July 31, 2007, 12:00 AM

IRCE 2007: Report from the Conference

(Page 3 of 3)

Keeping up with the changes
Curtis Hampshire, General Manager, USi-eBusiness

Retailers can expect about 20% of the technology used to build an e-retail web site to change every two years, which puts them in a never-ending cycle of updating site functionality. Subsequently, retailers need to consider the extensibility of their e-commerce platforms. "E-retailers need to ask whether their platform can realize new benefits from new technology or if it will require wholesale replacement with the next technological advancement," says Curtis Hampshire, general manager for USi-eBusiness, which helps companies plan and implement e-business initiatives.

Purchasing e-commerce applications delivered through the software-as-a-service model is a way to address this issue. The advantage of SaaS is that it provides easier integration between new and existing applications and future applications in development. Because retailers don`t have to think about ongoing maintenance and patching with SaaS, they can focus on how to use the next new technology to benefit their business. "The SaaS model enables retailers to look forward instead of backward," says Hampshire.

An all-in-one platform
Jeff Max, CEO, Venda

The maturity of e-retailing is shifting retailers` focus away from building and maintaining an in-house e-commerce platform to outsourcing those responsibilities. The trend is being driven largely by retailers` desire to reduce infrastructure costs and reallocate those funds into marketing, merchandising and customer acquisition, as much as by the standardization of features and functionality offered by third-party platform providers.

"The aim is to use those savings to attract more customers and generate more interest and presence on their site rather than throw money down the hole for overpriced technology," says Jeff Max, CEO of Venda, which charges a flat monthly fee for its all-in-one e-commerce platform. "The old platform model is costly and ineffective."

When choosing an outsourcing provider, retailers need to consider the level of support provided. Questions to be asked include: Are call centers local? Are they locally staffed? Are they available 24/7? What kind of visibility can they provide into the service ticket through their web site?

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