Publicis Acquires Commerce Agency Expicient

More Shopping Options for Consumers Puts Pressure on the Supply Chain

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Alan Herrick
Alan Herrick

Publicis Groupe is beefing up its commerce capabilities with the acquisition of Andover, Mass.-based agency Expicient. Terms were not disclosed.

The 250-person global shop will be integrated into the Publicis.Sapient network under the Rosetta agency brand. Publicis weeks ago closed a deal to acquire digital and tech giant Sapient, creating a Publicis.Sapient network that houses a number of digital agencies, including Rosetta and Razorfish.

The acquisition of Expicient, which supports inventory and order management systems, comes as marketers are grappling with the increasingly sprawling requirements of e-commerce, physical stores and delivery. The easier shopping gets for consumers, with more options for online and offline ordering and pickup, the more complicated it gets for retailers.

"Today's always-on consumer makes no distinction between devices and channels," Publicis.Sapient CEO Alan Herrick said in a statement. "As a result our retail clients are increasingly looking for us to build systems -- inventory, supply chain, omni-channel commerce that enable the experience a 2015 consumer demands."

Marketers have to do all this in a way that's "more profitable, not less," Mr. Herrick added in an interview with Ad Age. "That's very complicated logistically. Consumers want convenience. It puts pressure on the supply chain."

He uses the example of buying online and picking up in store. In the past, online stores, physical stores and even mobile commerce platforms all operated on separate systems. The ability to bring those together into one system is new, he said.

Back-end commerce management is also a growing space for agencies like SapientNitro and Rosetta as it becomes more closely aligned with marketing services like CRM and as data analytics play a larger role.

"Communications and commerce aren't separate ideas," said Mr. Herrick. "The ability to optimize commerce infrastructure fits into how you think about mobile pay, in-aisle shopping and mobile experience that compliments that. If the client says, 'I need you to help me optimize the omni-channel environment,' [that could span] investments in online media, direct marketing and optimization of inventory."

Like Sapient, Expicient is based in Massachusetts and has offices in India. The shop, founded in 2008, has more than 180 staffers and touts offices in the U.K., Gurgaon and Bangalore. It has worked with brands including The Aldo Groupe, Argos, Bed Bath & Beyond, J. Crew, Target and Tesco.

Publicis agencies and Expicient have previously collaborated on a number of global commerce assignments, including including Staples, Target, Kroger, Fast Retailing, Marks & Spencer, Belk and Ralph Lauren.

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