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E-Commerce Round-Up, June 2015

E-Commerce Round-Up covers major recent events and news from the past month in the commerce world, and provides a brief analysis of what they mean.


hybris and Acquia team up for cloud-based content and commerce

hybris has just inked a partnership with Acquia, where the two vendors will collaborate to deliver “contextually relevant experiences to the cloud.” The partnership is based on the hybris Yaas – short for hybris business platform as a service – which was introduced earlier this year at hybris’ global customer event in Munich. Yaas functions in effect as an app store for independent developers. Customers can pick, choose, and pay for the specific applications they need for their companies,  what hybris calls “micro services.”

hybris and Acquia believe this model is compelling for companies that want the speed to market that Saas-based platforms enable, yet also want more flexibility to customize their particular implementation more than many of those platforms allow.


SAP’s acquisition of hybris strengthened the commerce vendor’s visibility and access to the very largest enterprises which are SAP’s customer base and target market.  However, many companies do not have the time or the resources to undergo complex integrations; they want to get to market quickly, and are looking for Saas-based platforms to allow them to do so. And as more organizations of all stripes are looking for vendors that have content management as well as commerce capabilities that can work together seamlessly to delivery great customer experiences, there is more pressure than ever for vendors to partner with or acquire companies that allow them to do this successfully. It will be interesting to see how the Yaas platform works out in practice, for its potential is compelling for customers that want to scale fast but balk at the revenue-sharing model that Saas-providers currently employ.


CVS ramps up digital commerce capabilities

US pharmacy retailer CVS has opened an e-commerce testing center in Boston which it is calling a “Digital Innovation Lab.” The Chief Digital Officer in charge of the lab has the remit of running the unit like a start-up, rather than a business unit within an established company. This new division will be looking at new ways to use mobile and in-store technologies such as beacons to enhance customer experience. Though CVS’ headquarter is in neighboring state Rhode Island, it choose Boston for the lab location due to the city’s strong high-tech and healthcare business and academic communities.

CVS also announced in June it had hired a new CMO, whose previous role was leading global agency DigitasLBi’s offices in Boston and Detroit. In conjunction with the Digital Innovation Lab opening, this hire illustrates the importance CVS is placing in improving its digital capabilities.


CVS is following the lead of other retailers who see digital as being so important to their ability to compete that they are investing in hiring C-level executives with experience in digital and in building their own research and development centers. Walmart launched Walmart Labs as early as 2011, and other retailers such as Target and Kohl’s have also begun similar initiatives. At the same time, more digital agencies have also established innovation centers to drive technology innovation and faster product delivery: examples include R/GA’s Retail Lab and Brunner’s BHiveLab.

All these developments point to how companies that have embraced customer experience management are becoming more collaborative, agile, and fast-to-market in order to deliver on those experiences. Technology innovation is no longer considered the responsibility of technology vendors alone; indeed, it may be a reaction to the perception that vendors are not developing enough products and services that meet the needs of the ultimate end-users: their customers’ customers.


New B2B e-commerce platform in the works

After eBay acquired open-source commerce platform Magento in 2011, a few of its founders came together to form a new company called Oro, Inc. The launch of this company’s new e-commerce product, called OroCommerce, is imminent. OroCommerce will also be open-source, but will be focusing specifically on B2B companies. On the company’s website, it provides a few examples of specific B2B tools that the platform will include, such as multiple price lists and a simple quote to order process.


Oro aims to be a significant disrupter in B2B commerce, and given its open-source architecture and Magento heritage, has a real chance of doing so, particularly for B2B companies that are small to medium sized that have found existing ecommerce solutions to be too retail-focused. Options for companies of those size to build their own commerce solutions have been expanding rapidly as more Saas-based vendors gain traction, but those are more retail-focused: such examples include BigCommerce and WooCommerce (the latter recently purchased by WordPress parent Automattic).

Correction: An earlier version of this post incorrectly referred to OroCommerce as being the name of the company.  The correct company name is Oro, Inc.; OroCommerce is the name of the e-commerce product the company will be offering. 

These are the highlights of the recent news and events in the ecommerce industry. Stay tuned for our next E-Commerce Round-up, due in July.


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