In 2006, the Netherlands’ largest retailer of books and entertainment, whom sells thousands of items online as well as offline, approached KPMG Crimsonwing to consult them on the performance of their website, as well as to integrate the Intershop based Fredhopper search tool on their site and to build a number of bespoke IT solutions around their existing eCommerce platform, which is based on the Intershop Enfinity platform. The project called “All Media” was aimed to facilitate the online shopping experience and to improve their business performance.
The retailer of books and entertainment, a subsidiary of the Bertelsmann AG Direct Group, was set up in 1967, with the ambition to promote reading across the country. They company has achieved this goal in two ways: Firstly, by keeping the book prices competitively low and secondly, by building a strong relationship with their members through various loyalty programs. They are the largest book club in the Netherlands with 1 million members. Today, apart from books, they also offers products such as music, movies and games in their catalogue. Additionally to their online shopping and mail order offerings, the retailer of books and entertainment has over 30 shops in the Netherlands, selling around 3,500 titles from their own catalogue and 60,000 from those of affiliate partners, who sell their products through their own websites. Apart from their main book club, they also operates other clubs in the Netherlands and the Dutch-speaking areas of Belgium, called the “Nederlandse BoekenClub”, the “CDVD Entertainment Club” and a publishing company called “The House of Books”.
Background and Requirements
The retailer of books and entertainment wished to expand their business on all fronts, so they approached KPMG Crimsonwing to assist them in enhancing the performance of their existing site, and integrating their eCommerce website with Intershop’s Enfinity solution. KPMG Crimsonwing also assisted the company with incorporating the affiliate partners’ functionality within their website. This meant creating a platform through which customers could order their products as well as the ones from the affiliate partners. The retailer of books and entertainment’s affiliates are the companies who sell their products through their own website.
The company was already using Intershop as their eCommerce solution. In the earlier days of the company, the eCommerce platform was mainly used for club members to post orders. Today, eCommerce is more of a strategic marketing tool for a multi-channel approach to sell media products like books, CDs and DVDs to their target audience. Besides the their Book Club labels, the retailer of books and entertainment operates an open, non-commitment channel. KPMG Crimsonwing was thus asked to assist them on a couple of projects. The first one involved consultancy services where KPMG Crimsonwing assessed the performance of the site and its integration of the Fredhopper search tool, which is based on the Intershop Enfinity solution. Fredhopper provides enterprise search and merchandising software tailored to the needs of online sales channels. Additionally, KPMG Crimsonwing embraced making improvements to the their site as well as increasing functionality and ease of use.
Once the integration of the first project was completed and the client satisfied with the results, they asked KPMG Crimsonwing to carry out the incorporation of the affiliate partners’ functionality within the the website. The affiliate partner integration provides a powerful, yet easy way to handle the process of registering users who enter the consumer storefront via an affiliate partner site. But besides managing the affiliate partners, channel administrators can also define time-limited partner programs, such as loyalty programs and weekly promotions, which can be carried out by specific affiliate partners. This allows an even more fine-grained tailoring of the offer to the user.
During the process of developing the solution, the CIO of the retailer of books and entertainment was impressed with the progress and commented: “KPMG Crimsonwing is supporting our company on an important project called “All Media”. This will enable us to sell any media product from internal stock and also from partners. The product range will cover more than 500,000 items and as such will put a lot of pressure on the implementation of the eCommerce engine. We are confident to be working with a capable and reliable partner such as KPMG Crimsonwing.”
The solution uses Intershop’s Enfinity Suite 6, with multiple web services connecting to an Oracle database. This system also interacts with the Fredhopper search engine. The skills that were required for this project were mainly Enfinity and Java. For each affiliate partner and affiliate program, the system generates a unique URL, which can be allocated to the respective partner site. On the basis of these URLs, users entering the consumer storefront via the affiliate partner site are automatically assigned to a consumer group. As a result of their assignment to consumer groups, each affiliate partner and affiliate program can offer their own promotions and discounts.
For each affiliate partner and each affiliate partner program, the system keeps access statistics, which consumer channel administrators can view in the back office, providing them with a lot more intelligence. These statistics increases visibility about usage and help tracking business performance. It gives insights about:
- Total revenue
- Total of orders
- Number of registered users
- Number of generated storefront hits (sessions)
The project has delivered the following features:
- Managing affiliate partners and partner programs to direct users from an affiliate sites to the consumer storefront.
- The consumer storefront includes both product ranges, the the retailer of books and entertainment’s products and the ones from the respective affiliate partner through which the user has entered the storefront. Therefore, the customer has a greater choice and their products achieve greater visibility and reach.
- Customisation on consumer registration functionality, i.e. integrating the different login requirements, for example that some of the affiliate partners had.
- Each affiliate can have its own look and feel to the storefront (style sheet, logos etc)
- Customisation of emails, orders and homepage templates is available for each affiliate partner.
- A unique ID is created per affiliate which results in better tracking and reporting.
- EAN substitution: this creates a unique article number, which facilitates coding for articles.
- Pricing is being retrieved from Fredhopper: usually, pricing is stored in ISH itself, but by using this solution and in order to have one combined storefront, the articles from the affiliate partner itself as well as prices had to come from Fredhopper.
The project enabled the retailer of books and entertainment to combine external catalogues with their own products. Moreover, it resulted in a better management of the affiliate partners/partner programs by redirecting users from affiliate sites to the main consumer storefront. The company was able to launch a 3rd party sales channel, which opened up a new market segment and increased their reach considerably, bringing them closer to their original aim to promote reading across the country.
The new solution delivered the following business benefits:
- Increased sales – The new system allows them to sell any media product from internal stock and also from their partners’ sites. The product range expanded to over 500,000 items. Customers now benefit from finding their desired products easily on a single platform, thus making the online shopping experience more pleasant.
- Improved customer relationship management – Users have the facility to view both the affiliate products and the retailer of books and entertainment’s products. They are notified regularly on weekly promotions and specific customer-related information can be targeted to them. The customisation on the consumer registration ensured a better method of data capture of user information.
- Better segmentation of the market – KPMG Crimsonwing created a system whereby every affiliate partner generates a special web address. Each affiliate is now able to introduce its own logos, corporate image etc. on the site. Users are thus able to be targeted according to their particular consumer requirements and interests.
- Enhanced management of information – The team developed a solution which helps affiliate partners receive information about relevant statistics, such as total revenue, number of orders, number of registered users and number of generated storefront hits.