After The Divestiture: eBay Enterprise Aims To Corner ‘Post-Click’ Commerce

THThe remnants of eBay Enterprise (which, despite the name, is no longer owned by eBay) is seeking to plant a stake in “post-click” commerce.

This is why its private equity owner Sterling Partners merged eBay Enterprise, back in November, with a commerce tech company in its portfolio called Innotrac. The combined entity will be rebranded in the second quarter, said Tobias Hartmann, president of the new company.

Although eBay Enterprise traditionally helped brands run their ecommerce sites, the vendor lacked focus in a highly competitive digital marketing ecosystem. And big clients like Toys R Us were bringing more ecommerce technology in-house.

“The market was trending toward more best-of-breed and highly modularized solutions, so it’s kind of hard convincing people to buy all of their solutions from the same guy,” Hartmann said. “How many things can you do at the same time and how many things can you be really good at? Our strategy now is a lot more focused.”

That strategy, he said, will focus on post-click commerce, which includes things like payments, inventory fulfillment and support for buy-online/pickup in-store. The combined eBay Enterprise/Innotrac has 27 distribution centers globally, five call centers and 7,000 employees to support these efforts.

Footwear and accessory retailer DSW (Designer Shoe Warehouse) just deployed eBay Enterprise’s in-store pickup and ship-to store tools. Other brick-and-mortar customers include Kate Spade and Dick’s Sporting Goods. 

As more brands seek ways to sell direct to consumer, it requires an overhaul of underlying infrastructure.

In the past, merchandise displayed online was typically based on product availability in-store, but there are often local disparities (REI merchandise in Florida will vary greatly from that in New York).

More companies, however, are striving for an enterprise-wide view of inventory spanning offline and online, and accounting for local inventory needs.

“We were helping retailers who had a web store, but who didn’t have a ship-to-store option or other ways to capture incremental demand,” Hartmann said. “It gets down to your ability to forecast inventory levels accurately and adjust – in real time – based on unique conditions.”

Retailers want more flexibility in the supply chain, and that impacts everything from marketing promotions to delivery and fulfillment.

Consider an outdoor gear retailer that experiences a glut of winter apparel inventory in the wake of a December heat wave in the Northeast. Ecommerce teams may need to pull less cold-weather merchandise from physical stores and adjust creative in online product listings or shopping ads to reflect available promotions.

The company also provides services, such as helping retailers navigate the benefits of ship-from-store versus pickup in-store.

Often, shipping from store is operationally easier than giving a consumer a window of time to pick up their purchase in-store: What if a consumer shows up three hours later than their scheduled pickup time and a store associate can’t find the merchandise?

“It gets down to demand generation through better inventory management and order routing,” Hartmann said. “We want to help brands and retailers understand supply and demand on a specific SKU of physical inventory and generate as many orders as possible in the most logical place. Retailers don’t just want to do ‘pack and ship’ for the sake of it.”

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1 Comment

  1. The idea of “post-click” is a good one – clearly there is a growing need to (i) outsource the increasing complexity of compliant order orchestration and fulfillment, but also the rising question branded manufacturers and retailers have to ask themselves as eCommerce evolves to direct, on-going relationships … (ii) get on a platform that can effectively enable the repeat / loyalty sale, the subscription, and the usage models. Will be interesting to see how eBay Enterprise re-establishes both parts of their spun out business.