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Will a new e-commerce platform help the $400 million retailer, which gets 30% of its revenue from the Web, compete against the national big-box retailers?-Out">
With the old platform, J&R couldn't really get maximum benefits from some of the software it was using. As an example, Friedman says, J&R has been a longtime customer of Endeca, the provider of advanced Web site search technology that helps customers find, analyze, understand and determine relevancy in search results while giving site operators flexibility in establishing relevancy settings. Gartner recently ranked Endeca as one of the three top providers of site search technology.
"We had Endeca running as a separate piece of software on the InterWorld site, but because of the way we customized, we weren't able to use Endeca or any plug-in to full capacity," Jason Friedman says. With the Blue Martini platform, J&R can integrate Endeca with the PowerReviews customer reviews application the company plans to put on the site. PowerReviews provides customer reviews to multi-channel retailers to help convert more shoppers and attract new buyers. "It will give the customer the ability to refine and sort products, for example, by four stars or five stars," he says.
J&R can now take advantage of Endeca's merchandising functionality so that it can see where the customer is on its site, what he has in his basket, where else on the site he's visited during the session and everything he has purchased in the past.
Jason Friedman is fully aware that as a business located solely in New York, J&R remains at a disadvantage no matter how much firepower he loads onto the Web site. "The whole phenomenon of buying a product online from one of the big-box stores and picking it up an hour later is a challenge that we can't meet outside the New York area," he concedes. "That's the limitation of who we are."
Still, he's understandably enthusiastic about the newe-commerce initiative. "We have a lot of great things we want to do with the new platform, which everyone will be able to see in March," he says. "We're really excited about it."
Daugherty cautions, however, that J&R shouldn't expect too much, too soon. "With the fast product life cycles and the new tech always around the corner, there is plenty of room in this market for a specialist like J&R to make a good living," she says. "But they need to continue to enforce their niche and invest in the resources that are necessary for growth over the long term. It's not going to be a short-term win. They're going to have to have patience to see their plan come together."