It is no secret that in a modern world where many people have the option of shopping from the comfort of their homes that having a high-quality e-commerce platform can help a business stand out from the crowd and increase revenue. Once a company decides to establish an e-commerce platform, they must face an important decision: will the platform be an off-the-shelf solution or one that is custom - built?
A majority of off-the-shelf e-commerce platforms on the market follow a software as a service (SaaS) model where the software is provided to you, usually in exchange for a fee, and it is hosted by the issuing company on their server. A SaaS solution is usually more affordable and easy to use as you will not be responsible for writing lines of code or doing maintenance because the updates are automatically applied by your host server. However, with this solution you will not have ownership of the source code, you will be expected to abide the hosting company's rules, and you can only make limited edits or customizations to your e-commerce portal.
with the holiday season in full swing, the e-commerce market is once again saturated with eager consumers. Digital savvy shoppers are continuing to spend more and more money through online channels. Retailers can suffer greatly if visitors cannot navigate a site, find specific items or easily check out. Ultimately, companies with outdated e-commerce platforms risk losing customers if they lack a well-developed User Interface (UI).
A sleek, well-designed and easy-to-navigate interface plays a significant role in the viability of a site, and directly relates to the number of sales. Ensuring that a website has intuitive controls, an organized catalog, easy check out processes, and editable shopping carts contributes to positive User Experiences (UX). Studies have shown that delivering a favorable UX influences customer loyalty, evokes pleasant customer attitudes, and will have measurable results by driving conversions up.
When Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) beacons were first introduced, retailers were among the first to jump on board. Marketers quickly realized they could leverage beacon technology and other Location-Based Services (LBS) to help them track how customers behave in stores and guide them into doing certain actions. Such technologies become especially beneficial to have during the holiday season when potential shoppers who are looking for great deals are most accessible.
Beacons range in size and signal strength. In most cases, they are small devices that can be placed on the walls of stores, both inside and out. The signal they produce travels one-way to nearby mobile devices, transmitting relevant information and targeted messages to likely patrons.
A beacon can detect the position of a customer in a store and send coupons to their mobile device for the specific product they may be looking at. If the customer has the store's app on their device, the beacon can also send special offers for items they may have been eyeing in-store. In some settings, they have even been placed inside mannequins in window displays to encourage passersby to enter.
The increased complexity of managing daily retail operations has predicated the need for stores to implement extensive Point-of-Sale (POS) systems that seamlessly integrate with inventory management systems, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platforms and analytics modules. Robust POS systems that are properly integrated facilitate access to real-time, on-demand reports of critical business metrics. This information is relied on by decision makers to make sound, profitable choices.
Retailers with fragmented, legacy point of sale systems, lax data collection methods or insolvent inventory management platforms suffer from a dissonance in data that can lead to a loss of profits. In the case of Wild Birds Unlimited (WBU), the largest franchise system of backyard bird feeding and nature specialty stores with over 275 locations throughout the U.S. and Canada, management relied on a decentralized inventory management system to benchmark operational decisions.
There is a contemporary trend of food retailers looking to software solutions to expand beyond their brick-and-mortar channels. Technologies are being leveraged to allow for a completely web-based ordering and procurement system, revolutionizing the way consumers obtain goods. Forward-thinking entities in the grocery retail sector are reaping tremendous rewards by offering convenient online ordering and same-day delivery of grocery items at no or minimal extra costs to the consumer.
There are myriad software solutions used in supply chain, retail and grocery sectors that can be used to enhance and refine operations to accommodate this new trend. Specifically, developing, integrating and implementing custom software solutions including but not limited to custom mobile applications, Order Management Systems (OMS), Inventory Management Systems (IMS), Warehouse Management Systems (WMS), fleet management platforms, plus business intelligence and analytics allow entities to gain a competitive edge in the market.
Wearable technology is slowly becoming a must have for consumers, and innovative retailers are beginning to implement wearable technology to enhance the omni-channel customer experience.But competition is necessary to fuel innovation and bring a product to mainstream.
Q: It's been suggested that wearables could prove to be revolutionary for retail. What are some of the enhancements wearables can make possible for retailers down the road?
We at Chetu are very interested to see how the future of wearable technology will shape every industry, but within the realms of the retail landscape we believe that retailers can leverage location-based marketing services on wearable devices by using geo-fencing and beaconing technology to facilitate customer engagement. Geo-fencing is a technology that enables contextual marketing to users within a certain external perimeter. While geo-fencing is mainly concerned with externally creating a demand and bringing consumers in, it is supplemented with on-site proximity services called beaconing. Integrating location aware marketing mediums with CRM platforms helps deliver highly targeted contextual messages to users precisely at the right time. Although this tactic is not exactly the cutting edge in technology nor marketing, making use of the Heads-Up Display (HUD) seems promising. We do believe that retailers should plan ahead and target wearable innovators with a pilot program to refine a strategy for when there is mass adoption.
In modern retail, the key differentiator that provides a competitive advantage is an excellent customer experience. By encompassing the entire buyer/seller relationship, retailers are looking for ways to increase positive and memorable experiences in their customers' minds. Retailers understand that bringing about a positive customer experience increases satisfaction, which leads to an increase in repeat sales, customer loyalty, fortified relationships, and ultimately more revenue.
With the average consumers' heavy reliance on technology for everyday functions, retailers must leverage trends in technology to bring about a favorable experience. Research conducted by Market Reports Hub suggests that global customer experience expenditures are projected to grow from $3.77 billion in 2014 to $8.39 billion in 2019. By utilizing customer experience technology such as mobile/tablet applications, omni-channel, big data platforms, and highly scalable software products, retailers can deliver added value to their customers.
Grocers and convenience store owners face similar problems in terms of inventory management, as the goods sold by these establishments typically include items that have much shorter shelf life duration than other retailers. Mismanaged inventory, particularly with time-sensitive items, can cause significant increases in overhead for these merchants. Grocery and convenience store proprietors need software that allows them to easily view and control inventory as it traverses the path from supplier to customer. Therefore, software providers who can create solutions for automating inventory management with custom software to accurately monitor the inventory management functions of sales forecasting, inventory control, loss prevention, and inventory replenishment have an opportunity to stand out in the inventory management software market.
The contemporary retail landscape is constantly altered by consumer demands and competitor forces. To stay economically viable and competitive retailers harness appropriate technologies to enhance business and marketing strategies. With the copious amounts of information that retailers receive from day-to-day operations, they exploit robust business intelligence and data warehousing systems to automate the collection and interpretation of data from multiple channels. For those not familiar with Business Intelligence (BI) software, it is technology designed to analyze data and enlighten entities to their internal and external strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Business intelligence is such an important tool for retailers to utilize that the BI market is directly proportional to the saturation of competition in the industry. A report generated by MarketingIntelligence.com titled Data Warehouse Market Forecast 2015-2020 predicts that the total BI market will gross over $20 Billion by 2020. Software providers who want to dominate this market should look at business intelligence software development for retailers.
The increase in smartphone use and shopper's perpetual connection to the internet has modified the buying process into a streamlined digital function. Shoppers want a complete shopping experience that incorporates price comparison, couponing, one-touch purchasing, and promotions into an easy to use application accessible from anywhere. To remain competitive and meet buyer demand, retailers must adopt an Omni-channel strategy using integrated loyalty, couponing, point-of-sale and ecommerce platforms to give consumers the guest experience they crave. This emergent method for customer engagement within the retail industry builds on the multi-channel brand strategy by focusing on all possible avenues of customer interaction including in-store, brick-to-click, ecommerce, device-to-web, and mobile ecommerce.
The client is a leading provider of Gift, Loyalty and Stored value cards. The client provides promotional marketing solutions to merchants globally and helps merchants in acquiring, retaining and maintaining increasing long term value relationship with consumers.
The client had various needs to upscale their existing proprietary Gift, Loyalty and Stored value platform by integration with different social media network and e-commerce platform.
The client approached Chetu to augment their development staff and use Chetu’s industry level expertise in Retail and Finance to integrate different social media network and e-commerce platform into their existing fabric.
The client’s objective was to tie their Customer Loyalty program with Facebook so that the consumers can “Share” and “Like” merchant products and earn Loyalty points/rewards. The client then wanted to integrate the Loyalty program into their Demandware cartridge to allow consumers to redeem the Loyalty points. The client also had a requirement to create a Mobile app. for the Campaign Manager application. Apart from this the client needed support to enhance their proprietary transaction processing system and integrate with external providers for live currency conversion and sending mobile SMS.
Our client is a leading Custom Home Builder company. They have created a theme-park that is a year-round destination where today's consumer can explore, experience and enjoy the latest in home products and services. They feature 12 beautifully appointed showcase homes ranging in size and representing many of the home styles and architecture found throughout America.
The park has showcase homes and is open year round. Our client wanted applications to support operations at this park. This included ability to charge the visitors at the point of entry with variable pricing and special event pricing (kiosk).
Once inside the park, visitors should be able to browse products on display inside the model homes (e.g. fireplaces, furniture, faucets etc.) and get detailed information on an Android device (with RFID and NFC reading capabilities) provided for purchases.
Apart from that, visitors should have the ability to review and buy these products right from the device. In addition, manufacturers and vendors showcasing their products in the park should be able to track product purchases through a real-time web-portal.
Both, PrestaShop and Magento Open Source eCommerce platforms, offer a wide range of features that enable the rapid development of any web or online store.
Both are quality frameworks, but each has its own pros and consumers must weigh in these facts in order to determine which one would better fulfill their needs.
Below is a brief comparison between the two:
Officially launched in August 2007 for small and medium sized businesses, PrestaShop is an Open Source eCommerce platform for Web 2.0. that uses the Smarty template engine for PHP.
Although PrestaShop can be downloaded for free from their website, additional elements like: modules, templates, and themes must be purchased from the PrestaShop store.
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