Last week, the who’s who of eCommerce descended on Chicago for the annual Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition, or IRCE. Before that circus – IRCE, still the most significant eCommerce event in the world – kicked off, BigCommerce, a leading cloud eCommerce platform, brought a select community together of partners and several hundred merchants for a day of possibilities and collaboration.

The backdrop for this gathering was the historic Morgan Manufacturing space in Chicago’s West Town, a beautiful environment filled with industrial elegance and legendary Chicago swagger.

The eCommerce Growth Summit was created to activate a community of thought leaders who want to drive the rapid evolution of eCommerce. The topics and insights discussed all revolved around growing business beyond your current comfort zone and geared towards overcoming common eCommerce challenges; breaking new ground as a business and sourcing partners to enable business through new channels, in new markets and to new customers.

Like any vendor summit, the opening keynote was led by the hosts CEO Brent Bellm. There were several product and program announcements along with more information about the BigCommerce’s exciting expansion plans following a $64 million growth equity investment led by Goldman Sachs. However, the focus of the day was not on BigCommerce; this indeed was a day to unite the eco-system and create a catalyst for eCommerce growth.

Partner-obsessed and Customer-centric

It was a very admirable approach by BigCommerce to step back and let their partners and customers take centre-stage throughout the day. It reinforced the sentiment that above all else, the company – with offices throughout the States, Australia, and soon the UK – solicits feedback from their community.

Not every platform player in the eCommerce industry plays the partner card as consistently as BigCommerce, and this has translated into mutual respect between the vendor and their strategic partners. With a stable yet flexible platform and the recent funding and expansion plans, BigCommerce seems well positioned to be a leading cloud player in our industry, but more on that later.

In the spirit of providing well-rounded insights to the attending merchants, speakers representing veteran BigCommerce partners and merchants were teamed up with brand new ones. Particularly engaging was a partner panel moderated by Eric Gutoski, Partner and Managing Director of the New York eCommerce marketing agency The BORN Group.

During the panel, specialists from WP Engine, Modern Tribe, and 5874 discussed how open source systems and SaaS cloud technology can play a collaborative role, and how Headless Commerce strategies allow leading brands to blur the lines of content and commerce. All speakers tried their best not to fall back onto industry buzzwords, but we all knew Headless Commerce was going to be front and centre at the event. After all, very much like the BigCommerce platform and its merchants, the concept has been challenging standard commerce solutions.

Headless Commerce

It still sounds more like a term that belongs in a B-rated Halloween movie, but over the last few years the moniker has nestled its way into our business, so we’ll continue to run with it.

The BigCommerce platform is meant to be a technologically superior cloud-based eCommerce platform, that is flexible and nimble. It’s not restricting what front-end of the sales channels look like, rather powering the merchants’ end-to-end solution through API-based technology. That is exactly what the concept of Headless Commerce is: decoupling the front-end user interface from the eCommerce platform, and all the technology in the back-end, using cloud technology and RESTful API to connect all the dots. In short: Headless Commerce allows creative merchants and agencies to build unique and original experiences for their users.

In today’s eCommerce world, where there seems to be an endless supply of similar merchants, it is critical creating such experiences if you want to stand out from the crowd. This was a lesson also shared with the audience by Keynote Speaker Jenny Fleiss, CEO & Co-Founder Code Eight and Rent the Runway.

Jenny co-founded Rent the Runway, a business that has transformed the retail industry by making designer clothing rentals a convenient, accessible and luxury experience for millions of women. She understood there was a specific niche in the fashion industry that no other company was successfully servicing. But even with a unique business model, she quickly learned her company had to develop highly-personalized, one-to-one shopping experiences.

Accelerating Growth

At the end of the day, attendees were sharing their best practices on how to grow a digital business. Expansion beyond the single channel or market concept is an immediate challenge for many growing Mid-Market merchants. Adding the complexity of multiple languages, currencies, geographies, and distribution networks, there are many questions for merchants today.

One of those best practices is leveraging AI and Social Commerce to fuel your digital growth in order to overcome some of these complexities and challenges. It was fascinating to hear Ken Natori, President of New York high-end fashion brand Natori, share his learnings with his peers.

A particular challenge when expanding beyond your current market and comfort zone is maintaining product information consistency and relevance across all your channels. This is where the Jasper PIM comes in. Our cloud-based Product Information Management (PIM) suite, is a solution built precisely to help merchants scale their business into a thriving global enterprise.

A perfect example of that is the recent expansion of Skullcandy Inc, the leading audio brand from Park City, Utah. Jenny Buchar and Kinsey Butler of their eCommerce team explained to the audience how their growth was only possible through the strong partnership of BigCommerce and the Jasper PIM.

Jenny shared that “Not only does the Jasper PIM have a lot of tricks up its sleeve, it also provides a very stable integration with the BigCommerce platform to run our websites globally.” In fact, since powering their eCommerce infrastructure by the Jasper PIM, online conversions for Skullcandy increased by double digits. Jenny summarized:

“Since implementing Jasper PIM we can’t imagine a world without it!”

Moving forward

Everyone involved can look back at a great Growth Summit, which was BigCommerce’s most significant event to date. Throughout the week of IRCE, the Growth Summit remained the talk of the town, maybe only rivaled by the ‘Growth Summit after party meets IRCE Kick-off party’: the eCommerce Speakeasy, where BigCommerce together with strategic partners ShipStation, Brightpearl, AmericanEagle.com and naturally Jasper PIM, hosted a sold-out party at the Untitled Supper Club.

Together with our partners the team at Jasper PIM is ready to help you grow your business! If you would like to learn more about how Skullcandy is growing their online conversions by partnering with the Jasper PIM, click here.

Do you want to explore our services? Feel free to reach out to us via:
https://www.jasperpim.com/free-demo

Join Jasper on September 26th and 27th in Los Angeles at Shop.org, one of the largest eCommerce trade shows in the industry!

Meet us at booth #749 to discover how our Product Information Management (PIM) solution can help your growing business handle product data more intelligently. Save staff time. Sell more!

Manually wrangling product information in spreadsheets across fragmented platforms is error prone and time consuming; it simply does not scale. Our PIM solution centralizes product data and connects it holistically with your accounting platform, your point-of-sale system, your ERP, your CRM, your shopping cart, and any other marketplace or back office application, providing your business with a professional eCommerce infrastructure for growth.

The Jasper PIM saves incredible amounts of staff time by maintaining accurate end-to-end product information for all of your brands and marketplaces, reducing data errors and redundancy, providing powerful merchandising capability, and seamlessly synchronizing product inventory and pricing data consistently across all sales channels.

Empower greater sales into new markets through integrated support for multiple languages and currencies, and through support for multiple warehouse integration and drop-ship functionality!

Come and talk to us about your product management pain-points and see how our PIM can FUTURE-PROOF your eCommerce strategy.

We look forward to seeing you at the show!

product information management shop.org

 

Toronto, ON – Canada  // June 18, 2015

On June 16th, 2015, along with our partners; BigCommerce, Nextopia Software Corporation, and Jackson Wynne Brand Consultants, we hosted a joint-case study presentation and social mixer event.  It was held at the Brassaii, in trendy King West district of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

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Photo Credit: Emily Kuske – Nextopia Software

The theme for the evening was: Learn how a SaaS platform performs on the Enterprise stage.  One delegate from each respective partner organization provided a brief overview of its teams involvement in transforming a previously flat online business into an incredible success story.  The group spoke to an attentive audience of; clients, valued partners & local eCommerce enthusiasts alike.

The case study involved one of our beloved mutual clients, a legendary retail brick and mortar music store founded in 1958 in Washington, DC:  Chuck Levin’s Washington Music Center.   A single store that had become the largest independently owned retail music establishment in the United States, largely on account of its reputation for exceptional customer service and dedication to helping musicians attain exactly the right equipment for the right price.

With the advent of Internet technology, while the retail store itself enjoyed healthy annual sales, its online channel (www.chucklevins.com) was greatly suffering from a wholesale under-investment in design and technology.  The site was hosted atop an antiquated eCommerce platform and had a poor aesthetic, it performed slowly and was difficult to navigate.  What’s more, low consumer shopping confidence hindered checkout conversions and created (at best) a very poor product look-book experience, contributing very little to in-store sales as well.

Not only did consumers not want to shop online via the previous website, they weren’t much compelled to come into the store on account of it either.

In 2014, Jasper Studios was engaged to provide a cohesive, end to end solution to increase sales conversions and boost consumer shopping confidence.  This endeavour required the help of some of our amazing partners (listed below), whose contributions were essential in the development of a robust enterprise solution for Chuck’s new online store.

 

BigCommerce Enterprise

After having undergone a full diligence in testing its API for merchant-ability by prototyping and connecting our PIM [product information management] system to it, we elected BigCommerce as our best-of-breed SaaS platform of choice and it was the backbone to the entire enterprise offering.

The differentiating factors of BigCommerce for us was; a quality, responsive, technically adept support team, a commitment to an impressive 99.999% of uptime SLA (service level agreement) and a fast and robust product API for enterprise integration purposes.  In short, BigCommerce was always up, it was responsive, and functioned as designed seamlessly throughout its first critical months of launch (just prior to Black Friday/Cyber Monday, 2014).

BigCommerce also fulfilled the need for us to connect a legacy ERP system (i.e. Inventory Management and Accounting platform) to our product management tool allowing us to utilize a sophisticated publication engine that powers the automated creation of products to the new ChuckLevins.com storefront.

Jackson Wynne Brand Consultants (www.jacksonwynne.com)

Our strategic design partner of record, Jackson Wynne, rose to the challenge in taking this dynastic, legendary, and time honoured brand for Chuck Levin’s and modernized its identity while paying respectful homage to a very near-and-dear sentiment amongst key stakeholders, many of whom have been there for decades.

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As Chuck’s is an established, family owned organization, and its founder Chuck Levin was a reverend gentleman loved by any and all whom he encountered, coming up with a suitable icon to meet everyone’s acceptance was no trivial feat.

Jackson Wynne is credited not only with producing a gorgeous responsive theme in BigCommerce and executing a clean and highly usable new online shopping experience, but also with producing related quality print collateral (i.e. business cards, t-shirts, letterhead, stickers. etc) and generating a creative brand guide that provided direction for the Chuck Levin’s internal design team.

Nextopia Software Corporation (www.nextopia.com)

An incredibly talented and passionate Canadian company, Nextopia proudly powers the product grid and site search capability for ChuckLevins.com.  It’s an invaluable tool in our arsenal for bringing world class enterprise solutions to clients.

What makes their service so reliable is a robust, tried-and-true technology platform with an uptime performance record that’s second to none. For enterprise clients, partner up time and performance integrity are essential to creating a reliable solution and keeping customers shopping with confidence.

Nextopia’s advanced faceting and auto complete search capability allows customers to find products quickly and intuitively, which was essential in helping increase sales conversion by a factor of 500% in just a few short months after launch.

Nextopia supplements the built in product faceting and search auto-complete capability of BigCommerce and is therefore a highly recommended enhancement to the platform.


Ortery Technologies (www.ortery.com)

Capture

As our proud HD and 360° product photography partner, Ortery Technologies has been working with Jasper Studios since 2012 and has supplied equipment to our clients that has been running for years without fail.  In a record case, producing more than 14,000 quality HD product photos and 3D panoramic views on a single piece of equipment.

Ortery provides a range of product photography solutions to suit many needs and its equipment is robust, works effortlessly and is easy to train staff on how to operate and maintain.

Ortery was elected to power photo automation for Chuck Levin’s, bringing rich media and adding excitement to their product catalog.

 

The results speak for themselves.

Having a grid powered by Nextopia with lightning fast keyword searches, backed by BigCommerce’s solid SaaS commerce platform filled with gorgeous & consistent product imagery transformed the old and under-performing online channel into a thriving new business.  In just three short months after its launch, the new online store realized a 5x increase in conversions and began trending towards a 3x projected annual increase in gross sales.

Our engineering team was able to bring a respectable, enterprise solution to market (not including prototyping time) through BigCommerce in only 6 short weeks, easily the fastest integration time we’d ever encountered with any other commerce platform.

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With the blending of these amazing partnerships, consumer shopping confidence was effectively restored.  Not only could customers now readily find what they were after, they also now had the confidence to shop online and the new high quality imagery and robust search capability was absolutely critical in helping them make noteable in-store sales as well.

Folks would phone into the store at Chuck Levin’s and comment to sales staff about how they saw a beautiful new Paul Reed Smith electric guitar on the website in full panoramic detail for example, and indicated that they wanted to come into the store to try it out.  Ultimately this increased look-booking through the new website and has now resulted in increased in-store retail sales as well.

The key to our success was the election of amazing partners, and that said, I’d like to publicly acknowledge each of them listed here.  After getting to know many of the executives and account team members from each organization, I can confidently praise them all for having an; amazing corporate culture, an excellent approach and attitude towards customer service, in being graceful and classy and utterly refreshing to work with, despite any challenge encountered and any deadline presented.

Thanks to the event organizers, our partners, clients & all attendees for making this mixer a great success!

We sincerely hope you enjoyed the evening, were inspired by the success of this case study, and we look forward to any feedback about your experience at the event.

We’d love to hear from you!  Cheers!  ^_^

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 Photo Credit: Emily Kuske – Nextopia Software