Today Ascentium, a US-based independent digital agency announced its acquisition of eCommerce services provider Cactus Commerce. In the past, Cactus specialized in Microsoft Commerce Server solutions, often paired with SharePoint and its CommerceLive framework. The newly combined company with 500+ staff, offices in the US, Canada, and United Kingdom, and more than $65 million in annual revenue will focus on the design and delivery of commerce and content solutions. Among the many other acquisitions over the past year, this deal stands out as a bit unusual. It brings together a creative agency and a commerce and marketing systems integrator (though arguably Cactus has been more than that to many of its clients). In some ways, this marks the beginning of something we will see more of in the near future — the combining of agency and integrator to become commerce solution providers. 

This is the evolution of system integrators, consultancies, and agencies into something a bit different. We are now calling these firms global commerce service providers (GCSPs). These firms are adapting to the changing needs of clients for integrated services across channel strategy, interactive design, and technology capabilities in order to support the changing business needs in the era of agile commerce. Future services providers like the new Ascentium will combine:

·         Channel strategy across web, mobile, social, stores/branches, and contact centers.

·         Customer experience design across those touchpoints, including marketing strategy.

·         Commerce technology strategy comprising commerce platforms, CXM solutions, OMS solutions, POS solutions, WCMS, CRM, BI/analytics, web services, etc.

·         Implementation & integration of those solutions, including enterprise architecture.

·         Managed services of the implemented solutions.

This change in the services landscape is reflected in research work we have underway at Forrester, as we have kicked off a Forrester Wave on these global commerce services providers to help our clients navigate the choices between many top firms providing these services across the key markets of North America, Europe, Asia, and BRIC nations. We expect this research to be available to clients by the end of the year.

Meanwhile, if you are a client and have questions about choosing a global commerce services provider or systems integrator that can support your commerce project, I encourage you to set up an inquiry with us.