November 1, 2011, 12:00 AM

Oracle builds out its e-commerce suite

With its recent agreement to purchase site search and online marketing technology provider Endeca Technologies Inc., Oracle Corp. take another big step in offering a comprehensive set of e-commerce and business management technology to retailers.

Technology behemoth Oracle Corp. took a big step last month in building out its e-commerce offerings with its agreement to purchase Endeca Technologies Inc., a provider of site search and online marketing technology to e-retailers. Oracle did not say what it would pay for Endeca; it expects to close on the deal this year.

The next week Oracle announced plans to acquire RightNow Technologies Inc., a provider of web-based customer service software, for $1.5 billion.

"Oracle is moving aggressively to offer customers a full range of cloud solutions including sales force automation, human resources, talent management, social networking, databases and Java as part of the Oracle Public Cloud," said Thomas Kurian, executive vice president, Oracle Development. "RightNow's leading customer service cloud is a very important addition."

Oracle has been expanding its presence in retail technology over the past several years, picking up providers of web-enabled store systems including Retek and 360 Commerce and price-optimization company ProfitLogic. More recently, it has moved into the online retail space, including its June acquisition of FatWire Software, whose technology presents online content targeted to the interests of shoppers.

By adding Endeca, Oracle gains technology that enables retailers to correlate and analyze the unstructured data on web sites—such as product descriptions and customer reviews—and use it to make personalized offers to consumers. By integrating Endeca's technology with the ability to manage structured data in Oracle databases, retailers will be able to more precisely target their marketing, Oracle says. Structured data can include information such as demographic data organized by ZIP codes or by level of income.

"This is a strong move by Oracle and signals how seriously they are taking their opportunity in both commerce and content solutions," says Brian Walker, a retail technology analyst with Forrester Research Inc.

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