B2B Ecommerce Platform Comparison
It’s easy to get overwhelmed when you’re conducting B2B ecommerce platform comparison. The market is full of potential solutions, and each one seems to offer a different feature set. Worse, everyone talks about technology–and no one talks about people.
How are you supposed to map features to the needs of real people?
You’ll have to answer that question to choose a solution that’s best for your employees and customers.
Comparing platforms and mapping that information to real needs doesn’t have to be hard. In this article, we’ll compare 7 of the leading platforms in B2B ecommerce. We’ll give you the tools you need to make an informed decision so you can put people, rather than technology, back at the center of your focus.
B2B Ecommerce Platform Comparison Chart
Let’s compare the top 7 B2B ecommerce platforms. The charts below provide information on some of the most critical aspects of a B2B ecommerce solution. After the chart, we’ll provide a detailed explanation of the terms.
Rationale: If a feature is not explicitly highlighted on the company’s marketing website, or is explicitly highlighted as a separate product, it is marked “no,” not included in the core product out of the box.
Understanding the Platform Comparison Chart
Some solutions are open-source. That means that you don’t get an “out of the box” solution—you license the software and need to hire your own developers to get it up and running (and keep it working).
For some companies, hiring developers (and using an open-source solution) makes plenty of sense. You have the resources in house to do this, or you have the budget to hire. For other companies, hiring may not be an option.
How does this affect real people? If your IT team already has a full plate, building your own open-source ecommerce initiative could place a massive burden on them. It’s something to consider as you compare B2B ecommerce platforms.
Out of the box
Whereas open-source solutions require developers to get them to market, an out-of-the-box solution doesn’t require you to hire anyone. The developers work for the company that builds the software. When you engage a solution like this, you leverage economies of scale. The software vendor invests in the development work and pushes that out to its clients. You take advantage of the investment that the vendor continues to make in their product.
An out-of-the-box solution is a great choice for companies that don’t have developers on staff and/or can’t justify the expense. In fact, a good out-of-the-box solution, like Corevist Commerce, requires no on-staff IT resources to keep it up and running.
A cloud-based solution allows companies to build best-of-breed ecommerce without the costly investment in the technology stack. A cloud vendor like Corevist Commerce manages the entire ecommerce stack so you don’t have to.
This kind of solution is ideal for companies that don’t have the expertise or resources to handle security, PCI compliance, and integration to their ERP system (typically SAP).
OOTB core ecommerce product Includes:
Content management system
A content management system allows you to manage the digital content that’s presented in your ecommerce website. Having control of your CMS empowers you to create an attractive user experience on the web.
Not every B2B market needs CMS capabilities. But for markets that are heavily influenced by B2C user experience, an ecommerce solution with CMS allows you to control rich content to present your products in the best possible light.
How does this affect real people? A content management system makes life easier for your Marketing team, giving them the tools they need to do their job. It also simplifies the buying experience for your customers, providing intuitive access to critical content on products, availability, lead times, and more.
As the world increasingly becomes mobile-first, B2B ecommerce must follow suit. The best B2B ecommerce platforms are fully mobile-responsive. That means their designs scale to fit any screen size without cutting of information or creating a difficult user experience for your customers and your employees.
B2B ecommerce presents special difficulties in mobile-friendly design. On any given screen in B2B ecommerce, there’s generally more information to be displayed than you find in B2C. This is due to the complexity of B2B—contract pricing, minimum order quantities, multiple ship-to and sold-to options, and more. Whatever solution you choose, make sure it has an intuitive presentation of B2B data on mobile.
OOTB user behavior analytics
As your ecommerce initiative grows, you may find that you need customer behavior data to help guide your efforts in marketing, demand forecasting, and more. When you’re comparing B2B ecommerce platforms, ask about analytics. Google Analytics are easy to set up on any webstore, but they don’t provide the whole picture. Corevist Commerce integrates with Pendo and Fullstory out of the box—which means in-depth insight into user behavior.
Even if you aren’t prepared to leverage user behavior analytics on go-live day, you’ll want them in the future—trust us! Since they’re a core part of our product, you don’t pay anything more for them now or in the future.
Which leads us to the question of scalability.
The best B2B ecommerce platforms are scalable—that is, they’re ready to grow with your business. They don’t restrict your revenue with transaction fees, and they can handle any quantity of order volume that your customers throw at them.
Scalable also means the solution is future-proofed. This is a classic problem for open-source solutions—when you don’t have a vendor conducting centralized updates to the software, you encounter bugs as other pieces of the business puzzle evolve and ecommerce doesn’t keep up. A cloud-based, out-of-the-box solution is generally your best bet in terms of scalability and future proofing—because the vendor stays on top of new developments in the space and keeps their solution working.
One of the most important dimensions of scalability is your ERP integration (typically to SAP). If your ecommerce platform doesn’t present real, live SAP data for contract pricing, availability, credit limits, and more, you’re looking at IT headaches whenever things change in SAP.
Let’s talk about that integration.
OOTB SAP integration on Day 1
This is the sleeper question—the thing that will make or break your B2B ecommerce platform. Out of the box, does it integrate to SAP in real time?
If it doesn’t, you’ve got a lot of work ahead of you. Best case, you have to run batch synchronizations between SAP and ecommerce just to keep up with changes in product information, availability, contract pricing, credit limits, and more.
Worst case, you’re looking at years of IT projects and a lot of potential for “spaghettiware”—badly architected solutions that will cause more and more headaches as complexity increases. (See Scalable above!)
The best B2B ecommerce platforms will integrate to SAP out of the box—with ecommerce reflecting your SAP data in real time. That’s a fully scalable solution as regards data maintenance. For example, Corevist Commerce is integrated to SAP on Day 1, and we spend the next 90 days tailoring your solution to your unique business needs.
Your IT team will love the real-time SAP integration of Corevist Commerce. They won’t have to focus on data maintenance and bug fixes in ecommerce. Rather, they can go on managing the workload they already have.
The EU’s GDPR law, which goes into effect May 25 2018, puts stringent regulations on how companies handle the data of EU residents. The law effects any company with an ecommerce initiative that processes the data of EU residents, even if that company is based outside the EU.
Corevist Commerce is 100% committed to GDPR compliance as a critical data processor. For more information, see this post—GDPR Roadmap for Corevist Clients.
SAP-integrated order management
Somehow, omnichannel order management gets left by the wayside when ecommerce vendors talk about their solutions. Why are vendors so reluctant to bring up this topic? Because their OMS’s (order management systems) don’t integrate to SAP.
Any company that has SAP already has an order management system. By definition, this is part of the core value that SAP provides—all order data lives in SAP.
Then why do so many vendors try to sell standalone OMS’s that require batch sync with SAP?
Because they can’t offer real-time integration to SAP in their OMS. It’s that simple.
Corevist Commerce offers real-time integration, with ALL order data from any channel (phone/fax/email/ecommerce) appearing in one dashboard. We call it SAP eTrack, and it’s a great value-add if you’re considering Corevist Commerce.
Supports CPQ (configure, price, quote)
In markets that sell configurable products, a CPQ solution for ecommerce can put you light-years ahead of your competition. Self-service product configuration within the ecommerce store frees up your Sales/Customer Service staff to work on more complex problems. Compare your options—a good B2B ecommerce platform with CPQ will allow your customers to request quotes or place full orders for configurable products.
Cost/Time to Market
This is the one-time cost of standing up the ecommerce solution.
Annual cost of ownership
This is the annual ongoing cost of owning and maintaining the ecommerce solution. It includes any license costs as well as maintenance and support.
Time to market
This is the typical length of the implementation project. It’s critical to take a realistic view when you evaluate an ecommerce platform from this angle. If you’re launching ecommerce to get ahead of competition (or to keep up with competitors who are already doing ecommerce), time to market becomes a crucial factor in your overall effectiveness. If a digital commerce solution is so complex that it leaves you in the dust of your competition, it’s not the right solution.
Some vendors charge transaction fees as part of their pricing model. That essentially means that costs scale up with revenue. While the fees are typically small, you should study how they will affect your long-term revenue.
Corevist Commerce does not charge transaction fees. It goes against our philosophy of providing scalable value.
Moving forward: Case study
No doubt about it, comparing B2B ecommerce platforms is a crucial stage in the ecommerce journey. To help you evaluate your options and pick a solution that works for real people, download the case study below. You’ll learn how LORD Corporation used Corevist Commerce to launch SAP-integrated ecommerce and grow their business.