Friday, July 28, 2006

The Online Shopping Experience

Question: Is the ideal online shopping experience more like looking through a printed catalog or going into a store with a very helpful salesperson? Or is it something new and different?

My perspective on this is not typical because I work in this world every day and think differently about web applications than the majority of people. That said, I do believe there is an evolution underway in ecommerce, and I believe CXP, the product we just released, is going to help drive that evolution. 

The answer to my first question, I believe, is that the ideal online shopping experience should be more like going into a store with expert merchandising and helpful salespeople. An ecommerce site should be smart but not overwhelm customers with options or information. It should use all the information available to it, both internally and externally, to tailor the experience to the customer. I am excited about CXP because it can help do this without having to hire PhDs and go through painful development projects.

I think there is a fundamental difference between "experience" and "offers." Don't get me wrong, a well-crafted offer is a critical component in the world of ecommerce as it is anywhere, but there is much more to life than that. There are a lot of other factors that are important to consider in the overall shopping experience.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

CXP is Open for Business

For the past year I have been involved in developing a product called CXP at Sento Corporation, my employer. Today was a soft release of the product, although we have been operating it in production for two pilot clients for a few months. I am very happy about this release, I am proud of the product.

This product grew out of internal discussions about where to go next with Sento's Right Channeling offerings. Sento has traditionally provided a suite of tools and services in support of Right Channeling which have been the main differentiating feature between us and our competitors. CXP grew out of a desire to keep that goodness going.

The term CXP is a psuedo-acronym for Customer Experience Platform. It's an SAAS (Software As A Service) tool that enables complex rules-based behaviors on existing sites. It's having a pronounced positive impact on the sites we have deployed it on so far.

The development of CXP began in the application development group that I have managed for the past two years. At first it was just one of many projects that I was directing, but over time it has grown legs and has required my full-time attention, so I have moved into the VP of Product Development role.