IBM Offers New Software and Consulting Services for $70 Billion Smarter Commerce Market

Initiative aims to help businesses meet shifting commerce trends toward social networking and mobile computing.

IBM Corp. said that it is offering new software and consulting services aimed at a $70 billion market it coined Smarter Commerce to help businesses adapt to evolving customer demands framed by social media and mobile communications.

The vendor said that its new Smarter Commerce lineup, founded on its WebSphere Commerce platform and software gleaned from its acquisitions of Sterling Commerce, Unica and Coremetrics, includes cloud-based analytics software, a global business services consulting practice, software to help companies deliver a personalized shopping experience to customers, and educational resources for sellers and partners to build necessary jobs skills for an evolving marketplace.

"It's a buyer's world now," said Craig Hayman, IBM general manager, Industry Solutions.

IBM said that it has jumped into the Smarter Commerce fray in response to changes in customer expectations fueled by digital experiences through social networks and mobile communications. The vendor cited statistics that 70 percent of customers’ initial contact with product or services occurs online and 64 percent of buyers rely on a digital experience to make a first purchase.

The company said that its new software and resources will help businesses to respond faster to shifting markets, automate marketing, selling and fulfillment functions and expand brand presence.

"Businesses require a tighter and highly responsive network of suppliers and partners to ensure they deliver the right product or service at the right price, time and place,” Hayman said. “The key to business success in this unfolding environment is predicting trends and automating market responses in advance to eliminate the gaps between buy and sell, supply and demand,” he said.

Changes in purchasing habits

Because many customers command more information about a product before purchasing, the traditional flow of goods from manufacturers through distributors to customers now looks more like a continuous loop in which selling involves vendors connecting more with customers, the company said.

"If they are going to engage with customers that are more connected -- but not necessarily more connected to the people making and selling products and services -- businesses require a new set of capabilities that start with the ability to hear the global conversations taking place about their products and brands," said Paul Papas, IBM Global Business Services global Smarter Commerce practice leader.

"This new level of insight has to be followed by an entirely different kind of engagement with these customers, including a tighter and highly responsive network of suppliers and partners," he said.

IBM said that it is working with some 2,000 companies, including Danone McKesson, Moosejaw Mountaineering, Staples, U.S. Lumber and 1-800-Flowers.com, to help them market to the proper audiences, engage buyers, map inventory levels to demand and automate supply chains to improve efficiency.

Steve Bozzo, 1-800-Flowers.com chief information officer, said that IBM’s Smarter Commerce solution improves the company’s ability to handle incoming orders from multiple channels.

“Being competitive today means being a lot smarter about all facets of commerce, from initial marketing efforts to customer interaction in the buying and selling phase to the product delivery and subsequent service that ensures customer satisfaction,” he said.

“We are optimizing our entire order life cycle and improving the customer experience with a comprehensive solution from IBM that manages incoming orders from multiple channels in a timely and accurate way," Bozzo said.

TAGS: software,IBM,analytics,business,smarter commerce



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