eCommerce & Merchandising

Not All Digital Commerce Platforms Are Created Equal

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Find out what separates the leaders in both Gartner Magic Quadrant and IDC Marketscape reports

Both Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Digital Commerce and IDC’s first ever Marketscape for Retail Omni-Channel Commerce Platforms recently hit the streets. The leaders are a familiar bunch that includes IBM, SAP, Oracle and Salesforce. In looking at each graphic, it appears there’s not a lot of separation amongst the leaders. So, how does someone go about distinguishing one leader from the others?  Well, you have to read between the lines…

















To figure out what’s important in comparing digital commerce platform providers, it’s helpful to understand the market and technology predictions of each analyst. IDC implies that being an ‘omni-channel organization’ and ‘offering omni-channel experiences’ are a fact of life for retailers, and those that aren’t omni-channel are – or will soon be – a thing of the past. IDC defines the retail challenge in the next three years as the ability to execute omni-channel in a profitable way, including transforming stores into omni-channel experiences, fulfillment and service centers.

Gartner, however, predicts more brands selling online will employ the use of analytics and optimization algorithms to improve pricing, in addition to the configure, price, quote process. They also believe that leading brands will leverage smart personalization engines to recognize customer intent and drive the customer experience. Finally, Gartner states that leading online sellers will have enabled “commerce comes to you” capabilities, which I interpret as enabling commerce across IoT and embracing new modes of customer engagement like conversational commerce and virtual sales assistants.

Although seemingly different predictions on the surface, IDC and Gartner both have similar undertones which is the need to use data and insights to optimize omni-channel execution, fulfillment, pricing strategies and customer engagement. Online sellers need a digital commerce technology partner and platform built on AI and machine learning technology that can:

  • Understand data and learn from interactions with customers and commerce practitioners.
  • Identify hidden situations impacting customer engagement and business performance, and recommend actions to correct those situations.
  • Adjust pricing and select promotions in real-time based on competitor pricing, supply and demand insight.
  • Optimize the entire fulfillment network to maximize inventory sell through and minimize shipping costs.

When you think about digital commerce in this way, it becomes clear that not all technology providers are created equal. While some of the leaders in these reports have fledgling AI technologies named after brilliant scientists, only IBM has Watson.  Watson is a proven AI and machine learning technology that is – right now – helping online sellers optimize their fulfillment networks to fill more orders and save tens of millions of dollars on shipping costs; helping brands understands customer tone, sentiment and intent to deliver more relevant and personalized brand experiences; enabling virtual sales associates for forward thinking retailers, and recommending pricing and merchandising actions based on learned customer behavior and engagement.

To understand how IBM Watson Commerce can help your business grow and thrive in the years to come, I recommend you visit:

To obtain a free copy of the Gartner and IDC reports that I’ve mentioned:


Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in its research publications, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest ratings or other designation. Gartner research publications consist of the opinions of Gartner’s research organization and should not be construed as statements of fact. Gartner disclaims all warranties, expressed or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.

IDC MarketScape: Worldwide Retail Omni-Channel Commerce Platform 2017 Vendor Assessment, by Ivano Ortis, Andrea Sangalli, and Giulio Raffaele, April, 2017 IDC # [Doc US41453016].

IDC MarketScape vendor analysis model is designed to provide an overview of the competitive fitness of ICT suppliers in a given market. The research methodology utilizes a rigorous scoring methodology based on both qualitative and quantitative criteria that results in a single graphical illustration of each vendor’s position within a given market.



IBM Watson Commerce Product Marketing Manager - B2C eCommerce & Fulfillment

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