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B2B eCommerce Solutions: An Insider’s Guide To the Paradigm B2B Combine Report

Last week, analyst firm Paradigm B2B and its founder, B2B eCommerce veteran analyst Andy Hoar released a first-of-its-kind piece of research about leading B2B eCommerce solutions in both the Enterprise and Midmarket buying segments, click here for the announcement.

Having been a Senior Analyst at Forrester where I authored The Forrester Wave for B2B Commerce Suites and reports on other B2B eCommerce topics, I can attest to the amount of work and painstaking diligence that goes into getting all of the details right. It’s not for the faint of heart. After all, there’s a lot on the line with this sort of report, like the professional reputation of the analyst and the success or failure of any business that uses the report to select a commerce partner.

In this latest report, Paradigm takes a unique approach to software vendor ratings by not fitting aggregate scores of vendors into a simplified two-by-two matrix. Such visuals are great to understand who’s who in the zoo, but sometimes the placement of a vendor in a graphic can sway the decision making process away from the attributes that matter most to a particular business. Instead, Paradigm evaluates vendors across ten areas—five product related, and five non-product areas like vision & strategy, ability to execute and TCO. Vendors are awarded medals (gold, silver, bronze) for outstanding performance in each area instead of aggregating them into a single score for the vendor. With this approach, businesses can key in on the components that are most important to them and find vendors that perform well in those areas.

Having joined Elastic Path in 2018 as VP of Product Management, I am honored we are included in both Enterprise and Mid-market versions of Paradigm B2B’s Combine report and recognized as a leading provider of B2B eCommerce platform technology. Elastic Path was awarded a total of 13 medals in the two reports and stood out for:

Vision and Strategy
Elastic Path received the highest medal awarded based on our sales and partner momentum, 18-month roadmap and 3-5 year vision.

Integrations, Operations and Infrastructure
Elastic Path is the only gold medal recipient in this category, one that considers API coverage, quality and usability, and platform performance and scalability among other elements.

Promotions and Pricing
Elastic Path received a gold medal for Promotions Management and customers spoke highly of our pricing capability.

Our inclusion in these reports and associated accolades validate Elastic Path’s commitment to B2B and helping customers create unique commerce experiences that support all the ways they go-to-market and sell.

Additionally, I have a few interesting insights from the report I want to share.

Content and Data Management
With only four medals awarded for Content & Data Management, it’s clear all-in-one commerce platform providers consistently fall short of delivering the content management capabilities businesses require to effectively run their digital commerce operations. The inherent shortcoming in these solutions is one of the reasons why businesses increasingly choose to make purposeful selections of each of the technologies powering their commerce or digital experience stacks. Businesses don’t want to spend the additional money to buy an all-in-one platform just to rip a deeply intertwined piece of it out.

Instead, more businesses are turning to a commerce platform architected from the get-go for a best-of-breed approach. A headless commerce platform enables businesses to use the content management system (CMS) that best fits their business needs, versus forcing them to use or rip out the CMS that their commerce vendor wants them to use.

What About Microservices?
Did Paradigm B2B miss something by not including a Microservices category?

The short answer is no. Microservices are popular with software architects for a number of reasons. In the context of commerce platforms, they enable a separation of services such that each service can be accessed, maintained, extended and scaled separately from one another. Such an approach eliminates interdependencies between commerce functions and gives businesses more flexibility to continually iterate and evolve customer experiences for any touchpoint.

From the commerce platform user perspective, microservices are accessed via APIs so it’s the platform’s approach to APIs that is most critical. This is why Paradigm B2B does not distinguish between microservice and API based architectures in the report. Instead, when evaluating the quality of a platform’s API approach, Paradigm B2B considers the platform’s API coverage, their ease of use, the quality of developer tools, available documentation and API extensibility. Microservices versus any other architectural approach is not a factor in the scoring.

Headless Commerce
With all the buzz in the market around headless commerce, why did only one headless commerce platform make the report? The reality is there are only a few B2B eCommerce solutions that were architected to be headless from the ground up and Elastic Path Commerce is the only one that has the chops to handle the requirements and complexity of B2B businesses.

Many all-in-one commerce platform vendors are trying to jump on the headless bandwagon by adding a few APIs to their platform to enable a so-called “headless mode” but in reality, the API coverage required for true headless commerce is woefully lacking. Furthermore, not all APIs are created equal and only Elastic Path Commerce received a gold medal in Integrations, Operations & Infrastructure, the category that rates API coverage, quality, usability, and scalability.

During the customer interview portion of the research process, one of our customers even said, “If you want headless, their solution is a no-brainer”.

Analyst firms like Paradigm B2B, Forrester, Gartner and others spend hundreds of hours compiling data, combing through detailed vendor RFI responses, viewing demos and conducting interviews to create these reports. It would cost any single business tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars to commission this amount of work. Fortunately, you can access it for free, aside from having to provide your contact information. I encourage you to use these reports to strengthen your knowledge base by looking beyond the marketing graphic or number of medals awarded and dig deep to understand the analyst methodology, the data they compiled and to think critically about their findings.

For your free copy of the Paradigm B2B Combine Enterprise and Mid-market reports click here.