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Ranked #186 on the Internet Retailer Top 500 list, Motorcycle Superstore is a leading online retailer in the motorcycle and powersports industry. Check out this video to hear directly from Jason Miller, Vice President of Technology, on how the company accelerates their eCommerce business to get the best performance for its customers. 

As Motorcycle Superstore's eCommerce business grows, a fast, secure and seamless site for customers is critical. From content and mobile acceleration to Web security and PCI compliance, Motorcycle Superstore needs a single solution provider to address these challenges as they expand their online business. Leveraging the Akamai platform, Motorcycle Superstore is powered to deliver content at scale, improve conversion rates and drive sales revenue.

By monitoring traffic for threats, Miller said the company found that 6 -10 percent of traffic trying to access their site violated the company's firewall rules and was stopped at the edge. Because Akamai's Web Application Firewall, part of the company's KONA security solutions, blocks bad traffic at the network edge outside of Motorcycle Superstore's datacenter, it allows the company to maintain its PCI compliance, drive more site traffic and safeguard its brand and shoppers' information. According to Motorcycle Superstore, since leveraging Akamai, it has reduced capital expenditures on security hardware by 15 percent and reduced bandwidth costs associated with handling attack traffic by 10 percent.  
 
And on the mobile front, like many other retailers, Motorcycle Superstore is seeing a tremendous growth in number of shoppers accessing their site from mobile devices. To aggressively keep pace with growing mobile usage and capitalize on the opportunity to convert the traffic into sales, the retailer implemented Akamai Mobile Accelerator to deliver mobile content close to the mobile gateways, addressing challenges of mobile delivery and providing faster response times. Miller says that Akamai's mobile services helped enhance the user experience, encouraged more time on the mobile site, and drove a 200 percent increase in mobile channel sales.

Lelah Manz is Chief Strategist for ECommerce at Akamai
Online gains increase pressure on Store Reinvention
Returning from the MICROS User Conference, after speaking on the imperative of the Cloud in Retail, I find myself hopeful - even enthusiastic - for the future of stores.

After the release of ComScore's ecommerce growth metrics last week, this may be a surprise. 17% growth in Q1 in the ecommerce channel is clear evidence that online channel growth is accelerating at the expense of bricks and mortar sales. Given retailers' hesitance to dramatically rethink their store systems architecture en masse, the bad news may come with the silver lining - dramatic change has to happen to survive.

YouCommerce versus Multi-Channel
We are no longer talking about multi-channel. In the era of YouCommerce shoppers are hyperconnected, moving fluidly across digital touchpoints, social networks, ecommerce storefronts, devices, and store locations, with many of these touchpoints overlapping.

Should it matter where a customer purchases as long as the touchpoints are integrated and consistent, and the collective cost of engagement through those touchpoints justifies the investment?



At eTail last week, one dominant theme continued to challenge retailers and vendors alike: how to create rich, engaging and consistent experiences across all customer touchpoints.  And how to ensure those experiences flip the focus to the customer, versus products, brands or channels.

We are truly in the era of YouCommerce and the new shopping experience must be where the shopper is, and with the full context of what they've told us. The YouCommerce customer engagement model has four fundamental tenets: Personalized, Localized, Authentic and Holistic.

Personalized
Personalization was the talk of the conference, with enthusiasm for Pinterest not only because of its incredible growth - hitting 10 million uniques faster than any site in history - but the introduction of a new interface for curated, personalized content.

The rise of Big Data is also driving personalization.  Panelist Gareth Gatson, SVP of Global eCommerce at Wyndham, noted that the Big Data challenge was not how to get data, but how to best use it.  And Ajay Agarwal from Bain Capital suggested that in five years, CMOs will spend more on technology than CIOs as they look to capitalize on the data opportunities to personalize and advertise in new ways.

Localized
Smartphones. Tablets. Sofas and shopping aisles. Mobile devices offer the single greatest opportunity to capture shoppers at their moment of impulse. It's also the single biggest threat to bricks and mortar retailers since the online channel emerged. The irony is the threat is paralyzing some retailers from capturing the low hanging fruit offered by mobile. Dana Settle of Greycroft Partners remarked that less than one third of retailers offers a tablet-optimized websites. Tablet shoppers go online more often, convert at higher rates, and spend more than any other device segment.

And the experience on these mobile devices is still lackluster at best. Tom Leighton, Akamai's Co-founder and Chief Scientist, remarked in his keynote that we've gone backwards - with the top 30 mobile sites as slow as the top 30 desktop sites back in 2001, despite 71% of users expecting a site to perform as fast or faster than that desktop site today.



eTail 2012: Challenges of the Hyperconnected Shopper

As I fly into Palm Springs for my fourth trip to eTail West, I am growing more excited about the week ahead. I'm thrilled to be meeting up with the best of the Akamai team's Internet and industry experts - from Marilee Rhodes in California to Laurie Findeisen in New York - and the agenda is packed with great speakers and content. We're also launching two new products: Mobile Accelerator 1.0 and Kona Site Defender. Please come by the booth (#32-33) to say hello to us all, and learn more about these brand new products, as well as our Advertising and Site solutions.

I am especially excited to see Tom Leighton, Akamai's Founder and Chief Scientist, give his debut eTail keynote presentation tomorrow morning. Tom is one of the world's authorities on the Internet and network applications and he'll be offering his perspective on the emergence of the hyperconnected shopper - from QR codes to in store maps and coupons - and the challenges of delivering these experiences over the Internet.

Mobile users expectations are higher than ever - more than half expect a mobile site to respond in less than 3 seconds - but response times are on average 3 times higher. Tom will share with us why mobile network architecture was not designed with the web in mind, and the tactics available both today and in the future to overcome these shortcomings.
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The Holiday Season kicked off with very strong indications of growth.  The Akamai Retail Usage Index peaked on Thanksgiving Day (as illustrated in our newly released Holiday Shopping infographic), with retail traffic up 70% year over year, and overall page view volume throughout the Thanksgiving shopping weekend up 33% overall.  Revenue growth for those same periods was also strong - with growth reported in the mid-twenties for Black Friday and CyberMonday.

Historically the week of Green Monday, this year landing on December 12th, through Free Shipping Day on December 16th, drives more online revenue than any other week during the holiday shopping season.  Akamai's retail traffic growth last week was relatively flat, indicating the retail season is waning more quickly this year.  Page view volume was up just 2% over 2010, with both Friday and Saturday trailing behind 2010 in overall page view volume.  ComScore is reporting revenue growth for the same week falling below 15%.  

Traffic Patterns Underscore the Emergence of the OmniChannel Shopper

I haven't held a single conversation with a retailer in the last year that hasn't touched in some way on the subject of OmniChannel (or MultiChannel, or AgileCommerce ...)  We now understand that shoppers do not singularly interact with your website, or with your store, or with your brand page on Facebook, or with your mobile app.  The journey of a customer to a decision to purchase reflects a fragmented, non-linear process influenced by all of these sources - and many more that are not under a retailer's control.

How did we see this more holistic view of the customer take shape through our traffic usage patterns this holiday weekend?

Cyber Monday Traffic Grows 28% Despite Late Day Waning

Cyber Monday wraps up just behind Black Friday and Thanksgiving

And that's a wrap for Cyber Monday.  As predicted, we peaked just before 9:00 PM EST with both the east coast and west coast online in the evening, and 28% year over year growth.  However we failed to predict that Thanksgiving would still hold the highest peak traffic rate of the weekend at 1.9M pv/min, Black Friday would drive more traffic at 90.9 billion page views for the day, and Cyber Monday would trail in growth behind both days.  Enthusiasm for the deals appeared to wane after an initial flurry of activity, with growth rates bottoming out by midnight EST.   

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Validation that Social is Driving Commerce

Much has been made this year about the rise of Social Commerce.  Retailers have seized upon the opportunity to tap into the social network "amplification" effect, to capitalize on the viral word of mouth potential.   This holiday season the social marketing activity has taken on a fever pitch, with the majority of retailers publicizing their holiday deals, and in some cases offering social-only offers, through Facebook and Twitter.  This begs the question, how much of the online shopping this season can been correlated to social activity?

In a previous post we mentioned that late Thanksgiving night / early Black Friday morning was the traffic peak of the holiday shopping weekend thus far, shifting the peak traffic time frame for Black Friday from the afternoon to the early morning hours.  In years prior, it was midday on Black Friday. 

Cyber Monday trending 43% higher than 2010

Akamai's Net Usage Index for Retail shows the strong holiday shopping traffic trend continues, with Cyber Monday trending 43% above 2010, and 109% above the 8 week average as of noon ET.  Although higher than 2010, it has yet not reached Black Friday levels.  At noon on Black Friday shoppers had already viewed 45.8 billion page views, versus 41 billion so far today.  While Black Friday peaked in the morning hours, Cyber Monday is not expected to peak until 9:00 PM EST tonight, suggesting that Cyber Monday will surpass Black Friday as the peak traffic shopping day so far this season.

The peak traffic rate of the long weekend was Thanksgiving Day between 10 and 11:00 PM EST, reaching over 1.9 million page views per minute.  The 2010 peak was on Cyber Monday at 9:00 PM (reaching 1.2 million PV/M), so we'll continuing watching the Index with the expectation that a new peak will be reached tonight.

Stay tuned to this blog for more Cyber Monday and Holiday Shopping Trend updates.

Lelah Manz is Chief Strategist, Commerce for Akamai
Lots to talk about this morning, with the online trends emerging from Black Friday, and Saturday starting off very strong.  This post is long as a result but will cover some interesting data:

•    Black Friday traffic growth over 2010
•    The Black Friday surge of late night online shoppers
•    Saturday growth trends so far
•    A comment on web site availability issues

Black Friday Traffic up 30%

While nowhere near as explosive as Thanksgiving Day, the traffic growth continues to trend at much higher levels than 2010, on average 30% higher.  The open question from Thanksgiving was whether Thanksgiving Day was just a shift of shopping activity from Black Friday, or a new shopping day in its own right.  With Black Friday growth data so strong, it appears to be the latter.  Using last year's Conversion Index of .58 on Black Friday, we could be trending towards a new billion dollar online shopping day (hit for the first and only time on CyberMonday last year).
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