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Editors’ comment – October 2014

Welcome to the latest Internet Retailing special report, in which our focus is on ecommerce platforms.

Today’s ecommerce platforms are fast becoming the hub of retail businesses, whether they’re being asked to power the online store or extend further to connect call centres and stores, while at the same time underpinning the mobile experience. As customers shop across more channels, more is being asked of this central piece of technology.

Solutions, at the same time, are becoming more sophisticated and powerful as the companies behind them acquire extra capabilities, often through acquisition. In the last year, for example, NetSuite has bought Venda, giving it not only a foothold in the European market but also sharing Venda’s extensive experience from its pioneering work with the cloud.

As they extend beyond their original online focus, platforms are fast becoming commerce solutions capable of powering whole retail businesses rather than the website alone. As a result, they are capturing data that will give merchants insights from across the business. Such insights will give traders knowledge about how customers want to shop.

There’s a growing range of platforms on offer, offering different opportunities to businesses of varied sizes and retail approaches. We’ve produced this special report for retailers planning one of the largest investments the company will make. Whether that investment is made in a complete replatforming or with a view to building on existing capabilities, we aim to provide useful advice and food for thought. We’ll be asking questions from how technology can best be at the service of retailers, to what criteria should inform the final decision.

Throughout this report we aim to take a holistic look at some of the choices that underlie the choice of ecommerce platform. As always we do that through the prism of our six features: design and interface, merchandising, in-store experience, logistics, strategy framework and customer engagement.

In the design and interface section we consider how a new emphasis on serving the customer across channels is changing the way companies approach design projects.

Our merchandising feature takes a look at how retailers can use technology to help shoppers zoom in the products and content that’s most of interest to them. It’s important, we argue, to show consumers what’s most relevant to them as individuals, in order to keep them interested. Here we focus on how retailers can identify the technology that will best give them – and customers – the information and detail needed.

Our in-store experience feature analyses the role that platforms and related technology can play on the high street. How can retailers create the kind of experience that adds to all the channels that shoppers buy through? This piece considers the role that technologies from mobile to beacons have to play.

In our logistics feature, we consider shoppers’ high expectations of online and multichannel fulfilment – and how retailers can best plan to offer the options that suit their customers using ecommerce platforms and related technologies.

Our strategy framework section asks what role ecommerce platforms will play in the future. Are they the basis for new customer-facing solutions covering interaction at every point, or will the future be focused on separate channels that access data from the same central point?

Finally, in our customer engagement section we discuss how retailers can use technology as a

21st-century amplification of old-fashioned customer service. Getting to know customers, recognising their needs and interests and serving them accordingly can now all be part of the kind of service that shoppers expect from their preferred suppliers.

We hope you find this special report useful. If you have comments, questions or suggestions for future supplements, do contact us. We can be reached at or

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