It is by all means way too early to know exactly what Orocommerce is about. The feature list, tools, performances and architecture are not known yet but some points are already clear. And after reviewing 12 solutions in depth to write the 2013 Benchmark of e-Commerce Solutions and reviewing now 16 solutions for the 2016 edition, I’m starting to have a very clear point of view about the different forces revolving around the table of e-Commerce.
OroCommerce: a winning team
OroCommerce was created by a very experimented trio: Yoav Kutner (founder of Magento and former CTO of the company), Dima Soroka (his friend and nonetheless talented architect) and Jary Carter, former VP sales of Magento and co-founder of OroCommerce.
Lately, the team appointed Roy Rubin (co-founder of Magento) as an advisor to the board.
So if we look at it from a team perspective, we see that experimented people, big names of the e-Commerce industry are leading the project.
Yoav & Roy checked out of Magento with good cash themselves, and no VC (Venture Capitalist) in the world would not sell one of its arms to invest in such a company. Moreover, we all know that those two leaders are exceptionally gifted at building a community and have already all the contacts in the world to do so.
Team / contact / means: check.
OroCommerce: a set of products & a solid technical ground
Yoav has a lot of experience, thanks to his former adventure at Magento. The points that were complicated to handle or scale, the fact that a framework needs to be simple to be properly handled, the documentation and the eduction are probably now part of his priorities.
To top it all off, OroCommerce relies on Symfony, a PHP framework, on top of which was developed the ORO platform, a set of methods and tools engineered specifically for e-Commerce, catalog and CRM features. Symfony is actually a winning machine and vastly adopted around the world, largely financed and continuously conquering the PHP industry.
Not only this, but the ORO project is a three level rocket. ORO powers a CRM product (ORO CRM), a catalog / PIM (Product Information Management) product (Akeneo) and now an E-commerce platform. The coverage of the needs of the industry goes way beyond what Magento offered. It provides a full chain of services, all opensource and compatible together.
Yes, OroCommerce will be opensource, Yoav just loves and breathes Opensource and knows it’s the best way to gather a community quickly.
Technical strength: check.
OroCommerce: B2B and beyond
OroCommerce is dedicated to B2B. It’s a good thing since this market is not really well covered by opensource solutions and only Java based solutions like Websphere, Intershop, Hybris and Oracle Commerce (former ATG) are really meaningful and equipped for this job. Seeing an opensource platform reach this market is refreshing news.
But is goes even beyond this. The market is suitable for a lot of reasons: the margins of B2B businesses are usually better than in the B2C area. They also usually receive less traffic than B2C sites, making a PHP framework a very good solution since it’s very easy to customize and expand, but not the best in class regarding scalability. B2B needs flexibility, but not that much scalability compared to B2C and besides, the B2C market is crowded and suffers a lot from the rise of Demandware regarding the biggest sites.
B2B is not addressed by any other opensource product I know about. This precise and specific world needs different features such as differentiated price lists, profile-limited engagement capabilities (your secretary can order up to 500€ but the CFO can go up to 50 000€ for example), VAT handling, cross-border transactions, end-of-month billing, customized checkouts, etc. These features rely a lot (but not only) on a flexible PIM system and guess what? This is the job of Akeneo.
Besides, many mid-size companies cannot afford very expensive products like Websphere, Oracle Commerce or Hybris. Bringing to those companies a new, cheaper solution is a smart move since this segment is very large. They will be able to invest in Enterprise grade licenses, serious developments, but the global cost will be only a half or a third of what they would have to invest otherwise in a Java-based product.
There are around 20 different specific features a B2B system needs compared to a B2C. One question remains: will the B2C features not used in B2B also be included in the future, or not?
But wait, a product able to do B2B can do B2C as well, can’t it? Nothing really hinders it since B2C features are easier to implement than B2B ones. So OroCommerce would most likely, within a year or two, be able to address the B2C market as well.
Market positioning: check.
OroCommerce: Time to market
The timing is exceptionally good. The team will be able to meet all its ecosystem during the upcoming Imagine event (Magento’s fair in Las Vegas), the market needs a B2B product for mid-size customers, and other side products like CRM & PIM are ready.
In a time period where others are focusing mainly on B2C and struggling to replace Magento or compete with Hybris & Demandware, OroCommerce takes another direction, right in time.
Magento is also suffering from various problems (see below) and there is a growing feeling of insecurity in the community regarding its future. So long as no other reliable and trustable team took the lead, it held its position. But now that this team is ready to take off, obviously most of the B2B oriented business running under Magento will seriously question this choice in a near future.
Time to market: check.
What about Magento then?
Even if Magento still has a large base of sites installed in the world (around 250 000 including 1800 EE licenses), the subsidiary from eBay actually suffers a lot from various issues. The vision and leadership seems gones since the departure of the founders. Magento 2 has been largely delayed for more than 2 years and customers start to doubt it will ever be on the market. Even if it does, the restructuring of the code and basis is only very partial and Magento 2, though a fair upgrade to Magento 1, is not an in-depth overhaul.
On top of it, the community revolves around people, Yoav & Roy in the first place; not to a product or an editor. So it is very likely that the community leaders that helped the Magento fire to start and spread, back in the day, will now also (or only) support OroCommerce in a near future.
If OroCommerce only competes in the B2B area, it will not be a real danger to Magento which do not really target this niche market. But the day it also steps in the B2C, the increased competition with this newborn product will be very complicated to handle for eBay.
Most likely for a couple of years, the Magento ecosystem will be using Magento for B2C and Oro for B2B, but beyond that point, whether Oro moves toward B2C, Magento toward B2B is unknown. To be very honest, the success of Magento is 2 years is also unknown as well as the size of the breach Oro will make on the market.
Regarding all aspects under which I can analyze this new company, there is not any flaw in the thinking, positioning or team constitution. Even if some very well though projects sometimes fail, this one has absolutely all the genes of a success. Team, experience, funds, market positioning and timing are perfect. Now take a seat, a bucket of popcorn and watch the blast of the rocket.
Or if you feel like this article is not totally senseless, maybe you will want to join the revolution:
Article by Philippe Humeau