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There's a lot of talk about multichannel commerce and the future, but major retailers already know that multichannel commerce isn't the future; it's already here. Consumers are shopping using many platforms, and companies that want to maximize their sales have to have a cross-channel strategy today, not tomorrow.

That explains in large part why software giant Oracle is shelling out $1bn to buy ATG, one of the leading cross-channel commerce platform providers.

ATG's technology is used by prominent brands ranging from Tommy Hilfiger to Vodafone to Best Buy, and Oracle is paying a premium for that technology. Its $1bn acquisition of ATG, which was announced yesterday, values ATG at a 46% premium to the company's share price on Monday.

It's not too hard to figure out why Oracle was willing to pay such a premium. Oracle EVP Thomas Kurian made it fairly clear in the acquisition press release:

Driven by the convergence of online and traditional commerce and the need to increase revenue and improve customer loyalty, organizations across many industries are looking for a unified commerce and CRM platform to provide a seamless experience across all commerce channels.

Bringing together the complementary technologies and products from Oracle and ATG will enable the delivery of next-generation, unified cross-channel commerce and CRM.

There's has been a lot of talk recently about Google's acquisition spending spree this year, but there is arguably no major technology company that has been as strategic in its acquisitions as Oracle. Google's acquisitions may be sexy, but over the past five years, Oracle has bought out more than 60 companies. Many of those companies, as the New York Times recently observed, "were software makers that provided expertise in niche areas." Niche areas that are very important and potentially lucrative.

ATG isn't Oracle's first acquisition in the retail space, and it probably won't be its last. As one analyst pointed out, "Oracle may be looking down the road at a world that will be more dependent on ecommerce." Ecommerce, of course, really means multichannel commerce.

But despite the boost ATG will give to Oracle's commerce offerings, the acquisition isn't necessarily good news for ATG customers. CRM Buyer notes that past Oracle acquisitions haven't exactly been great for many customers, and one need only look at Sun/MySQL to understand why.

Obviously, ATG customers will need to wait and see what fate awaits them, but regardless, the acquisition provides further validation that multi-channel commerce is the real deal. Not that such validation was really ever needed.

Photo credit: eMaringolo via Flickr.

Patricio Robles

Published 3 November, 2010 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

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