Over the past 3 days some 30,000 retail attendees from across the globe gathered in New York’s Javits Center for the annual National Retail Federation Big Show. This year there was a visible increase in both the number of commerce technology vendors exhibiting and the size of their respective booths. For the eBusiness, omni-channel, merchandising, digital and business technology teams in attendance, 2015 will represent another year of robust investment in commerce suite technology. However, retailers face a daunting task differentiating between the vendors in what is an increasingly mature solution space. As luck would have it, Forrester has just released our 2015 Commerce Suite Platforms Wave update to help you. We spent the last 4 months putting eleven of the leading commerce technology vendors through a grueling process of due diligence, product demos, capability assessments and customer reference checks. We looked beyond features to examine toolset usability, extensibility, integration of suite modules, and innovation strategy. Here’s what we found:

  • Demandware, hybris, IBM, and Oracle Commerce lead the pack. These four vendors represent the best of the best and reflect a solution space that has been maturing since its inception 15 years ago. These  vendors go head-to-head in almost every midmarket and enterprise commerce deal and for the buyers of these solutions, the ultimate selection decision often comes down to price, vision, and alliances more than functionality and features. When it comes to the core capabilities (such as pricing, offers, site search, promotion, carts, and checkout), these vendors all pack a heavy punch, with extensive, mature capabilities that, frankly, go beyond the needs of many of their clients.
  • Digital River,  eBay Enterprise, and Intershop are nipping at the heels of the “big four.” These three vendors represent a different value proposition from the “big four” enterprise software vendors. Each offers strong eCommerce capabilities but comes to market with a different value proposition, strategy, and target market focus. Additionally, each offers strong eCommerce features and has a strategy for offering the suite even if this means technology partnerships, recent acquisitions, or emerging product capabilities.
  • Elastic Path and Oracle Retail (Micros) offer compelling solutions. These two vendors have experienced lackluster new client growth in the past 18 months; however, both have made significant R&D investments to continue to round out their respective product offerings. Both offer effective to moderately strong eCommerce features and have a strategy for offering the suite even if this means technology partnerships or emerging product capabilities.
  • MarketLive and NetSuite have a strong midmarket focus. These two vendors have deep roots serving the midmarket (clients with online revenues typically ranging between $10 million to $50 million).

So which solution is right for you?

Deciding which vendor to pick depends in part on which modules of their respective suites are required. Each of the vendors evaluated provides not only core commerce capabilities, but also offers order management system (OMS), experience management, and product information management (PIM) capabilities. The goal of our Wave research is to help our clients identify the solutions in the marketplace that will best support their long term growth of the online channel. It is important to remember that this research is intended to be a starting point only. I encourage clients to review the detailed product evaluations and adapt criteria weightings to fit their individual needs through the Forrester Wave Excel-based vendor comparison tool and to engage with me directly via inquiry access to gain further insights. Forrester (via our consulting division) also offers a formalized vendor selection consulting model to help clients with their requirements gathering and selection process.