Five Questions With: Jim McAssey – Brave River Solution

Photo of jim mcassey - president brave river solutions rhode island in 2015

Jim McAssey, vice president of Brave River Solutions in Warwick, is celebrating its 15th year in business. The company, which has 26 employees, specializes in all levels of a company’s technology needs: Web design, infrastructure, business applications, informational technology support and strategy, technology consulting and social media management. McAssey recently talked with Providence Business News about the business.

PBN: What sort of clients do you work with?
MCASSEY:
 We have experience helping clients across a variety of industries and of varying sizes. For some services such as website design, we can effectively help clients ranging from small organizations like a small CPA firm, salon or retail store up to large organizations like manufacturers, distributors or not-for profits. Because a substantial amount of our business comes from referrals, the high quality work we’ve done for clients has led to growth in some vertical markets. For example, the CEO of one of our local clients is the chairman of the board for a national medical supply/pharmaceutical distribution trade association. Thanks to his introductions, we have clients throughout the country where we’ve provided ecommerce development, ERP software selection and project management services.

PBN: Tell me about your work in the eCommerce space.
MCASSEY:
 We developed and continually enhance BRS Commerce, a highly scalable eCommerce platform that we utilize to create custom storefronts for both business-to-business (b-2-b) and business-to consumer (b-2-c) companies. In the b-2-b space, the eCommerce needs have traditionally been to create a portal experience that makes it easy for reordering and self-service with a no frills type of approach. With b-2-c, the expectation has typically been a little different. The direct-to-consumer online shopping experience should feature search tools to help customers find products, present specials, suggest additional purchases through upselling of related products and facilitate a rapid checkout. While our product has always worked well in either environment, I am seeing a convergence of the needs of b-2-b and b-2-c organizations. Both are now looking for personalized experiences, tools to upsell their customers, stored order history, and quick and secure checkout processes.

PBN: How do you integrate eCommerce into a company’s existing business model?
MCASSEY:
 It is important to make sure that an eCommerce site fits with a company’s overall marketing strategy and existing business processes. The buzzword you often hear is omni-channel, which means that the eCommerce experience should be a part of the company’s brand, and fit with other channels in use (retail stores, mobile apps, etc…). Part of creating this integration process involves literally integrating the data from the company’s systems into the eCommerce site. Such data may include customer specific pricing, inventory levels, POS data, invoice/payment data and order history from all channels. This data integration helps to create a seamless and consistent experience for the customer.

PBN: Do you still offer online reputation management services?
MCASSEY:
 We have seen a drop off in specific requests for online reputation management. However, it is an element of our social media management programs.

PBN: How important is having a mobile-friendly website?
MCASSEY:
 Having a mobile friendly website or eCommerce site is tremendously import for two reasons. First, from a usability perspective, the average adult now accesses the Internet from a mobile device 51 percent of the time rather than on a PC/laptop. If your website is not designed to accommodate the small screen size of a smartphone or a tablet, the site visitor who is on a mobile device is likely to get frustrated by trying to click small links or having to pinch and zoom repeatedly. They will ultimately leave for a competitor’s site that is easier to navigate, read and place orders on a mobile device.
The second reason a mobile website is critical is for the search engines. In April of this year, Google rolled out a change to the way they rank search engine results on mobile devices. This change, often referred to in the industry as “Mobilegeddon,” penalizes sites that are not mobile friendly. Basically, if someone runs a Google search from a mobile device, Google will favor mobile friendly sites in their search results. This trend in algorithm updates is expected to continue, so that non-mobile-friendly sites may continue to see drops in rankings on mobile searches.

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