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Striving for e-commerce synergy

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When you walk into a department store or supermarket, the placement of items doesn't happen on the whim of the person stocking the shelves. A lot of planning goes on behind the scenes to make the store attractive to buyers as they walk through the door.

The executives at Delightful Deliveries, a Web-based seller of gift baskets, wanted to tailor its marketing message to individual visitors and keep its online look as fresh as its gourmet gift baskets.

"Our e-commerce solution has enabled us to tailor the product selection and the banner ads on our site based on the customer's individual experience," says Eric Lituchy, founder and CEO. "In the past, when we would do merchandising on the site, it was an all-or-nothing proposition. Every visitor saw the same thing on the site. Now, if a customer is shopping our baked goods category, he or she will receive messages and promotions relevant to that category."

The solution from Mercado Software has provided a boost to the bottom line in just a few short months, according to Lituchy. The conversion rate was up 33.5 percent in June 2006 compared to the same month the previous year.

One of the keys, according to Lituchy, was customized landing pages for each category. "By building customized landing pages, we can place the right promotion in front of the right audience. In the past our promotions were sitewide. Today, we have promotions for every category. This is a huge benefit and it has greatly increased our conversion rate," he explains.

Search on the site has also been upgraded to ensure that the right products are presented to the customer. Prior to adding Mercado, the site had a homegrown search engine.

"The problem was that customers were getting too many results or not enough results, and the results they were getting were not very organized," Lituchy says. "Now, results are sorted by popularity."

And customers are finding gifts that meet their needs. Lituchy says, "Searches are faster, more accurate and with the Mercado merchandising tool, we can customize site promotions that are targeted to the search."

In the third quarter of this year, Delightful Deliveries plans to refine the system further to allow shoppers to view only items available for next-day delivery.

"This will be very beneficial, improving satisfaction and conversion on last-minute gift shoppers," Lituchy says. "Additionally, we plan on digging deeper and adding more refinement options. We've recently added ‘Dietary Restrictions' as a category and may add lifestyle refinements (i.e. Chocoholic, Stay Healthy, Cookie Monster, What's Hot, Wine Enthusiast, etc.)."

Merging online and retail business

With three retail locations and an online store, Sailrite Enterprises is dedicated to teaching the design, construction and repair of marine canvas products. The company's instructions, materials and tools have enabled amateurs and small businesses alike to make all types of canvas bags, covers and enclosures. As online sales began to exceed one-third of the company's sales several years ago, the search began for an integrated solution.

"Our biggest problem was with the Web integration. We realized that the Internet could be a big boon to our business and certainly could be viewed as an important sales tool," says Matt Grant, an owner and VP of Sailrite.

As orders came into the Web site, they would be entered manually to the company's systems. Sometimes, a customer would order an item online that was out of stock, leading to a lot of back and forth with customers about their order status and to the potential for lost sales.

Sailrite purchased Everest Software's Advanced Edition in 2002. Today Sailrite is fully integrated across all of its functions from accounting, sales management, purchasing, inventory and order fulfillment to e-commerce. "We use Everest for everything and we are making sure we use it to its fullest capabilities," Grant says.

Sailrite has overcome its challenge of backordered items. "Inventory control has virtually eliminated backorders, and that's been a huge benefit for us," says Grant. "As we were growing, we got to a stage where backordered issues became very costly."

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