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payment processor that is also an address-identification solution; and Google for Web analytics.

“Demandware knew how to advise us in streamlining the site,” Zilko said. “We were able to make it much more user-friendly and add more efficient checkout operations.”

The solution was officially deployed in November 2006, right before Zabar’s busiest month.

“As a result, our order volume increased at a healthy rate and business was better than the previous season,” he said.

The outsourcing partnership has also helped the chain beef up its call-center operations.

“Up until a few years ago, the call center was located in the store itself,” he explained. “Now the company outsources the operation to a Web-based call center, and we also manage our own center in-store.”

There are between five and 15 staffers working the in-store call center simultaneously, with one manager for the company’s mail-order operation. The call center and the Web, which feeds into one backend, receive about 200 orders per day during Zabar’s off-season.

The Web-to-call-center ratio has also shifted toward the Web, Zilko said. In fact, the company sees 60% of its orders coming through the Web and 40% through the call center. The site used to process 50% of orders and the call center processed 50%.

“Since our customers are now more comfortable ordering on the Web, we’ve made our site much easier for them,” he added. “We had a smooth migration and there are no complaints on the difficulty of placing an order.”

The big picture: Now that Zabar’s can handle its busiest shipping periods, the company wants to focus on learning about who is coming to the site.

“One of the biggest advantages we’ve gained is that analytics are now built into the system,” Zilko said. “We’ve learned a lot of things about our customers that we never knew before and it has translated into the ability to increase sales. “We now know what customers are searching for on the site and what products they buy together. We are also able to see how they shop between categories,” he said.

“As a result, we can now make business decisions to capitalize on that,” he added. “We’re integrating what we learned into e-mail marketing and cross-selling across the site." Although Zabar’s hasn’t yet tapped into targeted marketing, Zilko said the company plans to pursue it later this year. The company also plans to further enhance its online presence. For example, online customer reviews that can further engage shoppers and help in their purchase decision-making is one priority.

“We’re also looking into blogs and would like to open specialized microsites for coffee,” he said. “We want to get videos up online to describe and promote the products,” he noted.

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