Nordstrom Deals Raise Question: Should Retailers Acquire Tech Startups?

Forbes – Nordstrom is the latest retailer trying to fill in its digital gaps through acquisitions. The department store chain last week announced the acquisition of two tech startup companies, BevyUp and MessageYes.

BevyUp is a digital selling platform that Nordstrom intends to integrate into a new app for its employees later this year. MessageYes is a conversational commerce platform that allows shoppers to interact with a retailer via text message and receive AI-generated personalized recommendations. Nordstrom expects to increase its facility with engineering, data science and machine learning through that acquisition.

While acquisition is emerging as a popular way for companies to boost their digital operations, some members of the RetailWire BrainTrust wondered in an online discussion last week if it makes sense for Nordstrom.



“Owning the development and innovation of new technology gives retailers ultimate direction and control over new feature design,” said Ken Morris, principal at Boston Retail Partners. “However, this also has the potential of costing more than buying/licensing technology it could take some executive focus away from their core responsibility of increasing sales and enhancing the customer experience. You can still be a technology-focused retailer without owning the product.”

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