New Aptos Labs funnel millions into 'unified commerce' platform

Dive Brief:

  • Commerce platform provider Aptos announced a multi-million-dollar investment in Aptos Labs, a new innovation development team working on a unified commerce platform to help retailers create enterprises built for rapid change, according to a company press release.

  • The company said Aptos Labs is creating a “cloud-native, mobile-first and unified commerce services platform… [that] will foster an active supporting community of retailers, software partners and system integrators, empowering retailers to quickly onboard new capabilities and create differentiated and personalized customer experiences.”

  • Areas of focus include a microservices architecture; mobile-first, rich client applications; extensibility throughout; cloud-native services and integration to the company’s existing Aptos Singular Commerce solutions.

Dive Insight:

Aptos is staking a lot on this new platform — so much so that in its press release announcing Aptos Labs, it pledged to make a big splash at the National Retail Federation’s Retail’s BIG Show, Jan. 14 to 16, 2018. Aptos is saying that the results of Aptos Labs' early work on the new platform with several leading retailers will be showcased at what is arguably the biggest conference in the industry.

That's eight months away if you're keeping score at home, and it seems like a lot could happen in that time span. Sometimes, despite best-laid plans, technology development throws you a curve ball and introduces delays. On the other hand, a high-profile deadline can be a great motivator. 

Meanwhile, it seems like "unified commerce" is dethroning "omnichannel" as the retail sector's hottest buzzword. While it might sound like there is some redundancy involved, the term unified commerce is being used primarily to describe the notion of a single platform that underlies cross-channel marketing, selling, management and transaction support capabilities, while omnichannel is really more about the customer experience and point of view.

In any case, companies like Salesforce and Mad Mobile have played up unified commerce platform announcements just within the last few days. The notion is that retailers will migrate to a single unified commerce platform in the years ahead, rather than having to try to tie together multiple platforms from multiple suppliers and somehow try to hide all of the complexity from customers.

That sounds like a lucrative opportunity for the suppliers who can win the most desirable contracts with the biggest retailers, but they need to make sure whatever they come up with is highly scalable, richly featured and secure. We'll see how Aptos checks off those boxes in about another eight months.

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