Newgistics Names Trenton Brown as COO of Tacit Knowledge

October 22nd, 2014 @ Newgistics

Highly Experienced Executive Joins Digital Commerce Consultancy to Lead Next Stage of Growth and Development

Austin, Texas – October 21, 2014 – Newgistics, a leading provider of end-to-end e-commerce solutions for top retailers and brands, today announced it has hired Trenton Brown as chief operating officer for Tacit Knowledge, a Newgistics Company.  As COO, Brown will be responsible for leading strategy and execution for the company’s e-commerce offering as well as managing all aspects of the business for the company’s five global offices.

Brown offers an impressive track record of leading companies in domestic and international markets through periods of rapid growth. Brown brings a unique set of experiences that will enable him to be a key driver in the company’s overarching growth, innovation and execution across all areas of the e-commerce offering. Previously, Brown held senior executive positions with market-leading organizations worldwide, including SAP and Parametric Technology (PTC), a leading technology provider for the manufacturing industry. Through this experience, he offers profound expertise in international strategy and a deep understanding of global merger and acquisition work.

During his five-year tenure as President of International Business at PTC, Brown helped grow the company from a start-up to the fifth largest software company in the world, with revenues exceeding $1.3 billion. As an executive at SAP, Brown led the company’s manufacturing business and helped pioneer a successful utilities practice.

“As e-commerce continues to drive an increasing share of revenue, there is a growing opportunity for brands to leverage Newgistics’ comprehensive product and service offering to ensure they’re fully capitalizing on growth opportunities across the globe,” said Bill Razzouk,  CEO. “With Trent on our team with the experience he has brought to successfully growing tech companies across multiple industries, we’re in a strong position to serve the retail market and build the most robust end-to-end e-commerce solution in the world.”

“Our company has a clear vision of what it means to offer a true end-to-end e-commerce experience,” added Brown.  “Newgistics is known for revolutionizing e-commerce delivery and returns at an important turning point in a nascent industry and is building upon its reputation for bringing innovation and reliability to e-commerce technology and services.  It’s a highly compelling proposition at an exciting time in the retail market.”

Brown currently serves on the Board of Directors for companies such as Alianza Security Solutions, Kachyng and Coaloo.

About Newgistics, Inc.

Newgistics, a leading provider of parcel delivery and returns management for top retailers and brands, combines logistics and leading omni-channel commerce technology into a complete e-commerce solution. Integrating every step in the order life cycle, our end-to-end e-commerce solution includes: web design, implementation, integration, web hosting and support, order fulfillment, parcel delivery and returns. Our e-commerce platform is powered by hybris and we have partnered with Manhattan Associates to bring its leading order management solution to our customers. Since 1999, Newgistics has provided top merchants with innovative technology-driven solutions that improve the customer experience and accelerate growth—from customer acquisition through fulfillment, delivery and returns. To find out more, visit http://www.newgistics.com.

About Tacit Knowledge

Tacit Knowledge, a Newgistics Company, is the digital commerce consultancy that delivers Silicon Valley innovation to retailers around the world. Founded in 2002 by a group of software engineers, Tacit implements packaged applications, provides application support, web development, integration and content management,  and also builds custom software for globally recognized multichannel organizations, including some of Internet Retailer’s Top 25. The company is headquartered in San Francisco and employs 100 people across offices in London, New York, Mexico and Moldova. For more information please visit tacitknowledge.com.

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Newgistics and Kewill Present at Transportunities Virtual Tradeshow

October 13th, 2014 @ Newgistics

Session on Achieving Omni-Channel Success Takes Place Online at 2pm ET on October 15th

AUSTIN, Texas –October 9, 2014Newgistics, a leading provider of end-to-end e-commerce solutions for top retailers and brands, today announced its participation in Transportunities 2014, the logistics and transportation innovation show, on October 15, 2014. During this virtual tradeshow, Newgistics’ VP and chief architect for technology, planning and design, Ed Stashluk, will join Kewill director Larry Lewis to present a session titled, “Order to Fulfillment. Shipment to Return. What’s Required for Global Commerce Management Today.”

This session will explore what it takes for retail organizations to achieve true omni-channel success. It will provide a unique perspective of supply chain adaptation, technology and convergence to help attendees determine how to architect the right solution for their business.

“The retail landscape is rapidly changing and consumers want to experience a brand, not a channel within a brand. To meet these expectations, retailers need data that provides them with a single view, encompassing e-commerce through fulfillment, delivery and returns,” said Newgistics’ Stashluk. “The goal is end-to-end visibility that can help reduce costs and increase revenue, and to have that, flexibility in a solution is key.”

Newgistics and Kewill’s presentation on omni-channel success will be held at 2 p.m. ET on Wednesday, October 15, 2014.

For more information on Transportunities and to register for the event, visit http://www.transportunities.com.

About Newgistics, Inc.

Newgistics, a leading provider of parcel delivery and returns management for top retailers and brands, combines logistics and leading omni-channel commerce technology into a complete e-commerce solution. Integrating every step in the order life cycle, our end-to-end e-commerce solution includes: web design, implementation, integration, web hosting and support, order fulfillment, parcel delivery and returns. Since 1999, Newgistics has provided top merchants with innovative technology-driven solutions that improve the customer experience and accelerate growth—from customer acquisition through fulfillment, delivery and returns. To find out more, visit http://www.newgistics.com.

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Thanks for a great time, Shop.org!

October 10th, 2014 @ Newgistics
Now that the dust has settled after last week’s excitement at the National Retail Federation’s Shop.org Summit in Seattle, we wanted to take a quick look back at some of our highlights. We enjoyed our time networking with some of the greatest minds in online retail and attending all the thought-provoking  sessions the summit had to offer.

Here are some of the bright spots and learning experiences from our time at the show:

REI’s Website Overhaul is in the Works
In his keynote, REI president and CEO Jerry Stritzke let us peek behind the curtain to learn a little bit about what’s motivating a new site his company is set to launch early next year. The retailer currently does 23 percent of its sales online, though 75 percent of all customers who make in-store purchases check out the products online first. Yet again, this is another example of a retailer recognizing the need for a true, omni-channel experience. The new REI site will strive to meet omni-channel demands by delivering the same attention to detail that customers currently find in REI’s 135 stores. The goal is to mirror the in-person shopping experience online, which is extremely important as psychologist Kit Yarrow discussed at the show (more on that below).

Kynetic CEO Michael Rubin on Being Aggressive and Adaptable
With Forrester analyst and conference emcee Sucharita Mulpuru walking him through the hot-button topics concerning online retailers today, Kynetic CEO Michael Rubin didn’t hold anything back as he outlined some of his lessons learned in the retail trenches. Rubin shared some valuable lessons during his packed keynote session:
  • Less is more. To be successful you have to be focused.
  • Surround yourself with great talent.
  • Admit when you are wrong. And then get it right.
  • Prioritize
These are great tips that can be applied to a lot of areas in life, but are especially good to keep in mind in the quickly changing world of omni-channel retail.

Does Anyone Know What Their Customers Are Really Thinking?
As we expected, consumer psychologist Kit Yarrow’s session “Decoding the New Consumer Mind – How and Why We Shop and Buy” was an interesting one. It’s not news to anyone that people are shopping differently, but Yarrow’s session gave us some more insight on how consumers are thinking and feeling – and how retailers can use this understanding to be able to change and grow along with their customers.

Here are some important themes Yarrow says can help retailers better know their customers:
  • Lack of trust – Consumers today have become incredibly self-reliant, so going online helps people trust a brand more easily. It taps into a consumer’s feeling that they are doing it themselves. However, if the brand isn’t consistent across channels, consumers may instinctively feel tricked, compounding their feelings of mistrust.
  • Neurological changes – Our brains are now wired for speed. Regardless of age, people are skimming more and reading less. People expect immediate rewards. Any hassles with the online shopping experience could prevent customers from coming back – and more often, there are no second chances.
  • Radical individualism – Yarrow says human connections are generally becoming more superficial, which creates feeling of loneliness and isolation. At the same time, people are becoming more emotional and narcissistic. Consumers are looking for something that feels like it was created uniquely for them.
It was eye-opening to examine some of the psychological motivations that are driving many of the consumer trends retailers are trying to respond to today.

It was a great event this year. We’re looking forward to Shop.org 2015 – see you in Philly!
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End of Year Holiday Schedule

October 9th, 2014 @ Newgistics

2014 Holiday Schedule

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Newgistics Launches Cross-Border E-Commerce Delivery Service

September 29th, 2014 @ Newgistics

New Offering Makes International  Delivery and Returns Easy and Seamless for Online Retailers

AUSTIN, Texas – September 29, 2014 – Newgistics, a leading provider of end-to-end e-commerce solutions for top retailers and brands, today announced the international expansion of its parcel delivery and return services. This new offering helps to reduce the costs of cross-border delivery and make it easier for U.S. retailers to access and begin selling into the largest markets overseas including the U.K., Europe, Asia, Australia, Russia, China and South America.

Key features of Newgistics’ International  Solution include:

  • Delivery to 34 key global markets with plans for future expansion
  • Full end-to-end tracking
  • Direct injection into local markets and carriers to ensure local delivery expertise
  • Pre-paid and paid in-country returns processing
  • Fast customs clearance
  • Parcels delivered duty paid
  • Full control over packaging, email communications and other details so retailers can maintain a consistent brand experience no matter where their customers reside

According to eMarketer, global consumer spending through e-commerce is expected to hit $1.5 Trillion in 2014, and is being driven by growth in emerging markets. This creates significant opportunity for U.S.-based retailers that are prepared to sell internationally.

“Managing logistics is one of the biggest challenges for e-tailers expanding overseas because international  shipping has been expensive and often complicated, hit by delivery delays, customs hold-ups and unexpected additional charges,” said Ted Tanner, VP global solutions, Newgistics. “As a result, many U.S.-based e-tailers have been reluctant to target overseas customers, but we’re helping to change that. Our mission is to help retailers break down the barriers to growth in e-commerce and our new international  delivery service gives them a fast, cost-effective solution to the challenge of international home delivery.”

Newgistics’ International Solution offers a simple pricing structure without complex volumetric charges, along with fast paperless customs clearance and full tracking so that parcels can be monitored at every stage of the outbound journey until final confirmation of delivery.

For this new service, Newgistics is partnering with wnDirect whichwill manage the international transportation and customs clearance, including ID capture and duty payment management for countries where appropriate. Parcels collected in the U.S. will be shipped out of international gateways at Los Angeles, New York and Chicago, and will then be sent to domestic delivery partners for the final mile delivery to the customer.

“International e-commerce is a minefield of multiple languages, purchasing habits and expectations. Our entire offering is built on an appreciation of these challenges and, in response, for each market we deliver from and to we seek out a best-in-class partner,” said Stuart Hill, wnDirect’s CEO. “In the U.S. our partner of choice is Newgistics. We are delighted to have developed a partnership with them as, together, we have been able to create an exciting e-commerce solution to help U.S. retailers to begin capitalizing more on growing global markets.”

About Newgistics, Inc.

Newgistics, a leading provider of parcel delivery and returns management for top retailers and brands, combines logistics and leading omni-channel commerce technology into a complete e-commerce solution. Integrating every step in the order life cycle, our end-to-end e-commerce solution includes: web design, implementation, integration, web hosting and support, order fulfillment, parcel delivery and returns. Our e-commerce platform is powered by hybris and we have partnered with Manhattan Associates to bring its leading order management solution to our customers. Since 1999, Newgistics has provided top merchants with innovative technology-driven solutions that improve the customer experience and accelerate growth—from customer acquisition through fulfillment, delivery and returns. To find out more, visit http://www.newgistics.com.

About wnDirect

wnDirect is an example of entrepreneurial thinking at its best. Well established as a market leader in the U.K., wnDirect is now supporting U.S. retailers to realize their global aspirations. By combining unrivalled experience and knowledge with a fresh approach to international logistics wnDirect is helping U.S. retailers say Welcome, Bienvenue, Willkommen, Bem Vindo, Velkommen to 740 million new customers.

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See You In Seattle! The Countdown to Shop.org

September 24th, 2014 @ Newgistics

Next week, all eyes of the online retail world will be looking West towards Seattle, where the National Retail Federation is hosting its annual Shop.org Summit from September 29 to October 1. Newgistics is a Silver Sponsor of this year’s event and we’ll be manning booth #639 on the exhibit hall floor.

We’re looking forward to catching up with old friends in the industry and meeting new ones to share our vision for true end-to-end e-commerce; but we’re also just as excited to hear and learn from others’ perspectives. Of course, we wouldn’t miss the Opening Remarks on Tuesday morning at 8:15 where Shop.org’s SVP, Vicki Cantrell, will be joined by the always insightful Sucharita Mulpuru from Forrester, who recently keynoted Newgistics’ Executive Forum earlier this month.

Once the event officially gets off the ground, there are two jam-packed days of great sessions planned. Here are a few on our “must attend” list:

Innovations in International Expansion–How Brands and Retailers are Using Cross-Border Commerce to Drive Sales

Tuesday at 3pm

Brands in the U.S. are selling themselves short if they’re not looking overseas for expansion. While the e-commerce industry continues to see steady growth at home, it’s nothing compared to what’s happening, and will continue to happen, in emerging markets where more and more people gain access to the Internet every day. In many of these countries Internet penetration is fairly low now, but it’s growing fast and so will e-commerce sales as a result. The world is shrinking, thanks to the Internet, and it’ll be interesting to hear how it’s impacting retailers like lululemon and Farfetch.

Decoding the New Consumer Mind – How and Why We Shop and Buy

Tuesday at 4:15pm

This is a special “members only” keynote, but one that looks like it’ll definitely be worth attending if you can. If you just knew what your customers were thinking, it would be so much easier to give them what they want. And while that’s not possible (outside of a mediocre Hollywood romantic comedy anyway), this is the next best thing. As the session description says, “award-winning consumer psychologist Kit Yarrow, PhD, will explore how consumers behave both intentionally and at the subconscious level.”

Defining Omnichannel for Your Brand: Setting Priorities to Meet Customer Expectations

Wednesday at 1:15pm

This is a topic near and dear to our hearts. Study after study has shown that consumers are already expecting omni-channel commerce to exist – it’s a no-brainer for them so when they find out that their favorite stores lack omni-channel capabilities they wonder why. It doesn’t matter to them how complicated the back-end technology and logistics are, they just want it to work. Luckily, Newgistics offers all the pieces of an end-to-end solution – from site design to fulfillment, delivery and returns – under one roof to make the transition easy for retailers. But it’ll be interesting to see what the likes of Kohl’s, Zumiez and IBM have to say on the topic too.

Behavioral, Eye Tracking and Emotional Testing – Maximizing Insights to Improve the User Experience

Wednesday at 3pm

This sounds like some pretty cutting-edge developments in the field of user experience. UX has always been an essential piece of the puzzle and we know that it’s about more than just creating a pretty exterior. Looks are important, but it will be interesting to look a little deeper to see how shoppers actually respond to a site emotionally or subconsciously.

We hope to see you next week. Don’t be shy- stop by booth #639 and say hi!

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Forrester Reveals the Current State of Retailing Online

September 24th, 2014 @ Newgistics

Forrester’s Sucharita Mulpuru, who spoke at Newgistics’ Executive Forum earlier this month, recently published a report titled, The State Of Retailing Online: Marketing. The research was based on a survey of more than 80 retailers that Shop.org and Forrester conducted to benchmark and gauge interactive marketing priorities. Today we’ll take a quick look at the results – what’s remained the same, what’s surprising and how retailers can improve efficiency. Here are some of the highlights.

Paid Search Continues to Be the Top Acquisition Channel for Online Retailers
Google dominates. As in years past, retailers identified search engine marketing as the single most effective customer acquisition tactic in the 2014 survey. Most retailers invest in paid search programs, since three quarters of those surveyed have found their paid search programs bring in revenue. While a relatively new vehicle, retailers are also beginning to realize the value of Google Product Listing Ads. And unsurprisingly, there’s still the long-trusted, yet inexpensive focus on search engine optimization (SEO).

Mobile Marketing Spend Is Growing but Focuses Primarily on Email
With the proliferation of apps and social media channels, email has gained a reputation for being an antiquated form of communication, used less frequently by young consumers. Forrester’s report, however, shows that email is still a key area of focus as a staggering 100 percent of respondents utilized email to house lists. Being cost-effective is not one of email’s only benefits; it has also turned out to be a key tactic to engage shoppers on mobile devices, particularly smartphones. With 42 percent of emails now opened on smartphones, it seems that email offers an easy avenue for retailers to become more mobile-focused.

It’s clear that mobile marketing is still a work in progress. Even though more traffic and sales are coming through mobile devices, marketing programs to support that traffic are not always in place. But budgets are slowly increasing. Other ways retailers are diversifying their marketing spend and investing more in mobile include display ads, affiliates and social tactics.

Online Retailers Rarely Use Attribution Models
Complex marketing attribution assesses which marketing touchpoints work best. However, implementing an attribution model may seem messy or complicated to many retailers. As a result, most retailers steer away in favor of the more widely-used – and less reliable – last-click model.

Many retailers avoid attribution models because they can’t recognize consumers across devices nor connect data across different devices, making it impossible to tie consumer behaviors together. This failure to connect shoppers across touchpoints hinders accurate attribution. As more retailers improve their ability to properly track consumer behavior, there will hopefully be an increase in the number of retailers realizing the value of attribution models.

As a retailer, how do you compare? Do you find paid search to be a top acquisition channel? At a time when the importance of mobile marketing continues to grow, where is your focus? Have you embraced complex attribution models or, like many other retailers, do you find them too hard to implement?

These are all questions you should be asking to continue finely tuning your operation and adapting to the fast-paced and quickly evolving ecommerce industry.

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5 Ways Retailers Can Increase Conversions

September 8th, 2014 @ Newgistics

E-commerce has taken “window shopping” to a whole new level. It’s become so easy for shoppers to compare products by skipping from one online store to the next that getting them to stay on your site and actually make a purchase is becoming increasingly more difficult. Here are five tips to help customers stay on your site and convert from shoppers to buyers.

  1. Include compelling images and videos. It’s common sense, but countless studies have also proven that shoppers are more likely to connect with a product – and make a purchase – if they can interact with it online. People want to feel like they know everything possible about a product before making the decision to buy, and as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. Striking images can go a long way in drawing in a customer, so you should make sure to include a number of them on product detail pages – from all different angles and levels of detail, and even shots of the product in use. Taking this a step further, video is a great option and is becoming easier for shoppers to view as broadband and mobile speeds get faster. Investing the resources to create videos, or working with a manufacturer or supplier to include videos they already have, could be well worth your time.
  2. Design for mobile. According to comScore, consumers spend more time browsing online retail sites on mobile devices than they do on desktops – 62 percent of their time to be exact – and that number is only expected to grow. Retailers need to make sure that shoppers who visit your site have a pleasant experience, no matter what device they’re using. This can be complicated because there are so many variations of mobile operation systems, device manufacturers and screen sizes, but you have to account for all of them. Responsive Web design is a good place to start, but sites should also be adaptive so they can recognize a device profile and adjust how they serve content to create the best possible experience
  3. Optimize the funnel. Nobody likes to have their time wasted, especially online shoppers who are looking for ease of use and convenience. Try to minimize the number of clicks they have to make and screens they have to view before checking out. The shorter the process, the less chance they have to abandon their cart in the process. This is becoming even more important as mobile becomes the most prominent channel. A customer may be on-the-go and looking to make a purchase quickly, but no matter where they are, remember that they could be on a device that has a small screen size and no keyboard. Because of this, the steps from product discovery to checkout must be quick and seamless. Retailers can minimize clicks by doing things like allowing frequent shoppers to create accounts on their site that stores shipping and payment information.
  4. Address shipping & delivery details up front. One of the best things you can do is offer free shipping. This has become so common for many of the major online retailers that customers have come to expect it. In fact, not offering free shipping can be a major cause for cart abandonment. But remember, free shipping is not really free for the merchant and the money has to come from somewhere, usually an operations or marketing (promotions) budget. Offering free shipping with a national carrier is far too costly for many merchants, but solutions like Newgistics can offer more competitive pricing on delivery and returns, and even offset those costs by improving efficiencies in the process. For example, insight into what’s returning and when it will arrive can help optimize staffing and inventory management, and minimize call center requests. When customers see a shipping and returns policy up front – especially if that includes free shipping and returns – they’ll be more likely to continue to checkout.
  5. Speed it up! Getting back to people’s valuable time, no one likes to wait. If a site takes too much time to load, it’s going to lose shoppers. Retailers need to test site performance to ensure it’s tuned-up, especially for the busiest times of the year. Last month, a post on The Gist provided some tips about making a site peak performance ready, and it’s a good place to start if you’re looking for tips on how to optimize a site for speed.
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Newgistics Brings Deep Retail and E-Commerce Expertise to its Board

August 27th, 2014 @ Newgistics

New Board Members Bring Decades of Leadership Experience from Companies Such as Limited Brands, Guess?, GSI Commerce, Tommy Hilfiger and HSN

AUSTIN, Texas – August 27, 2014 – Newgistics, a leading provider of end-to-end e-commerce solutions for top retailers and brands, today announced that Andrea Weiss and Robert Rosenblatt have joined its board of directors. With decades of experience guiding some of the retail industry’s most successful and recognizable brands, Weiss and Rosenblatt bring first-hand knowledge of what retailers need to compete in an increasingly omni-channel environment.

With 30 years of retail expertise, Andrea Weiss has been a key player in retail’s transformation into the digital space. An early innovator in multi-channel commerce and a pioneer in creating seamless customer experiences, Weiss’ executive positions have included president of Guess?, chief stores officer of Limited Brands and senior vice president of Ann Taylor. Her extensive board service includes current roles at Chico’s, Pep Boys, Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, Inc. and Nutrisystem. She also served on the board of GSI Commerce during its rise to becoming a leading e-commerce platform and, ultimately, its sale to eBay.

Weiss is the CEO of Retail Consulting, Inc. (RCI) and founder of The O Alliance, an innovative consulting model designed to help retailers align their organizational practices with the needs and expectations of today’s digitally savvy consumer.

“Putting the consumer at the center of the retail ecosystem is vital to success and growth in today’s omni-channel environment,” said Weiss. “With a true end-to-end offering and a clear vision for how they can help retailers deliver the seamless experience that consumers have come to expect, Newgistics is a pivotal partner to forward-thinking companies in our industry. Helping them bring that vision to market is an exciting opportunity for me.”

Robert Rosenblatt has more than 25 years of experience leading mid-sized and large retail organizations, including Tommy Hilfiger, HSN (formerly the Home Shopping Network) and Bloomingdale’s, and recently served as interim president of Ideeli.com, a flash sales company that was acquired by Groupon. As group president and COO of Tommy Hilfiger, Rosenblatt grew revenues and profitability and built the company’s first transactional website. Before that, he held positions as CFO, COO and president of HSN, where he introduced and built its online operation, leading it to profitability three months after inception. As CFO of Bloomingdale’s, he was responsible for the company’s P&L, financial planning and administrative management and, before that, served as vice president of store operations.

“The retail industry is clearly at an inflection point where digital commerce, including omni-channel offerings that are intuitive for consumers, is what’s going to propel growth,” said Rosenblatt. “Instead of trying to patch all the pieces together, Newgistics presents a compelling value proposition to its clients – one that I believe in and can help guide to meet retailers’ and consumers’ needs.”

In addition to his extensive experience working for leading retail brands, Rosenblatt currently holds a number of board seats for leading companies in the technology and retail industries. He also runs Rosenblatt Consulting, which specializes in helping investment firms determine value in both public and private consumer companies, as well as helping retail firms maximize profitability.

“Andrea and Bob bring a tremendous wealth of knowledge to an already impressive board,” said Bill Razzouk, Newgistics’ CEO. “Newgistics has a history of innovation, going all the way back to our introduction of the Newgistics SmartLabel, which revolutionized e-commerce returns at an important point in the industry’s growth. We haven’t stopped since then and now have all the pieces to lead the charge into true omni-channel experiences. Andrea and Bob will be important players in helping us do so more quickly.”

About Newgistics, Inc.

Newgistics, a leading provider of parcel delivery and returns management for top retailers and brands, combines logistics and leading omni-channel commerce technology into a complete e-commerce solution. Integrating every step in the order life cycle, our end-to-end e-commerce solution includes: web design, implementation, integration, web hosting and support, order fulfillment, parcel delivery and returns. Our e-commerce platform is powered by hybris and we have partnered with Manhattan Associates to bring its leading order management solution to our customers. Since 1999, Newgistics has provided top merchants with innovative technology-driven solutions that improve the customer experience and accelerate growth—from customer acquisition through fulfillment, delivery and returns. To find out more, visit http://www.newgistics.com.

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Content and Commerce: Finding the Right Balance for Your Brand

August 26th, 2014 @ Newgistics

In the early days of e-commerce, it was enough to have a nicely designed website that sold goods. As competition heated up, that was no longer good enough. Retailers needed to differentiate themselves from the competition and began introducing site personalization, single page checkout and a slew of other features designed to help shoppers make buying decisions and quickly usher them through the checkout process.

And yet, for today’s shopper, retailers realize they need to go even further. They need to be a trusted advisor in their respective field. Whether selling tools or toys, pets or polo shirts, retailers are integrating specialized content into their sites to encourage repeat visits, engender brand loyalty and, ultimately, increase sales. This is where content and commerce meet.

There are a number of ways in which retailers are integrating content into their e-commerce sites. One popular way is by making the e-commerce experience more editorial in nature, which is often referred to as contextual commerce. For instance, a home décor retailer may offer advice and how-to articles to help customers achieve a desired look, while offering a seamless transition from content to product. Product-related content, on the other hand, helps customers with tools such as instructional videos and product configurators, much like Converse’s Design Your Own feature. Many retailers, especially those targeting younger demographics, are also leveraging user-generated content – blogs, forums, videos and social media (Instagram, in particular) to create branded e-commerce experiences for their customers. This content is often designed to inspire shoppers to achieve a similar look or style as their peers.

But when integrating content with commerce, the challenge for many retailers is two-fold: finding the right balance of content for your brand (contextual vs. user-generated, for example) and shifting to a culture of content, rather than one solely focused on getting users from discovery to checkout as quickly as possible. Retailers that decide to integrate a content strategy will need to determine which content type is most on-brand and also rethink their KPIs and how they define success within the organization. Building and fostering a culture of content means highlighting key wins (repeat visits, longer site times, increased AOVs, etc.) early on to get all stakeholders on board with the new approach.

In the end, retailers understand that an engaged customer is a loyal brand advocate and they need to find new ways to not only bring them into their online store, but to also keep them coming back time and time again. And, the content and commerce hybrid is proving to be an effective strategy to do just that.

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