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On June 1, 2016, Salesforce announced that it had entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Demandware. This announcement comes close on the heels of NICE Systems acquiring inContact and Vista Equity Partners acquiring Marketo.

Demandware is an e-commerce platform that helps retailers manage content on their sites, plan and execute promotions, optimize prices, and personalize web experiences. Many of these capabilities already exist in the Salesforce ecosystem, however they are dispersed across products such as Marketing Cloud, Service Cloud, and Analytics Cloud.

With yesterday’s announcement, Salesforce takes a step towards bringing the technical capabilities retailers need to manage digital conversations together in a unified platform. It also reflects the company’s roadmap for building vertical-specific cloud solutions. The first of these two were Financial Services Cloud and Healthcare Cloud, both of which were announced during Dreamforce 2015. Once Salesforce has successfully integrated Demandware’s capabilities into its current cloud-based offerings, we can surely expect the company to announce a “retail cloud.”

A retail cloud aimed at blending traditional CRM and e-commerce capabilities would be attractive to retailers currently struggling with the integration of numerous point solutions. Indeed, according to Aberdeen’s latest customer experience management study, the lack of systems integration is the top challenge keeping retail executives up at night, especially when it comes to designing personalized interactions across multiple channels.

We should also look at this acquisition in the context of the current competitive landscape. In 2013, SAP acquired Hybris – another large commerce platform provider. This was a move that enhanced SAP’s CRM capabilities aimed at supporting retail organizations. Oracle, for its part, has also been enhancing its retail capabilities over the past few years through acquisitions of companies like BlueKai, Endeca and Maxymiser. Launching a dedicated retail solution could thus be seen as a competitive move against Oracle and SAP in the retail industry.

Please read our Data-Driven Retail study to learn more about how building a fully-integrated, data-driven retail infrastructure influences organizational success in commerce.

Image Source (Creative Commons): Dominic Campbell.

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