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S&S boosts sales using IBM software in the cloud


Armonk, N.Y. -- IBM announced that S&S Worldwide grew recommendation sales 75% in just three months with IBM Smarter Commerce software in the cloud. S&S is a national distributor of sporting goods products for recreation, health care, and education professionals and is using IBM software to drive personalized product recommendation sales via its Web sites.

S&S Worldwide had been using a native application to serve up generic product recommendations on its Web site that accounted for only 5% of all online sales. But consumers today expect clear relevance to their interests at every step of the online shopping experience. Personalized product recommendations help meet that demand and generate a substantial revenue lift for the company.

Using IBM's Smarter Commerce software that delivers cloud-based analytics and marketing personalization, S&S product recommendations sales for its art supplies and sporting goods offerings surged to 9.8% of all Web sales in just three months, a dramatic improvement. At the same time, product views shot up 24% and viewing sessions increased 30%.

The IBM solution at S&S Worldwide integrates data and predictive analytics to generate site merchandising. It analyzes key information at each point in the online shopping process, such as tracking all visitor preferences. The system is then able to analyze that data to automate product offers to other customers with similar behavior on the site. This gives returning customers the ability to view products they previously showed an interest in, and it also allows S&S Worldwide to cross-sell and up-sell related products.

"The results have been quite impressive with the IBM Smarter Commerce cloud service. The recommendations have led directly to a much more tailored and compelling customer experience," said Will Bender, web merchandising manager, S&S Worldwide Colchester, Conn. "We're now able to make decisions and track results very thoroughly based on data – not what we think should be on the site, but what the data tells us."

S&S Worldwide has started to tie IBM to its personalized email marketing initiatives, as well. Using IBM software, S&S Worldwide was able to identify and target people who browsed items on the site but did not put any items in the shopping cart. These visitors received an email message that included content regarding products browsed along with suggestions for other items within the same product category.

This initial campaign yielded instant results. The click-to-order conversion rate was 33 percent, which is approximately three times higher than the average rate for similar S&S Worldwide email marketing campaigns. In addition, the open rate was 60 percent, approximately 50% higher than that of previous campaigns. S&S pays a fraction of a penny per email message, yet the campaign earned $1.32 per message sent, an extremely high return-on-investment.

S&S has used personalized emails, product reviews, live chat and other interactive Web analytics and marketing techniques to steadily grow its Web sales to about 35% of its overall business, with approximately 11,000 products.

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