September 23rd, 2021 | 11 MIN READ

How Was Elastic Path Positioned in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Digital Commerce? And, Why?

Written by author_profile_images Hannah Jarrett

Hannah Jarrett leads Product Marketing at Elastic Path.  In this role, she focuses on bringing differentiated products to market that help digitally-driven brands drive revenue growth. 

If you are evaluating software (regardless of type) you’ve likely completed many google searches. Whether to find alternative vendors to consider or to read reviews, we find that our customers rely heavily on Google to kick off their search process. Often, these searches result in buyers reviewing lots of different vendor information, including analyst reports such as Gartner’s Magic Quadrant.

After the recent Gartner Magic Quadrant for Digital Commerce published, we’ve had several questions from customers and prospects about how to use the report, how to understand where Elastic Path was placed, and what we have to say about our cautions & strengths. 

In summary:

  • Elastic Path is a two product company that provides different value to different types of companies.  Our customers see this as a strength as we are able to meet a broader set of requirements. 
  • At Elastic Path our release speed is faster than any other eCommerce vendor.  That being said, the Magic Quadrant was written in April 2021, meaning that the data published in September was six months old.  The report misses out on five months (or 25 major releases) of product functionality. 
  • Composable Commerce XA™, which was missed in the report, is experience assurance for multi-vendor solutions.  It reduces the risk of Headless Commerce by providing one central place to contact when issues arise, helping brands manage the complexity of a composed architecture.  While MACH vendors focus solely on technology, at Elastic Path we are committed to driving customer outcomes.  

 

Keep reading this blog for more clarity on our position, cautions, and strengths. 

How To Use The Gartner Magic Quadrant

The Gartner Magic can be a helpful resource to understand various different markets and the various vendors within those markets. We recommend using it as a tool to help you understand the vendor landscape for digital commerce. For the most recent Magic Quadrant for Digital Commerce, it is important to remember that the data collection process began in April 2021 and the report is not published until September 2021, so a lot can change in the five-month period.

For that reason, we would encourage you to reach out to vendors directly to learn about their latest offerings. In addition, a commonly used asset for most of our customers during their evaluation process is the eCommerce Buyers Guide. This is a great tool to help you understand which solutions are a fit for your specific business needs.

Elastic Path Is a Visionary

This year Elastic Path was proud to be positioned as a visionary. Gartner defines visionaries as:

Visionaries demonstrate the ability to disrupt established commerce markets through innovation. They may incorporate new technologies or architectural approaches into their platforms, use creative pricing strategies or focus on a narrow market segment. They often win new customers quickly because they have identified an underserved niche in the market — one not addressed by Leaders or Challengers

Elastic Path Cautions & Strengths in the Magic Quadrant

For every vendor in the Magic Quadrant Gartner includes strengths and cautions. These call-outs are a source of information for brands as they begin to evaluate vendors. Since Gartner is just one source, I would encourage brands to speak to vendors directly regarding both their challenges and strengths. With this understanding established, I’d like to take this opportunity to speak to the Magic Quadrant cautions and strengths for Elastic Path.

Cautions

1) Execution

The first area of caution from Gartner was execution:

“Elastic Path had much slower customer growth compared to the competition, and its network of service partners barely changed from the year before. Since the acquisition of Moltin’s technology in January 2020, Elastic Path Commerce Cloud still has a gap to fill to achieve feature parity with Elastic Path Commerce, and has not migrated many customers from Elastic Path Commerce”.

Below I will provide some color on Gartner’s points:

Customer growth:

As noted above, in January 2020 Elastic Path acquired Moltin and re-branded the product as Elastic Path Commerce Cloud. As with most acquisitions, the first-year post-acquisition was focused on aligning our teams and developing a product roadmap for success. However, in the last six months (which were not evaluated by the Magic Quadrant) we have seen a major uptick in customer growth, specifically for Elastic Path Commerce Cloud, including new customers Harper Collins, ISSA, JAMF, and more. We see this momentum as a clear sign of our execution and growth trajectory.

Feature Parity:

At Elastic Path we have two products: Elastic Path Commerce Cloud (via acquisition of Moltin in January 2020) and Elastic Path Commerce (our original product). Each product offering meets a different set of technical requirements and business needs for brands. You can learn more about our two products here:

  • Elastic Path Commerce Cloud is our composable, API-first, microservices-based Headless Commerce solution. This product is for digitally driven branded manufacturers who need the control to go-to-market and quickly optimize across business models (B2B, B2C/ D2C, B2B2C), geos, brands, and touchpoints with ease. Some of our Elastic Path Commerce Cloud customers include Deckers Brands, Pella Windows & Doors, and Hobie Kayaks.

  • Elastic Path Commerce is our purpose-built Headless Commerce platform for telco, utilities companies and those who sell regulated goods. This product gives brands the absolute control over their data and infrastructure with the ability to deploy on-premise or via private cloud. Some of our Elastic Path Commerce customers include Republic Services, T.Mobile, and Comcast.

We will continue to serve the diverse needs of brands with these two products. For this reason, we do not feel that feature parity between our products is a relevant evaluation criterion. Our Elastic Path Commerce Cloud product roadmap is driven by customer feedback and market trends, not our need to develop feature parity across products.

Elastic Path Commerce Cloud has the core capabilities, third party integrations, and multi-vendor experience assurance for brands who want to power digital differentiation across multiple routes to market.

Migration Plans:

Similarly, to the previous point, it’s important to remember that Elastic Path Commerce and Elastic Path Commerce Cloud are best suited for different types of customers. We are committed to continuing to serve those customers and their use cases with two separate solutions. We have seen several Elastic Path Commerce customers consider a future on Elastic Path Commerce Cloud as the use cases it fulfills are more closely aligned with their needs but.

Since we are the only vendor that provides both an on-premise offering that allows for ultimate control (Elastic Path Commerce) and a cloud offering (Elastic Path Commerce Cloud) that allows for ultimate flexibility and speed, our clients don’t have to jump vendors to leverage a solution that best fits their needs. Our goal is to support our customers on the product that best fits their needs, therefore, we disagree with Gartner’s sentiment that we should be trying to migrate our customers to Elastic Path Commerce Cloud.

2) Product positioning

The second caution from Gartner was “Product Positioning”:

"Elastic Path Commerce Cloud is positioned as the cutting edge product due to its microservices, API-first, cloud-native and headless (MACH) architecture, and the vendor uses this messaging often in its overall marketing. Yet a majority of customers are still on Elastic Path Commerce, which contributes the most to Elastic Path’s revenue.

I have already shared some key points on this caution above but, in summary, while Gartner views our two-product strategy as a challenge, we see it as a strength. We have two products for two different types of customers. Based on their unique needs, we make a recommendation on the best product fit for them.

3) Out-of-the-Box Functionality:

The third caution from Gartner was “out-of-the-box functionality”:

"Compared to the competition, Elastic Path Commerce Cloud has fewer OOTB user roles and configuration options, promotions, and the analytics dashboard is barely usable. It also lacks key B2B functions such as workflows and organizational hierarchy.”

There are two key facts to consider when reading Gartner’s caution around out-of-the-box functionality:

  1. As I stated in the introduction, this report was submitted in April 2021 which was 5 months ago. Our rate of release at Elastic Path is extremely rapid and we have completed about 25+ releases since then (10+ more releases that our nearest competitor).

    This caution does not take into account many of our newly released or enhanced capabilities such as Catalog Composer, Product Content Management, upgraded Promotions, enhancements to B2B functionality like Role-Based Access Control & Account Management, and much more. I’d encourage anyone evaluating commerce solutions to check out the changelog for a detailed look at all releases, or the Product Innovations page for a summary of key releases with demos.

  2. In addition, Elastic Path Commerce Cloud is a composable solution meaning we prioritize offering core commerce capabilities combined with a flexible, open framework and robust third-party integrations so that our customer can compose “best-for-me" commerce solutions.

    We do not intend to offer all functionality out-of-the-box because we know no vendor can be the best at everything and we know our customers would prefer to integrate their chosen search, personalization, OMS, etc. vendors. We believe that the vendor that provides the most out-of-the-box functionality is the vendor that locks you in and doesn’t allow for ongoing innovation and optimization.

    For that reason, we will never have the same level of out-of-the-box functionality that platforms like Salesforce Commerce Cloud and Magento have. And, we’re perfectly happy with that! If you’re struggling to determine what type of vendor is best for your commerce strategy, check out our Buyer’s Guide to learn more.

Strengths

In addition to challenges, the Magic Quadrant also calls out strengths of each vendor. We are thrilled with the areas of strength that we were recognized for in the Magic Quadrant this year, they include:

  1. Architecture: Gartner celebrated Elastic Path for our API-first implementation style for both products and specifically called out the cloud-native and modular architecture of Elastic Path Commerce Cloud. This modern, de-coupled architecture allows us to release faster than any other commerce vendor so that new capabilities are always available for our customers. And, since Elastic Path Commerce Cloud is 100% cloud-native, version-less (unlike other microservices solutions), and backwards compatible our customers never have to worry about upgrades or scalability.

  2. Extensibility: Elastic Path was recognized by Gartner for our Composable Commerce Hub which enables brands to more easily leverage a Composable Commerce approach whether they want to custom compose their solution from accelerators, or rapidly launch with a business-ready Pre-Composed Solution™.

    These assets reduce the time and hours it takes brands to design, launch, and optimize a multi-vendor solution by completing some, or most, of the integration work for them.

  3. Industry Span: Gartner recognized us for our vast industry span from brand manufacturing to life sciences to telecom. This span is thanks to our two-product strategy which enables us to meet the needs of a variety of different use cases and industries. When a prospect approaches Elastic Path, we work with them on an individual basis to determine their specific needs and make a recommendation on which product will best meet them.

    For this reason, we have been able to grow our community to include a wide range of happy customers.

What Gartner Missed

While we do feel that the visionary definition describes our strategy to make innovative, modern commerce technology accessible to all brands, there are some key elements of our offering that Gartner missed and you should be aware of.

  • Pre-Composed Solutions™: While Gartner did mention “pre-integrated applications”, they did not provide much color on this element of our offering. We believe that MACH (microservices, APIs, cloud, headless) architecture is a key element of innovative commerce (Elastic Path Commerce Cloud is built on MACH) but, in order for brands that do not have a highly experienced and digitally advanced team to take advantage of this technology they need the composition element to be de-risked. Pre-Composed Solutions do just that.

    These business-ready solutions pre-compose Elastic Path commerce capabilities, 3rd party applications, and key customizations to provide the fastest way to launch and start driving revenue while leveraging a Composable Commerce approach. By pre-integrated Elastic Path and third-party solutions (like Algolia for search, Contentful or Amplience for CMS, etc.), we remove the manual effort of stitching multiple solutions together from your team’s to-do list. Our library of Pre-Composed Solutions™ includes use-case specific assets for advanced B2B commerce, dealer-enabled D2C commerce, omnichannel commerce, retail-specific commerce, and more.

  • Catalog Composer & Product Content Management: Catalog and product data management in today’s commerce platforms is dated and rigid. These solutions were built before brands had multiple dynamic routes-to-market and therefore, cannot support multiple accounts, business models, brands, geographies, or touchpoints without expensive and time-consuming customizations or workarounds. At Elastic Path we’ve reinvented catalog management so that you can finally keep up with the omnichannel needs of your business.

    Catalog Composer is built on the industry’s only fully decoupled omnichannel catalog architecture, introduced as part of Product Content Management, where products, hierarchies, and price books are all independent services within Elastic Path Commerce Cloud. These capabilities streamline the otherwise arduous process of creating and managing eCommerce catalogs, resulting in a 5x time reduction compared to other eCommerce solutions.

  • Composable Commerce XA™: Another perceived area of risk with Composable Commerce centers around managing a solution composed of numerous different applications, all with their own support teams. For many brands questions like “Who do I call when an issue arises? How do I identify the root cause? Who will help me resolve it?” get in the way of committing to headless, microservices commerce.

    Composable Commerce XA™ includes multi-vendor proprietary monitoring and holistic issue management so brands have one single place to call when an issue arises and a trusted partner to navigate the issue across their solution. With Composable Commerce XA™ brands can confidently embrace a Composable Commerce approach- without the risks of managing multiple solutions.

In summary, while Gartner is a trusted partner of Elastic Path and many other vendors and brands, the Magic Quadrant should be used as one source for brands completing commerce evaluations, not the only source. In addition to the Magic Quadrant, one of the primary resources our prospects find helpful when evaluating commerce vendors is the eCommerce Buyers Guide. Click here to learn more now!

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