Salesforce has struck a deal to acquire rival cloud services company Demandware in a $2.8bn cash deal that is expected to close by mid-2017.
The purchase will add a suite of cloud-based e-commerce services to Salesforce's customer relationship management (CRM) line-up, where growth has slowed in recent years.
The sum may seem steep compared with Demandware's $201m full-year subscription revenues in 2015, but the aim is to rapidly boost sales in a sector poised for a boom in demand.
"Demandware is an amazing company and the global cloud leader in the multibillion dollar digital commerce market," said Marc Benioff, chairman and CEO of Salesforce.
"With Demandware, Salesforce will be well positioned to deliver the future of commerce as part of our Customer Success Platform and create yet another billion-dollar cloud."
Salesforce chief product officer Alex Dayon said in a conference call to discuss the deal: "The only blind spot we had in CRM was commerce. The future of commerce is really with solutions like Demandware where not only do you provide personalised one-to-one shopping experience on your phone, on the web, but you're connecting the store into that experience."
Previous Salesforce acquisitions include RelateIQ, bought in 2014, which provided tools to help sales people keep track of leads and interactions with customers.
Salesforce lashed out $2bn in 2013 on ExactTarget, an email marketing specialist, to beef up the firm's marketing capabilities.
Analyst group Gartner forecasts that online digital commerce platforms are expected to grow at more than 14 per cent each year between now and 2020, when the market will be worth $8.54bn.
Demandware, meanwhile, posted subscription revenue growth of 31 per cent year on year to $67m in the first quarter, and now has 349 'live' customers, up by 25 per cent. Live sites, meanwhile, reached 1,590. Churn rates are less than five per cent, the firm claims. Rivals include NetSuite, Magento, Oracle, SAP and IBM.
Demandware clients include sports and fashion brands Adidas, Puma, Fila, Converse and Lacoste, chocolate maker Godiva, retailers Crabtree & Evelyn, House of Fraser and Marks & Spencer, and consumer electronics giant Panasonic.
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