April 1, 2009, 12:00 AM

After years of flying solo, Discovery hands off e-commerce ops to vendor

After closing its stores two years ago, Discovery has decided it can best serve its online channel by outsourcing it e-commerce operations to Delivery Agent.

Sometimes it just pays to hand off e-commerce operations to a partner, says Kelly Day, chief operating officer at Discovery Commerce, the online retailing arm of educational and scientific products retailer Discovery Communications Inc.

“In the e-commerce business today, to really compete you either have to ramp up and be one of the biggest retailers in a particular segment with the technology infrastructure to back it up, or be a niche provider doing most everything in house,” Day says.

Discovery, which closed about 100 stores two years ago to concentrate on selling online through its DiscoveryStore.com e-commerce site, had been approached by third-party e-commerce technology providers about outsourcing its online retailing operation. The retailer chose Delivery Agent because the vendor specializes in entertainment companies.

“Sometimes when the job is outsourced and the company does multiple sites, those sites can look the same and we didn’t want that,” Day says. “We like the fact that Delivery Agent was in our business and builds and maintains unique sites for each client.”

Discovery is beginning the process of moving its internal e-commerce platform, built on IBM WebSphere technology, over to the Delivery Agent platform. Delivery Agent, which supplies services to companies such as NBC Universal Inc., Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc. and Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp., later this year will also build web sites for two other Discovery brands: TLC and Animal Planet.


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