Selecting the Right B2C Commerce Suite

White Paper

In Forrester's 75-criteria evaluation of global business-to-consumer (B2C) enterprise-class commerce suite vendors, the 10 most significant software providers are identified. This report details the findings, rating each vendor versus the Forrester performance criteria and where they stand in relation to each other. Download this report to help you select the right partner for your B2C online and multi-channel commerce solution.

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Businesses Continue to Aggressively Invest In Commerce Technology

Today, the global retail and business landscape remains uncertain: Traditional retail and directto- consumer companies are under ongoing pressure to meet even low-single-digit comp store increases.1 Yet commerce technology investment remains strong: 56% of companies report plans to increase spending by 5% or more, and 18% plan to increase spending by at least 20% in 2012 compared with 2011 (see Figure 1).

This level of investment is primarily driven by the ongoing growth of online and mobile channels, with online retail growth averaging 12% in the US and Europe.3 Online and mobile commerce are becoming critical components of today’s multichannel customer experience — whether the customer buys online or not. In a sense, all businesses today are online; increasingly, they must have a direct-to-consumer strategy, driving the demand for B2C commerce solutions overall. But other important factors are driving investment in commerce technology, including the need for:

  • Cross-touchpoint solutions. The way we think of eBusiness technology has fundamentally changed. No longer are businesses selecting a set of solutions and technologies to launch a site; they are now selecting technologies that can support marketing, shopping, buying, and service capabilities across a multitude of customer touchpoints. To accomplish this, today’s solutions must enable consistent core platform capabilities to manage products, orders, and customer data, integrating consistently with enterprise systems. At the same time, solutions must be open and flexible to power websites, mobile sites, applications, call center interfaces, and in-store options. This requires solutions frameworks, accelerators, and application programming interfaces (APIs) that expose the platform in such a way to enable developers to much more easily develop new customer experiences off existing platform capabilities. This represents a significant evolution from the requirements that these solutions have needed to support in the past.
  • Increased flexibility. As consumer Internet-connected devices proliferate and incorporate ecosystems like, Apple, eBay, Facebook, Google, Microsoft,, and Tencent, it seems that every business is prone to further disruption.4 The eBusiness leader is snarled up trying to connect with, market to, sell to, and serve customers across an everdividing Splinternet. Even with the advent of responsive design and HTML5 — which may help simplify how these experiences are designed and supported — the Splinternet adds to the complexity and cost of serving customers and puts pressure on enterprise content, marketing, and commerce platforms to meet these emerging opportunities in an efficient and cost-effective way. While many of these emerging touchpoints are unproven, businesses that can experiment with, support, scale, and optimize emerging touchpoints have an opportunity to differentiate themselves from competitors and capture new market opportunities.
  • Better order management to handle increased fulfillment complexity. Today’s direct-toconsumer businesses are increasingly leveraging multiple fulfillment centers and drop-ship vendors while adding cross-channel capabilities like ship-to-store and in-store pickup. WalMart has even enabled customers to order online and then pay with cash when picking up the order in a store.7 As a result, orders will no longer be fulfilled from a single fulfillment center. Tomorrow’s orders will be sourced from a wide variety of locations that include not only the fulfillment center but also drop-ship vendors, distributors, stores, and third-party logistics providers that may either regionally stage high-demand products or support seasonal inventory volumes — or both. Order management capabilities are critical to driving a high-quality consumer experience. These capabilities may include business logic to support best-fulfillmentnode selection, flexible integration with a diverse supply chain, and customer service interfaces to manage issues and exceptions. And to drive profitable orders, transportation and fulfillment costs must be factors in how orders are routed and brokered.
  • Support for multiple businesses and regions from a common infrastructure. Today’s multichannel businesses are increasingly multisite and multibrand businesses. This trend enables more specific and targeted marketing opportunities for customers; they can also benefit from search engine optimization (SEO) by enabling the use of more specific terms and metadata to target related search terms. Innovative merchandising and marketing in areas like flash sales, social commerce, and mobile commerce are also driving forces behind the need to support a diverse set of sites and customer touchpoints from a common infrastructure. But global commerce has also emerged from being a nice-to-have requirement to a must-have one — even though many organizations may not yet be ready to fully invest in standalone sites and businesses for new global markets. For many businesses, international markets present a long-term opportunity to grow and diversify their global retail operations and/or brands.

The Commerce Solutions Market Has Seen Many Significant Changes Recently

There have been a large number of mergers and acquisitions in the commerce solutions space over the past two years, keeping bankers, lawyers, and, indeed, analysts busy. Old alliances have been torn apart, new portfolios formed, and old sales arguments reconfigured.

In the past few years alone, IBM has acquired Sterling Commerce, Coremetrics, and Unica (among others), proceeding to “blue-wash” the offerings and embark on an aggressive product development and marketing initiative it terms “Smarter Commerce.” Oracle has acquired Art Technology Group (ATG), Endeca, RightNow Technologies, and FatWire Solutions (again, among others) and sought to rationalize the product portfolio and sales team organization as well as clarify the marketing and partner messages. Micros-Retail bought Fry Multimedia, integrating the OCP product into Micros and splitting off Fry as a design shop. RedPrairie acquired Escalate Retail and began to invest in the Blue Martini product and “clienteling” in-store solutions while shedding some of the product baggage. eBay acquired GSI Commerce and gained a controlling interest in Intershop while also acquiring the remaining portion of Magento that it did not already own. CDC Software bought relatively little-known commerce solution Truition and has struggled to re-energize it. And lastly, we saw Demandware execute an initial public offering, rendering its software-as-a-service (SaaS) business model and product strategy open for all to scrutinize and evaluate. Phew!

There may not be many significant independent players left in the market, but we can expect partnering and potential changes of control to be ongoing forces as payments providers, content management system vendors, enterprise resource planning (ERP) vendors, and point-of-sale (POS) vendors all react to the changing dynamics in their industry — especially the overwhelming need to be multichannel, multitouchpoint, agile commerce solutions.8 We will also see many startups form, SMB players move upmarket, emerging market solutions gain worldwide interest, and many point solutions added to the rosters of the commerce solutions providers.

B2C Commerce Suite Evaluation Overview

To assess how well the B2C commerce suite vendors meet the evolving needs of the market and to determine how the vendors stack up against each other, Forrester evaluated the strengths and weaknesses of top B2C commerce platform vendors across a range of business and technology criteria.

The Focus Of Our B2C Commerce Suite Forrester Wave

Our Forrester Wave evaluation focuses on the requirements and needs of the direct-to-consumer online retail business. We have principally focused on products that enable:

  • Direct-to-consumer commerce shopping and customer experiences. These capabilities include search/browse, rich shopping cart functionality, product comparison, promotions, personalization, cross-sells, wish lists, registries, multichannel ordering, rich Internet application (RIA) support, customer data management, marketing tools, and customer self-service.
  • Multitouchpoint and site management, content management, and business optimization. These tools include product content management, web content management (WCM), online marketing, analytics and testing, security, order management, and customer service.
  • The common integration needs of online retailers. These include integration to ERP systems, merchandise planning systems, content management systems, customer service and customer relationship management (CRM) systems, inventory management systems, finance and accounting management systems, and business intelligence (BI) solutions.

How We Have Evolved Our Evaluations Of B2C Commerce Suites

We have taken a hard look at the requirements of our B2C commerce clients to understand how this year’s evaluation needed to evolve, driven by the nature of the many inquiries and projects where we support clients directly in their commerce technology selection projects. We made a number of changes that have affected the criteria, scoring, and weighting within the Forrester Wave since our evaluation of B2C commerce platforms in Q4 2010, including:

  • An increased emphasis on order management. While we increased the number of order management criteria in our Q4 2010 B2C eCommerce platform evaluation, we have further emphasized this capability in the criteria and their weighting in this evaluation. This is driven by the increased complexity of clients’ B2C fulfillment scenarios, leveraging multiple fulfillment centers, drop-ship vendors, participation in marketplaces, and use of physical retail stores as both pickup points and fulfillment locations. Increasingly, clients are looking to solve all direct orders via the commerce system, including the Web, phone, and mobile, as well as to support orders initiated or fulfilled in stores. And that solution must also span multiple sites and geographies. While existing ERP systems and warehouse management systems may have capabilities in these areas, B2C companies are increasingly looking for third-party systems that specialize in order management to meet these needs. Pairing these systems with commerce platforms is advantageous, given that the platforms increasingly power multiple customer touchpoints.
  • An increased emphasis on site, product, and web content management. Product content management and WCM capabilities are not new requirements for most commerce platforms, but the stakes and the solutions have continued to increase as the sources of product content — editorial, vendor-supplied, syndicated, and user-generated — have grown. Businesses are increasingly seeking tools to improve workflow and efficiency, as well as tools that allow them to leverage a variety of content across touchpoints and user experiences. This desire for greater control over the customer experience — minimizing the need for developer or IT intervention for every change — is a common reason why businesses are looking to migrate from homegrown solutions or their existing first- or second-generation commerce solutions. The growth of branded sites, flash sale sites, and globalization as well as the ongoing focus on SEO continue to be key drivers for improved content and site management tools.
  • A focus on global multichannel and multitouchpoint product strategy. When evaluating the strength of a vendor’s product strategy, we looked for a number of leading-edge strategic capabilities that we expect to become increasingly important. These include “front-end” capabilities such as multichannel/multitouchpoint site management capabilities, mobile commerce, and in-store and call center solutions. We also included “back-end” suite integration across critical modules for merchandising, site and content management, and order management. We also looked at the accelerator or “starter store” (reference application) that the solutions provide, and we examined support for multiple ownership and operating models, such as on-premises, managed/hosted, and SaaS solutions with multiple remuneration models, such as license, revenue share, and utilization. We also looked at how well these vendors understand their clients and their clients’ business problems and how they work to build and refine their product strategy as a result.

Our Evaluation Covers A Range Of Solution Types — From Licensed To SaaS

In this evaluation, Forrester focused on the leading commerce platforms for direct-to-consumer online retailing — or B2C commerce. Evaluated solutions include a variety of delivery models and the vendors that offer their solutions across these delivery models, including:

  • On-premises licensed software platforms. These applications can be implemented and run inhouse by internal IT resources, or they may be supported via various outsourcing models on a client’s behalf. Typically, these platforms will offer the most flexibility over time. Often, systems integrators (SIs) or commerce services providers (CSPs) implement and support these solutions.
  • Hosted/managed platforms. Close cousins of licensed software applications, the vendors that offer hosted/managed platforms typically implement and run applications on behalf of a client, reducing the internal IT resources required to a bare minimum. A few hosted/managed application vendors also allow clients to install and run applications internally via a license model.
  • SaaS platforms. SaaS solutions rely on a multi-instance application, where many clients use the same technology and hosting environment. These solutions typically cost less to run, offer the benefits of shared development and support, and may be implemented more efficiently for clients. Downsides in the past have been a lack of flexibility and control and a sense that the development needs of an individual client may be subject to the needs of the vendor or its larger clients. This concern appears to be lessening as SaaS solutions continue to mature.

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How The Criteria Are Organized

After examining past research, user need assessments, and vendor and expert interviews, we developed a comprehensive set of evaluation criteria. We evaluated vendors against 75 criteria, which we grouped into three high-level buckets:

  • Current offering. The criteria we selected to assess the strength of companies’ current offerings are weighted heavily toward business user tools — a requirement that commerce executives have told us is critical as marketing and merchandising take the front seat in commerce strategies. We evaluated each offering against 15 groups of criteria: solution architecture; technology architecture; multisite management; multiple device/touchpoint support; catalog, product content, and site content management; B2C eCommerce features; marketing tools; customer account management; customer service; order management; reporting and analytics; security; community and social commerce; globalization/internationalization; and professional services.
  • Strategy. We compared the strategies of each company with the needs of commerce executives, industry trends, and Forrester’s forward-looking vision of the commerce market to assess how well each vendor is positioned for future success. We examined each vendor’s product road map; planned B2C enhancements; target market and B2C focus; key technology partners and channel strategy; commerce service providers; and cost of ownership.
  • Market presence. Many firms support online businesses with technology orphaned by vendors that struggled to be profitable or have gone out of business. eBusiness and IT executives must look for vendors with a strong and stable installed base, steady growth, and a network of partners and resellers. To determine the current market presence for our evaluation, we combined information about each vendor’s installed base, new customers, revenue, revenue growth, and the financial resources to support the strategy and product development.

These B2C Commerce Suites Are The Best Of The Best

Forrester included 10 vendors in this assessment: Demandware, Digital River, hybris, IBM, Intershop, Magento, Micros-Retail, Oracle (ATG), RedPrairie, and SAP.10 While we considered including a large number of companies offering commerce solutions for this assessment, each of the vendors we included has (see Figure 2):

  • A significant focus on — and market presence in — enterprise B2C commerce solutions. Although many of the vendors included in this assessment serve clients in other market segments — such as business-to-business (B2B), business-to-government (B2G), and businessto- employee (B2E) — each has a focused product offering for its established B2C commerce customer base as well as an ongoing to commitment to B2C commerce clients.
  • A profitable or stable business with at least $20 million in revenues and client momentum. To ensure that the vendors we evaluated will remain viable in this evolving market, Forrester limited its analysis to companies that have the resources and momentum to sustain themselves through variable market conditions. Each of these companies has a minimum of $20 million in annual commerce solution product sales, is profitable or indicates it is approaching profitability, and has at least 50 existing clients as well as positive sales momentum.
  • The ability to support enterprise-class commerce clients across multiple B2C verticals. Forrester defines enterprise-class commerce as websites transacting more than $100 million in online sales annually. Many clients of the assessed vendors may be transacting less than this, but these solutions are running one or more sites at this level and have demonstrated this capability across clients in multiple B2C verticals. Vendors that primarily serve clients in one specific vertical, such as software or media, were not included in this report..

Forrester did not include companies in this assessment with a primary focus in other related market segments, such as:

  • B2B-focused solutions with limited current B2C commerce capabilities. We may consider companies like BigMachines, Ignify, Insite Software, NetSuite, and Oracle’s Siebel in the future as their B2C commerce capabilities evolve, but they do not have a mature B2C-focused solution today. We may evaluate these, as well as many of the companies represented in this B2C commerce suite evaluation, in upcoming research focused on B2B commerce. Past research is also available for B2B commerce solutions.
  • Solutions focused on small and medium-size businesses (SMBs). This includes solutions from companies such as (Webstore by Amazon), eBay (ProStores), Shopify, Volusion, and Yahoo (Yahoo Merchant Solutions), which tend to serve clients operating with less than $10 million in annual online revenues. However, we have written research on these and many other SMB commerce solutions in North America and Europe.
  • Full-service solutions aimed at providing a suite of capabilities for commerce companies. We have written separate research on and an overview of the capabilities of full-service solutions like Amazon, eCommera, GSI Commerce, ModusLink Global Solutions, OneStop, PFSweb, and Speed FC.
  • Digital- or media-focused solutions. These providers focus their solutions on media, software, online subscriptions, and other virtual or digital goods. We have written separate research on vendors that specialize in the unique requirements of selling digital goods, including asknet, Avangate, BlueSnap’s Plimus, cleverbridge, and Elastic Path Software.15 Digital River, a provider included in the current B2C commerce suite evaluation, also offers solutions for this market.

B2C Commerce Suites Have Evolved Substantially

Since our last evaluation in 2010, we have seen the welcome evolution of many commerce platforms and solution suites. This evolution is driven in part by solution providers’ focus on changing client requirements, as well as by the significant merger and acquisition activity over the past two years. Since our earlier detailed evaluation, we have seen dramatic improvements and advances from many of the evaluated solution providers as well as across the market as a whole. As a group, these systems are poised to support their clients as they increasingly move into multichannel and multitouchpoint commerce and support the next generation of customer shopping and research touchpoints. However, our evaluation also highlights very important differentiators and models this year.

Our evaluation uncovered a diverse and complex market in which

  • IBM, hybris, Oracle, and Demandware lead the pack. IBM, hybris, and Oracle offer strong eCommerce capabilities, the ability to support multiple touchpoints and multichannel requirements, and strong or very strong business management tools. IBM has the lead in order management capabilities with its Sterling Commerce solution, whereas hybris and Oracle have less mature solutions in this area. Demandware offers a SaaS solution with strong multisite and effective merchandising tools, but its order management solution is nascent and aimed at smaller and less complex clients at this stage. IBM, hybris, and Oracle offer traditional software application licensing models but have also worked to add flexibility that utilizes third-party hosted/managed or SaaS models.
  • Micros-Retail, Intershop, RedPrairie, and Digital River offer compelling solutions. Each of these vendors offers strong eCommerce capabilities, with varying multitouchpoint and multichannel capabilities. Each offers strong to moderately strong eCommerce features and moderately effective business management tools, but the vendors vary considerably in areas such as product catalog management, WCM, order management, and support for globalization/ internationalization. Micros-Retail offers strong merchandising tools, differentiated testing, and effective site and content management tools. Intershop has made significant strides, largely through leveraging its relationship with GSI and their joint “next-generation” V11 project, but the company still lags the market leaders. RedPrairie has combined the former Escalate Retail Blue Martini product with its order management system (OMS), call center, and supply chain solutions, but it has yet to see the benefit of its investment in the core eCommerce solution. Digital River is largely geared toward smaller enterprise or midmarket clients, and it continues to focus on consumer electronics, software, and manufacturing clients.
  • SAP and Magento lag behind. These two vendors can offer well-placed solutions for the right client, but they lag behind the competition as solutions for the enterprise B2C eCommerce client. SAP’s solution is unique in this evaluation as the product is not intended to really stand alone as a commerce platform; rather, it aims to help SAP ERP/CRM customers extend that product to support eCommerce. While holding promise in terms of reducing integration complexity and simplifying the management of the solution — especially for on-premises, IT-led programs — the combined solution requires third-party CMS tools and lacks overall competitive capabilities when compared with the wider market. Magento is a commercial open source solution that has enjoyed remarkable success since it launched its open source product — Magneto Community Edition — targeting small businesses five years ago. However, at its core, the “enterprise edition” remains geared toward these smaller clients, with the extensions that target more sophisticated clients falling short.

This evaluation of the enterprise B2C commerce suite market is intended to be a starting point only. We encourage readers to view the detailed product evaluations and adapt the criteria weightings to fit their individual needs through the Forrester Wave Excel-based vendor comparison tool. We also encourage clients to review the research on other solutions types and segments and to leverage their inquiry access to learn more before beginning a selection process.

Leaders Provide Robust And Flexible Commerce Capabilities

Leaders in our B2C commerce suite evaluation include:

  • IBM. IBM’s WebSphere Commerce represents a highly flexible and scalable enterprise B2C eCommerce solution; it shows significant adoption within the top tier of eCommerce retailers and continued successful growth. The suite is strengthened through the added capabilities of IBM’s Sterling Commerce OMS solution along with the Coremetrics and Unica product integrations. The IBM solution combines a rich set of eCommerce capabilities with a flexible service-oriented architecture (SOA) and integration capability, enabling the product to be extended and customized. However, clients have reported concerns over the total cost of ownership, as IBM’s solutions are less contemporary and use fewer open source elements and conventions that today’s developers are able to learn quickly. Business user tools such as the IBM Management Center have evolved, although they are no longer industry-leading, necessitating further investment by IBM. IBM has a very strong product strategy focused on core product enhancements as well as the building out of a comprehensive suite of multichannel capabilities. A soon-to-be-released SaaS offering combining WebSphere Commerce and Sterling Commerce in a cloud-based format will be a compelling option for clients that may otherwise be drawn to Demandware.
  • hybris. As a solution, hybris has continued to mature over the past two years — and gained market share quickly as a result. Specifically, hybris has made significant improvements to its product’s site management tools, content management tools, and order management capabilities. While hybris severed its relationship with Endeca (which was acquired by Oracle), the company acquired iCongo in a creative deal that made iCongo’s key investors the lead ownership group of hybris.17 Taking advantage of the team and solution experience at iCongo, hybris turned to redevelop an OMS solution and hosted offering. Its progress in these areas is notable for an enterprise software solution, illustrating the contemporary nature of the hybris architecture. The key differentiators of hybris remain strong product content management tools, catalog management, enterprise integration, and globalization/internationalization capabilities. Its eCommerce features have also matured notably, and there is a well-defined ability to extend the product and customize it to develop differentiated eCommerce sites across a variety of verticals. This remains a young company growing very quickly, which continues to raise questions of the potential for over-commitment to clients by either hybris or its partners, which are adding and scaling their hybris-trained teams exceptionally quickly.
  • Oracle. Oracle declined to participate in this evaluation directly; however, Oracle’s ATG continues to be a leader in B2C eCommerce platform solutions. A number of factors have led to a perceived loss in position among the best-of-breed solution providers. First and foremost was the acquisition of ATG by Oracle. Customers are eager to understand how Oracle is fitting ATG into its overall Oracle software and solution offerings, which is only now beginning to be communicated. A series of related acquisitions — such as RightNow, FatWire, and, most notably, Endeca — has complicated matters. Despite that, ATG combines a strong and well-rounded eCommerce feature set with an array of targeting, personalization, and customer interaction tools. Oracle’s unique differentiator at this point is the opportunity to combine ATG and Endeca, adding search-driven customer experience management to a commerce platform offering — something that Oracle is just beginning to execute. However, Oracle’s order management solutions — eBusiness suite, Siebel, and Fusion Distributed Order Orchestration (DOO) — are not as strong for B2C multichannel applications. The biggest question for prospective Oracle customers at this point is its vision for ATG, Endeca, RightNow, and Fusion DOO as an integrated commerce solution offering.
  • Demandware. Demandware has improved its solution in terms of our evaluation perhaps more than any other solution from our previous evaluations. Demandware accomplished this through significantly improved site and content management tools; the addition of a still relatively basic but improving order management and call center solution; the addition of commerce service providers to support client integrations; and the development of open commerce APIs to extend the platform. Demandware’s LINK program remains a differentiator, along with its developer portals and customer training. Look for Demandware to continue to improve its business management tools and the sophistication of its integration capabilities. While it remains committed to its revenue share model, Demandware appears ready to introduce an alternative “utilization” model soon, aimed at larger prospective clients and partners.

Strong Performers Blend Different Strengths With Some Weaknesses

Strong Performers in our B2C commerce solution evaluation include:

  • Micros-Retail. Micros-Retail has completed the integration of the Fry solutions into its offerings, spitting out the services and products while pulling the Fry OCP commerce solution into MICROS and turning what was left of Fry into an interactive agency focused principally on MICROS customers. While the OCP product remains a very strong eCommerce solution with key differentiators in areas such as merchandising and customer targeting, MICROS has yet to fully integrate its order management and call center solutions with the OCP product so that it can sell and support these effectively as a suite. It seems the product development traction was affected by MICROS’ decision to develop a lodgings-industry-focused product based on OCP; it also showed some indecisiveness in integrating the Fry product and sales teams with MICROS. However, MICROS has a significant opportunity to leverage OCP and its other commerce offerings in a well-integrated multichannel and multitouchpoint solution with the right investment. Customers will want to see further development of a MICROS OCP partner network as well as improved hosted offerings for MICROS to be fully competitive.
  • Intershop. Intershop has made significant progress since our last evaluation, although it still has room to improve before becoming a best-of-breed solution. The core improvements in the Intershop product came from the joint development work it did with GSI Commerce and a number of supporting partners. Many of these improvements are in the latest versions of Intershop and in GSI’s next-generation V11 product, and they will continue to become evident over time. However, it still needs to deliver improved site and content management tools that business users can leverage, minimizing the need for ongoing developer and IT support. Many of Intershop’s largest clients have reported improved satisfaction with Intershop, but they are also more reliant than ever on Intershop’s professional services for support. Intershop has basic order management and product content management capabilities, but many more sophisticated customers will require third-party solutions in these areas. While Intershop has benefited from the controlling stake that GSI (and now eBay) have taken in the company, there remains a nagging lack of clarity as to the long-term role that Intershop will play in an eBay or GSI Commerce solutions offering. This lack of clarity will continue to plague Intershop’s customer and partner growth, particularly in North America.
  • RedPrairie. RedPrairie acquired Escalate Retail and its collection of commerce solutions — including Blue Martini, Ecometry, and GERS Retail Systems. The company has performed some surgical product portfolio rationalization and combined these different solutions with RedPrairie’s order management and supply chain solutions. On paper, this combination makes for a dynamic capability set able to meet the eCommerce, OMS, CRM, and supply chain management requirements of retailers looking to embrace multichannel retailing across digital touchpoints. However, RedPrairie’s Blue Martini commerce platform lags the market-leading solutions in support for enterprise B2C commerce. RedPrairie has already made a notable investment in its platform and integration with other RedPrairie products, and this continued focus on eCommerce business solutions and multichannel features will be very important for current and future clients. Focus may be a challenge for RedPrairie as it looks to add commerce platform solutions to its base supply chain and transportation management offerings, but it has a strong vision and appears committed to developing solutions for its core retail and grocery markets.
  • Digital River. Digital River is best known for supporting software clients’ eCommerce needs with checkout, payment, and digital and physical fulfillment needs. But as that market has plateaued to some degree and new entrants have challenged Digital River’s market dominance, Digital River has diversified into providing broader B2C commerce capabilities. However, the solution remains somewhat limited by this heritage and lacks the features to compete as a bestof- breed multichannel and multitouchpoint solution. Digital River will appeal to consumer electronics and digital goods companies looking for a discrete eCommerce solution paired with full-service capabilities such as payments, fulfillment, and customer service. Digital River has some strengths in globalization, payments, and security.

Contenders Present Unique Opportunities

Contenders in our B2C commerce solution evaluation include:

  • SAP. SAP Web Channel Experience Management is a solution long in development by SAP. The product is implemented in either an on-premises or hosted/managed fashion. The goal of the solution is to enable a client with a heavy investment in SAP’s ERP and CRM solutions to leverage that capability in online commerce. Therefore, areas such as order management and customer service are inherently intended to leverage the other SAP applications. However, SAP’s Web Channel Experience Management solution also assumes you will run the digital channels off CMS solutions, such as SAP’s preferred partner CoreMedia, which notably has little market presence outside Northern Europe. This assumed level of both SAP investment and reliance on third-party solutions for such central commerce capabilities will limit the appeal of the SAP solution, though it will be a great fit for some. Ultimately, though, many competitive solutions also integrate deeply with SAP, making SAP Web Channel Experience Management perhaps less appealing as a standalone solution.
  • Magento. Magento’s growth over the past few years has been remarkable. Tapping into a PHP developer and agency community with a low-cost or free licensing model and a well-matched set of solution capabilities for the small online business, Magento has also made inroads in the midmarket and enterprise market. However, upon close evaluation, Magento still lacks the core features and partner extensions to compete in the enterprise arena, with particular gaps in areas like CMS, OMS, and customer service features. Magento is a strong fit for a smaller online business inside a larger enterprise — such as a smaller brand or emerging market solution — and will continue to appeal to companies seeking a high degree of customization on the platform, but the solution lacks many of the multichannel capabilities required today. The development of eBay’s X.commerce web services solution — which eBay dubs a “fabric” — may enable Magento to add these features through partners more effectively at some point in the future.

There Are Many Important Players Beyond Those We Evaluated Here

The commerce solutions market is a diverse one, and there are additional solutions that may be relevant to companies looking for a commerce platform or services. There are numerous platforms to support companies of different sizes, levels of sophistication, geographies, as well as different channels and touchpoints. Some additional solutions to consider include:

  • MarketLive. MarketLive offers an effective product aimed at the midmarket eCommerce retailer, and it continues to gain momentum in the midmarket specialty retail segment with a well-priced and well-rounded solution. MarketLive has also improved options for working with its integration partners or a customer’s own IT staff for launching and optimizing a site post-launch. MarketLive has more than doubled its R&D investment over the past several years with a focus on expanded merchant tools, order management, and content management, which continues to position it well in the midmarket specialty retailer solution segment.
  • GSI Commerce. GSI has been hard at work over the past few years — together with Intershop and a number of partners — in developing its next-generation V11 platform. The platform holds much promise for both GSI and its customers, not to mention GSI’s parent, eBay. For GSI, the new platform will be an important departure from a model in which GSI staff had to execute almost every change and update to the site on a client’s behalf; it will move to one in which customers will have self-service business management tools and GSI will be much less involved day to day. Alongside the Intershop-based commerce platform, GSI has developed a Sterling Commerce-based retail OMS and a business intelligence (BI) suite for reporting capability, both of which may prove to be key differentiators. However, migrating customers to this next-generation platform is a significant undertaking fraught with risks, and impatient and frustrated customers will add to the challenge.
  • Elastic Path Software. Elastic Path is an effective eCommerce solution but has some limitations that reflect its specific vertical focus. Elastic Path now largely focuses on digital goods and subscriptions, making it relevant to the media, telecom, and software industries in particular. These industries have a subset of eCommerce requirements that differ from those of other B2C eCommerce verticals, although these are often very specialized. As a result, areas such as WCM, product content management, and order management receive much less focus or require thirdparty solutions as well as Elastic Path. Somewhat uniquely, Elastic Path ships source code with its application and leverages many common open source frameworks and products, enabling developers to extend and customize the product widely. However, Elastic Path has struggled to develop partners to support clients, limiting its growth as a commerce solution.
  • Ascentium. Late in 2011, Microsoft announced that it was dropping its Commerce Server product; this had been the market leader in the early days of eCommerce but had lagged in our recent evaluations. Ascentium — through its acquisition of Cactus Commerce — became the beneficiary of Microsoft’s exit from the commerce solutions market; Microsoft handed the Commerce Server product over to Ascentium due to its history of building the product and technical expertise with it.18 With that transition complete and with customer and partner support in place, Ascentium is now beginning to invest in the Commerce Server product and is developing compelling partnerships that will help it attempt to regain relevance as an enterprise commerce solution. This will be a challenge for a product that today resides within an agency and that may lack the resources needed to innovate and invest, but it is welcome news for a market in need of Microsoft-centric enterprise commerce solutions.

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