Tuesday, 3 May 2011

innovation - iengage by infosys

In ecommerce, there are very few aha moments. Lets discuss a little bit of the evolution of the ecommerce platforms before we come to the aha moment.

Pre/Early 2000 - Initial focus was in making the portal content-rich & enable exploration through proper categorization of data.
Early/Mid 2000 - Product search (a9, froogle..., lucene?)
Late 2000s - searchandising & recommendations
Late 2000s - over reliance on search engines to drive sales & traffic leading to concentration on SEO

ecommerce portals (amazon), open source ecommerce platforms (magento) & commercial ecommerce platforms(ATG commerce) have all taken a very similar paths in their evolution.

Right now, the 2 most happening things on the platforms side are
1. SaaS based solutions (helps reduce cost & headaches)
2. Social media marketing (helps in customer engagement - twitter & customer attraction - facebook)

The ecommerce platforms like ATG commerce are coming up with ATG on demand. amazon has always had webstores. shopify is running 'create a business' competition. (shopify solutions are kickass btw.) The market is flush with SaaS solutions.

Now, we come to the aha moment. Infosys has pioneered a solution where they integrate traditional ecommerce platform with social media marketing. They took ATG & Jive to create the perfect SaaS based solution for ecommerce & called it iengage. This is absolutely brilliant.

You don't see it in shopify. You don't see it in amazon as social media strategy wasn't too significant for them. As of now, amazon has fallen behind in integrating social media with webstores. You don't see it anywhere other than on Infosys' iengage platofrm! That is effing brilliant.

You can read more about iengage here: http://www.infosys.com/iengage/platforms/Pages/e-commerce-platform.aspx

Just to clarify, social media on product pages were always present. Social media for integrated customer engagement & customer attraction was missing. eg: customer service through twitter is not integrated into any platform as of now. I am assuming that in less than 6 months, platforms like shopify, magento & everyone else will have social media integrated into their platforms at a customer engagement level.

google commerce search & panda update

Googles' panda update has shaken the ecommerce industry (along with the content sites industry). 

The panda update will force ecommerce sites to start concentrating on channels other than SEO & relying on google search results. Companies will start concentrating on SEM, social media marketing(fb, twitter) & traditional marketing (ads on TV, newspapers). Customers who land up on these websites using these alternate media will eventually have to search for the product on the site rather than relying on googles' seo based search results. Suddenly, all ecommerce companies are forced to improvise their product search so that users can find what they want on the website organically.

So, what are the ways to improvise product search on an ecommerce site?

If you don't have the appetite(resources, tuning) for solr or sphinx, you can always use SaaS based solutions. Some players in the SaaS based solutions market are: endeca, autonomy and of course google commerce search. An Indian player has also entered the market, unbxd.

I believe there was some common learning that drove both panda update & commerce search. Please comment if you are aware of anything that connects the two...