As established but “monolithic” ecommerce technology becomes outdated and less effective, the current crop of B2B commerce platforms are competing to offer more flexibility in connecting with customers. But they also vary widely in meeting the particular needs of any one company, Forrester Research says in a new review of 13 technology vendors.

Pressured to engage and serve online customers on their own terms, more B2B companies these days are opting for the most flexible mix of ecommerce technology that suits their market position and their financial and technical resources, Forrester Research Inc. notes in a new report on ecommerce technology.

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Joe Cicman, senior analyst, Forrester Research

“More are opting to assemble a suite of best-fit solutions tailored to their needs,” enabling them to “seek out exactly what they need to efficiently manage their digital businesses,” according to the “The Forrester Wave: B2B Commerce Suites, Q2 2020,” by Forrester analysts Joe Cicman and Emily Pfeiffer.

Details on 13 ecommerce vendors

The report reviews 13 B2B ecommerce technology suites that met Forrester’s inclusion criteria, including a minimum of $20 million in B2B product revenue and a “strong focus” on B2B ecommerce that includes several critical components of a B2B commerce technology suite. These components—either native to each vendor’s platform or made available through an app store or via pre-integration with a third-party application—include product information management (PIM), digital asset management (DAM), content management system (CMS), order management system (OMS), and configure-price-quote (CPQ).

Forrester scored each of the 13 B2B ecommerce suites on multiple criteria, including personalization, analytics, AI and machine learning, supporting services, product vision, and number of customers. The 13 technology providers in the report are listed in alphabetical order: Adobe, Big Commerce, commercetools, Elastic Path, Episerver, Insite (now part of Episerver), Intershop Communications, Oracle, Salesforce.com, Sana Commerce, SAP and Unilog Content Solutions.

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The report advises companies searching for a commerce suite to consider suites with such offerings as:

  • Pre-built, deep technology integrations that allow a practitioner to integrate multiple applications with common tooling and make modifications “in real time and do not require batch processing or manual refreshes to take effect”;
  • Applications including OMS, PIM and related functions like personalization that fit the specific needs of their vertical industry without requiring customization;
  • A cloud software-as-a-service and microservice-based platform that is designed to provide frequent and “painless” upgrades of technology and features, without downtime, to keep up with quickly changing customer demands.
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Emily Pfeiffer, senior analyst, Forrester Research

Cicman and Pfeiffer also collaborated on a similar report Forrester just released on retail ecommerce technology suites, which includes some of the same vendors as in the B2B report.

In addition, Forrester recently released two reports—“Where to Adjust Tech Budgets in the Pandemic Recession” and “Essential Technology Solutions for Pandemic Management”—covering the use of technology in managing business operations during the pandemic and the expected recovery. In the latter report, it lists “essential” technology applications and samplings of vendors for customer experience technology, including chatbots, customer feedback management and social listening platforms, and transactional content such as e-signatures.

It also lists applications and vendors for risk and crisis management and for employee experience management.

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