What can we expect from Sitecore’s acquisition of Commerce Server?

by + on November 26, 2013

Digital Clarity Group (DCG) hosted a half hour web-based briefing today with their “rapid reaction” to Sitecore’s acquisition of Commerce Server. The briefing was led by DCG’s Tim Walters, Partner and Principal Analyst and Scott Liewehr, President and Principal Analyst. They will be posting the full recording on their website shortly. I appreciated both the insight and the timely nature of webinar less than a week after the acquisition was announced.

The news was specific interest to us as a long-time Sitecore partner who also does work with eCommerce. We’ve seen increased demand for integrated content and eCommerce systems and have clients right now asking us for recommendations on commerce platforms that can specifically integrate with Sitecore.

Here’s a rundown of what DCG covered in the briefing with a focus on the implications to both Sitecore and Commerce Server as well as the overall marketplace, service partners and customers.

On DCG’s initial reaction to the acquisition

  • Too early to tell but the positive aspects of the alignment between the two companies far outweigh the negatives in DCG’s opinion
  • Overall a thumbs up for the marketplace and combined force of the two platforms, especially in the .NET space

On the press release from Sitecore

  • Sitecore’s claim for having the “first .NET based, enterprise-grade Customer Experience Management (CXM) platform with a fully integrated commerce engine” is not entirely true. DCG mentions Bridgeline’s iApps, EPiServer and Kentico as others but qualify that the word enterprise is subjective.

On the wider context of the acquisition

  • Content and eCommerce is a meaningful trend says DCG. To date they have seen parallel tracks for these platforms serving users in relatively distinct ways.
  • Clients are asking with increasing frequency how they can get content and commerce platforms to work together. It’s understood they need to support commerce with richer more personalized content.
  • DCG, however, advises organizations to frame this in a larger Customer Experience Management context with Commerce & eContent as a subset.

On Commerce Server’s market position and claim as a leading commerce vendor

  • This leadership claim is not accurate in DCG’s opinion. This is not a marriage of a superior commerce solution with a leading WCM platform. While Sitecore makes legitimate claims to being a leader, it’s no secret that Commerce Server has been lagging. Recent Gartner and Forrester reports on the eCommerce space support this point of view as well.
  • However, there have been investments in Commerce Server since it went to Ascentium (now SMITH). For one, they decoupled it from SharePoint and there is upside that Sitecore would seem to be the perfect home for the platform to evolve from within.
  • Commerce Server also has a significant install base of 3,000+ customers (which is about the same size as Sitecore’s) presenting significant opportunities for cross selling.

On the implications for Sitecore

  • This is the first major acquisition Sitecore have made (there have been smaller ones) and it fills a huge gap in their portfolio while addressing an emerging need for more integrated platforms.
  • Commerce platforms in general struggle with managing content and aligning with a WCM vendor should help accelerate improving these capabilities.
  • Sitecore is also gaining a very experienced development team of at least 20 people plus key executives

On the implications for end customers

  • There’s significant market opportunity within the .NET commerce space. In DCG’s opinion there is still no solid competitive .NET commerce solution that has emerged as a leader.
  • There’s opportunity for existing Sitecore customers to “stay in the family” and not look to an outside platform and also for existing customers to wade into eCommerce who are just starting to consider it.
  • There are 40+ integrations between the two companies already including Green Mountain Coffee and Jordan’s Furniture — showing a track record of the two platforms working together.

On the implications for WCM competitors

  • DCG acknowledges it puts pressure on the likes of Adobe and SDL, both of who have nice suites but lack integrated eCommerce capabilities
  • It also Puts a lot of pressure on some of the “stack vendors” like Oracle and IBM to better integrate products in their existing portfolios that have largely grown by acquisition.
  • Acquia is already in on the space with its Commerce Cloud indicating competition and positioning will be heating up from all angles
  • DCG predicts SAP may look to buy a WCM vendor (although Scott acknowledges he’s been saying this for two years)

On the implications for digital agencies & integrators

  • DCG hears agencies and integrators still complaining about the amount of system integration work needed to get platforms together
  • These systems coming together presents an additional opening to smooth out some of the friction points on how WCM and Commerce integrate
  • WCM-centric agencies looking to build capabilities in eCommerce need to realize that it requires a new set of competencies and domain expertise.

Thanks again to DCG for the insight and be sure to check out the full recording on their site when they post it. Stay tuned as well to this blog for additional thoughts on the Sitecore platform from our team. If you’d like our agency’s perspective on Sitecore and Commerce Server’s capabilities, you can drop us a line at results@isitedesign.com or call us at 888-269-9103.

What are your own thoughts on the news and the competitive landscape? Is this good for the marketplace and end customers? Leave a comment below with your thoughts.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Scott Liewehr November 26, 2013 at 4:39 pm

Jeff, really great recap. Thanks much for joining and for your perspective. You and your team at ISITE have always served as a great resource for us as we seek to understand the products’ capabilities and challenges from the trenches, so to speak. Thanks again. -Scott

Søren Sprogø November 27, 2013 at 6:59 am

Meanwhile across the pond, another company released their full blown ecommerce platform integrated directly into Sitecore:

Sorry for posting a link to our product. Put I thought it was relevant to mention that while you wait for CommerceServer to be integrated into Sitecore, there’s another option. Which was announced and presented at Sitecore’s DTS13 event in Copenhagen yesterday.

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