IBM Powers Canada's SHOP.CA E-Commerce Marketplace

IBM announced that its Smarter Commerce technology is in use at SHOP.CA, a Canadian e-commerce marketplace, to help empower consumers with information for their buying decisions.

IBM announced that SHOP.CA, Canada€™s largest online e-commerce marketplace, is using analytics software from IBM€™s Smarter Commerce Initiative to help engage increasingly empowered online consumers in a unique shopping experience, and build loyalty and a sense of community.

IBM continues to gain wins with its Smarter Commerce strategy, this time with SHOP.CA. SHOP.CA€™s online marketplace features millions of products across 26 categories and billions in multi-merchant inventory. Its site offers Canadians one-stop access to national and international brands, free shipping, free returns and no cross-border fees. Also hosting a powerful loyalty program, SHOP.CA Rewards dollars are offered for both purchases and online activities that generate a purchase, such as sharing a link to a favorite product with a friend, or posting written or video reviews to social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, IBM said in a press release about the project.

€œWith SHOP.CA, shopping will be forever changed in Canada,€ said Don Tapscott, an author and business strategist, in a statement. €œIt€™s going to make shopping €˜social.€™ People will become deeply engaged in a community. They€™ll learn from each other. They€™ll be able to collaborate, and because of the loyalty programs, they€™re going to want to come back.€

SHOP.CA selected IBM€™s technology as the e-commerce engine to power its consumer storefront, multi-merchant product catalog and SHOP.CA Rewards program. IBM will also provide analytics on how site visitors behave and interact, as well as track their searching and buying histories. This data will give SHOP.CA insight on how, when and where to reach shoppers with content and offers personalized to their tastes and preferences via mobile or social vehicles.

€œWe want to push the envelope of what€™s possible online and through a mobile device, and significantly advance the state of smarter commerce,€ said Trevor Newell, SHOP.CA president and founder.

A recent IBM survey of more than 2,000 Canadians showed friends and family are by far the most trusted influencers on purchasing decisions, but that retailers are also gaining trust among shoppers there. The same research also identified a growing movement among consumers to use social media to build communities with others who share their interests and tastes, and who consume the same. These strangers then help the consumer make more relevant discoveries and satisfying purchases.

€œIn the era of mobile and social networks, consumers are becoming more connected, and more demanding in their expectations of how they interact with retailers,€ said Jamie Spiller, IBM€™s smarter commerce lead. €œBy applying the principles of Smarter Commerce, SHOP.CA is creating a rich online experience that's personalized, timely and relevant, and spans the entire commerce lifecycle of buying, marketing, selling and service.€

Under the terms of the agreement, IBM is providing SHOP.CA with Coremetrics Web Analytics delivered through the cloud and IBM WebSphere Commerce Professional.

IBM has defined Smarter Commerce as a new market estimated at $20 billion for software alone€”driven by Web, social and mobile technologies that put more power in the hands of customers. IBM estimates that nowadays 70 percent of a consumer€™s first interaction on a product or service takes place online, and 64 percent of consumers make a first purchase because of a digital experience.

IBM has been focusing on this area in both its product groups as well as dipping into its deep research pockets to come up with new approaches for helping companies better reach out to customers through the use of analytics and social media. In early July, IBM announced its researchers are testing a new augmented-reality mobile shopping app that enables retailers to personalize each individual customer€™s shopping experience right from the palm of their hands, via their smartphone or tablet.

The new app out of IBM Research is what IBM refers to as an augmented-reality mobile-shopping app that will make it possible for consumers to pan store shelves and receive personalized product information, recommendations and coupons while they browse shopping aisles.

According to Big Blue, consumers using the app can enter a store, download the app on their smart phone or tablet, register and create a profile of features that matter to them€”from product ingredients that could trigger an allergy, to whether packaging is biodegradable. When they point their device€™s video camera at merchandise, the app will instantly recognize products and, via augmented-reality technology, overlay digital details over the images€”such as ingredients, price, reviews and discounts that apply that day. If consumers opt in, information from their social networks can be integrated into the information stream. For instance, if a friend had reviewed or made a comment about a product they€™re looking at, they€™ll see it, IBM said in a press release on the new app.

€œIn the age of social media, consumer expectations are soaring and people want information and advice about the products they€™re going to buy,€ said Sima Nadler, retail lead at IBM Research, in a statement. €œBy closing the gap between the online and in-store shopping experience, marketers can appeal to the individual needs of consumers and keep them coming back.€