By Paul Lavery, Director, Solutions Enablement – Supply Chain Axway
Walmart is sending a signal to the marketplace as it gets into social commerce, a signal that indicates how consumers are going to leverage interactive media, particularly social media.
Human-to-human file and data exchange has grown exponentially among business interaction networks, and email drove that growth. Email has become the common medium and platform for exchanging files between humans (i.e., ad hoc file transfer). But an explosion of social media environments and ecosystems has complicated these exchanges, despite the fact this new arena has not yet been commercialized in a more traditional way, like retailing.
Walmart is the largest retailer in the world, by a wide margin. And now, in order to plug the company into consumer behavioral patterns, they’ve taken the step of putting the platform into @WalmartLabs, which will, according to an April 2011 press release, “create technologies and businesses around social and mobile commerce that will support Walmart’s global multi-channel strategy, which integrates the shopping experience between bricks and mortar stores and e-commerce.” This new capability enables them to leverage the multiple mediums consumers use to price-check, price-compare and view what friends and family members are shopping for and/or recommending.
By taking this kind of platform approach, Walmart is now able to connect interactions well beyond their Walmart.com portal. They’re actually integrating that portal into mobile devices and, more importantly, they can now view consumer preferences through social networks like Facebook and Twitter.
This is creating a much more complex environment for exchanging information like pricing data, product specs and product comparisons, shunting data and information that affect the shopping and purchasing decisions of large communities. And in light of the numerous security requirements related to personal information and consumer commerce, it’s extremely important that retailers – as well as any manufacturers connected to this kind of offering – focus on security and automation.
Axway is uniquely positioned to facilitate this scenario in two ways. One, we offer the most comprehensive ability to manage and secure the exchange of all that data, including ad hoc transfers via email or over mobile devices. And two, we provide granular visibility into data movement – how all those files are travelling, and to whom they are going. These capabilities enable any enterprise to enter the realm of consumers leveraging social media – with the same agility as the largest retailer in the world.