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Rakuten Expo 2014 |New York City, Here we Come!

July 22nd, 2014 by Paul Matker

Rakuten logo

 

We are happy to announce that we have the privilege of  being a Bronze Sponsor through Hawk Search for the 2014 Rakuten Expo in New York City. If you’re not familiar with Rakuten, they are one of the world’s largest online retail marketplaces. In 2010 they joined forces with Buy.com and in 2013 they re-branded the marketplace to Rakuten.com.

Each year they host events for their merchants that are packed with opportunities for those who participate to learn new information and gather ideas to help them overcome current and future business challenges. The event we are participating in takes place on August 7, 2014 in New York, NY. Participants will be provided an update on Rakuten’s strategy in addition to educational labs, informative sessions, and one-on-one merchant meetings.

It’s perfect timing because the event takes place while there’s still time to implement changes in strategy and technology that could greatly improve the revenue results for the upcoming holiday shopping season (yes, it’s July and we are already thinking about the ‘holiday season’).

We’re looking forward to sharing ideas and learning about the opportunities and business problems that are facing today’s online merchants. Online shopping marketplaces represent a great opportunity to expand the reach of your brand. Often times people know what they’re looking for but they don’t know exactly who they want to buy it from.

It sounds like it’s an event that is more than worth the time and investment made by merchants who attend the annual Expo. According to their studies merchants who attended last year’s Expo experienced a 38.1% year-over-year sales growth. That’s pretty impressive when you put it up against a 2.3% growth for nonparticipants.

It will be awesome to be a part of an event that obviously provides great value to the people who attend. If you’re one of the merchants planning on attending the two thousand fourteen expo in New York City, send us a note or be sure to stop by and say hello. We’re looking forward to meeting you and providing you with lots of great information on how you can grow your online presence during the remainder of 2014 and beyond.

 

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Announcing Free Magento Plugin for Hawk Search

July 17th, 2014 by Paul Matker

HawkSearch_plug in_FINAL

 

Now it’s even easier to integrate Hawk Search with either the Community or Enterprise versions of Magento. Many leading businesses utilize the feature rich and scalable e-commerce platform to deliver a flexible shopping experience for fast-growing and large businesses.

The Magento platform is delivered with an out-of-the box site search solution that offers many of the basic features needed to help shoppers locate products, however many businesses are moving toward integrating a third party search solution such as Hawk Search to take the experience to the next level.

We’re excited to announce a free plugin that’s now available and can be downloaded from the Magento Commerce page. The plugin automates the data extraction process which really speeds up the implementation process. This eliminates the need to involve valuable IT resources in low-value add tasks like creating custom data feeds to integrate with third party solutions.

Plugin Benefits and Features:

  • Hawk Search data export - data feeds that conform to the guidelines for Hawk Search are created automatically and eliminates the need to create custom scripts.
  • Stress free deployment - all installation and configuration steps can be completed by an admin user and do not require development resources. The entire process takes just a few hours.
  • Managed data feed access - you control the frequency of data feed updates. They can be scheduled or run on an “as needed” basis. “Out of stock” items and “disabled” categories can easily be excluded from the data feed and you have the option to specify which attributes to include.
  • Multiple installation types are supported - you can implement the program using JavaScript (out-of the box), a full API, or a hybrid approach via a Proxy URL.
  • Hawk Search JavaScript Integration (front end) - there’s no additional development required to style search results pages to match the look and feel of your site.
  • Configure Auto Suggest - allows you to specify the JavaScript needed to trigger the search ahead feature for your site.

Request a demo today and learn how Hawk Search can help you improve the customer experience and make the most of your Magento platform. 630-469-2929.

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Announcing the Winner of the IRCE 2014 Raffle

July 15th, 2014 by Paul Matker

We always have a great time at IRCE and the 2014 conference was no different. This year, we decided to add some additional fun; in addition to giving away gift cards and Beats by Dre Pill speakers, all qualified prospects were entered into a raffle. The theme of the raffle was “Unlock the Power of Content with Thanx Media” and we gave away a set of keys to a brand new Yamaha Zuma.

My two favorite parts about raffling off a great prize are selecting the winner and sharing in the moment of excitement when they pick up their prize.

The Winner of the Thanx Media IRCE Raffle Meets his Scooter

The winner of this year’s raffle was Pete Murphy, content specialist for NEEBO.COM. It was awesome to have the opportunity to meet him in person and I think the smile on Pete’s face says it all. It was a blast to hand over the keys to him.

Paul Matker_Thanx Media CEO With Winner of IRCE Raffle

There were a few clouds in the sky, but it didn’t put a damper on the fun. And there’s no doubt in my mind that Pete had a great time taking his new Yamaha out for a spin.

“When I won I couldn’t believe it. I never win anything. When I got to pick it up I was a little intimidated because I haven’t gotten on a bike in so long, but after a few minutes I realized how easy this scooter was to ride. I love it now and plan to use it for running errands around my neighborhood as well as just simple cruising. I am very thankful to Thanx Media for making all of this happen.”

Winner of the Yamaha Scooter - IRCE Raffle

We’re already looking forward to next year’s conference. I’m not sure how we’ll top this year’s event, but if anyone can find a way it’s our team here at Thanx Media.

I want to take a moment to say thank you to everyone here who made it happen and also express my appreciation for our awesome customers. We consider everyone of you to be part of the Thanx Media family.

Enjoy the rest of your summer!

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IRCE 2014 Highlights and Hot Topics

June 19th, 2014 by Paul Matker

Picture2

It’s hard to believe that another year has come and gone and IRCE 2014 is behind us. What a great conference! As always the conference was well run and the team outdid themselves with the agenda. There were a wide variety of businesses in attendance and it was fantastic to get new insights from the experts that were lined up for the keynote speeches and panel discussions.

Time flew by at both of our booths and we loved every minute of it. It’s always fun to catch up with current customers and this year we surprised them with a hand-written note and a small gift as a token of our appreciation for their business and loyalty. We consider our customers to be an extension of our family. It was also great to meet a lot of new folks and share what’s new and trending.

At the Hawk Search booth the buzz was all about “Visitor Targets,” a unique feature that was added to the product last year. Visitor Targets enables merchandisers to deliver very targeted merchandising based on pre-defined values such as location as well as custom values that can be defined based on the data you have available about your shoppers.

Let’s say you sell sporting apparel which includes everything from winter coats to swimsuits. Using Visitor Targets you can set up rules that will feature climate and gender specific merchandise based on the demographics of the visitor. This has the potential to really improve the customer experience and increase conversions.

At the Thanx Media booth we found people to be interested in a variety of topics related to managing and optimizing data to improve their e-commerce presence.

We also had a lot of fun talking about Site Vibes, a product that’s new, hot, and trending upward quickly. Site Vibes is a cloud based software solution that allows you to tap into what your shoppers are interested in and expose those products through social media and on your website. Site Vibes tracks all activity associate with a product, including everything from product views to social shares to identify what’s hot and what’s not. Products that are hot and trending can be featured in a special section on your website and distributed through social media.

Product intelligence was another topic of interest at the Thanx Media booth. Blosm, our data collection solution is perfect for gathering product intelligence that can be used in a variety of ways to improve your bottom line and gain a competitive advantage. The technology automates the process of collecting data that can help you identify gaps in your product assets, enforce minimum advertised price (MAP) violations, gain consumer insights, and gather competitive intelligence.

A big thank you to everyone who stopped to visit us at IRCE and we hope to connect again soon!

 

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An Increase in Online Conversions Offsets Loss of Traffic

April 10th, 2014 by Paul Matker

There are two ways to increase online sales, you can drive more traffic to a website or find ways to increase the conversion rate for your visitors. Most of the time website owners are looking for ways to increase online sales by doing both, but sometimes a situation arises that causes the focus to change from  growth to minimizing the impact of a loss in website traffic.

Google is constantly updating their algorithms to improve search results, in fact Matt Cutts recently indicated that we can expect another round of updates. Often these updates result in lost traffic for many websites. In the past couple of years the fear of losing steady website traffic from organic search has become an unfortunate reality for more than a few online retailers.

One of our customers, Russell Rhodes, found themselves facing every website owner’s worst nightmare just a few months before the 2013 holiday shopping season. Russell Rhodes is an online ornament shop, their specialty is personalized ornaments for all occasions. Over 65% of their revenue is generated in the last three months of the year, so you can only imagine how tough it must have been to see organic traffic dropping.

Denys Slater, President of Russell Rhodes shared, “We saw organic traffic begin to drop after the update and we knew there wasn’t time to regain our rankings in time for our busiest time of the year.  That meant we had to find a way to minimize the impact of fewer visitors.”

The original growth goal for 2013 was to increase conversion by 20%; Denys and his team spend the months prior to busy season focused on enhancing product descriptions and optimizing the merchandise mix. In June of 2013 they implemented Thanx Media’s Hawk Search platform as their solution for on-site search and customer experience management.

They felt the Hawk Search features such as relevant search results pages, Faceted Navigation, Dynamic Merchandising, and Smart Auto Complete would help them meet or exceed their goals to increase conversions and improve the customer experience.

Unfortunately Denys’s prediction came true and their overall traffic was down 35% from November 1 through December 31, 2013. This meant that there was no chance of increasing online sales and improvements to conversion rates were even more critical.

I’m happy to say that the results were fantastic. There was an immediate increase in conversion rates after implementing Hawk Search. Over the course of the holiday season conversion rates increased from 5.2% to 6.9%. The average visit increased by 30 seconds, shoppers added more ornaments to the shopping cart, and converted at a higher rate than predicted.

Even though their traffic was down by 35% from the previous year, they only missed their original revenue goals by 13% due to the nearly 33% increase in conversion rate.

Slater stated, “If it hadn’t been for Hawk Search our gross revenue would have been down by a lot more than it was. What could have been a disaster turned into a manageable situation thanks to the improvements to the customer experience.”

Read the case study here.

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Wrigleyville Sports Opens the Chicago Cubs Season by Implementing Hawk Search

April 3rd, 2014 by Paul Matker

If you’re a Chicago Cubs fan, you’ve not doubt heard of the Curse and hopefully you’re also gearing up for the new season when we square off against the Phillies for the season opener at Wrigley Field. We think this is going to be the year we make it back to the World Series. Why you ask?

Because now it’s easier than ever before for fans to find their favorite Cubs (and Phillies) gear using Hawk Search!  All kidding aside, we had a lot of fun working with the folks at Wrigleyville Sports over the past few months and we exchanged a lot of banter about the the baseball season and whether or not the Cubs would finally break the Curse.

If you’re not familiar with Wrigleyville Sports, they are a family owned, leading licensed sports novelty retailer. Their anchor store has been located across the street from Wrigley Field since 1990 and this year they’re celebrating 25 years of supporting the Cubs as well as a few other sports teams, including the Pirates and the Phillies.

They’d been looking for the right search solution to help their customers easily find T-shirts, jerseys, and jackets in hard to find sizes online.

Eric Castellucci, the online manager for Wrigleyville Sports, cited customer feedback as the number one driver for implementing a third party search solution. “We value feedback from our customers! The ability to narrow product selection by size and style is clearly a feature that’s important to them,” explained Castellucci. “With the easy-to-use merchandising feature in Hawk Search, we’re able to not only meet, but exceed customer expectations on our website.”

I’m happy to say that Hawk Search will make it easier for all sports fans to show their team pride and shop for official sports apparel on wrigleyvillesports.com.

There were a few things that made this implementation unique, Wrigleyville’s native eCommerce platform wasn’t designed to integrate with third party tools. After thoroughly reviewing all options, we worked together to design a great solution with simple implementation.

We think this change will break the Cubs Curse! And if it does, we hope the Cubs will personally autograph all of Wrigleville’s Cubs fan-o-belia.

Go Cubs!

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Ben’s Cycle Replaces Out-of-the-Box Search Engine With Hawk Search

March 11th, 2014 by Paul Matker

This has to be one of my favorite customer success stories of all time. Last summer, I stopped into Ben’s Cycle - a Milwaukee, WI based cycle and fitness shop that I had heard great things about, to pick out a new bike. As I’m known to do, I struck up a conversation about the challenges of operating a multi-channel business with the owner of the shop.

I should point out that the word “shop” in this case might be a bit misleading. They may be a family-owned business run in the same neighborhood for the past 80 years, but they aren’t a small shop in any way. Ben’s Cycle stocks over 10,000 products and all 10,000 are available on their website.

They dipped their toe into the world of online retail in 2000 with a presence on eBay and moved to a shopping cart model in 2004. The demands of a growing business and a national customer base caused them to outgrow their existing eCommerce platform. Thankfully, technology has finally started to catch up with the needs of the online retailer and they found a platform with a POS (Point-of-Sale System) that matched their requirements.

Six months from launching the complete replacement for their eCommerce platform, they came to the conclusion that the out-of-the-box search functionality wasn’t good enough. They felt it was lacking important features such as faceted navigation and robust search analytics.

Drew Triplett, Internet Manager at Ben’s Cycle did a great job of summing up one of their greatest challenges: “Our target audience covers the gambit from do-it-yourselfers to casual cyclists. This presents quite a design challenge because each kind of shopper has a different set of needs.”

The perfect way to address this kind of challenge is to offer visitors the ability to search and browse for products with multiple attributes, in any order, and get results that are relevant to them.

My visit to the bike shop turned out to be perfect timing. We set up a free demo of Hawk Search and kicked off the project in record time.

Most companies go into a complete lock-down before the holiday shopping season and not even minor changes are allowed to the website after the beginning of October. Development for the POS platform and the Hawk Search implementation were completed simultaneously and they launched both solutions on November 11, 2013, weeks before the holiday shopping rush.

All of their efforts paid off and Ben’s Cycle experienced their most successful holiday shopping season in history thanks to Hawk Search, their new eCommerce platform, and strategic marketing initiatives.

Not many retailers are willing to risk launching new functionality three weeks before the online holiday rush.  But Ben’s Cycle was motivated enough to take a measured risk.  The success Ben’s Cycle experienced speaks highly of their team and the solutions they selected.

Download the Hawk Search data sheet and learn more about the platforms features and benefits.

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Happy Holidays From Our Family to Yours

December 23rd, 2013 by Paul Matker

Happy Holidays from the Thanx Media Team

 

It’s hard to believe that 2013 is drawing to a close. We have so many things to be thankful for this holiday season. It’s been an amazing year of growth and change.

As we wind down the year I’d like to thank our team, customers and partners for making 2013 a fantastic year.

Happy Holidays and a prosperous New Year from our family to yours.

 

 

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Thanx Media Partners with Rock for Kids to Provide Music Education to Kids in Need

November 6th, 2013 by Paul Matker

We’re excited to announce our sponsorship of the 25th Annual Rock and Roll Benefit Auction, a fundraiser hosted by Rock for Kids to raise funds to bring music education to underserved elementary school children in Chicago Public Schools.

My wife Debbie, and I both grew up in Chicago and share a love for music. Debbie attended and graduated from the Chicago Public school system, so it’s been hard to watch the budget cuts being made in the city.  We both believe in the benefits of music education.  It’s important to us to give back to the community and we’re excited to be part of such a great event.

Rock for Kids was founded in 1988 as Christmas is For Kids to raise money for holiday gifts for homeless children. In response to music budget cuts in public schools, the charity changed its name and focus in 2000 to Rock for Kids. They play an important role in providing music education to elementary students and have grown to serve over 5,000 students at twenty different schools annually.

The Rock and Roll Auction always features one-of-a-kind celebrity autographed items for people to bid on. This year there are over 200 fantastic contributions to the auction, including VIP experience packages like the 56th Annual Grammy Awards, JAM Sports Stadium Package complete with Blackhawks, Bulls and White Sox tickets, Lollapalooza Insider Package and BoKa Restaurant Group Dining Package. This year’s event will be held on Saturday, November 9 at the Park West in ChicagoTickets are still available for purchase.

This picture from last year’s event gives you an idea of the rock and roll treasures you’ll find.

Rock And Roll Annual Auction

Some of the greatest musicians of all time hail from Chicago, yet the opportunity to continue that legacy isn’t always available to students. The ongoing work of Rock for Kids and in particular, the annual auction makes it possible for kids who otherwise wouldn’t have had the opportunity to experience the joy of music. Who knows, one of these kids may grow up to be the next Nat King Cole or the lead singer for the Smashing Pumpkins.

It’s all about the kids, the teachers,the smiles, and of course the music.

Teacher and Kids - Rock for Kids

Come out and Rock for Kids with us on November 9th!

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Chicago Ideas Week

October 9th, 2013 by Paul Matker

Next week kicks off Chicago Ideas Week, the premier annual gathering of global thought leaders in my hometown.  The premise of the whole week is simple: to encourage new ideas and inspire attendees to take action.  With over 54 events surrounding interactive tracks, talks, labs, master classes, and summits, this year is especially meaningful for us, because we’ve been invited to participate in one of their Lunch Session talks.

With our recent award for being named one of the 15 Best Young Companies to work for, turnstone, a Steelhouse brand, asked me to sit on a panel that they will be hosting.  On Monday October 14, from 11:30 am CST – 1:30 pm CST I will be participating in a Small Talk Lunch Session titled, Fail Smart: Mistakes to Learn from.  I will be joined on the panel by Sam Rosen, Founder of Desktime, The Coop, and One Design as well as Jeff Schutte, Director of Business Development at turnstone.  During the talk the three of us will be sharing our experiences with launching and growing a business, while also discussing what did and didn’t work and how you can apply these tangible lessons to your own business.

I am extremely honored to be a part of Chicago Ideas Week and to have been asked to join this panel.  If you’ll be in Chicago, I recommend that you try and catch as many Chicago Ideas Week sessions as you can.  If you’re available from 11:30 am – 1:30 pm on Monday the 14th please stop by our session and introduce yourself.

To register for our talk – Fail Smart: Mistakes to Learn From, click here.

For more information on Chicago Ideas Week and how you can participate, check out their website.

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