April 6, 2006, 12:00 AM

Sponsored Case Study by: Truition

In need of a more versatile e-commerce platform, Sirius Satellite Radio turned to Truition to deliver a solution in time for the all important 4th Quarter of 2005. Truition not only provided Sirius a cutting edge online storefront in record time, but also helped the new media giant create a point of differentiation over its competitor. In the end, Truition`s e-commerce platform helped Sirius build deeper, long-term relationships with its unique subscriber base.

In today`s hyper-competitive marketplace, online success demands a feature rich, intuitive, and user-friendly shopping experience that not only closes the sale, but also builds a long-lasting customer relationship.

That is easier said than done, especially for entertainment companies and content providers that have little retailing experience. Hence, it is not uncommon for these companies to take a short-term approach to online retailing and cobble together an e-commerce platform simply to get a storefront up and running.

What these organizations often realize is that, faced with intense competition online and an increasingly savvy customer base, just having a web site is not enough. While a short-term approach makes their merchandise available to consumers on the web, it can create limitations in terms of scalability to meet demand and ability to create a rich shopping experience that satisfies long-term customer needs.

In 2005, faced with a fast approaching holiday season and intense competition from its rival satellite radio provider, Sirius Satellite Radio went to market looking for an e-commerce platform that provided greater scalability and was easier to operate and maintain than its existing solution.

Sirius had a basic e-commerce platform that lacked the feature rich experience customers expect from a brand like Sirius. Also, the platform did not allow for growth in terms of merchandizing features, order volume management or customer acquisition strategies such as affiliate program management and third party online sales channels.

“It was not a robust solution,” recalls Matt Downing, senior director of direct sales and marketing for Sirius. “We saw a lot of opportunity in developing a unique Sirius shopping experience that provides visitors an end-to-end solution when it comes to shopping for satellite radio equipment, accessories and service. Upgrades to our initial e-commerce platform were not easy to make and it could not support our online merchandising strategy across all sales channels.”

What Sirius required was an e-commerce platform that allowed it to manage a complicated product catalog and sell consumers its specialized hardware packages and accessories. The latter was seen as a valuable sales opportunity for Sirius since subscribers often purchase a basic package through various channels, only to decide later they want to add plug-and-play radios and accessories to bring satellite radio into their home, office or second vehicle.

“We’ve had a tremendous response to the radios introduced under the Sirius brand, so we believe Sirius branded accessories should be a big part of our direct sales efforts,” says Downing. “Accessories are something subscribers often want after the fact. So, we should be able to quickly and easily satisfy subscriber needs and boost sales of these items through our online store as many of our subscribers visit sirius.com daily to stream music or check schedules for their favorite channels or sports teams”

At the same time, Sirius sought an e-commerce solution that would allow for affiliate marketing and campaign management as Sirius has relationships with and markets through the web sites of its programming partners and personalities, such as Howard Stern, the NFL, Maxim, Martha Stewart and Cosmopolitan. “Many of our programming partners have loyal followings and sophisticated marketing teams that we are developing into valuable affiliate sales partnerships,” adds Downing.

Sirius considered more than 10 leading e-commerce platform vendors prior to selecting Truition. For Sirius, this decision was a critical one as the wrong choice could have led to lost holiday sales, or even worse, caused damage to the Sirius brand.

In the end, the clear choice for Sirius was Truition. No other vendor could develop such a robust, flexible e-commerce solution while meeting its time-to-market requirements.

The challenge facing Truition was customizing and implementing the site within 90 days in order for it to be ready for 2005 holiday shopping season. Truition’s experienced engineering and professional services teams not only met the challenge, but exceeded it by delivering the new site within 60 days.

Truition’s e-commerce platform delivers Sirius a complete inventory management system across all sales channels, enabling Sirius to accurately track sales, fulfillment and inventory in real-time, and adjust merchandising strategies across each sales channel as needed.

Truition’s Commerce Management System (CMS), which runs as an on demand solution, dramatically improved inventory management — allowing Sirius to add three separate product lines it had not budgeted for prior to the holiday season to support increased demand.

Overall Sirius saw tremendous sales growth during the holiday season with conversion rates more than doubling and accessories making up a considerable percent of total sales.

“With inventory selling quickly during the holidays, Truition’s flexibility made it possible for us to quickly add new product lines during November and December to take advantage of distribution opportunities and shifting holiday demand,” explains Downing. “Truition’s CMS platform put a low strain on our IT department and allowed them to focus on delivering service to our subscribers, rather than maintaining our e-commerce systems.”

Able to focus its attention on sales and customer service, rather than IT issues, Sirius set its sites on improving its acquisition efforts. The cost savings experienced by outsourcing e-commerce operations to Truition allowed Sirius to focus its resources on growing awareness and improving direct marketing, lead generation and conversion efforts.

“A lot of retailers have spent millions of dollars to get people to their web stores through search and banner ads, but haven’t invested as much in their commerce platform to create a satisfying customer experience,” says Butch Langlois, president and CEO of Truition. “E-commerce platforms must deliver retailers the data they need to refine their merchandising strategies and give customers the best shopping experience possible.”

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