By Brian K. Walker

Phew. After many months of analysis
and hard work we are very pleased to have published the B2C eCommerce Platform
Wave report. Clients can access the full report here: The
Forrester Wave™: B2C eCommerce Platforms

eCommerce Platforms
Are In Demand

Our recent survey of our eBusiness
panel shows 35% of companies are looking to replatform in the next two years.
This is very healthy demand in an otherwise dour economic climate. Why? There
are many factors, among them:

  1. eCommerce is among few bright-spots for retailers and can
    be a way to offset diminished demand while closing retail stores, cutting
    retail staffing levels, and cutting back on inventories,
  2. Wholesale-brands
    and CPG’s are looking to eCommerce as way to offset their wholesale-distribution
    channels’ lost sales and it is a much easier conversation around
    channel-conflict now when starting a direct relationship with consumers,
  3. Established online retailers are dealing with aging site infrastructure and
    technology as they look to innovate around content management, product
    discovery (wide group of technologies here), and social commerce,
  4. Integration to enterprise or legacy systems such as BI, CRM, ERP, OMS has become more and
    more important as the business matures and becomes a more significant component
    of the business, and contemporary eCommerce platforms are much more compatible
    with these requirements.


What You Must Do Before You Select A Vendor
Do not make the mistake of taking the top vendors in this, or any, evaluation
and talking only with them. You must work to identify your business goals, brand
and service differentiators, desired customer experience, realistic technology
environment, operations capabilities and goals, and 5 year strategic goals
before making a thoughtful and confident vendor selection decision. You will be
living with this decision for 5 to 10 years. Forrester and others provide
services in support of this effort. I encourage you to explore that.


Over 75 Vendors in
the Platform Space

I am tracking 75 different companies
in the eCommerce platform space. I know there are very likely to be others out there not yet on my radar. Many of them do not cater to the same clients –
some focus on SMB, while others on B2B, etc. – but nearly all of them will say “yes”
when asked if they can help an enterprise-class eCommerce retailer or brand
with their eCommerce platform needs. We worked hard to focus on ten vendors who
we felt focused on enterprise eCommerce businesses doing over $100 million in
online revenues. We accomplished this through an RFI process and by relying on
our own client-interaction data. Sadly, there were a few vendors who just
missed the cut.


Key findings from
the Wave Report

Art Technology Group (ATG)
and IBM led the pack with their comprehensive eCommerce features, effective
business tools, and flexibility. Fry and hybris represent strong solutions with
varying models and key differentiators. Demandware, iCongo, Escalate Retail,
and Intershop each represent unique solutions at different stages of maturity
and are focused on midtier eCommerce retailers. MarketLive and Microsoft’s
Commerce Server 2007 round out our evaluation.


Look beyond the

Now, as I say to our clients
all the time, each of these solutions represents a fit for a segment of the
global B2C enterprise eCommerce platform market. The wave reflects a specific
filter we apply which we believe best reflects the requirements of an online
retailer doing over $100 million in online sales, who has a typical enterprise
integration scenario, and typical B2C eCommerce merchandising and marketing
requirements. But, as you know, each company is different. (More on that below.).
It is also important to look at the eco-system around a platform selection,
such as system integrators, consultancies, and access to development talent
when making these decisions.

Forrester Wave: B2C eCommerce Platform Solutions, Q1 2009


Some Thanks, A Real Team Effort

I want to make sure to thank
a few people. Brendan McGowan for his attention to detail, focus, and for
keeping me on track with the process. Nicole Lesperance for some great editing
in the heat of the Q4 rush. Jens Kueter and Ad’m DiBiaso for the always high
quality graphics, and Rebecca Anzalone and the production team for quick and
accurate work on these large projects. Carrie Johnson for her seasoned,
reasoned, and insightful editing and leadership during the process. And let’s
not forget the vendors’ staffs who spent countless hours themselves responding
to our requests for information, preparing demonstrations of their products
against our specific and unique scenarios, traveling to meet with us, and in
their (sometimes) reasoned and active discussions over why a score or comment
was what it was.


Let’s Keep The Conversation Going

As Jeremiah Owyang mentioned
in his recent post
about his wave on Community Platforms
our Waves are snapshots in
time.  While extremely detailed and as comprehensive as possible, they
cannot accommodate vendor changes which occur after the research is
complete.  So, I’d welcome an ongoing dialog about this research, these
firms, your own vendor selection, and other vendors that you have worked

And to those vendors who
were not included in this group of ten, please continue to engage. We often
refer clients to solutions not covered in the Wave or our other research as appropriate
and where we think there is a good fit.

For you process oriented
folks out there, here is a link to some additional detail about Forrester’s Wave product and our methodology.

A Reminder

And a reminder to clients,
we love to help you with your vendor selection processes. We can provide a
variety of input on the best-fit eCommerce technologies, including platforms. I
look forward to talking with you about your needs. We work closely with many clients
to help identify the right-fit solutions. The Wave tool also enables a
do-it-yourself aspect by enabling you to create custom weightings. I hope that
is helpful.

Best regards, and as I said,
I look forward to the continued dialogue,


Note: Please leave comments, I look forward to reading and responding as appropriate.