Amazon's shadow looms large in the e-commerce space. Retailers going up against the digital Goliath are often faced with a choice: they can accept the heavy cost of trying to emulate Amazon's sophisticated operations, or they can reach customers through the Amazon marketplace -- ceding their access to strategically vital data along the way.
The Seattle-based startup SoundCommerce aims to give those retailers a third option, with a platform that helps brands leverage their data to make operational and marketing decisions. Now, SoundCommerce is available via the Google Cloud Platform Marketplace, making it one of a handful of technology providers available natively through GCP.
The partnership gives Google Cloud one more tool to strengthen its footing in the retail space, a sector that's naturally wary of AWS.
The partnership offers a quick way for retailers to get "out of the box" e-commerce capabilities built on top of their own valuable data, such as sales and customer relationship information.
"What we're bringing to market is the ability for brands to think and act like Amazon but in a way that maintains their independence and ownership of assets," SoundCommerce co-founder and CEO Eric Best said to ZDNet.
"We engage with these brands, and we help them bring all of their data together in one place," he continued. "Not just for marketing purposes but to understand [the business] operationally, from post-conversion to where inventory should be staged, awareness of product assortment... We bring all of that in a place where we can make real-time and predictive decisions."
The platform integrates data into cloud data warehouses like Google BigQuery and Snowflake. Business applications sit on top of that data, helping teams make decisions in specific areas like marketing and fulfillment operations. SoundCommerce integrates with more than 90 software platforms, including Shopify, Salesforce Commerce Cloud, Amazon.com and Google Analytics, as well as common EDI formats and leading parcel post carriers.
The company has raised $21 million in venture capital after closing a $15 million Series A funding round in February. It's already working with major brands like Eddie Bauer and Pacific Sunwear.
FTD/ProFlowers, one of SoundCommerce's newest customers, tapped into the platform via Google Cloud. The company opted to use the SoundCommerce platform as part of its ongoing IT overhaul so that it could get a more holistic view of company data, FTD/ProFlowers CTO Matt Powell said to ZDNet.
"The thing that really mattered to us is, we don't believe that the business can be managed with management channels or silos, and so we care a lot about one kind of vertically and horizontally integrated view of the business," he said.
FTD/ProFlowers fulfills orders via dropship, using delivery services like FedEx and UPS, as well as via its network of 9,000 florists.
"If you manage these businesses in a silo... you actually can make bad decisions," Powell explained. "You can drive traffic to SKUs that are lower value for you than other SKUs. And so, we've spent a ton of energy on bringing all of the data inputs together in one place in BigQuery. And then we've leaned on SoundCommerce to basically give us a running start into a data model for a business like ours."
In addition to using SoundCommerce modules, FTD/ProFlowers had the business customize applications. "Instead of having to start from zero as we moved into BigQuery and kind of reinvent everything, SoundCommerce almost provided like a scaffolding or a skeletal structure to attach ourselves to that we could then extend," Powell said.