June 3, 2008, 12:00 AM

Borders.com builds new vendor team for life after Amazon

While handling the design and development of the new Borders.com largely in-house, Borders Group also relied on a team of more than 10 vendors to build the kind of interactive, customer-serving site it wanted after recently leaving the Amazon platform.

While handling the design and development of the new Borders.com largely in-house, Borders Group Inc. also relied on a team of more than 10 vendors to build the kind of interactive, customer-serving site it wanted after leaving the Amazon platform late last month, says Kevin Ertell, vice president of e-business.

The overall goal, he adds, was to replicate online what consumers like about shopping in Borders. “Borders.com brings the bookstore experience to life online, and our customers love it,” Ertell says.

The vendor team includes Brulant for supporting applications like the shopping cart and loyalty program developed for the IBM WebSphere Commerce platform; Allurent Inc. and Endeca Technologies Inc. for the customer interface and site search and navigation technology behind Borders.com’s Magic Shelf bookshelf-like merchandising application; ChoiceStream for personalized product recommendations; Omniture Inc. for web site analytics and Commission Junction for affiliate marketing. “We selected these and other vendors for their best-in-class services and products as well as the specific knowledge and expertise they brought to the project,” Ertell says.

The new site’s Magic Shelf, one of its most celebrated features, was designed with Flex technology to provide more interactive shopping “above the fold”-in other words, without requiring the shopper to scroll down for more information. Flex is a rich Internet application technology designed to work with Adobe Inc.’s Flash rich media readers, which are built into about 97% of web browsers, says Graeme Grant, chief operating officer of Allurent. Flex technology, for example, makes it possible for a shopper to call up windows of additional product information, or browse horizontally or vertically through the Magic Shelf images of books, without leaving the page, he adds.

Endeca’s integrated site search and guided navigation lets shoppers browse and find products based on selected criteria, such as authors and genres, and it integrates with Borders.com’s merchandising applications to let merchandise managers set rules for displays of cross-sells, up-sells, best sellers and timely promotions.

Following are summaries of the roles of other vendors behind the new Borders.com:

  • Brulant supports use of the WebSphere Commerce platform including merchandising and marketing, account maintenance, management of product SKUs, shopping cart enablement and integration with the Borders Rewards Loyalty Program.
  • Sterling Commerce Inc. provides order management capabilities to support cross-channel selling and fulfillment. It provides a single view of orders across online and offline channels and the ability to forward orders in the most efficient way to the fulfillment centers. It also enables Borders.com to show customers visibility into available inventory.
  • Baker & Taylor Inc. is the primary provider of fulfillment services for Borders.com and maintains an inventory of more than 700,000 book titles, 260,000 music titles and 70,000 movie titles.
  • Alibris provides Borders customers with access to its inventory of more than 75 million used, rare and out-of-print books through the “used book” tab on Borders.com. Alibris manages inventory and customer service, and fulfills and ships orders directly to customers.
  • Omniture’s SiteCatalyst analytics application is used by Borders to measure customer satisfaction the Magic Shelf, search and navigation and other shopping features. Borders used SiteCatalyst to measure and improve the performance of shopping features before making them permanent on Borders.com. The retailer also uses Omniture’s Discover tool to support personalized shopping experiences by segmenting customer shopping behavior across multiple criteria such as search topic interests, purchasing behavior and geographic region.
  • ChoiceStream’s RealRelevance Retail Suite enables Borders to recommend products tailored to customers’ interests. This includes providing cross-sells and up-sells in the shopping cart and on the order confirmation page.
  • Commission Junction provides Borders with access to thousands of affiliate web sites, plus metrics on sales driven from each affiliate.
  • 360i, a digital marketing agency, provides services related to search engine marketing, display advertising media, behavioral targeting, and social and other forms of emerging media. It also provides analytics on marketing performance and data on customer behavior.
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