IBM Smarter Commerce Delivers Business Opportunity

At its Impact 2011 conference in Las Vegas, IBM helps its customers realize new business opportunities through its Smarter Commerce initiative.

LAS VEGAS -- In addition to continuing to push out new products and services to support its Smarter Commerce initiative, IBM also has cited several opportunities for its business customers to use Smarter Commerce to better serve their own customers.

Indeed, in announcements at the IBM Impact 2011 conference here on April 12, IBM officials said business adoption of Smarter Commerce technology is already underway. For instance, IBM client CSX transportation has used elements of Smarter Commerce software to improve partner onboarding in its supply chain and partner communities from two days to 10 minutes. By installing IBM Smarter Commerce software, First Tennessee Bank improved the success rate of its marketing campaigns by more than 3 percent, realizing a return on investment in the software of more than 600 percent.

And IBM officials said IBM software has enabled electronic publishing leader Cengage Learning to not only offer a subscription model that allows students to electronically rent text books but also electronically or physically receive supplementary offerings of items such as study guides. IBM helped XO Communications reduce customer churn by 8 percent the first year and 18 percent in the second year, delivering a nearly 400 percent return on investment in a matter of months.

Moreover, the challenges of modern commerce create new opportunities for clients to use Smarter Commerce in serving their customers, IBM officials said.

IBM Smarter Commerce enables businesses to better integrate marketing campaigns across multiple channels. Advanced advertising capabilities allow customers to optimize search results and search engine marketing associated with a specific marketing tagline as well as enhance awareness of marketing campaigns through customized landing pages with specific online product promotions.

Customers also can increase supply chain intelligence and inventory-shifting promotional opportunities with the Smarter Commerce software. Using supply chain and inventory management capabilities, businesses can react to an unseasonably warm winter in one part of the country simultaneous with an unusually cold spell in another geography by offering a discount on excess coat inventory in the warm area while moving some of that excess inventory to be sold in the colder area where demand is higher.

And IBM also seeks to help customers ensure brand loyalty by providing a consistent and unified cross-channel consumer shopping experience. The process for buying a new television involves multiple steps. A social networking site presents an advertisement that has been targeted for a specific shopping behavior and profile using analytics software. This ad links to a Web site where consumers can make the purchase as well as check on order status from multiple channels such as a smart phone. When the buyer picks up the TV, the clerk uses commerce software to provide recommendations on the best DVD player to go with the television purchased.

Bringing all these elements together to help better manage commerce is a priority for businesses, IBM said. A recent IBM Institute for Business Value survey of more than 500 economists worldwide estimated that much of the $15 trillion in system inefficiencies on the planet comes from waste in inventory backlogs, failed product launches, wasted materials and ineffective marketing campaigns.

"The commerce process that used to be just about -selling' has become a much broader effort that involves new ways of marketing to, serving and maintaining the brand loyalty of members," said Shamim Mohammad, vice president of IT, Marketing, Merchandising, eCommerce and Supply Chain Solutions at BJ's Wholesale Club, in a statement. "The new Smarter Commerce offerings from IBM will help us meet the increasing demand of our members who are now using things like social media and mobile access to gain greater power and control of the commerce process."