While revolutions and sudden disruptions get a lot of airplay in the commerce ecosystem, big changes rarely happen all that suddenly or act as total departures from what came before.
The smartphone, particularly as conceived by Apple, has utterly changed the world as we know it, and is thus rightly hailed as the paradigmatic disruptive innovation. But even its explosion onto the U.S. market in 2007 was preceded by a mobile marketplace that was already evolving. Consumers didn’t wake up one morning one morning in 2007 and say to themselves “Oh my God, now that I’ve seen it I realize I want to carry a device that is a super computer, media player, navigator production kit, e-reader and video game system in my pocket with me at all times — and I also want it to be a phone.”
No, before the smartphone revolution could happen, the personal electronic device evolution already had to be well underway. That revolution saw consumers increasingly gravitating toward BlackBerrys, Kindle e-readers, iPods and embedded digital cameras. The big disruption was finding a way to combine those experiences into a single experience on a single device — and still have that device operate smoothly.
Which is how it is that Lightspeed POS found itself acquiring Amsterdam-based SEOshop.
“We knew that omnichannel was really the future for our retail partners,” LightSpeed CEO Dax Dasilva told us in an interview. “So we’ve really searched for 21 months and 50 different companies around the world. Our overriding goal has been that we wanted to offer our retail customers something much more advanced than our webstore.”
Lightspeed’s first love in retail is not eCommerce. When they launched a decade ago, the firm’s focus was really on building a cloud-based POS solution for small- and medium-sized restaurants of a particular kind.
“We really work with independent retailers and restaurants that do complex inventory,” Dasilva said of Lightspeed’s normal users. “Our restaurant base and retail base are actually quite similar in that both are usually geared toward offering premium services or inventory. For restaurants, that usually means table service. These are businesses that are doing higher ticket price per customer, payments that are in general north of $200.”
And with 25K retail locations all over the world signed on to their services and billions of dollars per year.
But, Dasilva said, even as they are succeeding, the firm can also see that the needs of their client base are clearly changing.
“We see that there are more and more needs on the online side. Before this acquisition, we had a webstore add, but it is becoming increasingly clear our customers have grown and developed a need for a full commerce platform that is fully customizable. And also a brand with global reach, as an increasing amount of our independent brands are seeing a big opportunity in the international market in selling across borders."
Which, Dasilva said, is ultimately what made the SEOshop acquisition the natural choice for Lightspeed with its multi-currency, multi-lingual, multi-tax rate platform that comes pre-built for the entire range of eCommerce situations Lightspeed was looking to incorporate. Even better, SEOshop also comes with 8K customers of their own, eight years of experience in the market, a 100+ app containing app store and 80 “eCommerce experts that are now joining our team.”
And, as of today, that conjoined team is now launching the LightSpeed eCommerce product - powered by SEOshop - for the European market.
“For the first time ever, we will also be offering an eComm-only product. Lots of places start online and then start building into pop-ups and other shorter-term physical locations. This product doesn’t require buying the retail software first,” Dasilva noted.
North American clients, however, will still have some waiting to do, as the Lightspeed SEO product isn’t due out in the U.S. until Q1 2016 while the teams work to perfect the product.
"This is an enormous step in the evolution of our company. We set out to help independent retailers grow and thrive by giving them a POS with the same back-office tools used by big retail in a user-friendly, mobile package,” Dasilva said. “With the industry rapidly digitizing, online-only merchant demand has grown exponentially. Bringing SEOshop into the Lightspeed family gives us additional scale, and allows us to help store owners create a global shopping experience and sell smarter — all from an iPad, no matter how their customers choose to shop."