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This week, Art Technology Group announced it had acquired Cleverset for $10 million. Cleverset is a hosted service provider of automated product recommendations for up-sell and cross-sell. This addition complements ATG’s “rules-based” personalization engine, ATG Scenario Server.

ATG acquires Cleverset

A plethura of new automated personalization products have come to market in recent years. Companies like Baynote, Aggregate Knowledge, Certona and MyBuys all have proprietary algorithms for tracking user behavior and creating an Amazon-like buying experience. They take the pain out of mapping effective cross-sells and up-sells on retail web sites.

These hosted solutions are relatively low cost and simple to implement as javascript — a low-risk for companies who want to try before committing long-term. For ATG, this could be a double-edged sword.

Scenario Server has long been a key differentiator in the sales process. Adding Cleverset enhances the offer, but it may also be seen as a tacit acknowledgement that rules-based personalization, while good on paper, is too impractical for most retail customers.

While ATG could have partnered with any provider, $10M is short money to bring such a service under the ATG brand. Now ATG is committed — and it must compete in this adjacent market, as it does with eStara for live support. This makes better sense if ATG uses the IP to further develop Scenario Server.

Other ecommerce software vendors should take pause before making a similar acquisition. Like ratings/reviews or analytics, these hosted services are so easy to integrate. It may be prudent to partner and keep options open while personalization providers further innovate their point solutions.

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