After nearly 20 years of heavy e-commerce software development the most software vendors still concentrate on software, that is able to realize B2C webshops. Some of the available solutions try to be both – B2C and B2B platform. Honestly – this is a fault, because B2B functionality in online-shops works completely different to that from B2C shops. Of course the customers like to use comfortable B2B shops, that have a pretty nice layout and have the user experience of a B2C store, but except of these superficial properties the B2B shops need features like individual pricing, dedicated user roles, budget administration and workflow in the store frontend. Today i feel honored to talk with Yoav Kutner – historically the Co-founder and CTO of Magento – today the Co-founder and CEO of OroCommerce.
Hello Yoav can you please describe the main advantages using OroCommerce compared to a software solution that tries to be B2C & B2B at once
Hello. First off, thank you for this interview and the opportunity to talk about OroCommerce. Most e-commerce platforms in the market have been focusing on the B2C use case, as this was a high-growth and exciting market over the past 10-15 years. But more and more B2B companies are starting to understand the need to go through a digital transformation. One of the most important aspects of this “B2B digitization” is being able to interact with their customers online. It’s heavily documented by Google that 89% of B2B buyers already use the internet to research purchases so we know more and more buyers are looking online.
This trend has led businesses to look for online solutions that are able to address their needs, but the problem is these solutions have predominantly been B2C-oriented. While some solutions may have B2B “modules” or “extensions”, they were not designed to solve key fundamental features required for successful B2B implementations. As an example, Price Lists (Price Books) in a B2B use case can have a million different permutations of catalog pricing, very different from B2C pricing. You cannot simply create an extension or customize a B2C price engine without completely rewriting that feature.
Another major difference for B2B e-commerce implementations is the need to focus on Buyer-Seller interactions (i.e. RFP/RFQ, quote workflows, order submissions for unique customers and much more) and that means many CRM features need to be baked into the product. These capabilities are not vital nor addressed in B2C. This creates problems when looking to execute a successful B2B implementation as sales teams will not adopt the solution since key functionality they need are missing. With OroCommerce, we bundle our B2B eCommerce solution with our other product, OroCRM, and that allows for a richer experience for both customers and the company’s sales team.
What are the most wanted features of OroCommerce requested by your customers?
There are a few but our customers really appreciate our built-in CRM (OroCRM) that works in tandem with OroCommerce. Other features our customers consider as must-haves include the ability to display custom price lists/books, showcase multiple different catalogs based on buyer groups, corporate accounts management, and the ability to run multiple websites to accommodate both B2B and B2C clients via the same system.
In addition, while this is more of an engine rather than a feature, our workflow capabilities really enable businesses to be flexible for building any custom processes they want, like different checkout experiences, order submission processes, or shipping logistics. This is especially helpful for companies servicing both B2C and B2B customers that require unique workflows for their different buyer groups.
On your website you compare your product with Hybris and Magento. What are the main differences – except the license cost?
I would say the biggest difference would be the overall Total Cost of Ownership. Businesses looking to invest in eCommerce should know there are other associated costs when implementing an eCommerce platform. It’s not just the advertised license cost. Implementation and maintenance costs for eCommerce systems are no trivial expense especially when heavy customization and extensions are involved. That’s where OroCommerce differs with its out-of-the-box B2B features which significantly lowers implementation fees and ongoing maintenance expenses.
When specifically, compared against Hybris, our product offers much more flexibility and simplicity for the everyday B2B business. This vastly speeds up the time to market where businesses can launch their online store in a much shorter timeframe.
And when compared against Magento, OroCommerce simply offers more B2B capabilities and features resulting in a better customer experience for B2B buyers.
Can you please describe the technical base of OroCommerce and the most important advantages compared to Magento?
Oro is built on Symfony2, the high-performance PHP framework. Symfony is used by many top Open Source projects like Drupal while powering websites for top brands like Spotify and Vogue France. So, using this popular technology not only benefits developers using our Community Edition but it also helps Enterprise customers looking to hire developers at a reasonable cost, whether it’s an in-house team or outsourced solution providers. Magento or Magento 2, which was previously built around a PHP framework, now uses a proprietary framework which is new and unproven. Again, if we’re talking specifically about B2B eCommerce, platforms like Magento were not built to solve the use cases seen in B2B and the way we see it, B2C eCommerce is pretty simple compared to B2B eCommerce that becomes very complicated, very quickly and you need the right platform to be successful.
How will your customers save time and money using OroCommerce for their e-commerce projects?
Many of our customers are in manufacturing, wholesale, and distribution and did not have much of an eCommerce presence prior to using OroCommerce. They were accustomed to doing business the old-fashioned way with pen & paper, phone and fax. So, by automating certain business processes and enabling their customers to order online, their sales teams can spend less time inputting manual orders into ERP systems and focus more hours on closing new business. This not only increased their sales productivity but it reduced their order processing errors caused by simple human error.
It is also reported that companies that have moved their ordering process online have increased their average order value (AOV). So, eCommerce can offer businesses both soft advantages, like improving employee productivity, but also offers hard benefits in increasing bottom line revenue.
What will be the most important features of OroCommerce in the future?
OroCommerce is currently offered in both an on-premise and SaaS setup but what we, and our partners, will be most excited about is the availability of our PaaS (platform-as-a-service) environment. This will allow our solution integrators to make the necessary changes demanded by customers quickly and in a more streamlined fashion.
We also find it very important for sales teams to adopt the eCommerce software, which can be challenging for some organizations. To improve the sales rep experience, we look forward to offering offline ordering capabilities and matrix order forms for configurable products among other features. Making the sales team’s experience as seamless and efficient as possible will help remove barriers and improve adoption for the technology.
To see more detailed notes on what’s planned for the upcoming version, you can view our OroCommerce roadmap.