BlueBolt Named a Certified BigCommerce Agency Partner

David Risner

V eteran digital agency partners with BigCommerce to deliver exceptional ecommerce experiences.

Chicago (Nov. 14, 2022) – BlueBolt, Inc. announced today it was named a BigCommerce Agency Partner. An award-winning, full service digital agency, BlueBolt further solidifies its ecommerce expertise with this key partnership.

BlueBolt’s affiliation with BigCommerce, a leading Open SaaS ecommerce platform for fast-growing and established B2C and B2B brands, cements another outstanding platform/implementation partner option for brands to choose from when seeking composable, customizable ecommerce solutions.

“BigCommerce is a powerful ecommerce platform, featuring robust tools clients can utilize to maximize their revenue,” shared David Risner, CEO and Co-Founder of BlueBolt. “Our team looks forward to witnessing collective growth, especially in Business to Business (B2B) ecommerce, Direct to Consumer (D2C) and Omnichannel marketing.”

“We value the trust and confidence the BlueBolt team has in delivering high value commerce solutions to clients through the BigCommerce platform,” said Marc Ostryniec, Chief Sales Officer at BigCommerce. “Growth in our business is predicated on collaborating with great partners who have the technical expertise and strategic innovation to deliver on the promise of next generation B2B, B2C, and channel sales.  BlueBolt has that talent and expertise, and we are proud to officially bring them on as a partner.”

BigCommerce Agency Partners are carefully selected to offer best-in-class technical value, astute user experience, and superior customer service. Today, tens of thousands of BigCommerce merchants look to the platform’s world-class agency partner ecosystem for support in creating differentiated shopping experiences to fuel their growth.

With both B2B and B2C shoppers becoming an increasingly younger demographic and driving ecommerce growth opportunities, it’s important to be able to offer clients a variety of ways they can reach their audiences with relevant product offerings, at scale. A veteran in the ecommerce software implementation space, BlueBolt partners with the best-of-breed ecommerce software vendors to create masterful online customer shopping experiences that aims to deliver return on investment for clients.

“It was important to BlueBolt to create a partnership with BigCommerce to continue to offer clients best-in-class ecommerce expertise. BlueBolt is proud to be working with the BigCommerce team,” said Risner. “It’s been great to watch BigCommerce evolve into a powerhouse in the ecommerce space – and to equally watch merchants succeed on their platform. We couldn’t be more proud about our new partnership with BigCommerce.”

About BlueBolt

BlueBolt is an award-winning, full-service digital agency.  The BlueBolt team is diverse, exceptionally talented, and offers unparalleled consulting on technology projects.  BlueBolt’s members are distributed across the USA, yet able to serve digital marketing and ecommerce solutions worldwide. For more information on BlueBolt, please visit blueboltsolutions.com or send email to:  hello@blueboltsolutions.com.

About BigCommerce

BigCommerce is a leading open software-as-a-service (SaaS) ecommerce platform that empowers merchants of all sizes to build, innovate and grow their businesses online. BigCommerce provides merchants with sophisticated enterprise-grade functionality, customization and performance with simplicity and ease-of-use. Tens of thousands of B2C and B2B companies across 150 countries and numerous industries use BigCommerce to create beautiful, engaging online stores, including Ben & Jerry’s, Molton Brown, S.C. Johnson, Skullcandy, Solo Stove and Vodafone. Headquartered in Austin, BigCommerce has offices in London, Kyiv, San Francisco, and Sydney.

BigCommerce® is a registered trademark of BigCommerce Pty. Ltd. Third-party trademarks and service marks are the property of their respective owners.

BlueBolt Solutions and Rather Outdoors Awarded Outstanding Website

Chris Risner

R ather’s website scored perfect marks in both design and content, with very high marks in interactivity, copywriting, ease of use, innovation and technology. One judge remarked, “Great high contrast design and vibrant imagery leads the user to the content they seek.”

Chicago – September 16, 2022: BlueBolt, Inc. and Rather Outdoors today announced that they have been awarded “Outstanding Website” by the Web Marketing Association, which was part of Rather’s multi-brand ecommerce website solution launched on the Optimizely platform.

Rather Outdoors, a global outdoors corporation, unites some of the most legendary brands in the fishing space. With historic and iconic brands such as Lew’s, Strike King, Fox, Matrix, Salmo and Fox Rage, Rather Outdoors provides a wide assortment of fishing products worldwide, in an effort to enhance angler’s success and the enjoyment of outdoor pursuits. Rather Outdoors’ mission is to protect and respect the world’s greatest outdoor brands, passing them on to future generations stronger than when they found them.

Part of creating a cohesive, customer first experience for Rather’s brands was to bring disparate websites under one hierarchical architecture on the leading digital experience platform. Optimizely provides best in class content management, ecommerce, digital asset management and optimization capabilities in one robust software platform.

“Our team gained a lot of synergy by bringing all our websites and digital assets onto the Optimizely platform, streamlining website operations for our marketing and IT teams. We are now able to create timely content without the involving an agency or developers. The customer impact has also been quite dramatic in both North America and Europe, with many great year over year statistics increases,” shared Roscoe Rush, Technical Delivery Director at Rather Outdoors.

The Web Marketing Association independently judges each website entry. Rather’s website scored perfect marks in both design and content, with very high marks in interactivity, copywriting, ease of use, innovation and technology. One judge remarked, “Great high contrast design and vibrant imagery leads the user to the content they seek.”

“We are grateful to the Web Marketing Association for the award of Outstanding Website. While it is always great to win a third party industry award, what this honor truly signifies is an excellent client/agency partnership that enabled our joint team to launch a comprehensive, multi-brand, multi-lingual website solution enabling global ecommerce with an exceptional customer driven experience, which continues to drive ROI for our client,” shared Chris Risner, Chief Strategy Officer at BlueBolt.

If you have any questions on how BlueBolt can leverage our ecommerce expertise to help your team crush your KPI’s, please either connect with us via this form or email us at hello@blueboltsolutions.com.

About BlueBolt

Founded on Midwestern values, BlueBolt is an award-winning, full service digital agency. Our BlueBolt team is a group diverse, talented and senior level members, distributed across the USA, who empowers exceptional digital marketing and ecommerce solutions worldwide. Since 2005, BlueBolt has had the privilege of working with some truly amazing clients including:  SRAM, HockeyShot, Boost Mobile, DISH Network, and many others. We partner with the leading platforms, including Optimizely, Shopify Plus, BigCommerce, Amplience and ContentStack to implement solutions that make our customers’ digital goals a reality. Learn more at www.blueboltsolutions.com. 

The Keys to Driving Revenue with B2C ECommerce Websites

Jason Lichon

C onsidering the average eCommerce store has a conversion rate of less than 5%, retailers and other B2C ecommerce companies need to take a hard look at their website properties in order to capitalize on this phenomenon.

Originally projected for 2024, United States consumers will spend an astounding $1 Trillion in 2022 thanks to the global ecommerce acceleration. BlueBolt can help companies improve their revenue by focusing on key strategies of successful B2C ECommerce websites.

User Focused Personalized Journeys

While personalization has been a buzzword for over five years now, there are many brands who are still struggling to implement personalization. One of the biggest reasons for this is many marketers have a hard time making sense of their data because they don’t have the right reporting tools in place. The best software implementation partners will have Creative Design and Systems Integration teams that will help clients put tools in place like Google Analytics 4 and Optimizely Intelligence Cloud, that deliver actionable insights marketers can use to glean important information and improve their website to drive personalized experiences, win customer loyalty and increase revenue. After all, personalization drives performance and better customer outcomes. It is more and more critical to start applying personalization. When comparing slower-growing and fast growing companies, 40% or more of the revenue from the faster growing companies is being delivered by personalization.

Appealing Branding Throughout the Website

Partnering with a full service software implementation partner that specializes in data driven website design is vital when implementing your website. Often marketers think that printed marketing materials easily correlates to digital assets. However, UX strategy masters take into account where digital assets are being used in regards to user workflows. Most often, wireframes are detailed out incorporating where it’s best to use each asset to enhance the final customer experience. Today, 75% of people form their opinion about a website based on website aesthetics.

Ease of Navigation

We have all found ourselves on websites with poor navigation that are essentially frustrating rabbit trails of trying to find content and products. Thankfully with the combination of mega navigation menus and federated site search, customers can now find desired items quickly and easily. When looking at a website for the first time, 38% of consumers look at a website’s search or navigational links. Great B2C sites not only offer the products customers are looking for, but they also offer engaging and helpful content in hope to best serve their customer and turn them into a repeat buyer.

Modern Site Search Functionality

For ecommerce sites, a robust and intuitive site search is critical to both ROI and customer loyalty. 43% of users on retail websites go directly to the search bar. Consumers who use search are 2.4 times more likely to buy. Searchers also drive more revenue, spending 2.6x more across mobile and desktop compared to those who don’t use search. In an age where customers want content and products served up quickly, offering site search is the key to pleasing customers. However, many companies or brands have multiple websites. Enter Federated Site Search by BravoSquared. Now marketing teams can serve up site search across all website properties, even disparate sites on multiple software platforms, delivering content and commerce like never before.

Mobile First

Is your team making a mobile first website a top priority? Because 91.5% of people in the world own a smartphone, it’s tablestakes for marketers to ensure their website is optimized for mobile users for both content and ecommerce. Ensuring customers can quickly find their products and experience a frictionless checkout experience on their smartphone is critical to driving revenue. After all, 74% of visitors are likely to come back to a site if it has good mobile UX.

Smart Product Recommendations

In retail stores, merchants have long been positioning like products together such as chips and salsa. Thankfully, Smart Product Recommendation Engines are starting to make this more common in ecommerce. Categories such as display products based on browsing history, frequently bought together items or related items help customers impulse shop, spending more than they had originally intended to when logging onto your site. 54% of retailers reported product recommendations as the key driver of the average order value in the customer purchase. With the ever-increasing costs of customer acquisition, it’s important to not overlook smart product recommendations.

Embracing All Sales Channels

The world of ecommerce is becoming more and more fragmented with the emergence of different channels in which selling takes place. A great article from our ecommerce partner, Shopify, shares how embracing the new multitude of sales channels can pay dividends for clients. Gone are the days that a simple ecommerce store is the only way to reach your audience members. Today sellers have access to traditional marketplaces, modern marketplaces (including virtual worlds with NFTs), retail stores, wholesale channels, resellers, white label, mobile apps, direct to consumer, B2B sales, partnerships and more. While this can be overwhelming at times, the opportunities ecommerce companies have to market their products are more abundant than at any other time in history.

Friction Free Checkout Process

In an industry with 70% cart abandonment, providing a friction free checkout process is essential. However, to protect you as a merchant, your checkout also needs to be PCI compliant and secure. Currently 1/3 of all ecommerce business is using Shopify’s Shop Pay app, which boasts a 4x faster checkout and converts at a 1.91x times higher than regular checkouts. The other great thing about the Shop Pay app is that it allows merchants to configure it to the settings they like, while keeping up the guardrails that make it PCI compliant, protecting the merchant. Brands have their work cut out for them when competing with frictionless checkout processes like Shopify and Amazon offer.

Systems Integrations

Systems integrations is what makes the business world live in harmony. Things that were once handled manually now “have an app for that.” Whether it’s sales data, business data, inventory management or selling via online marketplaces, systems can now be designed interconnectedly to help your business automate the important – and run smoothly. This enables teams to streamline their efforts and become more effective at running the business, making it easier to achieve your KPIs and increase your ROI.

Social Proof

Historically a LuLuLemon marketing strategy, the past three years has seen the popularity of User Generated Content (UGC), and brands paying influencers to advertise their product, absolutely explode. Recent studies indicate that there is a 106.3% lift in conversion among visitors who interact with user-generated imagery on a product page. Staying on par with this trend, Shopify recently released Dovetail, a product helping brands interact with their influencers and handle their affiliate marketing seamlessly.

Your Secret Sauce Online

Every great brand has a personality or a cause that pulls their followers in. When asking our team which brands they liked, the answers ranged from Athleta to Goli to Southwest Airlines, all of which have a clear brand voice that has been translated to their website. 94% of customers are likely to show loyalty to a brand that offers complete transparency. When asked why our team liked these brands, it was clear that these companies have a seamless experience between their website, their influencers and their brands. We heard that Althleta clothing is comfortable for an athlete while being high quality and size inclusive. Goli Vitamins are not only good for you, but have a mission to do good in the world. Finally, Southwest Airlines employees are a great brand ambassadors for the “Luv Airline.”

Search Engine Optimization

In a time where customer acquisition ads are quickly becoming cost prohibitive, Search Engine Optimization becomes extremely important so that brands can be found by customers without spending a fortune on Google Ads. The daunting stat that 75% of people never scroll past the first page of search engines have marketers doubling down on ensuring they are fine tuning their SEO strategies. With 63% of all shopping beginning online, even if the purchase itself happens in a store, it is imperative that retailers who do not understand SEO strategies work with partners like BlueBolt to help them get a competitive advantage in today’s marketplace.

Page Speed and Conversion Rates

According to a 2019 study by Portent, a 0-4 second load time is best for conversion rates, and the first five seconds of page-load time have the highest impact on conversion rates. Matter of fact, the best ecommerce conversion rates occur on pages with load times below 2 seconds. Each additional second of load time, drops website conversion rates by an average of 4.42%, the study says. Online tools like Google Page Speed Insights allow you to time and test your website’s page speed. You can also cache your website or enable browser caching to speed up your page load time.

Conversion Rate Optimization

In 2022, one of the most lucrative strategies marketers can employ is conversion rate optimization. Surveying over 3,000 CRO tool users, a VentureBeat study revealed that the average ROI of using CRO tools is 223%. Further, only five percent survey respondents did not generate ROI, meanwhile 173 high performing marketers said they gain returns higher than 1,000 percent! Fortunately, partners like BlueBolt can come alongside marketing teams to help implement CRO testing and harness the data to make it actionable. Platforms like Optimizely’s Intelligence Cloud can also help brands instill a sophisticated experimentation platform to help jumpstart an environment that thrives on optimization.

WCAG and Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Compliance

The Baymard Institute reports that 94% of the largest eCommerce websites fail to meet the Level AA requirements of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1, the standard for digital accessibility. The most common accessibility problems include:

  • Not providing text alternatives for images and other non-text content
  • Missing link text descriptions
  • Keyboard navigation issues
  • Inadequate form field markup

For people with disabilities who are trying to shop online, these issues are not only quite frustrating, but often a deal breaker. Thankfully, most of the problems could be addressed easily and inexpensively. Over one billion people live with a disability, making compliance a key to unlocking additional revenue and stronger brand loyalty. As the global population continues to age, digital accessibility will need to become a key consideration for retailers.

In summary, a ton of careful planning, organization and execution goes into making a high performing B2C ecommerce site. Whether you are a retailer or other B2C company, BlueBolt is here to help answer questions and deliver on your priorities. Since 2005, we have helped hundreds of companies with both B2C and B2B ecommerce implementations, integrating content management systems, developing federated enterprise site search solutions and helping set up cultures of optimization and experimentation – all of which help our customers improve their ROI for their digital projects.

Important Considerations for B2B ECommerce Websites

Jason Lichon

B lueBolt has helped many B2B companies create full service websites, online portals and D2C channels. As we help our clients build their next gen websites, the following are important aspects we take into consideration to create great digital B2B ecommerce solutions.

B2B ecommerce is the true backbone of our world today. Every industry is touched by B2B manufacturers and distributors. In 2022, we’ve seen repeated supply chain issues, which is why B2B ecommerce is more important now than at any previous time in history. B2B companies will play a vital role in overcoming supply chain issues and restoring our economy.

According to Digital Commerce 360, in 2021, online sales on B2B ecommerce sites, login portals and marketplaces increased 17.8% to $1.63 trillion. Statista data suggests that the North American B2B ecommerce market will surpass $4.6 billion by 2025. McKinsey & Company reports that about 65% of B2B companies across industries are fully transacting online in 2022. But the biggest news? For the first time, B2B companies are more likely to offer ecommerce over in person sales.

With B2B ecommerce on the rise to historical levels, it’s important to be mindful of how trends in ecommerce will effect the way consumers shop online and interact with their brands. BlueBolt has helped many B2B companies create full service websites, online portals and D2C channels. As we help our clients build their next gen websites, the following are important aspects we take into consideration to create great digital B2B ecommerce solutions:

Younger B2B Buyer Base

As the population ages, a new day is dawning in the B2B ecommerce landscape. As of 2020, close to half of B2B buyers are millennials — nearly double the amount from 2012. Additionally, 73% of the millennials are involved in the B2B buying process. This change has brought about changing expectations in the B2B buying process, including personalized experiences, mobile purchasing and expedited shipping.

Personalized B2B Buyer Journeys

Because today’s B2B buyer conducts approximately 12 online searches before making a purchase from a specific brand, 55% of B2B marketing budgets are directed toward digital efforts that help provide a more personalized buying experience.

According to Digital Commerce 360, B2B buyers expect various digital efforts from vendors, including:

  • 45% want personalized portal content.
  • 44% are looking for an easy-to-use ROI calculator.
  • 38% seek AR options.
  • 33% want video chat options.

Research has found that 50% of B2B buyers identified improved personalization as a key feature when searching for online suppliers, with consumers spending 48% more with brands when their experience is personalized.

B2B ECommerce Customer Portals and D2C Channels

While the sales funnel was once very straightforward, now 90% of buyers enter, exit and reenter the funnel at various points. Consider a study by PIM leader inRiver which found 43% of respondents – rising to 48% in machinery manufacturing businesses – agreed that customers are often dissatisfied because they can’t self-service. This is very concerning for companies when paired with the brutal statistic that a staggering 90% of B2B buyers would turn to a competitor if a supplier’s digital channel couldn’t keep up with their needs. Given the fact that B2B ecommerce customer portals and D2C channels bring in new revenue streams, first hand customer data and the opportunity to drive customer loyalty, it’s imperative for B2B companies to ensure their customers are finding self-service success.

Subscriptions Aren’t Just for B2C ECommerce

Proven to be wildly popular in B2C ecommerce models, forward thinking B2B marketers are finding ways to incorporate recurring revenue models for their businesses. Not only do subscriptions generate predictable recurring revenue and help foster ongoing customer relationships, they offer convenience and predictability that benefit both companies and their customers. Additionally, B2B subscriptions benefit customers by simplifying the complex buying process into one contract that pays dividends repeatedly.

There are several different types of subscription services and products that lend themselves to B2B businesses models including:

  • Ecommerce subscriptions which allow for recurring purchases of business products, parts, materials and supplies.
  • Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) subscriptions such as monthly or annual licensing models.
  • Premium access or service models begin with a free subscription that includes basic functionality, which customers can later upgrade to unlock premium paid features.
  • Usage-based subscription models leverage connectivity to track how much a customer uses a product or service and bills them accordingly on a recurring basis.
  • Product-based subscriptions charge monthly or annual fees in exchange for the use of products.
  • Service-based subscriptions offer product support on a recurring basis.

The Rise of B2B Marketplaces

B2B ecommerce sales through websites and online marketplaces are accelerating and growth is at an all-time high. A study done by Sana-Commerce predicts that 75% of B2B procurement spending is projected to happen via an online marketplace within the next five years. According to Gartner, the enterprise marketplace business model creates wider ecosystems, has new capabilities and allows brands to generate new sources of revenue. Marketplaces can be more efficient in time and cost, as they serve as a one-stop-shop for B2B buyers. One of the best advantages of B2B marketplaces is their ability to attract new, engaged audiences. Not only can this mean more sales, but it’s also an opportunity to reach global markets and test new products.

Mobile First B2B ECommerce

Recent B2B research data further indicates the strong influences of millennials in the B2B ecommerce industry. Consider this research by Google and the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) showing the importance of a seamless mobile experience for B2B customers:

  • 50% of B2B queries today are made on smartphones.
  • Mobile drives, or influences, an average of over 40% of revenue in leading B2B organizations.
  • Approximately 15% of B2B retailers reported having an app for their customers.

Companies who are doing mobile first have a dedicated mobile design for each page of their website, ensuring users have the best experience possible no matter what device they use.

Advanced Smart Product Search

top pain point for B2B buyers shopping online is finding products. For companies that want to attract B2B buyers it is essential to prioritize a user experience strategy that makes it easy for customers to quickly find what they are looking for, especially because many B2B shoppers already know exactly what they need. There are multiple strategies to create a frictionless B2B buying journey. One way is to offer a personalized customer catalog that features requested products, quick reorder capabilities, preferred payment methods and dynamic shipping options. Another option is ensuring your website has easy navigation with quick reorder options for your repeat buyers. Lastly, offering federated site search from a company like BravoSquared will let your customers browse content and products from all your websites, while also offering smart product recommendations to enhance the purchasing experience and increase the average order value.

PCI Compliant Checkout Process

Like most everything in B2B ecommerce, the procurement and checkout process is evolving. While it’s important to offer relevant payment terms for your customers, it is equally essential that the payment process is also PCI compliant. Research from our colleagues at Big Commerce shows payment terms in B2B ecommerce are slowly, but surely, modernizing. Credit cards still reign supreme for the online channel (94%), though checks, terms, and purchase orders remain vital for B2B buyers (51%, 53%, 50%, respectively). Also on the rise are mobile wallets like Amazon Pay and Apple Pay (26%). Fortunately, robust B2B software partners like BigCommerce, Shopify and Optimizely offer all these payment capabilities and more.

Conversion Rate Optimization and Experimentation

As complex as B2B ecommerce can be, conversion rate optimization CRO) can be improved by looking at five main items. The earliest and sometimes overlooked step in CRO is click-through rate optimization. Increasing the traffic to your site from Google search results can help grow your potential pipeline, create demand generation and increase overall total leads. The next step in conversion rate optimization is to know your audience. This is especially important when it comes to B2B businesses with potential customers from a variety of roles exploring your site, seeking products and content – and ultimately making critical decisions. The key to CRO is to gather data from a variety of sources so that you can make data driven decisions. Google Analytics, Google Tag Manager, and heat mapping tools, like Hotjar and Crazy Egg, can provide valuable insights to your customers and how they interact with your website. Last but not least, payment options and website UX remain the two of the most important factors for conversion on a B2B site. It is important to have software like Optimizely Intelligence Cloud that will help you test and retest your website offerings, enabling B2B companies to optimize their website and drive maximum conversions.

In summary, B2B ecommerce continues to have complex needs in 2022. The good news is that BlueBolt partners with the best B2B software companies in the industry, including BigCommerce, Optimizely and Shopify Plus. Our partners are continually innovating new ways to help streamline B2B complexities to make it easier on your team and customers alike. BlueBolt is an award-winning, full service agency that has helped many B2B brands expand their online offerings, while also streamlining internal processes.

Why Selling Direct-to-Consumer is a Game-Changer

Chris Risner

During the global pandemic and in years past, commerce has seen its ups and downs. According to Statista: “In 2021, direct-to-consumer (D2C) ecommerce sales in the United States surpassed $128 billion U.S. dollars. The U.S. D2C online market is forecast to grow to almost 213 billion U.S. dollars by 2023.” Whether your business has been largely impacted or not, one thing remains certain: companies must be thinking about ways to improve or reimagine their selling strategies now and into the future.

One such strategy is Direct-to-Consumer (DTC) selling. To learn more about opening up DTC channels, download our infographic based on a recent report from Shopify Plus, “The Direct-to-Consumer Guide.”

If you have questions we can help you with, please contact us.

BlueBolt Solutions Named an Optimizely Gold Partner for FY2022

David Risner

B lueBolt has been an Optimizely partner since 2012, with the B2B Commerce Specialization and has been named a preferred Optimizely’s Partner for implementing Optimizely DXP, B2B and B2C ECommerce Solutions, as well as a qualified partner for Optimizely’s testing and experimentation products.

Chicago, May 3, 2022 — BlueBolt Solutions, an award-winning, full-service ecommerce and digital experience consultancy, today announced it has again been certified as an Optimizely Gold Partner.

BlueBolt has earned the Gold Partner status in Optimizely’s Partner Success Program and is considered a highly experienced partner in the Optimizely Digital Experience Platform™ ecosystem. As a Gold Partner, BlueBolt Solutions has renown full stack competency and implementation experience, with certified resources and specializations in Optimizely solutions. BlueBolt has been an Optimizely partner since 2012 with the B2B Commerce Specialization, formerly Episerver, and has been named a preferred Optimizely’s Partner for implementing Optimizely DXP, B2B and B2C ECommerce Solutions, as well as a qualified partner for Optimizely’s testing and experimentation products.

With a network of over 900 partner companies in 30 countries, Optimizely seeks to connect with qualified partners whose firms possess a wealth of experience, team members with a creative outlook, global reach, and a collective eye toward future opportunities to ensure mutual customers are successful in the short and long term.

“We are proud to partner with Optimizely and be named an Optimizely Gold Partner,” shares David Risner, CEO and Co-Founder of BlueBolt Solutions. “Optimizely continues to lead the way in delivering outstanding digital consumer experiences by staying on the cutting edge of technology. We are honored to be chosen as a gold partner again this year.”

About BlueBolt Solutions

Founded on Midwestern values, BlueBolt is an award winning, full service digital consultancy, with a senior level team distributed across the USA, powering exceptional digital marketing and commerce solutions worldwide.

Why Businesses Should Consider Selling Direct-to-Consumer

Rob Strube

A ccording to McKinsey & Company, eCommerce penetration experienced ten years’ growth during the pandemic, replacing unavailable physical channels during the height of the pandemic.

Updated from a previous blog in 2020…

From everything businesses learned through the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s clear that success has favored those who were and are proactive in rethinking their business strategies, especially those who have embraced digital change. And while the move towards a more digital world transcends industries and sectors, it’s been especially accelerated within eCommerce. In fact, according to McKinsey & Company, eCommerce penetration experienced ten years’ growth during the pandemic, replacing unavailable physical channels during the height of the pandemic.

With such change happening so quickly, there’s no wonder why organizations are eager to adjust their digital strategies – and fast.

Customers Are Up for Grabs

eCommerce was already an indispensable tool for so many pre-pandemic, growing rapidly over the years thanks to advances in technology, the ongoing digitalization of everyday life and changing customer preferences. But no one anticipated the remarkable growth in online selling that would be generated by the health crisis.

What’s even more impressive is that people who had used online channels for less than 25% of their purchases prior to the pandemic increased their online purchases by nearly 3.5X. Additionally, 75% of US consumers have tried different stores, websites, or brands during the COVID-19 crisis and 60% of those same consumers expect to integrate the new brands and stores in their post-COVID-19 lives.

That means, not only is there now the opportunity to reach the engaged and digitally savvy shoppers who have increased their online spending, but there is also a completely new group of potential buyers out there. The problem is how do you best capture the opportunity to engage with them?

Opportunity is Knocking with D2C Sales Channels

eCommerce is complex and constantly changing, making the competition for customers’ attention extremely difficult. In order to keep up, organizations need to make sure they’re optimizing every touchpoint along the buyer’s journey. For some organizations, this means adjusting channels and selling directly to their customers, or D2C.

Some of the most innovative and successful brands from the last decade have been borne from the shift to D2C. Warby ParkerGlossierCasper all have carved out competitive places for themselves within their respective markets by going direct.

But it’s not only these “new” brands getting their slice of the D2C pie; Nike recently announced their plans to shift away from partner channels (including Amazon) to focus more on D2C, citing the profitability and brand ownership that comes with such a move.

While strategies like Nike’s may seem dramatic, it’s clear that in order to be successful, organizations need to be comfortable with disruption. There is the opportunity now more than ever to reach new segments of buyers and to take more ownership of the customer journey. While D2C may seem like a big endeavor, it’ll ultimately add value for your customers, and the more value you add, the more you’ll remain relevant and necessary to them.

Is D2C Right for Me?

Stepping into a new channel strategy is no easy task. It requires careful consideration of your business processes and systems, your potential customers, and the way people interact with your brand. But with the skyrocketing influence of eCommerce, there are some significant benefits to selling direct; here are just a few:

  • Own the customer experience: gain more control over the branding and messaging your customers see, nurture customer relationships directly
  • Use customer insights for innovation: gather and use customer data to improve products, develop new ones, and create more immersive and personalized customer experiences
  • Drive sales and loyalty: add new revenue streams, find new customer segments, and build loyalty with their current customers

It’s Not All or Nothing

By implementing a D2C strategy, online merchants can build a better understanding of their customers, keep their operational costs low, and take advantage of new revenue streams. However, it’s important to note that D2C doesn’t have to be your exclusive strategy.

If you take a look at the D2C players mentioned earlier, Warby Parker, Glossier, and Casper have all participated in physical retail as well as vendor partnerships. And of course, Nike still has diverse channels in which they use to reach customers. HarperCollins, the second-largest consumer book publisher in the world and a BlueBolt customer, sells their products through various channels, but use their online store to reach customers directly.

Many times, organizations focus on making the shift to digital rather than the reasoning behind it. Instead of emphasizing digital transformation, organizations looking to implement D2C need to understand that digital transformation is situational – sometimes digital fits into our lives, and sometimes it doesn’t. It’s the responsibility of merchants to take a holistic approach and understand how, when, and why their customers buy from them and then provide the appropriate paths to purchase, whether that’s digital, physical, or a combination of both.

The New Normal

D2C undoubtedly had a huge influence on some of the more profitable brands coming out of 2020. It enabled brands to move more nimbly to stay in touch with their customers directly and meet buyers where and how they needed them most.

Now in a post-pandemic world, it’s imperative that organizations focus on ways to improve or reimagine how they meet the needs of their customers now and into the future. Creating a D2C channel requires careful planning and consideration, a strong understanding of customers’ buying needs and expectations, and actionable data and insights. But the benefits can bring endless possibilities for growth.

In the battle for market share, only organizations that continue to be agile, resilient and responsive to change will come out on top. So, whether it’s exploring a new selling channel or rethinking your customers’ buying journey, just remember, the secret to getting ahead is getting started. What are you waiting for?

Interested in learning more about selling D2C? Make sure to check out our white paper “Direct to Consumer: Everything B2B Companies need to know to sell D2C,” or feel free to contact us to speak with an expert today!

10 Reasons to Choose Shopify Plus Over Magento for Enterprise eCommerce

Chuck Goldsworthy

A re you contemplating an upcoming software replatform and wondering which platform in the market best suits your ecommerce needs? As an award-winning, full-service agency known for our ecommerce chops, we have many reasons we recommend Shopify Plus over Magento.

When clients ask our advice on which ecommerce software would best meet their business needs, as well as deliver an engaging and compelling branded customer experience, we start by highlighting these 10 reasons to choose Shopify Plus:

1. Total Cost of Ownership

While the subscription cost of Shopify Plus and Magento Commerce 2 appears close to the same monthly price, there are multiple factors to consider when it comes to the difference in the total cost of ownership between the two platforms. First, let’s consider the average implementation cost of Shopify Plus versus Magento. Traditional ecommerce platforms, such as Magento, take 8-12 months to implement. With Shopify Plus you can be selling in 3-4 months. Given the shorter project timeline, the professional service fees you pay your implementation partner, or your in-house technical team, are commensurately less. Second, since Magento is a PaaS software and must be hosted On Prem, the cost of IT infrastructure to host Magento onsite or paying a third party to host your solution in a cloud-based platform, like Microsoft Azure, must also be factored in. Last, companies using Magento report spending thousands of dollars monthly to simply maintain their solution and implement frequent upgrades, which we will touch on later in this blog.

2. Time to Market

Because Shopify Plus features a robust common code base, Shopify Plus implementations are 2-3x faster to implement than Magento Commerce. Instead of developing a solution from scratch, Shopify Plus integration partners like BlueBolt are able to utilize this code base, as well as pull from a trusted third party app marketplace with plug and play capabilities. This enables clients to utilize more of the project time and budget customizing the Shopify Plus platform to meet their client’s unique digital business needs.

3. Shopify Plus is a SaaS Solution

SaaS software has revolutionized the MarTech industry – so much so that the last On Prem software platform was founded in 2007. IT and Marketing staff alike enjoy routine access to new, platform rich features without having to do tedious and expensive upgrades. Shopify Plus enables clients to allocate their budget and staff bandwidth on improving their website instead of just maintaining it. On the other hand, Magento plans to release a total of six unique feature updates in 2022, all of which must be implemented by IT teams, decreasing available staff time and budgets for new projects.

4. A Checkout That is Always PCI Compliant

The great thing with the Shopify Plus checkout is that it is inherently PCI compliant, since their checkout is a SaaS solution hosted within the Shopify ecosystem. Additionally, Shopify’s checkout is engineered to minimize the need for customizations and ensuring PCI compliance. On the other hand, a Magento Commerce solution needs PCI compliance hosted in your On Prem solution, leaving the onus on your company’s IT team. Furthermore, customizations to the checkout process are not safeguarded like they are in Shopify, making it easy for a PCI Compliant checkout to go off the rails.

5. Built in Sales Channel for a Broader Reach

Shopify Plus offers several built-in sales channels including popular online marketplaces such as Amazon, EBay and Walmart, as well as social media marketplaces including Facebook, Instagram and TikTok. This makes running your enterprise ecommerce store user friendly, relevant and customizable. Merchants are able to integrate multiple channels, whether they are selling in an online storefront or one of several marketplaces, making it easier to manage the variety of ways today’s customers shop for products. Additionally, Shopify Plus offers shipping partnerships, enabling merchants to get discounted rates, increasing profit margins.

6. Extensive App Marketplace and Shopify Leveraged Partner Support Network

Shopify’s Partner Marketplace is truly head and shoulders above all other ecommerce platforms. Third-party applications such as YotpoKlaviyo, and Recharge and many other third-party software vendors are easily implemented in a “plug and play” manner enabling MarTech teams to bring products to market faster than ever before. Additionally, Shopify Merchants have access to a robust network of Shopify Plus implementation providers, like BlueBolt, to help them customize the platform to bring their business to life digitally. While the Shopify Marketplace is incredibly large and powerful, it can also be overwhelming, which is a reason that Shopify maintains a robust network of implementation providers. Implementation partners, such as BlueBolt can help merchants make the best choices in configuring the platform and selecting add-ons.

7. Scaling is Automated

It is surprising the number of companies who are still on a software solution with an On Prem infrastructure, undergoing painstaking management of scalability whenever traffic peaks. The benefit with a SaaS platform like Shopify Plus is that running a SaaS software blessedly and automatically scales to ensure your customers find what they need in a quick and timely manner, without the worry of your site getting bogged down. Does the idea of a Q4 sales rush or a marketing campaign make you start sweating at night? Thankfully sweet dreams are attainable with Shopify’s cloud hosted platform with integrated auto-scaling capabilities.

8. Enhanced User Experience

Unquestionably, Shopify Plus is far easier than Magento Commerce from an administrative management perspective. Shopify is set up to enable marketers to quickly and easily update both products and services on their website, as well as offer promotions on the go – without the help of the IT team. Additionally, the plug and play functionality of third-party applications makes it easier than ever before to have Shopify’s enterprise platform meet all your unique business needs.

9. Access to Feature Releases that Don’t Break Your Website

One of the best things Shopify is known for is releasing updates with new features that are very easy to use and take little to no development efforts to implement. Better yet? These feature releases don’t break your website – and your third-party applications. Meanwhile, colleagues of ours who work on Magento have reported that it internally costs tens of thousands of dollars to implement new features in Magento, as they often break their sites. Can you imagine being at the mercy of your software provider and not knowing when your site is going to go down in 2022?

10. More Bandwidth to Build Improvements Over Time

With traditional ecommerce platforms, like Magento Commerce, MarTech IT budgets are dedicated to frequent upgrades and feature releases to improve their customer experience. If you ecommerce platform is Magento Commerce, your team likely spends $10,000+ per month to maintain your website properties and integrate Magento’s feature releases, which is $120,000+ annually that could be spent on improving your customers’ experience with your brand and adding to your MarTech capabilities. Thankfully, our clients on Shopify Plus do not have to dedicate such precious resources because the are at the mercy of their ecommerce platform. Could you imagine having time and budget bandwidth to spend on optimizing your website you can develop real customer data on which to base your business decisions?

In summary, the Shopify Plus platform is a much better enterprise ecommerce software than Magento for the vast majority of ecommerce stores. As a highly technical and award-winning Shopify Plus partner, BlueBolt is adept at extending the Shopify Plus platform to meet all your unique business needs so that your products and services are available to your customers when they are ready to make their purchase. Please consider letting us help you implement Shopify Plus for all your digital needs so that together we can improve your customer experience, deliver on your KPIs and realize the ROI impact that is nearly impossible to find when running Magento.

Direct to Consumer: Everything B2B Companies Need to Know to Sell D2C

Jason Lichon

Even before the global pandemic, but certainly even more so now, every organization, regardless of industry, has had to find new ways of staying connected with and selling to their customers. Particularly, B2B Companies, such as manufacturers and distributors, have been catapulted into the race for digital transformation.

The future is definitively digital and no one wants to get left behind. In order to survive, now is the time for these companies to evolve how they sell and what experiences they deliver to attract and retain customers.

Developing a formula for success in the digital age requires organizations to embrace technology and tools to support their business. Thankfully, there is a variety of eCommerce platforms which can enable your team to achieve your goals and impact your bottom line. This white paper shares everything B2B professionals need to know about setting up a Direct to Consumer channel. If you have questions about creating a D2C Channel or other B2B Commerce projects, please contact our BlueBolt team.

7 Infrastructure Challenges of Scaling an ECommerce Shop

Jason Lichon

In order to be successful in ecommerce, it’s imperative to scale and grow, but scaling quickly can pose many challenges. Without the right strategy and tools in place to tackle these, it can be hard to achieve the success you want for your organization.

Digital infrastructure can make or break your business, so it’s vital to select the right technology and partners. These will provide the foundation you need to build a successful operation that supports and nurtures development as you expand.

IT plays a critical role in driving digital initiatives which support scaling an organization. Download our white paper to learn the 7 Challenges that should be on every IT professional’s target list. If BlueBolt can help you address these challenges, please contact us or email us at hello@blueboltsolutions.com.

Show Me the Money: How Digital ECommerce Increases ROI for B2B Companies

Jason Lichon

D uring the past 18 months, B2B companies that were hesitant to dive into ecommerce suddenly found themselves in a world where traditional sales methods were upended overnight. Meanwhile competitors, who were already on the leading edge of implementing ecommerce, doubled down on their investments as they saw their work hit the jackpot.

Regardless of where a company is today, the internal conversation always comes back to trying to decide whether digital commerce will provide a return on investment. To set the stage for this article, consider these stats:

  • 60% of B2B leaders surveyed believe their company does not generate enough data.
  • Only 32% agreed that they know how to use their data in a meaningful and actionable way.
  • When asked whether their company can track and calculate digital ROI effectively, only 27.7% said yes.

For business leaders unable to prove ROI, it becomes very challenging to make the case to implement a digital commerce project because the focus is on the cost of implementation, instead of the opportunities ecommerce holds. Fortunately, there are a myriad of persuasive arguments which will directly affect return on investment.

Uncovering ECommerce ROI Opportunities

The Power of Engaging Customers Digitally

Offering customers an online store where they can order your products isn’t exclusively about the customers themselves (even though we would like our customers to think otherwise). Having an online store gives brands a new channel where they can offer both loyal and new followers access to new and existing products, recommendations, promotions, real-time inventory, and additional shipping capabilities. In addition, it provides a platform where it’s far easier to experiment with new offerings before rolling them out company wide. Digital commerce also offers the ability to capture real time data on how customers interact with each one of these items, enabling business leaders to make data driven decisions, taking the guesswork out of how best to reach segments of your customer base.

Retain Existing Customers

In a world where customers are increasingly fickle and demanding, the old marketing adage “It’s cheaper to keep current customers than it is to attract new ones” has never been more relevant than it is today. Customers want to engage with the brands they love in a convenient and friction free manner. As much as some of us may miss it, gone are the days of calling Bob to place orders. Consumers expect to be able to access product information and perform research 24/7. Customers also expect convenience and flexibility when it comes to paying. Supporting multiple payment methods beyond standard credit cards (e.g. PayPal, Google Pay, Apple Pay, etc.) can reduce the possibility of customers halting a potential purchase at the very end of the process. End users also want to be able to order supplies in the field, check inventory and arrange pick up or delivery. While it sounds demanding and difficult to implement digitally, these needs are now table stakes to retain customers. Sadly, if their preferred vendor doesn’t offer this, customers are highly likely to find a new supplier who will.

Attract New Customers

Almost all the same considerations apply when attempting to attract new customers. Like your existing customers, new potential customers expect convenience, friction-free access to information, flexibility in payment methods, as well as robust shipping options. Digital commerce also provides an excellent tie in with social media and promotions targeting new customers. These provide new vectors to have people visit your site and browse your products. In order to successfully execute, it’s imperative for every stakeholder in the buying process to be able to do their role digitally with your business. For example, CSRs will still play an important role, but they might now be responding to questions via online chat features on your site in addition to traditional support over the phone.

Increase Wallet Share

Since the dawn of time, every business owner and marketer has been trying to conceive ways to capture more of their customer market. Share of wallet is a reflection of how important your products are to your buyers. The higher the share of wallet, the more customers are dependent on your product to perform their jobs. Driving higher share of wallet is one of the most impactful growth opportunities for manufacturers. In addition to helping drive revenue and decreasing the average cost of goods created, higher share of wallet is the key to unlocking the retention brands dream about. With share of wallet being key to business prosperity, B2B and D2C (direct to consumer) ecommerce is imperative for companies who want to be able to compete for market share among today’s digitally savvy customers. As much as everyone is sick and tired of hearing about the Amazon Effect, it truly has changed the rules of customer engagement.

Offer a Direct to Consumer (D2C) Channel

The past 18 months have seen the vast acceleration of manufacturers offering their own Direct to Consumer channels. As of Q3 2021, selling Direct to Consumer is the most popular topic in B2B marketing. Brand manufacturers who have set up a D2C channel have seen explosive, double digit revenue growth in the past year. While selling D2C does have business considerations to consider such as how fulfillment and shipping will differ, the ROI in adding a new stream of revenue has been revolutionary for companies, especially for those hit with hard economic times during the pandemic.

Provide B2B and Distributor Channels

Each of your customer types, or personas, desire to have a message tailored to them. The great news is that B2B software platforms like Optimizely and Shopify Plus make it relatively easy for clients to set up different channels, or branded microsites, for each type of customer. With these capabilities, it makes it more streamlined than ever to serve your longstanding and loyal distributors, while being able to directly onboard new businesses as well. Providing customers everything they need and more to do their job efficiently and effectively will grow your customer pipeline and earn increased share of wallet.

Grow Revenue Per Product

For years, manufacturers have fought to get their distributors to merchandise and market their products in the absolute best way in the absolute best locations. Unlike any other time in history, marketers are now in the driver’s seat themselves thanks to B2B ecommerce. Armed with websites and customer portals, savvy marketers are now able to reach their customers 24/7 to have their products in front of their customers at the moment of their decision. Superior digital merchandising, smart product recommendations and refined customer catalogs are driving increased revenue per product, while also increasing customer satisfaction and retention.

Increase Customer Self-Service Activities

For years, manufacturers have been hesitant to enable customer self-service activities. Partly, this was due to not wanting to put people out of a job. However, as digital change has taken over the industry, roles have evolved. Now that customers are largely enabled to self-serve 24/7/365 through their customer portal, CSRs have matured from order takers to product experts. The immense value CSRs are now able to provide customers when they need help or product recommendations is unparalleled. With consumers being able to do all their research and purchasing activities in the portal and message their CSRs with questions, it provides a fast, feature rich, friction free and dependable purchasing process. Additionally, internal streamlining of CSR duties can enable companies to reduce their personnel expense and decrease overhead.

Decrease Cost Per Customer Acquisition

Calculating cost per customer or cost per acquisition could be an entire white paper in and of itself. However, the one consistent theme to all of the steps to calculate this cost is knowing your data. It’s critical to know where your customers are coming from, why they’re coming to your website, which products they’re interested in, how long it takes them to complete an order and what obstacles they run into. Analyzing all this data empowers your team to make adjustments, which in turn will decrease the cost per customer over time.

Expand Product Gross Margin

When calculating the ROI of an ecommerce solution, one of the most often overlooked sources of ROI is in the higher product gross margins that come from increased sales. Savings opportunities include buying materials used to make items at a reduced cost, calculating marketing costs across more merchandise and spreading overhead out across larger commodity quantities. When these savings are taken into consideration, it’s clear how quickly boosting your product gross margins can have a vast impact on your profitability, making a great case for ecommerce.

The Ultimate Result? Boosting the Company’s Market Capitalization

For readers who may not understand market capitalization – It is the total value of all of a company’s shares of stock and is calculated by multiplying the number of stock shares outstanding by the current share price. For example, if a company has issued 1 million shares and its share price is $50, its market cap is $50 million. Shares outstanding includes all shares — those available to the public and restricted shares available to and held by specific groups. Market cap allows investors to size up a company based on how valuable the public perceives it to be. The higher the value, the “bigger” and “less risky” the company. For C-Level executives, increasing market capitalization is incredibly rewarding. Not only does it signify the company has been doing a great job, but it provides the opportunity to attract investors to help obtain cash for further growth initiatives.

In summary, there are a multitude of ways in which implementing a better ecommerce infrastructure can provide ROI for your company. BlueBolt helps manufacturers and distributors alike modernize their ecommerce offerings with platform recommendations and implementation, connecting legacy systems and integrating third party applications to create a sleek and efficient framework. The result is a user-friendly interface for customers which enables them to self-serve 24/7, while streamlining internal processes. The impact is a return on investment in many areas across the business which any discerning business leader will be excited to realize.

Pacifico Brews Up New Digital Destination Crafted by BlueBolt

Chris Risner

T he updated brand site delivers content, messaging and product information to support customer engagement throughout the buying journey.

Chicago – March 30, 2021 – BlueBolt, Inc., the leading full-service digital commerce, content, and enterprise search agency, today announced that they completed the web development and launch of an updated brand site for Pacifico Clara, a member of Constellation Brands, a leading international producer and marketer of beer, wine and spirits with operations in the U.S., Mexico, New Zealand, and Italy.

Launched on Shopify Plus with a mobile-first approach, DiscoverPacifico.com reflects the brand’s continued investment in digital capabilities and their commitment to meeting their target audience – multicultural Millenials and Generation Z of legal drinking age – where and how they consume content.

Built in collaboration with Upshot Agency, the site complements Pacifico’s brand narrative and promotes the values and interests of their target customers through featured sections for their Pacifico Preserves social initiative and for the brand’s sponsored athletes, among other instances of lifestyle content. It also links to their merchandise site for branded products and to their partner sites, enabling a seamless experience for US-based consumers to buy Pacifico directly from Drizly and Instacart.

With Shopify Plus, DiscoverPacifico.com is now more nimble than ever before, transforming what used to be cumbersome and costly tasks and replacing them with easy-to-manage workflows that support improved site experiences. Reorganized wireframes enable the Pacifico team to focus on creating and updating content more efficiently in order to support both their customers’ buying decisions and enhance corporate marketing initiatives such as social campaigns, product launches, and sweepstakes.

“Today’s always-on, always-connected consumers are not confined to any single channel, whether online or off,” said Jason Lichon, President & Co-Founder at BlueBolt. “With their new and improved Shopify Plus site, Pacifico and Constellation Brands are taking a dynamic approach to their digital transformation and can holistically support their customers across all touchpoints.”

About Constellation Brands
Constellation Brands is an international producer and marketer of beer, wine and spirits with operations in the U.S., Mexico, New Zealand, and Italy. Constellation is the third-largest beer company in the U.S. and a leading, higher-end wine and spirits company in the U.S. market. Constellation’s brand portfolio includes Corona Extra, Corona Light, Corona Premier, Modelo Especial, Modelo Negra, Pacifico, the Robert Mondavi brand family, Kim Crawford, Meiomi, The Prisoner brand family, SVEDKA Vodka, Casa Noble Tequila, and High West Whiskey.  

About BlueBolt
BlueBolt, Inc. is a full-service digital commerce, content, and enterprise search agency, focused on delivering exceptional B2B & B2C online experiences for leading manufacturers, distributors, and retailers. By combining our deep expertise in Digital Strategy, User Experience Design, Enterprise Search, Development, and Managed Support, we partner with our clients to ensure successful outcomes that drive user adoption and increase revenue. 

Since 2005, BlueBolt has had the privilege of working with some truly amazing clients including:  SRAM, HockeyShot, Boost Mobile, DISH Network, and many others. We partner with the leading platforms, including Optimizely, Shopify Plus and BigCommerce to implement solutions that make our customers’ digital goals a reality. Learn more at www.blueboltsolutions.com

HockeyShot Scores Big with New and Improved eCommerce Site by BlueBolt

Jason Lichon

S ince launching on the Shopify platform, HockeyShot has seen increases of 29% in conversions and 27% in online revenue year over year.

Chicago, IL – March 18, 2021 – BlueBolt, Inc., the leading full-service Digital Commerce, Content, and Enterprise Search agency, today announced that they have launched a new Shopify Plus site for HockeyShot, the largest online specialty retailer of hockey training equipment worldwide. The new site comes after the HockeyShot team experienced a failed migration to Magento 2 before engaging with BlueBolt. 

After experiencing numerous site performance and stability issues along with a drop in online sales after migrating to Magento 2, HockeyShot chose to replatform to Shopify Plus. Through implementation, creative design, user experience, and digital marketing services, BlueBolt has enabled the HockeyShot team to plan and execute strategies for long-term success. With experience in digital solutions for global expansion and operational improvements, BlueBolt has also helped the HockeyShot team navigate their overall global online and offline commerce workflows, including implementing and servicing sites for three different geographies – Canada, Europe, and the United States. 

“At HockeyShot, we pride ourselves on providing unparalleled world class customer experience. It was devastating to our business and to our team members when we weren’t able to deliver on that promise due to flaws in our previous platform,” said Matt Menard, Director, E-Commerce & Consumer Experience at HockeyShot. “Working with BlueBolt to implement our new Shopify Plus site has helped us move beyond our disappointment and deliver a truly innovative and customized digital experience that our customers expect and deserve.”  

With Shopify Plus and BlueBolt, HockeyShot no longer worries about server and performance issues, constant patching and bug fixes, or ballooning service costs to keep their site up and running. Since launch, HockeyShot has seen increases of 29% in conversions and 27% in online revenue year over year. Because of the true SaaS nature of Shopify, the HockeyShot team can now focus on seamlessly creating better customer experiences to market and sell their outstanding products. 

“As a trusted partner, it is our core purpose and focus to empower our clients to meet and exceed their digital transformation goals,” said Jason Lichon, President & Co-Founder at BlueBolt. “We are thrilled to have been able to use our expertise in technology, marketing, and creative design to tailor a solution that fit the needs of HockeyShot and enable them to get back on track.” 

About HockeyShot
HockeyShot Inc. is the largest online specialty retailer of hockey training equipment worldwide. Their mission is to revolutionize hockey skills around the world by offering fun, innovative and accessible tools. HockeyShot is focused on helping hockey players reach their potential with training aids and best-in-class training content; built through partnerships with the top professional athletes, coaches, and community leaders in the game. The future of hockey starts now. 

About BlueBolt
BlueBolt, Inc. is a full-service digital commerce, content, and enterprise search agency, focused on delivering exceptional B2B & B2C online experiences for leading manufacturers, distributors, and retailers. By combining our deep expertise in Digital Strategy, User Experience Design, Enterprise Search, Development, and Managed Support, we partner with our clients to ensure successful outcomes that drive user adoption and increase revenue. 

Since 2005, BlueBolt has had the privilege of working with some truly amazing clients including:  SRAM, HockeyShot, Boost Mobile, DISH Network, and many others. We partner with the leading platforms, including, Optimizely, Shopify Plus and Big Commerce to implement solutions that make our customers’ digital goals a reality. Learn more at www.blueboltsolutions.com. 

Optimizing the B2B Digital Experience: Meeting Your Customers through Live Chat

Jason Lichon

O nce overlooked in B2B digital strategies, optimized customer experiences are a must have for companies looking to convert and engage with customers in today’s world.

With current COVID-19 restrictions on meeting in person, it’s even more important now than ever for B2B organizations to examine how they interact and engage with customers. Innovation in this time of crisis and beyond will enable you to provide more meaningful and personalized touchpoints in the buyer’s journey and help your business grow.

But don’t just take my word for it.

In their recent B2B Digital Experience Report, Optimizely gathered insights from 600 global B2B decision makers about digital experience tactics and technology. They inquired about everything from budgets, to Amazon, to AI. The most encompassing takeaway from the report is that in order to win in today’s digital economy, B2B businesses must focus on the customer by understanding who they are and what they need, and then provide the appropriate, personalized solutions to address those needs.

Though focusing on the customer may seem obvious, the customer journey can be complex, especially for B2B organizations. There are many moving parts to consider, and while making decisions can seem overwhelming, the biggest opportunity for businesses is to invest in products and services that better serve the customer throughout the buying lifecycle and beyond. It’s not a one-size-fits all type of process and instead should involve looking at problems from many different angles and finding the right solutions that truly deliver better customer experiences.

According to Optimizely’s report, the majority of B2B organizations (54%) define their customer relationships as strained, developing or non-existent. Clearly there’s a huge opportunity to improve in this area. B2B organizations should specifically look to connect with their customers where and when it makes most sense. One simple and effective solution is live chat.

Live chat leads to personalized digital experiences

Data from the Optimizely report shows that 60% of B2B leaders say that the top way that they want to learn about a fellow B2B company is through their website. Thirty seven percent of these same leaders also say live chat is the website feature/functionality they are most likely to adapt in the next 12 months. Combine these two points, and you’ve got an interesting opportunity. If the majority of people prefer accessing information about a company through that company’s website, and that website has a live chat solution implemented, then live chat can be a viable tool to engage with website visitors and improve customer experiences.

B2B interactions often deal with quite a lot of complexity – customer-specific pricing, tight delivery schedules, endless numbers of SKU’s – and organizations need to be prepared to provide immediate and personal attention when their customers need it. Live chat is a powerful and convenient tool when it comes to assisting customers in real time.

Knowing that they are talking to a real person, not a bot, gives customers the confidence that their issues are being handled quickly and efficiently. Live chat also enables your reps to reach customers in unique and engaging ways, including video and file sharing – something that obviously cannot be supported through a typical phone call, email, or form submission. Beyond the front-end, user specific advantages, live chat is also an effective tool in gathering and recording data that can be used to improve customer experience across the whole of your organization, not just digitally. Finally, live chat can be personalized so that returning customers are addressed individually and previous interactions are recorded; after all, if the customer has interacted with you before, wouldn’t it make sense that you know who they are the next time you speak? This not only will save time but will also make your customers feel valued.

The big picture of personalization.

It’s more common now that most B2B companies have gone through at least some type of digital transformation. According to Optimizely’s report, most leaders say they have a digital foundation to work with, but many are looking for more to get the job done. This points to the need for organizations to take a holistic approach to enhancing customer experiences.

Of course, perfecting the digital experience is an ever-evolving process that encompasses more than just keeping up with competitors or the expectations of your customers; it’s about truly understanding your customers and using that data to deliver more personalized experiences to achieve digital success. One way to achieve this on the most basic of levels is through live chat, which when used correctly, can help support and manage better customer relationships, increase revenue, and improve customer loyalty. Live chat, combined with other customer experience tools, is the foundation from which organizations can ensure they are gathering the right data and providing the right solutions so customers remain central to the business.

If we can be of help in anyway, please connect with us as we are always happy to help.

Note: The original version of this article was posted by Paul Demery on DigitalCommerce360.com.

SRAM Selects BlueBolt to Tune Up Its Digital Presence

Chris Risner

B lueBolt launches an innovative digital commerce experience for SRAM, the preeminent manufacturer of state-of-the-art bicycle components.

Chicago, IL – June 23, 2020 – BlueBolt, Inc., an award winning digital agency, today announced that it helped launch an innovative digital commerce experience for SRAM, the preeminent manufacturer of state-of-the-art bicycle components. BlueBolt provided development and design services for their site: www.sram.com, with Quarq and Zipp launched as SRAM brands going Direct to Consumer.

“While SRAM had worked with BlueBolt previously to digitally enable their robust network of customers, distributors, and retail partners through an Optimizely, formerly Episerver, based business portal, we were now looking to host all our brands on one consumer-facing platform and introduce a more consistent consumer journey.” said Dragana Pajovic, Director of E-Commerce at SRAM. “With our new Quarq and Zipp sites, we have introduced a multi-brand cart and we can now own our brand experience from start to finish – it’s been an exciting step in our digital transformation.”

With the launch of the new sites, SRAM’s products are showcased in an elevated user experience, and early performance shows positive results. Built on the Optimizely Commerce platform, and leveraging the previously implemented B2B site and infrastructure, the B2C site rollouts included innovative functionality and key integrations with several third-party vendors.  Some notable features include:

  • A redesigned site experience on desktop and mobile to enable a frictionless B2C buyer’s journey across the site, including a shared shopping cart across brands.
  • A custom configurator specific to the Quarq product site, which enables a user to build their chosen product directly on the product detail page.  This is a unique customization within Episerver that takes any number of SKU’s and drills down options based on the buyer’s selections, to deliver one final finished product and price.
  • Refreshed brand experiences for Quarq and Zipp, with the addition of the “My Account” section that enables users to store their information, access order history, and create wish lists, resulting in more meaningful customer touchpoints and encouraging brand loyalty across all of SRAM’s brands.

“We’re extremely proud to have designed and developed a beautiful site that truly demonstrates the excellence of the SRAM brand,” said Dave Risner, CEO at BlueBolt. “This new site is not just a place to purchase SRAM’s world class products; it’s a destination for cycling enthusiasts from all over to connect with the brand on a deeper level and immerse themselves in the lifestyle that SRAM represents.”

About SRAM

SRAM® is a manufacturer of innovative bicycle components that was founded in Chicago, Illinois, in September 1987, with the invention of its first product, Grip Shift®. Throughout its 31-year history, SRAM has focused on its product development and innovation expertise in all bicycling disciplines. SRAM has also acquired some of cycling’s most exciting brands. With 3000-plus employees working in offices and manufacturing facilities in 15 countries, SRAM and its brands – RockShox®, TRUVATIV®, Zipp® and Quarq® – comprise the second largest manufacturer of bike components in the world.

About BlueBolt

BlueBolt, Inc. is a full-service digital commerce, content, and enterprise search agency, focused on delivering exceptional B2B & B2C online experiences for leading manufacturers, distributors, and retailers. By combining our deep expertise in Digital Strategy, User Experience Design, Enterprise Search, Development, and Managed Support, we partner with our clients to ensure successful outcomes that drive user adoption and increase revenue.

Since 2005, BlueBolt has had the privilege of working with some truly amazing clients including:  SRAM,  Rather Outdoors, Indian Motorcycle, DISH Network, and many others. We partner with the leading platforms, including, Optimizely, Shopify Plus and BigCommerce to implement solutions that make our customers’ digital goals a reality. Learn more at www.blueboltsolutions.com.

SMS Marketing in the Time of COVID

Jason Lichon

T he best consumer experiences are the ones that meet buyers consistently throughout all touchpoints of the customer journey.

Now, more than ever, mobile experiences are having a huge impact on how people shop. Consider the following data from the eCommerce marketing platform, Yotpo or Okendo.

  • During the pandemic, 57% of consumers are shopping online more than usual
  • 65% of consumers prefer to shop directly from their phone
  • There’s been a 30% increase in time spent on mobile phones since the COVID-19 pandemic began

With such a big window of opportunity to reach your customers through mobile, short message service (SMS) marketing can be a valuable tactic. The average person already spends more than 4 hours a day on a mobile device and checks their phone more than 150 times in that same span (Yotpo). By using SMS marketing to send your customers the right mobile messages at the right time, you’ll be able to capitalize on this channel by not only converting browsers into buyers now, but also by building meaningful relationships and encouraging customer loyalty well into the future.

Here are just a few scenarios where SMS marketing can move the needle with your customers:

  • Using messaging automation, you can trigger perfectly timed, personalized messages to encourage conversions. For instance, if a buyer abandons items in a cart, sending an SMS reminder that they’ve forgotten something can inspire them to go back and buy
  • Segment out audiences to hyper-target buyers based on advanced data like past behaviors and transactions
  • Have a new product or campaign launch? Use SMS to easily and quickly notify customers instead of getting lost in a sea of other marketing emails in their inboxes. After all, SMS has a 6-8x higher engagement rate than email with an average open rate of a whopping 98%
  • Provide more engaging and personalized customer service through managed chats and helpdesk integrations

To learn more about these features and how to create a winning SMS marketing strategy for your brand, check out Yotpo’s Complete Guide to Generating Fast ROI With SMS Marketing. The guide includes best practices for more personalized mobile experiences and real-life examples from a variety of brands finding success through SMS marketing.

In a time when customers crave highly targeted mobile experiences more than ever, brands need to deliver. It’s clear that shoppers love to use mobile, and I think they’d love for you to as well.

The Clock is Ticking: What Merchants Should Consider When Migrating from Magento 1

Chris Risner

J une 30, 2020 is the end of life for Magento 1, both Commerce and Open Source. It’s been a long time coming since the news of its end was first announced in November 2015. Yet, even just days before the deadline, some merchants may still be trying to wrap their heads around what to do. If you’re one of them, here’s some information that might help.

Remain Calm, but Don’t Wait!

Before any remaining Magento 1 merchants start to completely panic, please know that the end of Magento 1 will not serve as a light-switch that shuts off your online store as soon as July rolls around. Instead, it means that your store will still exist, but any support previously provided by Magento, like security patches or updates, will not be provided.

Merchants will be solely responsible for any security breaches and their Magento 1 sites will fall out of compliance with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI DSS). And while there are companies out there offering solutions and support for Magento 1 merchants after June 30, the truth is, the ability to remain competitive and keep up with customer expectations will diminish significantly the longer you wait to make a move. So even though your store will remain on, it’s in your best interest and the interests of your customers to migrate platforms.

At a time when many businesses across all industries are trying to rein in spending to weather the current global crises, it may seem risky to invest in a platform migration for your online store – even we can admit the costs and timelines can sometimes seem daunting!

However, we cannot stress enough how important it is for merchants to take action now. By doing so, you will be better prepared for success down the line, even well after things have settled. Your customers will still be shopping and are still expecting a certain level of service and security from your store, regardless of outside forces. The rewards of pursuing a migration now far outweigh the risks of staying with Magento 1.

Options for Migrating from Magento 1

While migrating to Magento 2 is an option for all merchants, it won’t be any less effort to implement a completely new platform, since there is no simple upgrade path. Plus, the documented issues and ongoing expenses with Magento did not evaporate with M2 – they have continued on. Keeping all this in mind, we encourage you to take a look at commerce platforms available to you, including ShopifyOptimizely, BigCommerce and others. Whether your business is B2C, B2B, or both, the various platforms offer robust and unique solutions for merchants of all kinds. If you’re not sure of where to start, we can help.

BlueBolt’s expert strategists and developers have helped hundreds of clients over the years by providing best practices and information to make decisions on what’s best for each individual client’s business. We work to thoroughly understand your business and requirements, and make recommendations based on what specific needs your business has.  As you embark on the next step in your digital transformation journey, let us help you take control of your future and make decisions that will enable you to reach your goals – contact us today!

Bluebolt Earns Gold-Level Partnership With Optimizely

Jason Lichon

T o earn this distinction, BlueBolt has satisfied high sales, training, certification and specialization requirements with Optimizely.

[CHICAGO, IL] April 1, 2020 – BlueBolt, Inc., a commerce-focused Digital Agency that enables retailers, manufacturers and distributors to support their customers & sales teams through innovative digital solutions, today announced it has been certified as a Gold Partner of Optimizely, formerly Episerver.

BlueBolt completed a thorough certification process, including Optimizely Education training, certifying seven Optimizely Developers, and achieving the Optimizely CMS & Commerce Specializations, to earn Gold Partner status in Optimizely’s Partner Success Program and to join as a qualified, value-add seller of Optimizely Customer-Centric Digital Experience Platform™.  As a Gold Partner, BlueBolt brings proven competency, documented delivery expertise, established product expertise, and certified resources and specializations to mutual customers. BlueBolt extends the value of the Optimizely platform to organizations across North America by focusing on delivering best-in-class global digital commerce experiences to manufacturers, distributors, and retailers for both B2C & B2B transactions.

Optimizely Customer-Centric Digital Experience Platform is a Leader in Gartner Magic Quadrant for Digital Experience Platforms. Optimizely boasts an independently proven 443 percent return on investment in three years and a payback period of less than six months. Along with low total cost of ownership, Optimizely reduces time spent on content and product management updates, offers savings over on-premise solutions, increases revenue through AI-based personalization, and improves customer satisfaction scores due to more contextual experiences.

Our team is committed to empowering our clients to take charge of their digital transformation goals and create beautiful, one-of-a-kind commerce experiences that excite and please their customers,” says David Risner, CEO at BlueBolt. “As a Gold Partner of Optimizely, we can better deliver value and innovation to our clients, and we take great pride in that.”

With a network of more than 900 partner companies in 30 countries, Optimizely seeks to connect with qualified partners whose firm possesses a wealth of experience, team members with a creative outlook, global reach, and a collective eye toward future opportunities to ensure mutual customers are successful in the short and long term.

“Both BlueBolt and Optimizely are experiencing incredible growth by helping customers get closer to their customer, grow their brand and uncover new revenue opportunities,” said Dominic Citino, VP of worldwide partnerships at Optimizely. “BlueBolt is accelerating the pace at which businesses are able to provide customer-centric digital experiences and their Gold-level status is a testament to that commitment.”

About BlueBolt, Inc.

BlueBolt, Inc. is a full-service digital commerce, content, and enterprise search agency, focused on delivering exceptional B2B & B2C online experiences for leading manufacturers, distributors, and retailers. By combining our deep expertise in Digital Strategy, User Experience Design, Enterprise Search, Development, and Managed Support, we partner with our clients to ensure successful outcomes that drive user adoption and increase revenue.

Since 2005, BlueBolt has had the privilege of working with some truly amazing clients including:  SRAM, Restek, Indian Motorcycle, DISH Network, and many others. We partner with industry leaders like Optimizely to implement the right technology solutions that drive innovation and make our customers’ digital goals a reality. Learn more at www.blueboltsolutions.com.

Blended Content & Commerce: The peanut butter and jelly of digital commerce

Jason Lichon
ON DEMAND WEBINAR

Enjoy the replay of this educational session from BlueBolt and Optimizely (formerly Episerver), “Blended Content and Commerce – The Peanut Butter and Jelly of Digital Commerce.” Our experts discuss the importance and benefits of combining content with commerce, explain the maturity levels that frame organizational strategies, review best practices and show real world examples, and give actionable insights to implement within your own business straight away.

Developing robust content and commerce strategies takes effort, but the results will elevate your brand and help you take a bite out the competition. Satisfy your hunger for success by watching this informative session.

What to Look for When Evaluating an Enterprise Search Solution – Key Criteria

Chris Risner

C hoosing an enterprise search solution can be daunting and time-consuming. There are many factors to consider and it can be very confusing

This blog post is meant to help guide that decision by providing the key criteria for evaluating the best enterprise search solution. These criteria include vision, various technology considerations, licensing model(s), frequency of updates/support, employee resource(s) needed, flexibility, and security.

Base Technology and Fit

The first area to understand is to dig into the base or underlying technology of the solution. This includes the following areas:

  • What technology stack is the search solution built on, and what programming languages would be used to implement and extend it? Is this the same as the technology used within your organization?
  • Where is data stored? What technology used for storing data? 
  • Is any or all part of the solution open source? Or is it completely proprietary? Some mix of the two?
  • Does it fit  and work within the Content Management Solution or the application that will be exposing the search?
  • What parts of the solution are essentially “off limits” vs. what is customizable if necessary
  • What skills are necessary to do customization?

Evaluating the base technology behind the solution is important to understand how much it will take to run and support the solution, including what would happen if the organization decides to “go it alone” and support the solution with internal resources. While open source solutions could provide licensing advantages (more on licensing below) and also possibly provide access to the source code (if necessary), it also could lead to support considerations that an organization is not ready for. For instance, choosing a entirely open source option without a real business behind it and then building a solution in-house would mean that the organization is signing up to be a software developer that is essentially competing with the existing enterprise search software vendors out there already. This is still possible and may be the right decision in some situations, presumably in circumstances that cause for extreme customization anyway. But, the constant software development process, testing, implementation, and support necessary to keep up with the changes in the market may not make sense for organizations that just want a product and solution that works and is a truly cloud-based environment (which would be difficult to make happen in-house as well). Choosing a solution that meets the organization’s current technology stack is an important consideration.

Connectors

Connectors are pre-built code to integrate systems together. Many are built for such things as Content Management Systems and CRM systems, but they could be any environment that the enterprise search solution provider felt was necessary or would provide them a marketing advantage. Commercial applications typically would have a stronger eye toward marketing and would naturally provide more of connectors, while open source solutions would tend to give the tools necessary for developers to create their own connectors. These connectors need to be evaluated according to the following questions to assess the appropriateness:

  • How many connectors are currently available?
  • Are the necessary connectors available for the organization’s immediate needs? What about for growth?
  • If a particular connector is not available, is it possible to create a custom connector? How difficult is this process?
  • How deep do the connectors go? Do they provide the right level of integration to be effective or just brush the surface to check a marketing box off that they have the connector? If incomplete in some way, how difficult is it to shore it up to get what is needed?
  • Does the provider seem dedicated to continual development of additional connectors?

Vision and Architecture Philosophy

Understanding what the enterprise search solution was created for and where it is headed in the future is important.  Some solutions were created and optimized for specific systems, applications, or use cases such as CRM or customer service or knowledge bases. While it may not be important to know how a particular vendor is going to handle predictive analytics or machine learning in detail, for instance, it might be important to an organization to consider a particular solution where the provider is working on artificial intelligence capabilities for automating taxonomy management. This could show show that the vendor is thinking about the future and has the same vision of where the organization wants to go. 

Other considerations of vision and philosophy include how data is extracted from the source systems. Then how the search engine solution processes that data and merges data from all of the sources together, commonly called federation. It is important to understand how data is joined from different data sources and normalized to create a common structure, such as one data source having full name in one field while another source has first and last name in different fields. There are many ways to do this, and being on the same page is critical. In addition, the way that a system handles taxonomy is important. Taxonomy is the categorization capabilities or methods of creating context to the data and structuring the data such including creating filters, facets, and other user interface features. All of these different areas can affect the evaluation of a search engine solution.

Scalability

Most search engines today need to be able to handle very large databases and index sizeable quantities of data, sometimes into the millions and even billions of records. This also means the system needs to be built in order to provide response times to queries in an efficient manner With the amount of data that needs to be processed, the search engine solution needs to process data in order to not frustrate users that are accustomed to Google-like response times. Areas to consider under scalability include the following:

  • Number of data sources
  • Number of records within each data source? What is the expected growth of data?
  • Frequency of updates and how much of the data needs to be updated with each update
  • How many queries will be performed? What is the expected growth?

Indexing

Indexing is the method for gathering the data. It describes whether (and how) a crawler is used, how often data is captured (time between indexes), how fast the actual indexing process takes, and whether some or all fields need secondary processing for creating metadata in order to use the data. All of these are important to consider because if the system is down while the indexing occurs because of how long the process takes or the way that the system is built. If the system is unavailable during this time or slow from the user’s perspective, it is a concern. It is also an issue if the data is very old (stale) because of the time between indexing. Often the processing can be handled offline with a separate server such as a staging server and and intelligent means of data capture can be maintained such as only getting the data has changed rather than the entire data set from every data source. All of these architecture decisions should be evaluated when making a selection of a search engine solution.

Search Features and User Experience

The core query functionality of the system is critical to look at. At this point within the search industry, there are quite a few search features that should be expected in a modern search solution. The features and functionality that should be in most systems including sorting, filtering, faceting, stemming, keyword searches, boolean searches, the use of wildcards, field searches, range searches, synonyms, “did you mean” type features, auto-suggesting and auto completion. If any of these are missing, it should be cause for concern.

The search solution needs to also provide flexibility to allow for providing the means to create a world-class user interface and experience. In many ways, the user experience is just as important, or more important, than the back-end functionality. The system should have the ability to create modern user interface components such as responsive designs (mobile), filters, facets, keyword highlighting, etc. Establishing the user interface can be expensive and care should be taken to make sure to understand how easy it is to make changes if the requirements change.

Search Relevancy

Search relevancy is the process for determining which search results end up at the top of any particular results list based on how relevant the data is to the search that was performed. Search relevancy is a constant process of optimization of the search algorithm to the needs of the individual system and the ability of the system to determine the user intent. Indexing and architecture can heavily influence search relevancy and how data is processed. The search engine solution should be graded on how easy and flexible it can be tuned to the needs of the organization, how search scoring is handled and its accuracy and ability to tweak, as well as the system’s ability to boost relevancy either manually by an administrator or by additional criteria that is added to the algorithm.

Measurement of search relevance should include aggregation and analysis of search logs, keyword information, results logs, click information, abandon statistics, and possibly even conversion statistics if they are available, particularly if they can be tracked back to the search data. All of this information will help get a more clear picture of the user’s needs and intent with the goal of continual tuning. Eventually, it could lead to personalization of each search that is perform to each individual user that is performing the search. In order to get to this ultimate goal of complete understanding of the user and their intent, it is appropriate to use big data techniques and tools, machine learning methodologies and technologies, as well as predictive analytics to help improve the relevancy scores and continual improvement of the search results.

Licensing Models and Cost

How the license for the solutions works and pricing works is an important criteria in deciding on the right application for an organization. Licensing can be very complex and have many components. These components may not be linear either, with potential hidden costs that aren’t immediately obvious. For instance, although a purely open source solution could look inexpensive with no direct license expense, the on-going support and additional development expense could end up being cost-prohibitive, particularly if the organization doesn’t have the skills to manage an open source solution properly. Some questions to ask on pricing include the following:

  • Is the solution SaaS? On-premise? Hybrid?
  • If on-premise, how would hosting be handled? Is there a flat fee or tiered pricing? Is there maintenance costs? Is the license price contingent upon the number of servers or processors?
  • If SaaS or some type of hybrid is there a base cost? Is it per month? Is there some additional volume-based expense per month (most commonly based on the number of queries)? Is there additional pricing based per person?
  • How is support handled? Is this an extra expense? Are there maintenance expense for additional years?
  • How is training handled? What training expenses are necessary?

Security and Authentication

Protection of data continues to be one of the biggest challenges for modern organizations. Sensitive and proprietary documents needed to be secured from individuals and systems that should not have access. Some areas to consider on security include the following:

  • How is authorization provided?
  • Is a single sign-on available?
  • Can the system provide document-level security?
  • What other security capabilities does the system provide?

Administration and Skills Necessary

Modern enterprise search solutions provide reporting and administrative capabilities to employees in order to understand more about how the system is operating and allowing optimization of search results. An evaluation of the reporting as well as gaining some understanding of what options are available to tune the results is necessary to understand the breadth of the solution. Some considerations for administration include:

  • Are there tools for synonyms? Is there an administrative interface to manage synonyms?
  • How are misspellings handled? Is there an automated system to detect misspellings?
  • What skills or employees are necessary to administer the system?
  • Is there a way to boost favored content within the search results?

Conclusion

While selecting a enterprise search solution can be complex and take quite a bit of time, using a methodical process of evaluation can ensure that the right decisions can be made. Rushing the decision for such an important portion of an enterprise network could cause problems and issues with the customer experience for years. On the other hand, choosing the proper solution could provide the right technology to provide accurate access to the information and a superior user experience.

If our team can help recommend the best enterprise search solution for you, please connect with us.