Most eCommerce sites are “marketplaces”

What is a marketplace? Essentially, a marketplace is a place where you can buy items that are produced or sold by other companies. Unless you are a specialty brand like Movado, Tommy Hilfiger, Louis Vuitton, etc.,  you are most likely selling “other companies goods” on your site. In a marketplace, these companies are called “sellers”.

The best marketplaces offer things like drop ship – where the order gets sent directly to the seller to fulfill to the customer – eliminating the need to house the products in a warehouse (or your basement). Amazon does this very well, hence the popularity of Amazon. I can basically create a web presence with little capital and sell all kinds of things from all over the world on Amazon. If you are a retailer with an existing web site, then Amazon is your absolute enemy. You need to do things faster, cheaper, and most of all more efficiently.

This brings us back to my last post about IBM Digital Commerce and Mirakl.

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With IBM Digital Commerce and Order Management you get an easy to use eCommerce platform that scales and offers not only drop ship but the ability to have a call center and even a store associate application; all connected to the same back-end eCommerce platform. Bring in Mirakl and you get a best in breed Marketplace platform that gives you the flexibility to onboard sellers, monitor seller KPI’s, automatic price and inventory updates, and even curation for your sellers.

If you haven’t had a chance, watch this partner connect video where I introduce Marketplaces and how IBM Digital Commerce and Mirakl make a great team for a great platform to compete against Amazon.

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Marketplaces, Cognitive, and Dynamic Pricing dominated NRF16

This year I did not man a booth or guide people around the IBM pedestals but instead I decided to actually attend the National Retail Federation (NRF) as an attendee. I went to a lot of sessions, visited a lot of booths, and observed our very own IBM booths. As I walked the grounds and even waited in line for the free lunch box I was impressed with the dialog of others around me. Over and over I heard many talking about Watson and cognitive computing which then lead into other discussions about IBM and more specifically dynamic pricing.

The IBM booth was crowded pretty much every day, the turn out and excitement around IBM Commerce seemed to be at an all time high – I could barely walk through the booth!

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This was the first year I witnessed a change in the dialog from the usual feature/function discussion of buy online, pickup in store, cart abandonment, catalog management, etc to features that will differentiate a brand in the market. More talk about consolidating brick and mortar and the eCommerce channels. The ugly truth that most companies still have separate teams supporting the same functions on the different channels. This then lead into many discussions around pricing. The theme this year at the IBM booth was dynamic pricing and cognitive (machine learning).

If you are interested in learning more about how this works you might want to check out the IBM Whitepaper “Attracting and retaining customers with insights-driven dynamic pricing“.

“More sophisticated retailers are not just reacting but instead proactively testing various pricing strategies to see what effect they have on their customers; they are sensing and responding,” – link

The paper also goes into discussing the challenges of consistent pricing across channels. The power comes when you begin to mix cognitive learning with dynamic pricing:

“As channels blur and retailers have multiple touch points with consumers, price coordination becomes essential….The holy grail of dynamic pricing is achieved through the application of cognitive computing, a self-learning environment that “Understands, Reasons, and Learns” from inputs to intuitively determine the best prices and promotions for customers in context.” – link

Lastly, the conversations around marketplaces were also very prevalent this year. If you are not familiar with marketplaces think Amazon. Manufacturers are looking to revamp their B2B networks with new user interfaces and shopping experiences that outperform the Amazons of the world. Moving from the traditional green screen ordering system to a friendlier online shopping experience like a Staples.com.

One example I heard was a manufacturer makes a widget which costs $150. It is of high quality and has a life expectancy of many years. However, knock-offs that look identical (literally almost the exact same picture) cost $50 on Amazon marketplaces. The $50 product is manufactured in China and is really a much lower quality with a shorter life expectancy. The problem is when you search on Amazon for the product you essentially see what appears to be the same exact product but one is $100 more – so which one do you think gets sold? This problem can be addressed by using a solution like the Mirakl Marketplace Platform to battle the Amazon problem and also give your interface for your partners a face lift. I had the opportunity to see the Mirakl demonstration live and I was very impressed with the user interface and the management capabilities it offers. It offers a complete vendor management solution where you can not only bring up a vendor very quickly but also get an holistic view of your products performance across vendors. Click the picture below to learn more about Mirakl.

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Mirakl Marketplace Platform

Now, imagine a platform where cognitive dynamic pricing and marketplaces all work together. A manufacturer can then beat out the Amazon marketplaces by controlling their own marketplace and also get pricing insight through dynamic pricing!

Eclipse Marketplace – an amazing 1000+ solutions available!

If you haven’t checked out the Eclipse Marketplace then you are missing out on a lot of solutions for Eclipse and RCP. It currently has an astonishing 1,052 solutions available for download or install. Many offer trials and many are just free. You can search on many categories from application management to network plugins.

If you have a product or plugin you would like me to review send it on, I would be happy to give your product a plug but only if its good!

The OpenNTF for Eclipse plugins

Most of my readers are in two camps, with many intersections along the way.  The two primary camps are Eclipse Developers and Lotus Notes/Domino developers.  I have lately been more on the Eclipse side – primarily because of my job – but none the less I do post occasionally Notes and Domino development stuff.  Anyway, I want to introduce to both communities (if not already known) the Eclipse Marketplace!  This is essentially the same thing as what OpenNTF is for the Notes community.  So for all of you Notes folks out there, there is another site you can use for Eclipse tools, plugin’s and solutions that may fit into your enterprise or in your daily tools.  Check it out!