A “digital experience” platform has teamed up with B2B ecommerce functionality, as Episerver buys Insite Software Solutions Inc. in a deal the companies announced today as they sharpen their focus to serve a growing market for B2B ecommerce technology.
“We saw a big opportunity to deliver greater value to the underserved trillion-dollar B2B commerce market,” says Adam Berger, chairman of Episerver and managing director of the company’s owner, private equity firm Insight Partners.
Episerver—a global provider of web content management, ecommerce and related software with more than 8,000 customers—gains with Insite a stronger base in core B2B ecommerce technology as it seeks to expand its reach as a technology provider in the burgeoning business-to-business digital commerce market.
For Insite—a smaller company whose core focus is providing B2B ecommerce and related technology and services to manufacturers and distributors—the acquisition opens it up to Episerver’s global customer base, a content management system highly rated for its functionality by technology research firms, and a parent with deeper financial pockets. Episerver itself was acquired last year by private equity firm Insight Venture Partners, which also owns web technology vendors commercetools and Contentstack, in a deal that valued Episerver at $1.16 billion.
“For us, it’s all about scale,” says Steve Shaffer, CEO of Insite Software. “We believe the market for manufacturers and distributors is accelerating quickly.” He adds: “Joining Episerver will help us expand the scope of our mission by offering a richer suite of products in a rapidly maturing market.”
The acquisition follows Episerver’s recent hiring of ecommerce industry veteran Alex Atzberger as its CEO, who brings the company experience in developing and providing digital commerce technology systems to large enterprises. Atzberger joined Episerver from business software giant SAP SE, where he most recently was president of SAP’s Customer Experience division, which includes the Hybris ecommerce platform, and had previously headed SAP Ariba, a procurement network technology and services provider.
Episerver also recently acquired Idio, a content personalization and analytics platform designed to help businesses match their best inventory to what their customers want to purchase.
A critical move toward ‘robust’ B2B functionality
Industry analysts say that, under their new structure, Episerver and Insite will be in a position to integrate their technologies—both based on the commonly deployed Microsoft .Net web development technology—and expertise to produce personalized digital commerce experiences that help manufacturers and distributors connect with their customers in ways they find most helpful. Episerver, for example, is known for helping companies deploy descriptive and educational online content that tells a story about their products and services, while Insite has long focused on B2B functionality that, for instance, provides online shopping carts designed with such features as price quotes and access to past invoices.
“The acquisition helps Episerver grow in the B2B manufacturing and distribution space, as those were Insite’s primary areas of focus,” says Jason Daigler, senior director and analyst covering B2B ecommerce at technology research and advisory firm Gartner Inc. “It’s critical for any commerce platform vendor to provide robust B2B functionality, and this acquisition helps Episerver towards that goal.”
Insite’s commerce platform, meanwhile, will benefit from Episerver’s “stronger content management system, digital experience platform, personalization and customer data management capabilities,” Daigler adds.
Jordan Jewell, research manager for digital commerce and enterprise applications at research and advisory firm IDC, says he has found both Episerver and Insite Software to have strong ecommerce platforms, but that the acquisition raises the B2B level of functionality for Episerver. “This really gives them a stronger B2B product,” he says. He adds that Insite has been particularly strong in providing ecommerce functionality for distributors but recently has been focusing more on manufacturers as well.
Singularly focused on B2B
And at a time when several ecommerce technology providers are focusing on the growing B2B market, “Episerver gets with Insite a company that is singularly focused on B2B,” says Andy Hoar, CEO of consulting firm Paradigm B2B, who is a former B2B ecommerce industry analyst at Forrester Research Inc. “Episerver will be able to augment its industry-leading CMS-driven ecommerce solution with Insite’s well-tuned B2B cart and transaction capabilities.”
Hoar adds that, at a time when many B2B companies are trying to help their sales reps bring more value to customer relationships as more buyers use self-service ecommerce, Insite also brings Episerver “strong product configuration functionality and mature tools targeted at sales enablement.”
Among the tools in Insite’s software suite is an InsiteAnalytics online dashboard application that shows sellers how particular products are selling via sales reps and via self-service ecommerce; another is InsitePortfolio for Sales and Services, which provides online access to digital product catalogs and related sales, as well as marketing educational content.
Still, some industry experts have noted that both Episerver and Insite need to continue developing their cloud-based ecommerce technology to provide for faster and more efficient software upgrades.
‘More things to do than we have people’
Shaffer notes that Insite also brings to Episerver a product information management, or PIM, application for managing product descriptions consistently across selling and marketing channels. In addition, Insite has mobile commerce applications and a strength in integrating its commerce platform with companies’ back-end enterprise resource planning software for managing such information as customer activity and financial records.
Episerver did not disclose what it is paying for Insite, whose executives and employees are all expected to join Episerver, the companies said. “We are a growing company and have more ideas and more things to do than we have people,” Episerver’s chief product officer, Justin Anovick tells Digital Commerce 360 B2B.
Episerver and Insite will take several months to develop and release applications that integrate their technologies. “It will be a rolling integration between Episerver and Insite,” Anovick says. “Since we do almost weekly releases, we are focusing on the biggest value adds first and expect the first step of integration to roll off the line within four to six months.”
A focus on manufacturers and distributors
Insite Software will now be known as “Insite, an Episerver company,” and its InsiteCommerce technology brand will remain in place at least “in the short term, with potential name changes in the long term, Anovick says.
Episerver’s base of more than 8,000 customers includes such B2B companies as Kimball Midwest, D’Addario & Company and Cleaner’s Supply, and such merchants as Mud Pie, Bealls and Murdoch’s Ranch and Home Supply.
Insite’s customers include manufacturers Thule Inc., Royal Canin and Jones Healthcare, and distributors Consolidated Supply Inc., AmeriPride Services Inc. and Geriatric Medical and Surgical Supply Co. In October, Insite joined Affiliated Distributors, a marketing/buying group of about 100 independent distributors, as a “strategic partner” providing B2B ecommerce technology and services.
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