM Buyer.

“Being able to reuse granular microservices in a PaaS environment that are also used in a SaaS platform such as SAP Hybris is valuable for enterprises, as these microservices see more uptake than, for example, a pure platform API,” Mueller pointed out.

Competition Coming

The main competition for the Accenture SAP Hybris offering comes from Salesforce through its Demandware tie-in, and from Oracle through ATG (Oracle’s Web Commerce platform), Wang said.

“Some level of competition comes from IBM Interactive, which does a lot of custom work on both IBM software and other tools,” he added.

Constellation “expects to see more deals like this over the next 12 to 18 months,” Wang predicted. “Organizations like Deloitte, Sapient Razorfish and IBM Interactive are the front end for many of these deals. Software vendors in commerce, marketing and experience are looking to stringent partnerships with design agencies and creative organizations.”


Richard Adhikari has been an ECT News Network reporter since 2008. His areas of focus include cybersecurity, mobile technologies, CRM, databases, software development, mainframe and mid-range computing, and application development. He has written and edited for numerous publications, including Information Week and Computerworld. He is the author of two books on client/server technology.
Email Richard.

New Tools Offer Wholesale Distributors Fast Track to E-Commerce

Epicor this week released Epicor Commerce Connect, a cloud-based application designed to help wholesale distributors quickly deploy e-commerce sites that will automate many of the functions to move product to their customers.

The Commerce Connect software is now available for Epicor Eclipse, a cloud-based platform geared toward helping companies deploy rich B2B and B2C solutions to drive efficiencies along their distribution chain.

“Today e-commerce is more than adding an online store to a website,” said Sanjay Kumar, vice president of product management at the company. “It has become a powerful functionality that supports key business goals for today’s digital distributor, such as increased productivity, growth and differentiation.”

The Epicor platform provides a complete B2B and B2C solution based on the Magento open source platform, the company noted, which means users can make modifications and add applications over time without being locked into a single vendor ecosystem.

Out of the Box

ECC for Eclipse provides a toolset that includes everything from pricing to customer account management, to bulk order, order and re-order functionality, to marketing. B2C tools include account history, invoices, payments, returns, wish list, order status and other information.

Epicor Eclipse is a leading e-commerce platform for companies in the HVAC, plumbing, electrical, and pipe, valves and fitting (PVF) industries.

Epicor Commerce Connect currently runs on Prophet 21, a cloud or on-premises enterprise resource planning solution that Epicor launched on Eclipse on Monday, said company spokesperson Katie Chubb.

Customers either would have to be on Eclipse or Prophet 21 in order to use Commerce Connect, she told the E-Commerce Times.

Since implementing the Epicor Eclipse product, ABR Wholesalers, one of several companies that beta tested the Eclipse solution, has seen business with online customers double nearly every month, said Rick Black, vice president of e-commerce and product management.

Easy Interactions

“The consumer user experience has driven some traditional industries to incorporate e-commerce as a key part of their digital transformation strategy,” noted Cindy Zhou, principal analyst at Constellation Research.

“I’m seeing more B2B2C use cases where manufacturers and wholesalers are using e-commerce platforms to not only sell to their distributors and resellers, but in many cases direct to consumers,” she told the E-Commerce Times.

Cloud-based tools like Commerce Connect have become important for business users, observed Jim McGregor, principal analyst at Tirias Research.

It’s essential for these software tools to interact easily with each other, he told the E-Commerce Times.

“Often companies end up with a collision of business solutions that are difficult to connect, and once they finally work — however badly that may be — businesses are hesitant to make changes for fear of going through the difficult process again,” McGregor explained.

A key reason why companies look to cloud service providers is to offer a “complete suite of business solutions” that work while offering enough flexibility to grow with a business as it expands.

New CEO

The ECC for Eclipse rollout is one of the first major releases since Epicor named former OpenText President Stephen Murphy as its new CEO. He will succeed Joe Cowan, who is retiring at the end of October.

Landing Murphy will prove to be a significant plus for the company, said R. Ray Wang, principal analyst at Constellation Research.

Commerce is key, as both CRM and CX are dead, Wang told the E-Commerce Times.

Marketing, sales and customer service really don’t matter unless you have conversion rate optimization, he said, adding that “commerce gives you that.”

Murphy will help drive a new sales perspective, Wang said. He’ll put a fresh face on the company and grow market awareness.


David Jones is a freelance writer based in Essex County, New Jersey. He has written for Reuters, Bloomberg, Crain’s New York Business and The New York Times.

Rent the Runway will let you borrow any four pieces of clothing for $89 a month

Why it matters to you

Looking to give your closet a facelift? Rent the Runway can help with its latest subscription model.

Heidi Klum has been telling us for years that in fashion, one day you’re in and the next day, you’re out. Be that as it may, most of us are too busy to keep track of fashion’s mercurial whims and don’t have closets that are constantly evolving to keep up with the latest trends. Luckily, there is another closet that can do that for you. Rent the Runway, which has been providing women with clothes for special occasions since 2009, is now launching a new monthly membership tier for $89 that will allow customers to rent not only formalwear, but everyday clothes like jeans, sweaters, and more.

Called RTR Update, this new and relatively affordable subscription offer gives customers the ability to select four pieces every month from more than 200 of Rent the Runway’s top brands, including Tory Burch, DVF, Opening Ceremony, and others. This serves as an alternative to the RTR Unlimited plan the company launched last year, which costs $159 a month and now allows fashionistas to rent up to four items at a time with no monthly cap on how many items they can check out.

Both membership options promise free shipping and dry cleaning, as well as 25 percent off RTR Reserve rentals (which, as the name suggests, allows you to reserve an outfit for a future event), and the ability to pause or cancel membership anytime. Thanks to Rent the Runway’s five retail locations, subscribers don’t have to rely exclusively on photos and online sizing guides. Rather, women can walk into one of these stores and try on one of the thousands of designer styles. Of course, they will also be able to return their rental pieces and walk out with anything they like (granted it fits within their subscription model).

“There is so much waste when it comes to the closet — most women don’t use 80 or 85 percent of what they have,” Rent the Runway CEO and founder Jennifer Hyman told The Washington Post. “What we offer is newness and variety.”

So if you’re looking to refresh your closet without adding any bulk this season, you might just consider a Rent the Runway subscription instead.

Rent the Runway will let you rent any four pieces of clothing for $89 a month

Why it matters to you

Looking to give your closet a facelift? Rent the Runway can help with its latest subscription model.

Heidi Klum has been telling us for years that in fashion, one day you’re in and the next day, you’re out. Be that as it may, most of us are too busy to keep track of fashion’s mercurial whims and don’t have closets that are constantly evolving to keep up with the latest trends. Luckily, there is another closet that can do that for you. Rent the Runway, which has been providing women with clothes for special occasions since 2009, is now launching a new monthly membership tier for $89 that will allow customers to rent not only formalwear, but everyday clothes like jeans, sweaters, and more.

Called RTR Update, this new and relatively affordable subscription offer gives customers the ability to select four pieces every month from more than 200 of Rent the Runway’s top brands, including Tory Burch, DVF, Opening Ceremony, and others. This serves as an alternative to the RTR Unlimited plan the company launched last year, which costs $159 a month and now allows fashionistas to rent up to four items at a time with no monthly cap on how many items they can check out.

Both membership options promise free shipping and dry cleaning, as well as 25 percent off RTR Reserve rentals (which, as the name suggests, allows you to reserve an outfit for a future event), and the ability to pause or cancel membership anytime. Thanks to Rent the Runway’s five retail locations, subscribers don’t have to rely exclusively on photos and online sizing guides. Rather, women can walk into one of these stores and try on one of the thousands of designer styles. Of course, they will also be able to return their rental pieces and walk out with anything they like (granted it fits within their subscription model).

“There is so much waste when it comes to the closet — most women don’t use 80 or 85 percent of what they have,” Rent the Runway CEO and founder Jennifer Hyman told The Washington Post. “What we offer is newness and variety.”

So if you’re looking to refresh your closet without adding any bulk this season, you might just consider a Rent the Runway subscription instead.