6 06, 2013

Day 2 at IRCE

By | 2016-11-18T14:12:43+00:00 June 6th, 2013|Categories: Beacon News|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

IMG_20130605_070249Day 2 at IRCE was extremely busy and full of breakout sessions from notable guests like Al Gore and Beacon clients/partners Bronto & Delta Apparel. The exhibit hall opened at 9:00 a.m. and after a quick breakfast Beacon team members manned the booth and started meeting attendees and giving away prizes. Our team member Annette, was helping out at our partners booth, AspDotNetStorefront, to talk about how Beacon and Aspdotnetstorefront can help businesses succeed through e-commerce.

As the day wore on, we gave away our first set of Google giveaways with some Google backpacks and laptop sleeves. Our last team member arrived in the morning as Brad Henry showed up to talk digital strategy with IRCE attendees. Around lunch time all the exhibitors begin to hit the wall and the food court starts beckoning from afar. But at Beacon, we say “When in Rome…Do As The Romans Do.” So we ordered some wonderful Lou Malnati”s pizza for some excellent local deep dish taste of Chicago. It was huge and wonderful and kept the crew moving all afternoon. Coincidentally, later on that afternoon an attendee from Lou Malnati”s picked up another great Google prize.

Beacon had wonderful opportunities to hang out with some of our wonderful vendors at IRCE. Nextopia members were able to stop by to say hello, along with our wonderful clients Delta Apparel, , Burton & Burton and Annette was holding down the Aspdotnetstorefront booth most the day. Our Sales Director, Rick Boccard, had the wonderful opportunity to sit in on a breakout session by Delta Apparel and Bronto that helped give insights into holiday email marketing for eCommerce.

As the day winded down, Beacon was able to award our grand prize of the day, a brand new JAMBOX to our lucky winner, Tabi. After the social hours at the end of the day the Beacon team headed back to the hotel and down to dinner at a wonderful seafood restaurant just a short walk away that helped cap off a wonderful day at IRCE. Thursday is the last day of IRCE for us before we head back home to Greensboro.

5 06, 2013

Day 1 at IRCE

By | 2016-11-18T14:12:44+00:00 June 5th, 2013|Categories: Beacon News|Tags: , , , , , , |

IMG_20130604_125037IRCE is a huge event. When I say huge, I mean HUGE. Walking into the conference you have to do a double take to make sure this is where you should be. Massive RV’s, cars, three-story booths and awesome lights are a great welcome to Chicago and McCormick Place. But wait, I am getting ahead of myself…we haven’t arrived yet.

Beacon started off from Greensboro, went through Charlotte and then onto Chicago on Tuesday morning. After a smooth ride and great shuttle service to the hotel, the Beacon team (Rick, Emily & Jordan) picked up the booth and supplies and took the complimentary shuttle to McCormick Place (America’s largest convention center…think airport size). After setting up everything, Beacon was able to unveil the new look of our brand, at booth 545, and approach through SMART Web Solutions with brand new materials and a backdrop to set the booth off.

The exhibit hall opened at 4:00 p.m. and Beacon started off meeting the huge 9,500-attendee crowd. Shortly after the event kicked off we were welcomed by the rest of our team, Annette and Mark! Beacon is giving away some great prizes over the three-day conference and exhibit and started the contest to see who will take home some Google bags, lava lamps and a Jawbone JAWBOX. We even ran into one of our partners, Nextopia, who are right next to the our booth. The event shut down at 7:00 but the party continued as Beacon took part in a conference kickoff event with great food and entertainment.

Later on that evening, Beacon took to downtown, a short walk from the hotel, to go watch the Chicago Blackhawks play downtown and enjoy some good food and catch up after a very long day of travel and work. Stay tuned for a recap of day 2 and 3 at the conference and see some of the winners of the contest and meet some of our great partners who are at the event!

27 03, 2013

A Chat with Nextopia’s CEO & Founder, Sanjay Arora

By | 2016-11-18T14:12:45+00:00 March 27th, 2013|Categories: Beacon News|Tags: , , , , , , |

In the web solutions business, vendor partnerships are inevitable.  Good ones are essential.  And when you find good ones that provide great products or services, coupled with great support and a competitive price, you stick with them.  But there’s always one more element that I consider as well – “fit”.  By this, I mean, do they fit with your company’s personality or culture?  It’s important because you will be teaming with them on behalf of your customers.

I can wholeheartedly say that one of my favorite partnerships is with Nextopia.  From day one, they have been friendly, helpful, customer-focused and seemingly always available.  We see them regularly at trade shows and truly feel like they are an extension of the Beacon Team.  Oh – and of course, they are keenly focused on delivering a best-in-class site search product.Sanjay Arora

Recently, I chatted with Sanjay Arora from Nextopia, somewhat “interview-style”, and here’s a recap.

MDTell me a little about Nextopia, the company.

SA:  Nextopia was founded in 1999 in Toronto, Canada. Our core focus was, and always has been, search.  Whether you’re a small entrepreneur selling out of your basement or a multinational conglomerate, you need an intelligent search engine.  Since 1999, the company has continued to adapt to the ever-changing needs of both the e-tailer and the online shopper.  Our commitment to our goal shows in our customers, our work and our great employees.

 MD:  What are the main reasons that your customers use or like your product so much?

SA:  There are MANY reasons to use Nextopia, but if we had to pick, we’d have to divide this list into two:

  1. Developers love us because of the ease of implementation. Due to the fact that there are so many different platforms and so many different developer styles, a solution needs to be very flexible and very easy to customize.  Our product integrates very easy with all platforms so all developers are able to work with it.
  2. Website owners love us because of our results!  Nextopia makes it easy for their customers to find and buy their products.  Best of all, our tool is very affordable for any size of business.  We have over 1,500 customers who understand how an intelligent search leads to a positive ROI.

MD:  What do you see as the most important feature(s) of a site search product? 

SA:  Relevant results!  You can add many bells and whistles to a search results page, in terms of filters, sort options, quick views, compare features, etc, but if you’re not delivering relevant results, you’re not best serving the customer.  The key is to understand shoppers and their shopping habits.  In the Nextopia Control Panel, the merchant can customize results to meet the specific needs of their shoppers and target certain demographics.  Knowing your customers and catering to their needs increases repeat business, which accounts for 42% of all online business.

MD:  Anything you want to share about the Beacon-Nextopia partnership?Nextopia Logo

SA:  Nextopia and Beacon have been working together on various site search and navigation projects over the last 2 years.  It’s a natural fit because of Beacon’s expertise in the eCommerce world, and Nextopia’s expertise in the site search industry. When a Beacon customer is looking for an upgraded search solution, they are able to integrate Nextopia quickly and easily.  Plus we really like the people at Beacon, they’re very creative and a fun group to work with and we think our clients will enjoy working with them as well.

MD:  What’s on the horizon for site search?

SA:  Search will always evolve because consumers are always evolving.  They’re getting smarter, more efficient, and less patient.  If they can’t instantly find what they’re looking for, they’re simply going to move on…and we don’t blame them.  So speed and relevancy is always on the forefront.

There will also be a push for better data. We want to work closely with our customers, developers, and the industry as a whole, and teach them how to correctly collect data so it can be optimized in a way that makes it so easy for any consumer to find and purchase any product.  The websites with good attribute data, which allow customers to refine their search to the precise item(s) they’re looking for, will win out over sites with poor data every time.

Nextopia’s biggest initiatives over the next year will be focusing on conversion optimization.  For an internet retailer there is no bigger statistic than visitor to buyer ratio, so we’re designing even more tools to make the merchandiser’s job easier and more profitable.  Bottom line is that an intelligent search engine can alter a website into a tool that provides highly measurable returns.

MD:  I like where site search is going – conversion optimization, analytics and insights – which are also at the heart of Beacon’s digital marketing services.  So I’m sure there will be much more for us to talk about going forward.  Keep up the good work and see you at IRCE!