Bkw_small_headshot By Brian K. Walker

eCommerce platform provider Demandware recently released updates to their product, dubbed the “Summer Release”. For one thing this is a refreshing departure from a version number in that it makes me think of a mix-tape I made as a teenager instead of an operating system. (More on that in a later blog post – or maybe not). This release is notable in that it does address some shortcomings we discovered in our “Forrester Wave: B2C eCommerce Platforms, Q1 2009” we published in January. Here are some highlights on the product from a briefing and discussion with Scott and Jamus at Demandware recently, along with some thoughts:

  • Addition of “Active Merchandising” to allow for automated product sequencing and display on category pages, landing pages, in cross-sell/up-sell slots, and on-site search results ordering. While not tied to web-analytics at this point, the active merchandising feature does pull from the transaction logs and store merchandising data. This will be useful for improved automated merchandising, particularly in largely ignored categories.
  • Improved business—user experience with the tools focused on site-management and layout, with key improvements to targeted/segment-driven content and offer targeting. While useful, and on-target for what most clients will be able to functionally use, this targeting capability needs to integrate to external web-analytics, campaign management, and CRM to enable multi-channel marketers to target across channels.
  • A new reference application – loosely translated from softwarese as “starter store” – which incorporates the 80/20 rule of required standard eCommerce features to get clients up and running more cost and time efficiently. This should also improve quality and enable Demandware’s partners to deliver more consistently as well.
  • Many incremental improvements to the bundled on-site search capabilities. These range from term-entry completion to binning to additional user filters and sorts. This was an important area for Demandware to improve in.

What it means for Demandware clients and those considering it:
It is very good to see that Demandware is focused on the merchants and marketers. With their Summer 2009 release we can see evidence that Demandware is making significant headway in modernizing the back-end tools and management capabilities they originally leveraged from Intershop. These features are meaningful improvements, though there are still gaps or deficits in other critical areas such as product content management, promotions management, micro-sites, and site optimization. See our Wave report or earlier blog post for more details. I look forward to seeing future releases from Demandware as well as others as these solutions mature to meet the needs of today and tomorrow's online retailers.

Others have been making progress and updates to their products as well, and I get the beneift of talkign with many of the other vendors serving clients in this space. Look for thoughts on those in the next few weeks and months, as well as an update to our Wave report later in the year.

Thanks, Brian

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