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September 9, 2014

Global E-Commerce Tools Know No Boundaries

Posted by Amitabh Mudaliar (View Profile | View All Posts) at 9:09 AM

Hackers in Russia have stolen 1.2 billion passwords from websites  [Source: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1czXdU5cfRM]

In one of his first moves as newly named CEO of the retail giant Target, Brian Cornell wrote a blog on the company website in which he expressed his "deep respect for the challenging retail environment."

Challenging indeed. Those words were written just a few weeks before the world learned that hackers in Russia had stolen 1.2 billion (yes, that's billion, not million) passwords from websites across the globe. Target itself also was (please excuse the pun) a target of a huge data breach during the busy holiday shopping season last year.

The web truly has become a realm of extremes. Use the right e-commerce tools and technology, and your enterprise can have a gold mine on its hands. Don't use the right technology, and cyber-thieves will be lining up to mine your data! There's very little gray area when it comes to building the most effective and efficient online retail presence. When news of the hacking scandal hit the newswires, we were all amazed at the global scale of the crime. An analyst at Gartner said at the time that enterprises that rely on user names and passwords - which is just about every company I can think of - have to develop a sense of urgency about changing how they do things. "Until they do," she said, "criminals will just keep stockpiling people's credentials."

Often times it takes an event of mega proportions to rock us out of our comfort zones. I think the hacking of 1.2 billion passwords was that kind of wake-up call for retailers. It's why Target, in my opinion, hired an executive from PepsiCo to be its new CEO. The company hired someone who analysts say is a relative outsider. That is, he comes not from another Big Box retail chain but rather a beverage company. But he is well suited for the role because retail is about building trust with customers - clearly something Cornell did very well at Pepsi. Whether it's a retail chain or a beverage, digital consumers want to know that the brands they choose are keeping the quality of their products high and preserving the security of their data.

Successful web commerce is also about being comfortable with a customer from every continent. If you have just a couple bricks-and-mortar stores in, say, Switzerland, and a web site from which anyone can order merchandise, then you are in effect a global entity. Which is why you need tools that help your business move seamlessly across geographical markets. I got a kick out of hearing that Amazon is going to soon begin testing a fleet of unmanned, airborne drone delivery vehicles in parts of India very soon. Amazon is a very smart company, so they must have done exhaustive market research that indicated that consumers in certain regions of India were receptive to receiving deliveries by drone aircraft. If and when that market testing is successful, then it will be fascinating to watch how the company expands its fleet of drones into other markets. Being a global enterprise means knowing that what works in certain places doesn't always fly in others.

Which brings me to another major web retailer, Alibaba. Besides its much-discussed expansion into the North American market later this year, it's also expanding into different areas of web retail. These business lines have one thing in common: They all seem to be attractive to any audience, anywhere. Alibaba is impressive in that it seems to have a global perspective on anything they do. For instance, one of Alibaba's most recent investments was in a popular online gaming company called Kabam. According to the two companies, the alliance is strategic because, said Kabam's CEO, all truly successful gaming companies have to be global.

The gaming market is just one subset of the online retail arena. Knowing your consumers and what they want to purchase online is as important with video games as it is with clothing. It's why a gaming company that sees a huge opportunity across Asia wants to partner with a retailer that knows what it takes to be global and secure.

The worldwide hacking event was indeed a wake-up call. But it can also be considered a kind of growing pain. As enterprises keep pushing the limits of web commerce, they will experience bumps along the way. Which is why it's more important than ever to have a toolkit that allows your enterprise to navigate the web on a global scale.

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