Much has been made over the last two days of the Target.com crash and availability issues following its Missoni promotion that launched on Tuesday. Coming on the heels of the site’s relaunch on IBM Websphere Commerce after many years on the Amazon enterprise solution led many to speculate that there was a serious mistake made in the building of the new site. But this is not a failure of the new site, this is a failure to forecast.
When Target's marketers planned the media blitz and direct marketing around this Missoni promotion, launching the collection with great fanfare — and at the same time online and in-store— they likely planned on a web traffic response and resulting sales of 2-3x normal. That would be a terrific outcome, no doubt justifying the expense and effort of the multichannel promotion. I am sure no one forecasted a 10x normal response, and peak traffic 3x Black Friday traffic peaks. And beyond just the click-through, the consumer behavior on the site after click-through was unusual. This was not a product they were promoting, but a collection, and consumers were placing many, many items in their cart, well beyond the typical 1-2 items per cart a B2C site like Target's would expect.
Hard to believe, but it has been six months since our report “Welcome to the Era of Agile Commerce” has gone live on our site. Since that time I have had the opportunity to have countless conversations with eBusiness and multichannel leaders about what this new era of consumer connectivity, technology advancement and the changing relationships they now have with their customers. We’ve talked about how their technology strategy, organizational approach, business metrics, supply chain, and customer experience have been evolving and what they have been learning along the way. We’ve talked about strategies to drive business transformation. We have talked about how to get started. And we have talked about how difficult it can be to change the way companies work.
Just the other day I had a conversation with a senior eBusiness exec, and I thought she summed it up very well. She said, “The thing is, the customer is already there. No matter how much we want to think things are the same, they are not.”
Today Demandware announced their much anticipated Open Commerce API. While many clients may not be in a position to take advantage of this immediately, the value of APIs like this extends well beyond the typical feature release. That value will be in enabling their clients to extend the customer touchpoints they can manage with the core commerce platform well beyond their web and mobile commerce sites. In the era of agile commerce, commerce platforms like Demandware’s will increasingly be leveraged to power many consumer shopping and buying touchpoints such as mobile apps, kiosks, in-store/branch solutions, interactive TV, social commerce, and embedded commerce. You can look to Tesco’s mobile shopping solution in Korea, or Ralph Lauren’s embedded commerce in their New York Times iPad App ads to see how a commerce API can be used. Robust, secure, well supported APIs will enable examples like these to be done in developer friendly ways to streamline development, enable innovation, and ensure quality customer experiences that leverage a consistent back-end commerce solution.
Today Ascentium, a US-based independent digital agency announced its acquisition of eCommerce services provider Cactus Commerce. In the past, Cactus specialized in Microsoft Commerce Server solutions, often paired with SharePoint and its CommerceLive framework. The newly combined company with 500+ staff, offices in the US, Canada, and United Kingdom, and more than $65 million in annual revenue will focus on the design and delivery of commerce and content solutions. Among the many other acquisitions over the past year, this deal stands out as a bit unusual. It brings together a creative agency and a commerce and marketing systems integrator (though arguably Cactus has been more than that to many of its clients). In some ways, this marks the beginning of something we will see more of in the near future — the combining of agency and integrator to become commerce solution providers.
This is the evolution of system integrators, consultancies, and agencies into something a bit different. We are now calling these firms global commerce service providers (GCSPs). These firms are adapting to the changing needs of clients for integrated services across channel strategy, interactive design, and technology capabilities in order to support the changing business needs in the era of agile commerce. Future services providers like the new Ascentium will combine: