October 7, 2013
Today, we released our inaugural Forrester Wave evaluation of B2B commerce suites. In a sister blog post, my colleague Andy Hoar, with whom I coauthored this report, explains why client demand for this research has exploded over the past 12 months, with manufacturers and distributors grappling with how to better serve their sales channels through digital experiences. In writing this report, Andy and I have spent the past six months evaluating the B2B commerce capabilities of dozens of vendors. Despite casting the net wide, our research found that although it’s common for vendors to provide “B2B lite” functionality for their clients — such as supporting unique pricing for employees — only a subset of the broader commerce platform vendor community can truly cater for complex B2B business models with support for distributors, resellers, partner networks, employees, retail stores, and direct B2C all from a single platform. To differentiate the wannabes from the bona fide leaders, Forrester rejigged its established B2C commerce suite scoring criteria to emphasize:
- B2B commerce features. We added all-new criteria to evaluate how these solutions solve unique B2B problems, such as quotes; complex pricing lists; eProcurement; product configuration and customization; guided selling; bulk order entry; dealer management; and account, contract, and budget management, to name a few.
- PIM, WCM, and OMS capabilities. B2B clients tell us that they need product information management (PIM) to provide a single system of record and governance around large part lists and product catalogs; they want web content management (WCM) to manage the large volumes of unstructured marketing content that augment and often completely eclipse the transactional part of an enterprise website; and they require order management systems (OMS) to orchestrate the complex life cycle that B2B orders go through — from quote to approval to submission to manufacture to distribution and delivery.
The High-Level Findings From Our Evaluation:
- IBM, hybris (an SAP company), Oracle Commerce, and Intershop lead the pack. SAP’s recent acquisition of hybris now firmly establishes the “big three” enterprise software firms as the Leaders in the B2B commerce category, with Intershop also making the cut. What makes these firms unique is the breadth of the solution set that they each offer. IBM leads with robust B2B commerce, order management, and CPQ capabilities but lacks aligned WCM and PIM capabilities. We found that hybris brings robust B2B commerce, PIM, and maturing WCM and order management capabilities to the table, all based on a modern architecture stack; however, the feature set still lags behind the robustness of IBM's offering. Oracle Commerce, on the other hand, brings robust B2B commerce, merchandizing, and WCM capabilities to the table but lacks aligned PIM and order management capabilities. Intershop comes to market with a much-improved platform that is catching up with the market leaders; however, some of the robust B2B functionality that exists in Intershop’s legacy product (Enfinity Suite) has yet to be ported to the new v7 platform.
- Insite Software and NetSuite offer competitive options. Each of these vendors offers unique B2B commerce capabilities for clients. Insite Software offers a lightweight solution that is well suited as the commerce “front end” to an existing enterprise ERP installation. The firm is seeing strong growth momentum in the market and appeals to B2B greenhorns and apprentices that want to get up and running quickly without reinventing the wheel or spending a seven-figure sum on software licensing. NetSuite’s solution is unique in that it is the only multitenant SaaS solution evaluated here — and the only solution that wraps commerce, ERP, and CRM into a single architecture and solution set. The product is, however, targeted largely at midmarket firms — enterprise organizations will find the overlap with their existing ERP and CRM infrastructure redundant and therefore an unnecessary investment.
- Commerceserver.net lags behind. Commerceserver.net is in the midst of a rebirth, but these are early days and the solution has many gaps that leave it far behind the leaders. Firms that are devoted .NET shops may still find the solution desirable as a framework to build upon; however, patience and belief in the road map will be required — commerceserver.net’s path to catch up with the rest of the pack will be an arduous one.
So, Which Solution Is Right For You?
Picking the right vendor to support your growing B2B commerce channel is not a task to be taken lightly. The goal of our research is to help our clients identify the solutions in the marketplace that can truly support their unique and often complex needs when running B2B commerce sites across brands, divisions, and markets. It is important to remember that this research is intended to be a starting point only. Andy and I encourage clients to review the detailed product evaluations and adapt the criteria weightings to fit their individual needs through the Forrester Wave's Excel-based vendor comparison tool. We also encourage clients to leverage their Inquiry access to learn more before embarking on a selection process.