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Interview: Carsten Thoma of hybris, on the company’s merger with iCongo

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Earlier this week we brought you news of ecommerce platform hybris’ merger with iCongo. Announcing the merger, hybris said the deal gave it a much more complete multichannel platform, with features including integrated order and warehouse management systems. Since then we’ve spoken to hybris’ co-founder and chief operating officer, Carsten Thoma. Here’s what he had to say about the deal.

Internet Retailing: What for you is the most important aspect of your deal with iCongo?

Carsten Thoma: That the two parties shared the same vision. We shared the same vision of the market and how the commerce market needs to evolve and that we were both heading into the market in the same way.

IR: What is that vision of the future that you share?

CT: Commerce is a global thing, across all touchpoints, not only online but offline too. You have to weave in all the online and offline touchpoints and you have to offer it on a global scale. Last but not least you have to be able to offer the solution in different deployment models.

IR: Why is the choice of deployment a real priority?

CT: The beauty about the combination is that iCongo brings in a well-established managed service offering that puts us together into a position where we can instantly offer a managed service and/or cloud-based on-demand solutions for our customers in parallel to the well-established on premise deployment model that hybris offers. It’s a great synergy – the combination gives ultimate flexibility to a customer to pick and choose applications and deployment models like from a menu.

IR: What do you think you’ve achieved through the deal?

CT: Looking at the portfolio of both companies from a commerce perspective it’s pretty much the most complete vision of commerce offering in the market. Another thing is that we’ve made a clear platform decision – we strongly believe that these things must be consistent not only when it comes to the deployment of the solution but also when it comes to technology. We are very happy for the hybris technology stack to be the centre of that technology moving forward.

IR: Why is that complete multichannel offering important for retailers?

CT: Retailers are going through many phases in the commerce cycle. They have to be flexible enough to react to every shift and every new trend, every new adoption of trends in that space very quickly. They also have to pay tribute to the fact their most important goal must be to expand online revenue and grow very fast in order to keep up with the whole growth of the market.

I think a partner that can offer you different options and flexibility across the cycle that you have to go through as a retailer is key. Therefore it’s also key, or at least a big advantage, if a retailer can be across different disciplines and functionalities with one render. It makes it much easier for them to set up their own organisation and own structures. You don’t have to deal with different partners, different contracts – that can be very distracting.

IR: Does the merger put you up against new competitors?

CT: Not different competitors from before – we’re battling with the same type of companies and we don’t expect that will change. The consolidation in the market space has been going on for quite a while. Hybris has been a very strong contender in the market, growing fast. There might be a bit more competition on the order management side, with the specialist vendors, but the total will not change dramatically.

IR: Is there a problem that hybris and iCongo have clients competing in the same sectors?

CT: We have clear strategies and/or migration paths for our clients and I think if you look at the overall picture there is a value-add for every single account. I don’t see a disadvantage, in fact I would say the opposite, it’s a great advantage for these customers.

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