Forrester: B2B Market Prefers Cloud + Prebuilt Integration

Forrester Wave B2B Commerce 2020

The latest Forrester Wave B2B Commerce report offers insight for manufacturers who are evaluating eCommerce solutions. In a blog post summarizing the report, Forrester says:

“The devil’s in the versions. We spoke to nearly 40 customers during our evaluation, and one thing stood out: Painful, resource-intensive upgrades leave customers back-versioned and unable to consume innovation from their vendor. Some vendors have reached the point of being versionless, while others still struggle with upgrades that feel like replatforming.”

In the B2B Wave report itself, Forrester also highlights the prominent position which integration has achieved in the B2B conversation—a reflection, no doubt, of growing awareness among business leaders that integration is essential to success:

“As monolithic technology becomes outdated and less effective, the providers that lead the pack demonstrate deep, prebuilt integrations and strong business user tooling.”

While many vendors are making strides in these areas, it’s important to interrogate B2B platforms along these lines. Here are 2 questions manufacturers should ask when looking for SaaS solutions with prebuilt integration.

1. What internal effort/cost is required to stay on the latest version?

It’s worth asking this question of each platform in the Forrester Wave report. For example, here’s how Salesforce and Intershop stack up in terms of cloud.

Salesforce B2B Commerce:

While Forrester did not uncover any particular problems with Salesforce B2B Commerce/Cloudcraze upgrades, it’s worth noting the experiences of various Salesforce developers who’ve posted about the platform online. Here are two representative quotes:

“Upgrade functionality requires effort and does not guarantee retro-active fit of the previous functionality.”

—Capterra review of CloudCraze.

“I mostly dislike [CloudCraze/Salesforce B2B Commerce] because I think the overrides for out of the box handlebar templates is a dangerous game. It makes upgrade a potential nightmare every single time as things may change and templates overrides might have to be altered.”

—Reddit Salesforce thread: Does anyone else hate B2B Commerce/CloudCraze?

Read more quotes from real Salesforce developers in this post: 6 Caveats For Manufacturers Considering Cloudcraze.

Intershop:

When it comes to Intershop and the cloud, Forrester has this to say:

“Intershop Communications has a proven feature set, but its move to cloud is slow… [Intershop] is now under pressure on several fronts to modernize for cloud, which will be challenging… Longtime customers will face the daunting challenge of an upgrade to SaaS that feels like a replatform.”

Corevist by comparison:

Corevist has been a cloud company from the start. All our solutions are available exclusively through a SaaS (software as a service) model, fully integrated to SAP ERP, with guaranteed 99.9% uptime (see our Service & Support SLA for more).

Your Corevist Commerce store is upgraded automatically, so you’re always on the latest version. Since we offer a managed solution, we test any customizations rigorously against new versions of the core product to ensure seamless upgrades.

2. Does the solution include the prebuilt ERP integration we need?

Here’s where the Corevist approach differs from other B2B eCommerce solutions. Nearly every platform evaluated in the Forrester Wave is a standalone solution—i.e., it’s designed to act as the “one true truth” for all relevant business data. Left to its own devices, a platform like this naturally competes with the ERP to be the master system for this data.

Clearly, then, some form of integration is required. The problem is, “afterthought integration”—using middleware or an add-on extension to synchronize a standalone platform with the ERP—often proves unworkable for manufacturers.

The problem is the complexity of manufacturers’ transactions, which are governed by business rules in SAP ERP. With a standalone platform, it’s difficult to keep eCommerce and ERP in lockstep. Doing so will require a batch synchronization approach (rather than real-time integration like Corevist), and that batch sync requires middleware to run timed updates between eCommerce and ERP.

Keeping all 3 systems working flawlessly is an expensive proposition, and many manufacturers come to us after abandoning an architecture like this. They’re usually looking for deep, prebuilt integration (as Forrester recommends), so they can stand up a web channel without doubting its ability to deliver business-critical functionality.

Speaking of which, here are a few sample features which you should look for in an ERP-integrated eCommerce platform:

  • 100% accurate, dynamic contract pricing (including quantity scaling/bundling rules functioning in real time)
  • 100% accurate, real-time inventory availability (including personalized ATP/available-to-promise calculations, if in play)
  • Intelligent product substitution rules, straight from SAP, for disallowed/discontinued SKUs.
  • 100% error-free, real-time order posting to SAP, with intelligent error messaging straight from SAP to help the user create a well-formed order.
  • Easy mapping of multiple ship-to/sold-to accounts from SAP for customers with multiple divisions, internal purchasing entities, and/or shipping locations.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg. For a full view of the deep integration which manufacturers need, check out our 53 SAP Integration Points.

Moving forward: FREE case study

Want to see cloud-based, SAP-integrated eCommerce real life? Download this case study on LORD Corporation. This industrial manufacturer transitioned from an on-premises eCommerce solution to Corevist Commerce, achieving a cloud-based, SAP-integrated web channel. The best part? LORD Corporation grew eCommerce revenue 41.5% with Corevist.

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About Author

George Anderson

George serves as Digital Marketing Manager. A blogger and journalist with a passion for B2B ecommerce, he has written for the Magento blog, Digitalcommerce360, Supply & Demand Chain Executive, ERPgenie, and others.