A better e-commerce platform begins with the bigger picture

An IRCE speaker urges strategic thinking when revamping technology.

Mark Brohan

Retailers need to take the long view when revamping their e-commerce platforms, says Market America Inc. chief operating officer Marc Ashley.

“At Market America, if we stop constantly improving the platform we are dead because we will lose relevance with our customers,” says Ashley, who will speak at the Internet Retailer Conference and Exhibition 2012 on June 5 from 2:15 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. during a session entitled “How today’s e-commerce platform swap-out is radically different from yesterday's.”

Market America, No. 61 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide knows all about updating and overhauling an e-commerce platform. Market America moved to acquire more sophisticated e-commerce technology in December 2010 when it purchased shopping comparison site Shop.com for an undisclosed price. The company has used Shop.com's advanced features such as faster site search and better content and order management systems to develop a more integrated and advanced platform that provides the flexibility the retailer requires.

Today, after more than a year of work that included doubling the size of its full-time e-commerce programming staff to about 15 employees, Market America's new e-commerce platform can support an inventory of 30 million products. The new platform includes social commerce applications, mobile commerce and improved promotional tools.

At his session Ashley will talk about the need to take a long-term view of e-commerce platform development, especially incorporating mobile commerce and tablet computing. “Your e-commerce platform has to adapt to support new mobile and tablet technology because that’s how customers are shopping today,” says Ashley. At Market America, the company is updating its e-commerce platform to expand internationally. “We are adopting technology quickly and casting a wide net to how we are doing it,” he says.

During his session, Ashley will talk about how to make the best use of web services and application program interfaces, or APIs, to facilitate communication among applications, including updated mobile apps for iPhones and iPads, and for wireless devices that work on the Android operating system. “We are big investors and users of web services and APIs,” Ashley says. “They are the reason we can implement new platform programs quicker and easier.”

Internet Retailer’s editors asked Ashley to speak because of his expertise in e-commerce technology implementation. As Market America’s chief operating officer, he works closely with the executive board and management group to plan company initiatives, create and implement systems, improve field relations, and implement total quality management techniques.


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