Blue Shield of California, an independent member of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, is a not-for-profit health plan with 3.3 million members and 4,800 employees and is one of the largest health provider networks in California.
Forrester: Saurabh, thanks for taking some time out to talk to us about agile commerce. We have been talking to clients about the evolution of their business from a channel-centric focus to a customer-centric focus that centers on touchpoints as the new paradigm and one that spans the Web, mobile devices, social networks, advertising, marketing, traditional channels, and other emerging touchpoints. How are you looking at this, and what do you think it means for your business?
The eCommerce technology and services marketplace awoke to some interesting news today. eBay announced today that it will acquire GSI Commerce. The deal has a number of implications for GSI’s customers, partners, and competitors and also changes eBay’s position as a services provider and partner within the industry. It’s a big deal*, with eBay paying $29.25 a share, or approximately $2.4 billion.
Why did eBay buy GSI, what’s in it for them?
Diversification. eBay’s core marketplace business is eroding while key competitors — principally Amazon — put up huge numbers. As the auction and SMB focus of eBay and PayPal begins to plateau, growth must come from the much larger market segment of large merchants. This deal broadens eBay and PayPal’s portfolio of services substantially, though the synergies are relatively small. eBay CEO John Donahoe characterized that as $60M, so that is not the key to the deal.
I recently had the chance to catch up with John Federman, president and CEO at Searchandise Commerce, to understand what impact the transition to agile commerce is having on Searchandise, its business strategy, and its organizational structure.
Searchandise is a retail search network with an interesting model combining pay-for-performance tactics of search marketing with in-store merchandising practices. Its product marketers leverage cost-per-click bids to enhance product position within search listings across a network of retail sites, similar to co-op marketing models -- like a wholesale brand purchasing premium shelf space in a brick-and-mortar retailer. Retailers monetize these search listings, generating an incremental revenue stream.
Forrester: John, thanks for taking some time out to talk to us about agile commerce. We have been talking to clients about the evolution of their business from channels to touchpoints that span mobile devices, social networks, advertising, marketing, traditional channels, and various places online. How are you looking at this, and what does it mean for your business?
I recently had the chance to catch up with Carmen Sebe, CEO of Avangate, to talk about how agile commerce is effecting its clients and how it is positioning its solution to support the transition to agile commerce.
Avangate provides software companies with eCommerce, partner management solutions, and an affiliate network; assisting them to sell their products online as well as to manage a global distribution network. Founded in 2005, Avangate currently serves more than 1,500 software companies through its SaaS eCommerce solution and has a 22,000 member affiliate network. Carmen is a seasoned technology CEO who has worked with European and global clients for many years.
Forrester: Carmen, thanks for taking some time out to talk to us about your business and agile commerce. We have been talking to clients about the evolution of their business from channels to touchpoints. You serve clients selling digital goods across a number of different models, such as B2C and B2B. How are you looking at agile commerce and what does it mean for your business?
Ms. Sebe: For our business this has a two-fold implication: on the one hand in the way we help our customers — software sellers — reach and deliver products digitally to their B2B and B2C users. And on the other hand, agile commerce will impact the way we reach our clients. With agile commerce, software vendors will expand their product offerings to allow access to their services via many if not all touchpoints — and we have to be prepared to accept and support such behavior. It’s our vision to facilitate this process for our clients and shoppers.
I recently had the chance to catch up with Jodi Watson, VP, Global eCommerce & Consumer Insights at Wolverine World Wide to understand what impact the transition to agile commerce is having on her role, her organization, and Wolverine World Wide’s business.
Since 1883, Wolverine World Wide has been a global manufacturer and retailer of footwear and apparel brands, operating in more than 190 countries around the world to bring to life brands such as: Bates, CAT Footwear, Chaco, Cushe, Harley-Davidson Footwear, Hush Puppies, Merrell, Sebago, Patagonia Footwear, and Wolverine. Jodi is an experienced direct-to-consumer leader with more than 15 years in eCommerce, catalog, and retail at a wide range of firms prior to Wolverine World Wide.
Forrester: Jodi, thanks for taking some time out to talk to us about agile commerce. We have been talking to clients about the evolution of their business from channels to touchpoints that span mobile devices, social networks, advertising, marketing, traditional channels, and various places online. How are you looking at this and what does it mean for your business?
Multichannel commerce no longer makes sense. As consumers are increasingly connected through a wide array of Internet-connected devices, the traditional multichannel commerce experience is becoming obsolete. Customers no longer interact with companies from a “channel” perspective; instead, they interact through touchpoints. These touchpoints include channels such as stores, branches, call centers, and websites, but also emerging interactions such as apps, social media, mobile sites, SMS messages, and interactive advertising -- across a wide range of devices such as smartphones, tablets, Internet TVs, cars, and even appliances.
As a result, it is time for organizations to leave their channel-oriented ways behind and enter the era of agile commerce —optimizing their people, processes, and technology to serve today’s empowered, ever-connected customers across this rapidly evolving set of customer touchpoints. This is agile commerce.
When Jeff Bezos announced to his Amazon staff his concept for the Amazon Marketplace in November 2000, many people — inside and outside Amazon — thought he was crazy. Amazon was inviting in other sellers — individuals and merchants — to compete against Amazon’s owned inventory on Amazon.com. As full price merchants were added in categories such as consumer electronics, apparel, and baby products in the early 2000s, the head shaking continued. To paraphrase, Jeff Bezos claimed this was about “the world of perfect information.” Customers are going to find the lowest price online if they really want to, and they should be trained to find it on Amazon. Maybe Amazon could grab a piece of the pie along the way.
Of course, what was once seen as crazy is now viewed with envy, as the marketplace now represents approximately 35% of Amazon’s revenues and 30% of total units sold in Q4 2010.* Amazon charges anywhere from a 5% to a 25% revenue share on a sale through its marketplace, roughly determined by dividing the expected margins in a category in half — to be shared with the merchant. With only limited incremental technology and category management costs, the profitability of this for Amazon is easy to see. And as a result, it has also solidified Amazon’s role as the leading product search site. This success is already breeding imitators in Buy.com, Sears, Walmart, NewEgg, and soon a whole host of large UK retailers. And let’s not ignore Apple’s iTunes, clearly a very successful marketplace, though of a somewhat different flavor.
I am thrilled to announce that Forrester is expanding our coverage of commerce technology and services with the addition of Senior Analyst Peter Sheldon. Many of you are likely readers of Elastic Path’s excellent blog and, therefore, will be familiar with some of Peter’s work. Peter brings a strong background in eCommerce, mobile commerce, and digital content, most recently serving as product manager at Elastic Path Software where he had been responsible for the road map and strategic direction of the Elastic Path commerce platform.
Peter and I will be collaborating closely on our research on commerce technology and services. We have a lot planned. In 2011, a few of the key areas you can look for expanded research on from us include:
The changing nature of multichannel commerce solutions.
Full-service eCommerce service providers.
B2B eCommerce solutions.
Digital commerce solutions (content and software).
How to select a systems integrator.
The changing nature of search and discovery solutions.
Content management for commerce.
Shopping APIs and commerce syndication.
Global eCommerce technologies and services.
Please join me in welcoming Peter to Forrester, and I know we all look forward to our expanded commerce technology research.
Commerce organizations are drowning in content. Their catalogs and sites have grown, the sources of the product content propagated, and site versions divide and multiply across geography, microsites, and brands. Marketing and merchandising content has similarly amplified as this content supports cross-channel, search, email, and social marketing campaigns. Targeting, testing, and personalization all contribute to the explosion of content and content coordination challenges.
Types Of eCommerce Content And Their Purposes Vary Widely
Customers have changed. They are more than ever connected, informed, and in control — their mode of operating and the ways they want to engage continue to change rapidly. They expect to find information, make a purchase, and get service when and where they want it, across touchpoints. Yet businesses are struggling to deliver well in even one channel. They are not organized to meet the changing customer needs and struggle to empower their employees and partners through enabling technology and operations. Businesses across verticals are faced with the pressure to revamp tired business processes, hierarchies, and technology road maps and innovate to meet the stream of innovation and market transformations they face.
This is a topic we are working on now. But we need your help. If you are an eBusiness leader, please help us by participating in our research through this survey. You are not alone in facing these challenges, and the more information we collect, the clearer the insights we can share back with you.