Key improvements

By Dennis Callaghan  |  Posted 2005-03-28 Print this article Print

A key improvement that PixelMedia made was developing a new sales configurator tool on the site where customers—mostly homeowners—can assemble their own desired bathtub set, choosing the tub, drain, faucets and shower enclosure, and then find out how much it will cost.

"You can get a package price without muddying your way through on your own," said Obrey.

PixelMedia provides services beyond front-end design, such as information architecture design, audience analysis, messaging, implementation and back-end integration, Obrey said. "We can handle everything from stem to stern—initial concepts, development, training and supporting the system after go-live," he said.

PixelMedia works with licensed e-commerce software packages and provides its own hosting, management and maintenance of e-commerce sites for larger companies.

"The on-demand concept is new and unique. But whats beautiful is, as were building the site, its always available to you," Obrey said. "The other beautiful part is that I, as the vendor or systems integrator, can build my own features and functions very specifically, own those, and deploy them to my clients. Thats not something Ive experienced with packaged solutions."

Obrey described Demandware as a feature-rich environment that rivals any packaged e-commerce software offering. Vintage Tubs Dick said hes looking forward to taking advantage of more of those features. "I get the impression were just using a fraction of Demandwares capabilities," said Dick. In the future, he said he expects to add auctions, chat rooms and customer forums.

Demandware is using the site as a proof of concept for its hosted service. "Well look at what theyve got and see what works," Dick said.

Demandware is targeting retail and manufacturing companies with between $2 million and $100 million in online revenues as customers for its service, Schambach said.

He said he learned from his Intershop days the limitations of licensed software for e-commerce. For most Intershop customers, the software license accounted for 5 percent of deployment costs, and IT infrastructure made up the rest, Schambach said. Customers were often hesitant to upgrade their software because they couldnt afford the accompanying infrastructure requirements, he said.

"This is definitely the right delivery model for e-commerce," Schambach said. "Theres not a single application I know of thats as complex as e-commerce. You need servers; you need redundancy, firewalls, load balances and backup. Within your IT department, you need people who understand databases, security, HTML and other things. Owning and operating your own system can cause great expenses. Ive seen the frustrations."

Demandware offers a use-based pricing model, where customers pay as they go based on the number of site visitors. Another advantage cited by Schambach is that Demandware can continually update its service rather than force customers to wait for 18-month release cycles.

Demandware is seeking to build out its partner network as it grows. "Were looking for specialized integrators who understand e-commerce and have Web design, usability and other skills that lend themselves to the e-commerce world," Schambach said.

The new Clawfoot site launched in late January. Dick said he likes what he sees so far.

"Were still kind of in beta with it, but some orders have already started coming through, and weve already achieved the No. 1 position [on Google] for the primary keyword, acrylic clawfoot tub," said Dick. "What I can tell you is the initial reports look strong. Were excited about it; its a strong platform. Theres nothing to discourage me. They met all our deadlines, and out of the gate weve had some initial success."

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