Data Enablers: Episerver Takes Digital Experiences Cross-Channel

What happens when digital commerce, digital content and marketing come together on a single platform?

Unique digital experiences that can help businesses to respond to customer behavior and deliver real-time, relevant content and recommendations.

That’s the premise of Episerver, a cloud-based platform as a service (PaaS) that connects content and commerce on a single platform to empower commerce and marketing professionals to create, execute and optimize seamless digital experiences, James Norwood, CMO and EVP of Strategy at Episerver, recently told PYMNTS.

The platform enables businesses to take those digital experiences and meet their customers everywhere they want to engage — across various channels and devices.

“At the heart of our platform is a commerce transaction engine, which needs to work seamlessly with digital payment solutions,” Norwood said. “We offer a full range of payment processing capabilities for our retail clients, including the ability to create and customize their own payment gateways.”

In this week’s installment of Data Enablers, Norwood sat down with PYMNTS to discuss how improving commerce experiences starts with personalizing the customer journey across devices and in real time.

Here is an excerpt of the conversation.

PYMNTS: Why was the company founded? What was the grand idea that sparked it?

JN: The company was founded as Elektropost AB in 1994 in Stockholm, Sweden, by Mikael Runhem. He was the first and only employee when he launched the company. By 1997, the company had expanded and offered the first version of the Episerver platform. Today we have more than 500 employees serving customers in more than 30 countries.

Runhem saw a nascent market beginning to bloom in the early days of electronic communication, and so he created one of the first email servers. This was at the time when direct marketing was transitioning into what became the killer app — email marketing. Of course, email marketing remains a large part of our business but was surpassed by our content management and digital commerce solutions over time.

PYMNTS: What are some data or proof points on how the company has helped retailers?

JN: We’ve helped countless retailers improve their commerce experiences. The best proof is that customers keep coming back to update their websites and/or expand their work with us. The Arcadia Group (TopShop and Topman), Varner Group and Mud Pie are recent examples. We also work hard to help brand manufacturers go direct to consumers, such as with the global sewing machine brand Janome. These are all great companies doing some really special things online. At Episerver, we’re all about giving our customers super productive tools that can bring their ideas to life fast. We like to think we’re helping create digital experience heroes.

PYMNTS: Looking back since founding, what has been the proudest moment for the organization?

JN: Episerver has been operating for more than 20 years, but 2016 was a really big year for us. We acquired two cloud companies — Peerius and Optivo — to grow our operations and scale our capabilities. With these new investments, we are executing our vision in the areas of artificial intelligence for autonomous personalization, that is, individualizing the entire customer journey across devices and in real time — from initial search to final purchase — with predictive and adaptive analytics that use machine learning algorithms applied to Big Data. We’re also proud of the fact that we continually update our cloud service in a highly agile manner, launching new features and products to support our customers and partners on an almost weekly basis.

PYMNTS: What’s been the biggest hurdle? How did the company overcome it?

JN: One of our biggest challenges was evolving from a predominantly Northern European company into a global entity. That took time, but we were able to get there, and now we have very balanced global operations with the ability to support customers using our cloud service pretty much anywhere in the world.

PYMNTS: What do you attribute to your success over the years?

JN: Our agility has been a major driver of our growth, coupled with prescience in innovation. But without our strong partner network, we wouldn’t be where we’re at today. Our implementation partners bring the Episerver Digital Experience Cloud to life for our customers by installing the software on customers’ websites. The partner network we have today is both the cause and the result of our success. As we’ve grown, so has our partner network. In fact, the Episerver online community now boasts some 35,000 registered developers, and we’re constantly investing more in our partner ecosystem by increasing the resources and training opportunities available to them.

 PYMNTS: What is next? What does the future look like?

JN: In 2017, we’ll continue to focus on progressing the level of personalization and omnichannel campaign management that marketers are increasingly focused on. While most companies have segmented their audiences, no one is personalizing on the individual level yet, despite having enough data to do so. That’s where autonomous personalization comes in. We want brands to use machine learning to automatically individualize landing pages, content listings and home pages to drive customer engagement and relevant listings, trigger emails, social retargeting, and product recommendations based on distinct behaviors and real-time decisioning. We’re also doing some really cool stuff with the Internet of Things like intelligent changing room mirror displays.