Small bets on the future of e-commerce solutions

To write the « Benchmark of e-Commerce solutions, » I analyzed 12 solutions for 6 months with my colleague Matthieu.

The benchmark of ~ 170 pages covers four Java solutions (IBM Websphere Commerce, Oracle ATG, SAP Hybris, Intershop) and 8 PHP solutions (Magento, PrestaShop, VirtueMart, Zen Cart, OpenCart, RBS Change, Oxid Eshop and Drupal Commerce).

(For now, the study is available in a short version (creative commons) and long version, in English. It is being translated into French, Spanish and German.)

This work, done in close cooperation with integrators, resellers, vendors and end users gave me some « feelings ». Here is what I can not write in the book, but could sound like premonitions.

The next potential merge & acquisition in e-Commerce

The following just reflect my opinions, I have no « insider » tips, it’s just logical construction.

Bet 1: SAP will continue to shop with Fred Hopper and Fact Finder

Why Fred Hopper?

The movement of the German leading ERP changes a lot of things.

By buying Hybris, it articulates a global strategy, which will (for me) be completed by other purchases. The first one would be searchandising / personnalisatoin with Fredhopper or maybe Celebros. The analysis we made of Hybris springs a key point: the loss of Oracle Endeca is a major blow.  Personalization is a point where  Hybris can progress.

The publisher of Fredhopper (SDL) could help cover this hole. Whether it is just the product Fredhopper or SDL, the target is logical. In the same range but second choice acquisition for SAP, I would position Celebros.

SAP will probably follow the same path as Oracle / ATG or IBM / WCS by quickly completing the lineup of technologies to support Hybris, through targeted acquisitions.

Why Fact Finder?

A recommendation engine woudl perfectly complete the personnalization engine and give Hybris a serious leadership. Fact Finder is a German company, so already very close geographically and intellectually from SAP, a perfect fit along with Fredhopper.

Bet 2: Ebay will buy Intershop

It would be quite logical when you think about it.

Intershop is behind GSI and eBay has already 27% of the company shares, so eBay could take complete control of Intershop with the remaining 73%.

The share price (Intershop is on market) dropped in value (-25% in a year), revenues and profitability as well, so it is an easy prey to buy for eBay. In addition, it would consolidate eBay’s e-commerce business with an entry point in the Tier 1 & 2 market.

Magento for small, medium and large business, Intershop for very large. In addition, it will strengthen GSI and eBay will put a serious foot in the realm of e-commerce: Germany.

With the rise of troublemakers as Demandware and the positioning of SAP in the high-end market, eBay could grow make here a very bold move. Since SAP /Hybris will compete severely with Intershop in Germany, Intershop has few choice here.

A logical alliance, a rebound for Intershop, a rise in Tier 1 for eBay to stay in the game against other powers of e-commerce and especially Amazon. With ATG sending its American best salesmen to train former Pixmania employees in order to create a local force, with IBM preparing its comeback to Europe and SAP showing teeth…  Intershop can no longer remain isolated.

Fundraiser in the e-Commerce

Bet 3: raising funds for OpenCart

OpenCart is a techie solution that actually rises fast.

The direction is not clearly shown but the company based in Hong Kong has disturbing similarities with Magento. Strong momentum, international community support, innovative, like Magento they are « sharing the cake », leaving space to their partners. Why not consider the same fate as for the Californians with a nice fundraiser to launch the machine to another level? (Estimated ticket? 1-2 million euros)

Bet 4: Separation of RBS & Change and fundraiser for Change

Change can not fly alongside RBS. Yes, RBS finances change but the company also has an integration activity which undermines the neutrality of what the editor Change. Furthermore, and even beyond this marginal point nothing is logical in the fact that Change still is not autonomous. The company may raise funds to develop. The version 4 is a technological gem but the company lacks leadership in marketing and communication.

Converting business model

Bet 5: SaaS for Drupal Commerce

The real figures about Drupal Commerce adoption are a debate we share with Frederic Plais. But anyway, the start is a success with the adoption of large clients and signs of appreciation of the powerful Drupal community.

There are plenty of e-commerce frameworks. In High end? The place is already occupied by Magento, and RBS Change has more advantage to cover a multi-channel client. Besides, Hybris & IBM are lurking on this market.

The market for smaller sites? Difficult to compete with Prestashop in this segment while the leader himself is still trying to figure out a model to bring exponential revenues.

Then the middle end market? Neither large nor small? Difficult and too narrow as a segment.

The remaining possibility: SaaS. Drupal is ideal for a SaaS because of its technological backbone and the e-commerce extension could easily becomes a major player in the segment of pure players since it can provide a very good CMS component where most e-commerce SaaS can’t.

Bet 6: the (true) SaaS for Prestashop

A direction towards offering a SaaS based on Prestashop also seems logical.

Although the path maybe longer than for Drupal Commerce, the solution is technologically mature and even more complete in terms of functionality. A SaaS with aggressive and disruptive busienss model could wreck havoc in the competition, usually less equipped and less functional. The solution could finally find a way to make money in this segment of Tier 4 that has little budget and prefer to pay « if it works ».

A model for the payment transaction (or n € Cent € per order) or a model where technology partners would pay could thus free the merchant from paying directly from his pocket in advance.

A solution like this would require a lot of work to adapt Prestashop to a full SaaS model. With 100,000 « small customers », if everyone has only one transaction per day, we talk of 40 million € per year with a 1 € / order billing service …

Other e-commerce (technological) trends

PHP Trends

We see a serious adoption of the following components:

  • Twitter Bootstrap for mobility and responsive design
  • Twig as a templating engine
  • Nosql / SQLite / MongoDB support on top of the classical MySQL
  • New generation of JavaScript libraries (jQuery post) as AngularJS, nodejs, Lungo or Neo4j are breaking
  • Symfony: This is a profound trend, which is found in many recent softwares. Symfony is more than « in vogue », it is a tidal wave

All in RESTful

RESTful webservice: Almost all players tend to orient their webservices to REST methods at the expense of proprietary or SOAP one.

Philippe Humeau
Philippe Humeau
Philippe a co-fondé NBS System en 1999. Après s’être concentré sur la sécurité, qu’il n’a jamais abandonnée, il se découvre une passion pour le ecommerce à partir de 2008. Tour à tour pentester, CTO, CCO puis CEO, son profil touche-à-tout l’a conduit à devenir directeur marketing et stratégie d’OT Group après notre intégration dans celui-ci.