Mercado Plans Release of E-Merchandising Interface

Ignition is designed to help small and midsize e-tailers make it easier for customers to find products online.

Mercado will soon release a new merchandising suite for online retailers. The vendor unveiled Mercado Ignition at eTail West Feb. 11 and officials plan to release it in April.

"We are launching a storefront that will enable retailers to expose merchandising features they will need much better," said Kevin Lindsay, director of marketing for Mercado. "It will have -merchandising zones,' [which are] areas pre-configured for product categories like best sellers and recommended."

Lindsay said that by implementing Ignition, online retailers will be able to allow their customers to find products in an easier and more intuitive manner.

"Ignition allows retailers to extend the search and find capabilities to the ready-to-buy stage," he said. "It bridges the gap between customer attraction and conversion and retention strategies."

Lindsay said the system is specially designed for use by smaller online retailers, who may be particularly challenged in presenting products to their customers.

"It's most suited to pure-play and on-demand retailers," Lindsay said, adding that Ignition is primarily intended to serve as a front-end application. "It's not end-to-end. Retailers will still need [features such as] transaction processing and order management."

Rob Garf, an analyst with AMR Research, said that by entering the e-commerce platform space with Ignition, Mercado is logically extending from its search and navigation roots.

"This broad suite brings a single, integrated platform-underpinned by sophisticated product attributes and search capabilities-to retailers, facilitating a seamless cross-channel experience for consumers," Garf said. "Ignition is designed to engage consumers as soon as they are attracted to a retailer's Web site, through intuitive and personalized interactions."

According to Garf, releasing Ignition will also enable Mercado to take advantage of a "booming e-commerce technology investment wave" among smaller, growing retailers. However, he said other retailers may have interest in the product, as well.

"While it's focused on the [small and midsize] market, the slick user interface, along with cutting-edge functionality, will be appealing to large retailers as well," he said.

Mercado will offer Ignition as a hosted application based on solution-as-a-service architecture. It will feature a Web 2.0 interface built on AJAX and sliders will interface with back-end systems. Lindsay said Mercado will release more technical details when Ignition is launched in April.

Dan Berthiaume covers retail for eWEEK. For more retail news, check out eWEEK's Retail Center.