Digital Commerce platforms provide businesses with a platform to showcase and sell their products and services across digital channels. It offers interactive UI/UX for customers to search, select, compare, and purchase their desired products and services. Digital commerce platform provides functionalities for the storefront, catalog management, product information management (PIM), search, pricing, discount & promotion management, shopping cart, check-out, order management, customer profile management, and analytics & reporting. Depending on the vendor’s technology architecture and product strategy, a digital commerce platform may offer extensive out-of-the-box (OOTB) capabilities or open APIs to provide a range of digital commerce functionalities.
B2B businesses often require specialized features and functionalities from digital commerce platforms to manage their complex B2B commerce operations. Traditionally, B2B companies have relied on heavy customization in meeting B2B-specific business objectives. However, driven by the technological advancements and growing complexities of B2B businesses, B2B commerce platforms have evolved significantly in recent years. B2B businesses require commerce platforms to provide unique capabilities, including an ability to handle B2B-specific business complexities; manage multiple roles, access rights and hierarchies at a department level within the organization; support B2B workflow processes including the request for quote (RFQ), order approvals, negotiations, purchase orders, and billings within the system; support flexible payments; contextual account management; and ability to support enterprise-grade scalability for a wide range of products, their SKUs, and associated price lists for complex ordering environment.
Global organizations have well understood the importance of embracing digital strategies to succeed in a highly competitive environment with ever-increasing expectations around customer experience. In the digital age, product features and price are no longer the primary consideration as customer experience is becoming the primary differentiating factor. Driven by the growing complexities of customers shopping journey and significance of exceptional customer experience, B2B commerce vendors are adding B2C-grade personalization capabilities within the platforms to offer personalized product and content recommendations, predictive customer segmentation, 1;1 targeting, multi-variable A/B testing, and such others.
Quadrant Knowledge Solutions recent study “Market Outlook: B2B Digital Commerce Platforms, 2020-2025, Worldwide” analyzes market dynamics, growth opportunities, emerging technology trends, and the vendor ecosystem of the global market. This research provides strategic information for technology vendors to better understand the market supporting their growth strategies and for users to evaluate different vendor capability, competitive differentiation, and its market position.
The research includes detailed competition analysis and vendor evaluation with the proprietary SPARK Matrix analysis. SPARK Matrix includes ranking and positioning of leading digital commerce platforms vendors with a global impact. The evaluation is based on primary research with expert interviews, analysis of use cases, and Quadrant’s internal analysis of the global B2B digital commerce platforms market. The B2B Digital Commerce Platforms SPARK Matrix includes analysis of the leading vendors, including Adobe (Magento), Apttus, commercetools, Digital River, Elastic Path, HCL (IBM WebSphere), Insite Software, Intershop, Oracle, Salesforce, SAP, Sitecore, TrueCommerce, Unilog, and VTEX.
SPARK Matrix Analysis of the B2B Digital Commerce Platforms Market
Quadrant Knowledge Solutions conducted an in-depth analysis of the major B2B digital commerce platform vendors by evaluating their product portfolio, market presence, and customer value proposition. The B2B digital commerce market outlook provides competitive analysis and a ranking of the leading vendors in the form of a proprietary SPARK Matrix™.
SPARK Matrix analysis provides a snapshot of key market participants and a visual representation of market participants. It provides strategic insights on how each vendor ranks related to their competitors, concerning various performance parameters based on the category of technology excellence and customer impact. The evaluation is based on the primary research with expert interviews, analysis of use cases, and Quadrant’s internal analysis of the overall B2B digital commerce platforms market.
HCL Capabilities in the Global B2B Digital Commerce Market
In July 2019, HCL acquired IBM WebSphere Commerce to offer HCL Commerce platform for B2B2C, B2B and B2C use cases from a single platform. HCL Commerce is based on a cloud-agnostic, API-first, containerized architecture enabling e-commerce professionals to accelerate innovation at a reduced total cost of ownership. HCL Commerce provides native capabilities for product management, catalog management system, multi-site functionality, personalization, search, and centralized business user tooling.
The product management feature enables businesses to manage all product information, including bulk information updates, internationalization, assigning attributes, merchandising associations, pricing, and such others. The inbuilt catalog management system allows the creation of personalized catalogs based on product information. The multi-site functionality is based on HCL’s patented technology that uses a true inheritance model enabling businesses to quickly deploy multi/microsites leveraging full or selective asset sharing. The platform aids retailers and distributors to build and manage multiple storefronts on a single platform. With centralized business user tooling, business users can manage the experience through merchandising, storefront previews from a single and intuitive dashboard.
The platform offers an out of the box, embedded search capabilities that indexes structured and unstructured content. It leverages business rules to provide search results, landing pages, product ranking, and other information. With the recent enhancements, HCL supports NLP-based search capabilities. HCL Commerce platform includes built-in personalization/precision marketing, a rule-based tool to manage a unique experience based on customer information and their browsing behaviour. The company leverages third-party solution to provide OMS functionalities including lightweight order orchestration, available-to-promise (ATP) calculation, subscription management, and such others. HCL Commerce also provides tools for customer service representatives to help the customer and manage their experiences.
In addition to B2C commerce, HCL also offers B2B-specific functionalities within the same platform, including organization management, complex pricing, contracts, entitlements, multiple ways to create and upload an order, scalability to handle high volumes of transactions and high revenue streams. HCL Commerce focuses on the enterprise customer segment and manages over 500 enterprise customers for both B2C and B2B use cases.
As part of the product roadmap, HCL is also looking at improving B2B specific capabilities for supporting sales quotes and RFQs, multiple contributors to order, upload CSV to order, part substitution, account self-management, and complex product configuration.
Analyst Perspectives and Differentiators
HCL Commerce, after acquiring IBM WebSphere Commerce, is gearing up to expand its presence in the large enterprise business segment. HCL Commerce with API-first architecture and the cloud-agnostic platform is well-positioned to support headless commerce, drive B2B and B2C use cases from a single unified platform and provide AI-driven capabilities to drive personalized customer engagements. It supports enterprise-grade scalability and extensibility, enabling businesses to add HCL services, third-party commerce services, and configure their own commerce extensions.
HCL is making significant investments to provide agile commerce at scale for enterprise companies and focusing on themes including world-class experience, optimized merchandising, and cloud-native commerce. HCL is also looking at offering industry-specific commerce functionalities and enhancements in B2B capabilities as part of its product roadmap.
The company primarily targets large enterprise companies with complex business processes and has a strong presence in the industrial manufacturing, automotive, wholesale & distribution, healthcare & pharmaceuticals, aerospace, and telecommunications sectors. The majority of the company’s customers are based in North America and the European Union regions. However, HCL is also making inroads into the APAC and Latin America region.
HCL has received strong overall ratings across the performance parameters of technology excellence and customer impact and has been positioned amongst the technology leaders in the 2020 SPARK Matrix of the B2B digital commerce platforms market.
Knowledge Brief – HCL, B2B Digital Commerce Platforms