We are delighted to announce that, with the upcoming 2020.5 Advantage release, our eCommerce platform Cider will provide a connector with Affilae, a platform dedicated to affiliate marketing. This enterprising marketing approach is growing among eCommerce players, including the publishing industry. It is something worth looking into if you don't use it yet.
What is affiliate marketing?
Wikipedia defines affiliate marketing as a type of performance-based marketing in which a business rewards one or more affiliates for each visitor or customer brought by the affiliate's own marketing efforts.
Here’s an example. Imagine an influencer promotes a book (or publication) through his/her blog or social network account that you market in your eCommerce store. If he/she puts a link to the product, …
It is very common for clients taking an Advantage feature update after a few years ‘parked’ on a previous release to ask for our updated system requirements. This question is also front of mind for prospective clients who are considering a new Advantage implementation. But if you’re a client who keeps current with monthly or quarterly feature updates, then reviewing the operating systems and databases that undergird your Advantage system might not be a primary concern.
At AdvantageCS, we’ve supported many operating systems and database management systems over the years. We’ve operated on Windows NT 3.5 to Windows Server 2019, several Unix variants, OpenVMS, even PRIMOS. And we’ve supported database management systems from Microsoft, Oracle, DEC and others. Our latest feature update, …
Did you know Advantage has instructional videos? Most of these 10- to 13-minute videos demonstrate a specific feature or explain how to perform a task in Advantage but, starting with 2019.0, a video showing highlights of the latest annual release will be included.
The five completed instructional videos currently available are shown below. Another one is in production.
Planned future topics include Working with Select Sets, Synchronized Agreement Basics and Working with Packages.
The videos are produced by Adam Martin of the documentation team. He sends out an email announcement with the release of each video, with links to the most recent video, all past videos, and the videos playlist. If you would like to be included on that list, email Adam. He also welcomes comments and …
It’s been a little over a year since the groundbreaking decision by the Supreme Court of the United States in the Wayfair vs. South Dakota court case. In short, the decision expanded the taxable landscape across the United States. States are no longer bound by the physical presence requirement set by the 1992 Quill court case. Effectively, this means that states can start requiring sales and use tax for everyone that meets an economic nexus.
There are a lot of one-year-later posts by experts that provide great overviews. Try Accounting Today , Wolters Kluwer (my favorite) or Digital Commerce 360. This Bloomberg (PDF) survey is also interesting.
This decision affects nearly all Advantage clients; even our non-USA based clients that sell into the USA are subject to the new rules. (We do …
The pace of Cider implementations continues to accelerate as more and more Advantage clients choose to make the move. Eleven clients are now live on Cider, with nearly 100 websites, marketing myriad items including digital, print, continuity programs, books and other products. Six more clients are in the process of implementing the eCommerce platform.
“Without a doubt, Cider was a HUGE win for Informa and Advantage,” says Carver Bonine, Business Systems Engineer at Informa, who went live on Cider earlier this year. “The team all went above and beyond to make this work---and work well---for us. Ultimately, it was AdvantageCS’ commitment to the Cider platform and determination to get Informa live on Cider that led to our success.”
Cider offers a marketing portal for speedy creation …
Automatic renewal arrangements are popular and beneficial for both companies and consumers. Customers are saved the trouble of having to continually take actions to keep their subscription active, while companies improve their retention rates and forecasting abilities.
However, in the last few years, the legal environment has become more restrictive on automatic renewal arrangements. There’s been a push at national and state levels (Vermont being the most recent state) to better inform and protect customers from accidentally entering into long-term subscription service agreements, as well as enabling them to cancel out. It’s important for companies to be aware of, and plan for, complying with these regulations.
Fortunately, we have experience handling auto-renewal features, having …
Sending a clear and concise, yet detailed, invoice to your customers for every order is critical to receive accurate and timely payments. But some customers want to see a single statement that includes multiple orders, with the detail for each transaction.
This is where the Detailed Statements feature in Advantage comes into play.
Detailed Statements allows you to generate a single statement number that covers multiple invoices for a customer and tracks billing efforts against that statement. It also provides the linkage from that statement back to the order details. This allows you to access the in-depth information and present it to the customer at the level of detail that you choose.
Whether you provide an invoice representing a single debit to your customers or a statement that …
Many sales efforts focus on untapped markets and selling to new customers. However, there’s a segment of lost sales that may be slipping past you unnoticed---abandoned shopping carts. These are items selected on your website by customers who then elected not to complete the purchase process.
Abandonment Rate: As High As 80%
The Baymard Institute has estimated an average abandonment rate of 69.89%, as of June of 2018. (Link here) Other sites reflect a figure just over 80%. That’s 7 or 8 customers out of 10 who have visited your site, added something to a shopping cart and then abandoned it without making a purchase! Some statistics claim that over 60% of these are recoverable. Consider the increase in revenue if even half of those turn into actual sales.
Reasons Why Carts Are …
It seems as if everywhere you look, you see new cyber-security practices being implemented. For example, Visa recently introduced new requirements for businesses that store cardholder payment information for use in future transactions, such as recurring payments and installments. These requirements restrict card use for anything other than a specific authorized use.
How it works
The first time the information is used in a “future use” transaction, Visa passes back a new Transaction ID element (Visa’s term) on authorization requests. The business must retain this ID and send it with subsequent transactions in the “future use stream” for this card/Transaction ID. But only for this specific card and Transaction ID.
That’s not all
Visa also requires that the merchant obtain and store …
When Advantage moved to .NET in 2012, it paved the way for Unicode. Unicode is a computer industry standard that enables the use of other characters in addition to Latin, such as Cyrillic, Hindi, Japanese or Chinese. In its recent upgrade to 2016.0, Bayard took "Advantage" of these new capabilities to address the needs of its Hong Kong Subsidiary, Bayard Asia. For the first time, thanks to Bayard, Chinese characters are displayed on Advantage user screens. Awesome!
Bayard has had a presence in Asia since 1977, operating mainly from Hong-Kong. There, it publishes 5 magazines in traditional Chinese (Little Toy Car, Little Red Apple, Little Red Panda, Red Apple and White Antelope), and also markets 6 publications in English, from the "Box" collection (Story Box, Adventure Box, …
With the 2018.7 release of Advantage comes an improved way to create custom report output, based on your select criteria. This functionality is available at the browser. It’s easy, it’s robust, and it’s a great way for end users to create custom reports and outputs.
One of the best features of the browser-based approach is the ability to see real-time results. You can both see the results and export them to a CSV or PDF file. In addition, you can run this from within Advantage, incorporating the report into a jobstream or scheduling it to run on a regular basis.
When you add a new select set in the browser, you are prompted for the Select Set Type and Data Source. These are validated drop-down fields; each also has a “quick search” tool to allow you to find values based on words or …
When looking at postal codes around the world, there are cases where two different cities are served by the same postal code. For example, the zip code 94608 in California is used for both Emeryville and parts of Oakland. One postal code, two cities.
Additionally, there are cases where the name of the city varies, depending on the language. Brussels is a great example. In Dutch, it’s Brussels. In French, it’s Bruxelles. Both are official languages of Belgium.
Within AdvantageCS, cities can be set up to handle both of these cases, thereby making address self-service more targeted to the customer and label generation more specific. Both are subtle ways to improve customer service and provide a more personalized product to your customers.
Using the Postal Code setup view, you can now …
Advantage offers many integration options within a technical ecosystem. One of those is done through Advantage’s Extensibility Services framework. This framework allows our clients to create custom implementations of standard interfaces (e.g., address hygiene). This approach is an integral part of AdvantageCS’s open system strategy.
The mechanics of the framework are straightforward: Advantage provides the extensibility service contract and interface files while the developer provides the implementation of the service. The service itself could be local to the Advantage software, distributed on a network, or web-based. In contrast, Advantage also supports many out-of-the-box point-to-point integrations to specific vendor packages (e.g., CyberSource for credit card transactions).
The Cider web platform provides a robust environment for customer self-service and order placement. Now, just in time for the holidays, the platform also supports payments made through gift certificates.
Gift certificates are already a native payment method in the Advantage software package, but now the Cider platform will also support payments made via Advantage gift certificates. You can choose whether or not a certificate is usable for web orders.
This feature also permits the ability to use a partial amount of the gift certificate, with the remaining amount available for future orders. Online customers can enter a gift certificate number directly, if they choose. If a customer has a partially redeemed gift certificate on file, they can select it and use it for payment.
The Importance of Data Security
In late summer of this year, news broke that Equifax had been the victim of a massive data breach, likely one of the largest thefts of consumer data ever---see article here. As one of three primary agencies charged with tracking consumer credit in the US, Equifax fully understood the consequences of what it means for a consumer to have sensitive financial data stolen. While it appears that a sophisticated hack was involved, the case highlights the importance of data security and the risk that a company takes on in handling sensitive data.
The theft of one’s Social Security number, credit card data, or other personal data can cause many problems in today’s world. It also costs businesses billions of dollars (maybe it’s trillions of dollars by now) a …
Along with the development of the Advantage integration with Salesforce.com, the same integration points were worked out with Microsoft Dynamics. Dynamics is a line of enterprise resource planning (ERP) and customer relationship management (CRM) software applications that can be cloud-based or on-premise. We plan to have integration for the CRM application, as many of our clients use it for their customer and prospect relationship management. We’ve completed an initial prototype-level for this integration.
The integration with Advantage will provide a host of additional tools, including the capability of handling subscription-based products, membership, one-off products, and conferences and events. Advantage allows the different departments inside the organization to efficiently manage …
Take advantage of this special offer now before it ends
Were you at one of the Advantage User Group meetings earlier this year in San Antonio or Brussels? If so, you remember that Dan Heffernan (our Vice President and Chief Product Manager) announced a special promotion on the Advantage eCommerce platform, Cider. But if you missed it, this offer is still good and here it is:
FREE Cider license for clients with a license to the Web module who begin an implementation of our eCommerce platform (Cider) by December 31, 2017. (Clients who begin Cider implementations after December 31, 2017, will need to purchase a Cider module license.)
Plus, for Cider implementations that begin by December 31, 2017, AdvantageCS will provide 60 FREE hours for theming, branding, customizing, or training, …
Starting with release 17.5 of Advantage, you can work with customers in an Accounts and Contacts mode (which parallels how Salesforce.com structures customers). You can move your customer maintenance view into this mode, search for Account customers and then view the contacts at an Account, displayed in a lower pane.
This replaces---and substantially improves---the Location Customer feature. In that feature, Advantage automatically created a “location” customer, where now it creates an “Account” customer. A “location” customer was identified by a special address code; now an Account customer is identified by the customer Account? field set to Y.
The Consolidated Overview by Location customer (which was difficult to access and did not include Access Management & Billing agreements) …
What’s the state of your email junk folder? Mine is pretty active with various promotions for IT related products and services. Occasionally, I’ve given out my contact information in order to download a white paper or view a demonstration, and although I haven’t been asked if it was okay to forward my email address to other parties for their use, that certainly happened.
Such permissions---and lack of them---are addressed by the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation. GDPR goes into effect in May 2018, and if you have any European customers, it does involve your operation.
One of GDPR’s main principles is that even though you maintain personal information for your customers, they retain ownership of it. Since the data isn’t yours, you can only use it for purposes the …
A new feature, promotion bundles, is available at 2017.5 and allows you to sell a group of items together under a promotion without setting up a package for them. The feature works with the combination of a promotion and promotion choices. When an item that is part of the bundle is ordered under the promotion and non-blank choice, all items on the promotion with the same choice value are automatically added to the order. Likewise, deleting one item from the order also deletes the other items with the same promotion choice.
To enable this feature, at the offer level in the setup dialog of the Promotion Items tab, set the Promotion Item Handling control to “Promotion Bundle.” This will then activate the feature across all items of the promotion. Turning this feature on will disallow …