By Gary Evans -- Furniture Today, September 21, 2009
HIGH POINT — Three of the industry's top technology specialists have formed a partnership to provide an e-commerce offering for retailers hoping to attract and serve consumers shopping on the Internet.
The partnership includes Colorado-based PROFITsystems, North Carolina-based MicroD and Ohio-based The Lively Merchant. Together, the companies have developed an advanced Web solution called e-Showroom.
The process basically allows retailers with no Web sites or Web sites that need improvement to get a turnkey enhancement. The process starts with an assessment of what the retailer really wants his Web site to do (The Lively Merchant) and continues through the creation of catalogs and room-planning capabilities (MicroD) and setting up a system to run it on (PROFITsystems).
While all three companies provide different technologies, “not one of us really provided the complete solution on our own,” said Shelley Parlin, PROFITsystems' COO. “We thought that putting together the three companies that each excelled in a different area gave the clients the best opportunity for something that would really meet their needs.”
e-Showroom enables retailers using PROFITprofessional software to integrate and cross-reference their inventory with vendor catalogs and display them directly on their new e-commerce Web site, which runs on the ePiphany platform developed by MicroD.
“Through e-Showroom, our clients can establish brand awareness, increase traffic levels and maximize their advertising dollars by adding the equivalent of a second store without the building expense,” Parlin said.
Manoj Nigam, MicroD's president, said the partnership “gives retailers the strongest possible solution” for establishing an effective Internet presence.
“We can help them connect to their customers and provide an easy-to-use shopping experience. Retailers will have control over their Web site, e-mail marketing and products shown without having to invest excessive time to maintain it.”
He said e-Showroom is a complete package that offers configurable and non-configurable catalogs, an integrated room planner, e-mail marketing system, free Web-needs analysis, Web site development, search engine optimization and social networking tools.
In addition, retailers will be able to select vendor catalogs or even have their own private-label catalog built so that shoppers can easily search through products without leaving the Web site and create wish lists or make purchases.
“Once the retailer has his site up and going, that retailer can figure out what the top 10 items are that are looked at on the site. Or he can look at what the top 10 companies are on the site,” said PROFITsystem's Parlin.
“He may go, 'Isn't this funny? I deliberately put all my stock items on the front page but all the items people are clicking on and spending time with are on the third page. Maybe I should move those forward.' We can actually get some analytics as a decision-making tool on what people are using the Web site for.”
While partnerships are not unusual for retail technology companies, three separate companies banding together for one purchase is unusual. Parlin said PROFITsystems has worked with both MicroD and The Lively Merchant in other venues so getting the three parties together was not so hard.
“It took a while to work out — who's going to set it up; who's going to support it; who's going to do the billing? The relationship is working brilliantly.”