2009 Ecommerce Product and Supplier Update

A Very Good Year in Ecommerce

February 25, 2010

This report is our first annual ecommerce product and supplier update. In it we examine the customer growth, product activity, and company activity of the leading ecommerce platform suppliers. 2009 was a very good year for all six of the leaders. All had good, very good, or excellent customer growth. Most introduced significant new product versions. And all delivered financial performance reflecting their customer growth. Going forward into 2010, ecommerce will build on its 2009 success, strengthened by enhanced products and improving economic conditions.

NETTING IT OUT

This report is our first annual ecommerce product and supplier update. In it we examine the customer growth, product activity, and company activity of the leading ecommerce platform suppliers.

The leaders and their platform offerings are:

  • ATG Commerce
  • Demandware
  • Elastic Path Commerce
  • hybris Commerce
  • IBM WebSphere Commerce
  • Venda Enterprise

2009 was a very good year for all six of the leaders. All had good, very good, or excellent customer growth. Most introduced significant new product versions. And all delivered financial performance reflecting their customer growth.

Going forward into 2010, ecommerce will build on its 2009 success, strengthened by enhanced products and improving economic conditions.

ECOMMERCE IN 2009

Tough Times Drive Customers Online

The global recession has been good for ecommerce. More customers went online to do their shopping because ecommerce could save their time and save their money. Customers could find the products and services that they wanted or needed to buy quickly, likely starting their shopping activities with a Google search and visiting the ecommerce sites that they saw on the first results page.

Customers were no more patient in 2009 than they’ve been in the past. They value their time and want to use it efficiently and effectively online. They want to find things quickly and get any level of detail on items that are interesting. They want to shop, evaluate and compare, and buy quickly. They want support in their evaluations. They want immediate help when they need more info or need clarification.

Customers also want to find the best prices. Another store that offered the same or similar goods and/or services was that single click away.

For those customers who needed to see what they were going to purchase, ecommerce helped them identify and find the stores where the goods were available.

Merchants Make It Easier to Do Business Online

In 2009, merchants worked hard to make it easier for customers to do business online by supporting the activities that customers perform and by using a range of merchandising techniques to try to influence customer behavior in their favor. For example, they used search engine optimization (SEO) techniques to ensure that their sites would be near the top of Internet search results lists. They built landing pages relevant to the terms in customers’ search queries. They helped customers make buying decisions with ratings and reviews, many of which were contributed by other customers and with recommendations based on customer behavior and previous purchases. They followed up with emails containing promotions relevant to customers’ visits, behavior, and purchases during those visits.

Ecommerce Platforms Are the Key

Ecommerce platforms were the key to online business growth in 2009. These are the software and services mechanisms that support customers’ online shopping and buying activities and that help merchants acquire new customers, retain existing customers, up-sell, cross-sell, and promote. With more business being conducted online and with the Web becoming customers’ first channel for doing business, 2009 was a very good year for ecommerce platforms and their suppliers. Recognizing the bottom-line value in improving the customer experience that they deliver, hundreds of merchants deployed their online stores on new ecommerce platforms. Hundreds more upgraded to new ecommerce platform versions.

Four Key Trends in Ecommerce

In 2009, we observed these four key trends in ecommerce. They’re top customer requirements, and they’ve begun to be implemented in the current or planned versions of the ecommerce platforms of the leading suppliers.

  • Search. This includes both supporting Internet search and improving site search and navigation. As we mentioned above, customers begin shopping at Google. Once they land on an ecommerce site, customers use site search to find products, get product details, and compare similar products. Ecommerce sites must use SEO techniques in managing their Web content. They must offer site search facilities with rich and powerful, but easy-to-use search analysis capabilities and flexible search results management facilities. Ecommerce platforms must also provide tools and reports to monitor, analyze, and refine site search.
  • Cross-Channel Ecommerce. Ecommerce is no longer just a self-service Web site. Ecommerce activities are cross-channel activities. Customers need assisted-service to help perform shopping, buying, and account management activities. They want assisted-service via Web chat or telephone. Agents/CSRs need facilities to perform ecommerce activities on customers’ behalf. Also, (physical) stores become the delivery channel for products purchased in online stores, and information in customers’ accounts and in gift registries becomes critical to store personnel in delivering in-store customer service.
  • Mobile Ecommerce. Mobile devices have the power and flexibility of general purpose computers. Their Internet connectivity is broad and fast. Customers expect their mobile apps to be as functional as their desktop/laptop apps. They want to use their mobile devices as their on-the-road computers. Merchants must deliver all the capabilities of their ecommerce stores through mobile devices.
  • Social Ecommerce. Social media can drive customers’ purchase decisions. Merchants must include ratings and reviews within product and catalog data.

The Leading Ecommerce Suppliers and Their Offerings

We’ve been evaluating ecommerce suppliers and products since 1997. Our work helps shorten the time and reduce the risk in comparing and selecting the ecommerce platform that will be best for an online business. Our work helps ecommerce suppliers understand customer requirements and market trends as input to their product planning and development processes. It also helps them understand their competition.

We evaluate the leading ecommerce suppliers and their offerings. The leaders are viable companies with viable offerings. Viable companies have large and growing customer bases and good financial performance. Viable offerings address customer requirements, keep pace with market trends, and are built of modern technologies. Viable offerings also demonstrate a degree of vision and innovation.

We perform our evaluations against a framework of criteria. The framework-based approach ensures consistency and objectivity while making it possible to compare and differentiate ecommerce offerings on an apples-to-apples basis. We base our evaluations on the product documentation that suppliers distribute to their customers; on discussions with current customers; on discussion with suppliers’ development, marketing, and support personnel; and on actual use of the products.

Based on our work, we’ve identified these leading ecommerce suppliers and ecommerce offerings:

  • ATG Commerce Suite
  • Demandware (Demandware)
  • Elastic Path Commerce
  • hybris Commerce
  • IBM WebSphere Commerce Suite
  • Venda Enterprise

We’re quite comfortable recommending any of them, but each of them has its own strengths, limitations, and best fit. Our recommendations consider the organization’s requirements against the product’s strengths, limitations, and best fit.

This Report

With this report, we complete our first annual update on the products and companies in ecommerce. These updates focus on factors that are important in ...

 


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