IR Magazine: Coming in the September Issue
Cover Story

Online security: The alert level is at red

It’s akin to asking the owner of small shop to stop an al Qaeda attack herself: That’s how many online retailers must feel as they contemplate the threats to their web sites and customer data. They’re up against rich criminal gangs that employ armies of skilled hackers and that operate with impunity, knowing the countries where they reside are unlikely to pay much heed to extradition requests or lawsuits from Western nations. These criminals have penetrated the online defenses of big companies like eBay and Sony, and exploited weaknesses in the store computer networks of retailers like Target and Neiman Marcus to steal tens of millions of credit and debit card numbers. They have found flaws in SSL encryption, a foundational security technology for e-retailers, and regularly demonstrate their ability to shut down retail and other web sites through denial of service attacks that direct huge volumes of traffic to a web site from vast arrays of captive computers. What can an online retailer do in the face of such a powerful and malicious enemy? What are they doing? That’s what this story will address. How serious are the threats to the average online retailer? What internal practices are they adopting to minimize risk? And what technologies and vendor-provided services are they deploying to protect themselves? For example, are many online retailers avoiding holding customers’ card numbers by using tokenization services that turn those card numbers into random strings of characters that can’t be used to defraud? Are they investing more heavily in other security services and technologies, or just taking their chances? This story will also look at the cost of security, including of hiring and training security personnel and the cost of vendor-supplied services. Can the typical online retailer afford the cost of security? Is there any help available or on the way from government agencies or payment organizations like Visa and MasterCard? This story will examine how online retailers are defending themselves today, and what their defenses will look like in the years ahead.

Topics: Security

The mid-market opportunity

E-commerce platform vendors that serve large e-retailers have been retooling their software to make it more suitable for fast-moving, budget-conscious mid-tier e-retailers. Some are hosting their platforms online and letting clients access it via a web browser, a model known as software-as-a-service, and some are offering outsourced management options that can help retailers with small I.T. staffs offer web site features comparable to the largest retailers in e-commerce. This story will explore how such higher-end vendors as IBM, Oracle, Demandware and others are aggressively marketing e-commerce platform and services options that would be accessible and attractive to smaller merchants. It will examine what these options look like, the vendors involved, and their costs. The story will include insights from e-retailers who are shopping for platforms about what the top-tier vendors are promising, and insights from e-retailers who have recently switched platforms about their choices.

Topics: E-commerce platforms

Brazil ramps up

E-commerce sales in Brazil reached $15 billion last year and are expected to double by 2017, making it by far the biggest market for web merchants in Latin America. But selling online in Brazil it is not without its challenges, a weak transportation and delivery infrastructure in particular. This story shares the experiences and growth plans of some of the largest native (MercadoLibre, Netshoes) and foreign (Wal-Mart, Amazon) web merchants that are growing sales in Brazil, including data from the recently released 2014 Latin America 500.

Topics: Latin e-commerce
Special Report

B2B and B2C ecommerce platforms – how to prepare for the future

This extended special report and advertising section will look at the entire spectrum of ecommerce platforms with two featured articles focused on the consumer facing online retailers (B2C) and then the B2B ecommerce platforms. Selecting a platform is an important decision to online retailers, manufacturers, wholesalers and distributors and they want a platform that will enable them to better run their business. Ecommerce platform providers will explain how they are anticipating the future demands of their clients for both B2B and B2C needs.

Part 1:   E-commerce platforms prepare for the future
E-commerce platforms are the backbone of any e-retail operation, so it is essential that a merchant selects a platform that meets its needs today and is capable of growing and expanding alongside the e-retailer. In choosing a platform, most merchants have the same primary goal: They want a platform that will enable them to run a successful e-commerce web site. But that’s where most of the similarities end. In this article, platform providers will detail how their services fit into the market, what services are most in demand from retailers now and how they are laying the groundwork for future services. They will detail how they are working to deliver on retailers’ demands by making their platforms more flexible, developing ready-made integrations with other services like order management and e-mail, and offering development and implementation assistance to merchants.

Part 2:  Digital technology for businesses that sell to other businesses
Every procurement agent is also a consumer. And just as they’ve become accustomed to shopping online for themselves, they increasingly want the convenience of ordering online at work. This thought process is driving many manufacturers, distributors and wholesalers to create web sites where their customers can obtain a wealth of product information and place orders. But these B2B e-commerce sites require many features that consumer-facing sites don’t need. In this special report article, we will put a spotlight on the technologies available today to manufacturers, distributors and wholesalers looking to sell online. It will examine the features they have built into their software, and offer their insights on the strategies their B2B clients are pursuing to effectively move the sales process from fax, phone and EDI to web site, mobile site and mobile app.

Topics: E-commerce platforms, B2B, B2C
Special Report

Finding profit by selling through marketplaces

E-retailers today can choose to sell their products on their own sites, or they can choose to sell through the online marketplaces run by others. Or they can do both—and that’s the option a growing number of retailers are choosing, because of the huge number of consumers who regularly shop at such major online marketplaces as those run by Amazon and eBay. Those shopping portals generate more traffic from consumers than most e-retailers can imagine generating themselves, and that can provide selling opportunities that were previously out of reach. But selling effectively on marketplaces isn’t a simple proposition.

The first stop for most U.S. merchants looking at marketplaces is most likely eBay or Amazon, but a host of other retailers are adding marketplaces to their own e-commerce sites to expand the selection they can offer online shoppers. These include Wal-Mart, Sears, Best Buy, Newegg and Staples.

The special report and advertising section will provide e-retailers looking at selling through marketplaces with the following and more:

  • Details they need to know and, for e-retailers already actively selling through marketplaces, the information they need to maximize their sales.
  • Insights on how to select the marketplace right for their particular product set. For some, the right marketplace site may well be overseas, such as Tmall in China or MercadoLibre in Latin America, both of which are recruiting North American and European merchants to sell on their platforms.
  • An explanation on how retailers can manage their marketplace feeds and win customers to their wares.

Topics: Marketplaces

Price priorities in B2B and DTC

For brand manufacturers, making sure the price is right is of utmost importance, but it can be tricky. This B2B story will look at how brand manufacturers work with wholesalers and distributors to set and enforce minimum prices rules for online retailers. It will examine how wholesalers and distributors navigate the demands of the manufacturers and their retailer clients, including the internal resources they devote to minimum pricing and the external services they rely on. And it will provide examples of how e-retailers that cultivate good relations with suppliers and communicate their marketing strategies can win a more sympathetic hearing for their proposals and turn the distributors that supply them into advocates with the manufacturers that produce price-protected goods.

Topics: Pricing

Prioritizing translations

E-retailers looking to generate sales internationally, or even to target some demographic segments here in the United States, being able to communicate in a second language is necessary. This story will look at the first steps English-speaking U.S. e-retailers should take in translating their web sites. Which areas of the site are the most important to new shoppers and should be translated first? How can an e-retailer begin to manage two or more languages in their content management system and coordinate changes to move in lockstep? E-retailers that manage sites in multiple languages will share how they do it.

Topics: Translation

Out the door faster than ever

This story will look at advances in warehousing and order management that enable e-retailers to lessen the amount of time it takes to get an order handed off to the delivery carrier. It will look at the order management, warehouse engineering, and picking and packing technologies used by speedy e-retailers, with e-retailers sharing their improved metrics and their own operational best practices. In particular, the story will examine how e-retailers modify their procedures to meet the intense demands of the winter holiday season.

Topics: Order management

Optimizing e-mail for holiday success

The holidays are around the corner and now is the time for e-retailers to map out their promotional strategies. E-mail is a key sales driver any time of year, but especially so at the holidays as e-retailers use it to share news of sales, gift guides and special offers. As more e-retailers use their customer data to personalize e-mail communications they can make promotional messaging more targeted. This story will look at how retailers are mixing data collected throughout the year and from previous holiday buying activity into e-mail to make it more effective at driving gift sales. It will include holiday e-mail data from the 2014 Top 500 Guide about e-mail frequency and common offers, and address how retailers are adapting holiday e-mail to the reality that most marketing e-mail is now opened on smartphones and tablets, not PCs.

Topics: Holiday e-mail

Taking action on customer reviews

More than 70% of the top 1000 e-retailers in North America feature product ratings and reviews on their e-commerce sites, and it’s known that many consumers rely on the information previous buyers share in their reviews to help make purchase decisions. What is less known is how e-retailers take action on the reviews left on their own e-commerce sites to improve operations. This story will explore how e-retailers use input—particularly bad feedback—left in consumer reviews to improve their products and services. Do they respond to customers directly? Use product feedback to address problems with suppliers and manufacturers, such as fixing defects and sizing? This story will feature numerous insights from e-retailers and consumer brand manufacturers about how they take action on the feedback consumers give them about the products they sell and how taking action resulted in demonstrable improvements.

Topics: Top 1000

This Month's Issue

Contact a Sales Rep

For information about the latest ad opportunities, contact your regional representative.

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Cindy Wilkins

Midwest / Intl. Advertising Manager

Nancy Bernardini

Northeast Advertising Manager

Dave Cappelli

Western Advertising Manager

Judy Dellert

Southeast Advertising Manager

Oliver Love

Classified Advertising Manager

Important Dates

08/07/2014:Ad Space Close

08/14/2014:Materials Due