After many months of analysis and hard work, we are very pleased to have published the B2C eCommerce Platform Wave report late last week. Some high-level conclusions:

  • Demand for eCommerce solutions continues to be strong. This is fueled by homegrown and older applications under strain from growing businesses, by strategic multichannel initiatives, and by the cost to maintain these legacy systems. As evidence, 57% of online retailers have increased their eCommerce technology spending in 2010, and 27% of US online retailers are planning to replatform in the next 18 months.
  • This is a transformative time in eCommerce. Platform solutions are changing rapidly. New solutions are coming available, and the current platforms are maturing quickly into multichannel solutions. We are very close to seeing the “e” drop from eCommerce Platform. And we are seeing that in our client inquiries and projects as well as seeing it in the evolving platform products.
  • It is a very competitive marketplace for solutions. The competitive landscape worldwide for eCommerce/Commerce Platform solutions is intense. As the strategic value for these solutions continues to increase, the solution profile, partner landscape, and consultancies developing around these solutions are growing and maturing as well. The winner? The clients. Solutions are improving, prices are very competetive, and the ROI is very healthy.
  • Despite the healthy market, vendors struggle to benefit. Even as the market for eCommerce solutions continues to be healthy, the platform vendors have struggled to see the benefits in the revenues from delivering application- and cloud-based offerings. Their sources of revenue growth are principally through services and managed-service offerings. This trend may lead to significant evolution of the “platform” offering in the near future as vendors look to drive profitability around their platforms. It will be a very interesting year as changes occur in the platform market and new enterprise offerings come into focus.

The High-Level Wave Findings:

This year we expanded the Wave to 111-criteria across the top 12 global enterprise-class eCommerce platform vendors. Our process included scenario-based evaluation, comprehensive surveys, reference checks, and validation in the market. In the end we found that IBM, hybris, Art Technology Group (ATG), Demandware, and iCongo led the pack with their comprehensive eCommerce features, overall effective business tools, and flexibility to meet today’s eCommerce and multichannel business needs. Fry, Intershop, and Elastic Path Software represent strong solutions with varying models, vertical specialties, and key differentiators. Escalate Retail, Venda, MarketLive, and Microsoft represent unique solutions at different stages of maturity and evolution, with solutions largely focused on midtier eCommerce retailers. It is important to realize that each of these solutions represents a fit for some segment of the global business-to-consumer (B2C) enterprise eCommerce platform market. With this detailed evaluation and report, we evaluate these solutions to help eBusiness executives and technology leaders determine the best fit for their organizations as they grow, mature, and scale their online businesses. Clients can access the full report here: The Forrester Wave™: B2C eCommerce Platforms.

Chose A Vendor Carefully

I am tracking more than 140 different vendors in the eCommerce platform space, and this does not even account for the many agencies and consultancies now marketing their own solutions or leveraging open source solutions such as Magento. The market’s diversity and fragmentation only seems to be increasing, even as consolidation and partnering are beginning to transform the market. While we aim for this report to be useful to our clients in their process of finding the right solution to drive their multichannel business, do not make the mistake of taking the top vendors in this (or any) evaluation and talking only with them. You must do the work to identify your business goals, brand and service differentiators, desired customer experience, technology strategy, operations capabilities, and strategic objectives. And you must take these vendors through a thorough scenario-based evaluation process 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 them.

Best regards, and thanks,

Note: For clients, coverage of SMB focused solutions is available here, B2B focused solutions coverage is available here, and digital goods focused solutions are available here.