All posts in “Business”

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.

Helpshift VP Tushar Makhija: Not All Customers Will Help You Make Money

Tushar Makhija is vice president of revenue at Helpshift.

In this exclusive interview, Makhija underscores the importance of establishing effective ways to connect with customers.

 Helpshift VP of
Revenue Tushar Makhija

Helpshift VP of
Revenue
Tushar Makhija

CRM Buyer: Why is in-app support an important thing for good customer service and CRM?

Tushar Makhija:

It’s about the experience. As services are getting more and more mobile, service needs to get mobile as well. If you look at customer service over the last 10 to 15 years, first it was all about average handling time. If you grew quickly as a business, you needed to stack up a call center.

The next five to six years were all about self-service, so technology started building up. Today, it is not about time-to-resolution or handling time. It is all about the time-to-cure. That is, how quickly can you identify the problem and stop it from becoming a big problem?

You need a fully integrated system, and you have to make sure that problems do not spread. New systems have to come in that are integrated, predictive and proactive, in order to mitigate the problem before it expands. That’s why in-app support is more important.

CRM Buyer: What makes for effective in-app, mobile support?

Makhija: The technology must have the capability to collect relevant contextual information so businesses can make more informed decisions. If you’re about to make a purchase and the checkout is not working, there should be something that says, ‘here is a help article to see if you can find a remedy.’

If that’s not helpful, there should be other options. The first step is listening to the signals. The next part is, if you do connect with an agent, that agent has a 360-degree view of the customer so they resolve the problem immediately. Speed-to-resolution is going to be the No. 1 metric.

CRM Buyer: What does it mean for customer support to be proactive, and why is proactivity important?

Makhija: To begin with, many of the barriers of entry for creating a successful business have been removed. Now, it’s not about having the biggest store, but about having the most beautiful app — and it’s about how you deliver the mobile, in-app experience.

Proactive customer service will result in happier customers and retention. From a top-line perspective, the cost of acquisition of a mobile customer is very high, and if you do acquire that customer, you have to keep that customer.

Then, there has to be a good experience in the mobile app and in the customer service department. When there is a breach of experience in the app, the support team is ready to help. That’s why being proactive is important. You embed help in that experience. You say, ‘it seems like there is a problem. How can we help?’ That will mitigate the problem before it becomes a big issue.

CRM Buyer: How can this kind of support be especially effective in the gaming industry?

Makhija: Mobile gaming has been the early adopter on mobile. It also created a new economy where you could take a creative product to market and suddenly acquire millions of users. With those millions of users came this unique problem that not all of those players are going to help you make money.

I can play a game for an entire lifetime and not spend a dollar in the game. A small percentage of the players are actually paying for in-app purchases, and you want to make sure that you give the best service to those customers, your VIPs — but there is a good possibility that given the right environment, you can push other players into the VIP level.

There are always going to be players who are free, and there is always the top 1 percent. What about the people in the middle? This is a level of people who might graduate from free to pay. That will happen if they continue playing the game and get good service.

CRM Buyer: What’s in the future for the field of in-app customer service? How is it evolving and changing?

Makhija: It is heating up now. I was at a conference recently, and mobile messaging and mobile self-service are No. 1 on the radar.
Awareness has increased, and enterprises are taking a look at it. Everybody is opening up to use this technology in various ways.

AI is going to play a big role in making self-service and problem-solving more human. It’s going to become more and more efficient and humanized. I don’t see AI making the customer service agent obsolete, but I do think it will make the agent more efficient and happier.

The customer service agent will be able to see the entire workflow, and they won’t be trying to solve small problems, but actually making a connection.


Vivian Wagner has been an ECT News Network reporter since 2008. Her main areas of focus are technology, business, CRM, e-commerce, privacy, security, arts, culture and diversity. She has extensive experience reporting on business and technology for a variety
of outlets, including The Atlantic, The Establishment and O, The Oprah Magazine. She holds a PhD in English with a specialty in modern American literature and culture. She received a first-place feature reporting award from the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists.
Email Vivian.

Android phone startup Essential is sued for allegedly stealing trade secrets

Why it matters to you

Essential, the startup behind the Essential Phone, is in hot water over a trade dispute over its wireless transfer tech.

Essential, the Android phone startup backed by Android co-founder Andy Rubin, hasn’t had the success some predicted. But if delayed shipments, privacy gaffes, and disappointing sales weren’t bad enough, Essential’s latest setback threatens to do lasting damage to its smartphone business. On Tuesday, October 17, Keyssa, a wireless company backed by iPod creator and Nest founder Tony Fadell, filed a lawsuit against Essential alleging that it stole trade secrets.

The dispute stems from Essential’s work with Keyssa’s transfer technology, which copies gigabit-size using a low-frequency network. According to documents made public, Essential sought Keyssa’s technical consultation under a non-disclosure agreement, working with a team of the firm’s “top engineers and scientists” and exchanging “many thousands” of emails, technical documents, and confidential presentations.

In August, Essential told Reuters that it “considered Keyssa as a component supplier for Essential Phone and chose to proceed with a different supplier that could meet our performance specifications for the product.”

essential phone vs. galaxy s8

Essential decided to end the relationship after 10 months, assuring Keyssa that it would use a different wireless technology in the Essential Phone (it eventually sourced it from Sibeam). But Keyssa says it reneged on the confidentiality agreement, knowingly implementing antenna designs and techniques in the phone’s modular accessories pin.

It’s not Essential’s first legal dispute. In June, accessory maker Spigen, which has a trademark on the Essential name for certain battery packs, chargers, and Bluetooth headphones, sent a cease-and-desist letter to Essential, accusing it of misappropriation. It still hasn’t been resolved — Essential’s trademark application was denied twice because it sought the use “Essential” for a nonspecific range of consumer electronics products, according to Android Police.

But if Keyssa’s lawsuit is found to have merit, the impact could be far worse. The Essential Phone’s range of modular accessories, which attach to the back of the phone using a combination of magnetic pins and a 60GHz wireless USB adapter, is one of the handset’s selling points. At launch, some models were bundled with the clip-on Essential Camera, an impressive 360-degree, 12-megapixel 4K camera that Essential claims is the “world’s smallest.”

Keyssa, which earlier this year partnered with smartphone manufacturers like Samsung and Foxconn, says it is seeking damages. “Keyssa has not been compensated for Essential’s use of this guidance and know-how,” a spokesperson told Reuters. “We are pursuing this action because our attempts to resolve this matter through discussions with Essential have not been successful.”

The court proceedings in San Francisco are scheduled to begin later in 2017.