David Jones has signed a $1 million agreement with startup e-integrator Cortex eBusiness to overhaul its online retail suite.
While the retailer's e-commerce site will maintain a strictly DJs-branded look and feel, it will model its suite on the back-end technology of recently acquired e-tailer TheSpot, according to Peter Moore, Cortex's CEO. "All of the logic will be retained," he said.
Last week saw the failed e-tailer end its web development partnership with Cortex. Cortex developed TheSpot's health and beauty retail sites, performing 85 per cent of its work for the dot-com.
Moore pointed out that David Jones' retail sites would be more sophisticated than TheSpot's first site ToySpot.com.au. "Mickey Mouse Microsoft technology is not appropriate for David Jones," he gibed, referring to TheSpot's initial amateur approach to e-tailing.
"What's impressed us is that (DJs) has really taken 'online' seriously," Moore said.
David Jones' online store will be a "worldwide standard, high-end solution with all the bells and whistles", claimed Moore. Its technology platform will be powered by Sun hardware and operating systems, BEA application servers and Oracle databases.
Jenny Deslandes, David Jones' general manager of e-commerce, believes Cortex will be instrumental in helping the company launch the "leading retail brand online in Australia". DJs' e-commerce team will collaborate with 15 Cortex staffers with data modelling and Java architecture expertise to overhaul the David Jones e-commerce arm.
Cortex's only reservation in partnering with a traditional company was the potential cultural problems it posed. Cortex's management was unsure of working with a traditional corporate company due to past poor experiences in "desperately political" corporate environments. "All startups like to work with (other startups) and take risks," Moore explained.
However, he relished the chance to align with a prestigious "older" company like David Jones. "We see it as an opportunity to prove ourselves to the old world," he said. "We're focused on getting the hardest, most challenging implementations into a company without the corporate baggage."
Also, a Cortex spokesman admitted negotiations on the contract price were bumpy. Cortex's asking price was much higher than the agreed $1 million, he said, declining to reveal the figure. He added that corporate companies seemed more concerned with pitching IT projects to investors from the financial sector, not to IT startups.