In what has to be the acquisition of the week, if not the month, customer experience management (CXM) vendor Sitecore just announced it has bought e-commerce vendor commerceserver.net. Financial details of the deal were not disclosed, but in this case they don’t really matter. Here's why.

The significance of this deal lies in the fact that once Sitecore integrates the commerceserver.net (Commerce Server) e-commerce engine, it will be able to offer customers a complete CXM platform with fully integrated c-commerce capabilities.

CXM and E-Commerce

There are a couple of other vendors who have platforms that can offer integrations between content management, for example, and e-commerce capabilities. They include e-Spirit (e-Spirit was only recently certified for integration with Demandware) and e-commerce software developer Elasticpath. But this is the first time that a .NET customer experience platform is feeding into e-commerce applications.

In effect, what this does is offer enterprises the possibility of controlling the entire customer experience — content development, marketing, customer experience and relationship management and customer purchases — from a single platform. As Michael Seifert, Sitecore’s CEO explained:

Our vision from the beginning has been to deliver a complete, connected experience platform that puts the customer at the heart of every interaction and engagement ... With this acquisition, our customers can now add enterprise-scale e-commerce capabilities to create truly consistent and personalized experiences."

Seamless Transition

Sitecore assured clients that the acquisition of Commerce Server will not disrupt current deployments or arrangements for commerceserver.net users. Company representatives noted that once the deal is closed, users will be able to continue to use commerceserver.net as a standalone product that will be supported by Sitecore or integrate Sitecore’s CXM platform with their existing deployments.

Sitecore acquired commerceserver.net from SMITH (formerly Ascentium), a global digital experience agency that built, sold and supported the Commerce Server e-commerce engine.

Conveniently, SMITH is also a Sitecore Strategic Commerce Alliance Partner and will continue to work with Sitecore on Commerce Server to develop integrations between Sitecore and Commerce Server for all their customers.

By Any Name ...

Previously known as Microsoft Commerce Server, then Ascentium Commerce Server, commercserver.net enables enterprises to create multi-channel commerce applications and extend business securely over the Internet, or intranets.

It currently has more than 3,000 customers in North America, Asia Pacific and Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) across retail, manufacturing and government in both business-to-consumer and business-to-business commerce.

Add to that Sitecore’s already extensive customer list and you can see this is not just an interesting technology match, but also a significant business deal that will have implications for the combined global customer base of both companies.

Extending CXM

However, for the moment, this is really just about technology and, in particular, the integration of all aspects of on-line commerce.

E-commerce functionality is critical to delivering relevant, personalized experiences for online shoppers, yet current CMS solutions offer poor or non-existent e-commerce integration ... The acquisition of commerceserver.net by Sitecore ... introduces a rich level of integration between commerce, content and digital marketing that has not been achieved by any other vendor. It will also provide a compelling .NET choice for enterprise customers ... "

Darren Guarnaccia, executive vice president of corporate development at Sitecore, points out that there is growing awareness that e-commerce should and needs to be an integral part of CXM. But he said no one has managed to do so yet.

There are technology reasons for this, but also problems in the corporate mindset. In a blog post about the deal, he argues that not enough thought has gone into the customer experience as a whole:

The disconnect is typically repeated across the disjointed set of marketing experiences that initially draw a customer into a shop, whether it’s online or in the real world. Not enough e-commerce experiences take a holistic view of the customer journey ... Sitecore can now marry the full lifecycle of gaining a customer’s awareness ... this is the Holy Grail, the full customer lifecycle."

Once the deal is closed, commercerserver.net will be incorporated into Sitecore, but according to Guarnaccia there is a lot more to come from this deal.