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From online to offline. A new trend in E-Commmerce?

Posted on July 24, 2014 by Alexander Diegel

E-Commerce Powers are Branching Offline. Is this Trend Here to Stay?

It is no secret that e-commerce is bringing down many traditional in-store retailers, or at the very least, making them adjust their business model to incorporate online sales. Why then, are more and more e-commerce powers opening up traditional, brick-and-mortar storefronts?

Some companies, such as Bonobos, are using these “Guide Shops” as a long-term solution to boost online sales. Customers are encouraged to go the store, try on clothes and buy them, but, sticking with its original sales model, the purchase will then be shipped to the buyers, instead of walking out of the store clothes-in-hand, like the days of shopping at Macy’s.

“We said we would never be offline, and then, wait a second, we hit a big turning point. We realized offline really works,” said Bonobos CEO Andy Dunn in a recent article featured in the New York Times. But will guide shops and pop-up stores (short-term shops at a physical location) work in the long term, or is this a flash-in-the pan experiment to a proven and growing model?

“I think it’s here to last,” said Scott Raio, CTO and co-founder of the fine men’s retailer Combatant Gentlemen. “Combat Gent,” as it is commonly called, hosted a weekend-long event featuring pop-up shops in Los Angeles late last year.

“We sell suits, and the thing with suits is that a lot of the times our guests want to try it on, [to] check the fit, check the quality and things like that. So having the pop-up location allows them to see the product for themselves, and figure out if this is something they want to explore as an option. I think it’s definitely the way of the future when it comes to companies like ours,” explained Raio.

It was at these events that the fine men’s retailer took its own spin on pop-up shops and debuted its “Super Sweet Magic Mirror,” to further improve the in-store shopping experience for a core of customers that were accustomed to shopping online.

“The mirror helps us by transitioning the experience [customers] get online, offline,” said Raio. Aside from reinforcing the fact that Combatant Gentlemen is a technology company first, the mirror gives clientele “an experience they couldn’t normally have even in modern retail locations. It gives them something to come in, and leave with this whimsical attitude about the brand."

Like Bonobos’ guide shops, customers do not walk out of Combat Gent’s pop-up stores with their clothes, bag-in-hand. As avid fans of the experience Apple created for its customers, Raio’s company adopted the retail giant’s in-store capabilities for its own customers. Raio and his team developed a special device that allows buyers to do a seamless point of sale in-store, rather than completing the sale online at home.

In preparation for these popup and guide shops, companies like Bonobos and Combat Gent use Wombat to bring their finest and most popular items in front of customers. “Wombat allows us to do a lot of our backend reporting, so we can have better granular reporting when it comes to what sizes we are selling [and] what styles are popular,” said Raio. The first step to receiving the benefits of this granular reporting is to connect Wombat to receive data from you store.

Backing up the belief that guide and pop-up shops are the way of the future, Combatant Gentlemen has another event planned for New York later this year, and has several more planned for 2015. So the next time you find yourself shopping online and think to yourself, “this looks great, but I wish I could try it on,” keep an eye out! Stores like Combat Gent’s could be “popping up” at a location near you.

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5 Tricks for Connecting to Quickbooks

Posted on July 23, 2014 by Jennifer Glantz

Spree Webinar: Top 5 Tricks for Connecting Your Store to Quickbooks

Is it too much to ask for a product that easily connects your store to Quickbooks? Users want to get the most out of their Quickbooks investment, but they don’t always know how. One of Wombat’s most popular features is our integration with Quickbooks. No custom code required.

Join us for a live Webinar on Wednesday, August 6th at 2:00 PM EDT to see how easily Wombat handles Quickbooks. Sameer Gulati, Chief Product Officer for Spree Commerce, will tell you the top five tricks you need to know to rid yourself of the headaches of managing your inventory and accounting with Quickbooks.

In this Webinar we’ll discuss:

• How Quickbooks can help you with your inventory and accounting
• How to configure Quickbooks in a way that makes sense for your business
• Why connecting your store to Quickbooks can be so hard
• How to connect your store to Quickbooks so your data can flow easily and accurately
• And much, much more!

Register now! Space is limited!

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ShopSpree: An iOS App for Spree

Posted on July 23, 2014 by Vinsol

Introducing ShopSpree: An iOS App for Spree Commerce

The preferences of shoppers have changed globally. Today, consumers prefer shopping in the most convenient ways: anywhere, anytime and on the move. This changing landscape has given birth to the world of mobile and applications. The statistics prove the increase in mobile internet usage is on the rise, now standing at 65% globally.

Around 32% of all online purchases have been done through mobile. Mobile commerce is looking promising, and expects the spending to be $200 billion USD by the end of 2014, reaching an approximate 50% growth from 2013. Predictions indicate that by 2020, smartphones and tablets will account for more than 75% of global online commercial transactions, and more than 50% of spend.

The e-commerce market, which is now enhanced by mobile, is comprised primarily of e-commerce companies that have long held a web presence, but have gained even more with the transition from web to mobile.

Analysis show that apps’ usage on mobile is increasing on a year-to-year basis. Within mobile, the use of native apps is way ahead of the use of mobile web. This year (statistics comprised through March 2014) native apps’ usage stands at 86% of the total. Meanwhile, mobile web usage has decreased by 30% on a per-day basis from its previous value. Today, stores engaged in mobile commerce want to maximize their products’ reach and increase sale and revenue by adapting to this trend of m-commerce through native apps.

Some e-commerce companies, such as Zulily and Gilt, built their platforms as the mobile trend was gaining momentum. These companies were able to take advantage of the opportunity to tailor new business models, such as daily deals near the location of smartphone users, in order to gain a competitive advantage. In 2013, Zulily generated 45 percent of its North American orders through mobile devices, versus just 31 percent during Q4 the prior year.

Like retail stores, marketplaces also benefit from going mobile. The key to any marketplace is achieving liquidity, and companies can achieve this more quickly by extending their marketplaces to mobile. Some marketplaces like HotelTonight and FOBO involve local, time-sensitive, or untethered transactions that have gone mobile-only, recognizing their platform is fundamentally better on smartphones.

ShopSpree

One option for merchants who currently have their store built on Spree Commerce (a leading open-source e-commerce platform built on Ruby on Rails), or are planning to go mobile-only first, is ShopSpree.

ShopSpree is an iOS app, native to be precise, that showcases the SpreeCommerce features on mobile. It allows its users to browse through the product catalog, search products, and make a purchase to understand the flow. Products’ images can be zoomed in and out by utilizing the native features of iOS.

The app displays some basic e-commerce features. It highlights the strong capabilities that a storefront or marketplace can leverage by getting the app customized, in order to cater to different business needs.

The application supports the use of different payment modes (cash, check or card) and the integration of payment gateways like Paypal, Stripe, and many others. It also allows stores to integrate Wombat (a single tool for all integrations built by Spree Commerce) or other third-party services like MailChimp, Mandrill or Sendgrid for sending transactional and marketing emails to the end users. Product images can be rendered from file servers like Amazon S3 or any other chosen by the store.

Stores can have a different look and feel for their own app by choosing from different existing themes, or by getting a new theme designed to match their current branding standards.

ShopSpree has been developed with a primary principle of keeping all the concerned parameters in control. This is to ensure no rejection for the app on the App store, after submission. If customized, this will help bring the application to market quicker, in order to appease the end user. This is how it works:

The app, without any changes, can be used directly by any store by just pointing to its existing Spree Commerce server, and doing some backend configurations. The configuration can be done quickly, and the application can be uploaded to the app store with the store’s attributes. Within a few days, a store can have its own native iOS app available in the market.

This app runs on mobile devices that supports iOS7 or later. To see how ShopSpree works, click here.

ShopSpree, in its next version, plans to have features for both store administrators and their end users. Features like user location determination, payment gateway integration, users’ account section and social media integration, will be there to enhance the end user’s experience. For the admins, the option of viewing pending orders, as well as adding new categories and products, will be provided.

About ShopSpree’s Creators

This application has been developed by Vinsol, a premier Spree Commerce development partner that specializes in building online stores and marketplaces based on Spree. Vinsol is a leading Ruby On Rails, iOS and Android development firm based in India, with a satellite office in San Francisco. Vinsol has helped major brands and startups build their ideas, from concept to launch.

For customization for your own store, contact Vinsol.

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Introducing SugarCRM for Wombat

Posted on July 22, 2014 by Alexander Diegel

Introducing SugarCRM for Wombat

SugarCRM is a popular tool for companies that demand a robust customer relationship management solution that’s also easy to use. SugarCRM lets you track relevant information on your clients, from purchase history to sales call notes, all through an easy-to-use, intuitive interface. Thanks to our partner NuRelm, SugarCRM is Wombat’s newest available integration!

A SugarCRM integration with Wombat makes both tools even more powerful. Simply configure your integration and flows under Wombat Settings and you’re good to go; no custom development required. Wombat automates a range of processes allowing you to launch quickly and confidently. Specifically, Wombat will automatically:

• Push new and updated customer data to SugarCRM
• Send new and updated orders to SugarCRM
• Send new and updated product data to SugarCRM
• Send new and updated shipment data to SugarCRM

For more on Wombat and SugarCRM, visit our technical documentation, which includes a step-by-step guide on how to integrate Sugar CRM with Wombat. Wombat is adding new integrations all the time, so be sure to check back in with us for more helpful guides and connections. To read NuRelm’s take on the integration, check out this blog post.

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