January 24, 2013, 2:26 PM

Open for business

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That put some retailers in the position of being Monsoon clients for the first time, and in the case of WhatSheBuys.com led to a shift in its technology plans. The retailer, which sells apparel, accessories and home furnishings online and through one physical store, had been planning to sign up with a company that would build a link from its Stone Edge order management system to Amazon.com's marketplace to feed real-time inventory data for selling WhatSheBuys' products on Amazon. But then Monsoon, which offered a similar service, bought Stone Edge. After speaking with both vendors WhatSheBuys decided to try the Monsoon service, Splichal says.

At first, things didn't go so well. "It took about six months for Monsoon and Stone Edge to get ready," Splichal says, which was longer than he expected. But once WhatSheBuys and the vendors were able to flip the switch, total sales for WhatSheBuys surged 30%. "There was a learning curve, but we're very happy," he says.

A SaaSy move

Another retailer dealing with growing pains, AlevaStores.com, is putting all of its 10 e-commerce sites on a software-as-a-service platform from OrderDynamics. AlevaStores, which saw sales grow in excess of 50% last year and is No. 535 in the Internet Retailer Second 500 Guide, specializes in selling health and wellness products.

Derek Gaskins, president and CEO of AlevaStores, says he chose to move to OrderDynamics because it promised the kind of performance, reliability and scalability the fast-growing retailer requires. The OrderDynamics platform also supports complementary software from outside technology vendors.

Aleva plugged in social media shopping tools from AddShoppers.com, for example, which provides links to social networks where shoppers can exchange their likes and dislikes about Aleva's products. AddShoppers also provides tools that can track sales to products shoppers share through social networks.

But multi-tenant SaaS technology, where basic software is shared by multiple client retailers, comes with its own set of challenges, Gaskins says. Because the many online retailers rely on the same software, he explains, any modifications to it can take extra time for testing to ensure that the new feature works well for all the client retailers.

Gaskins says he'd like to see SaaS vendors license more outside e-commerce tools and make them core components of their platforms.

Nonetheless, he says OrderDynamics—which counts Aleva as its only client among the Internet Retailer Top 1000—provides a solid overall package of e-commerce technology and services. That's the kind of recommendation that can make a vendor a player to watch in future Top 1000 lists.


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