July 25, 2019
Whether you’re a wholesaler, industrial or commercial business, it is always challenging to evaluate software solutions that align to your unique business processes and needs. What are the most important criteria to consider? Former Forrester Analyst Andy Hoar has developed a new methodology to evaluate B2B commerce vendors. Based on a “sports combine” approach spanning 36 detailed and weighed criteria, it evaluates vendors across ten product and non-product categories tailored to the needs of enterprise and mid-market companies and awards medals based on the vendors’ composite scores.
Magento Commerce, part of Adobe Commerce Cloud, participated in both the Enterprise and Mid-market editions of the Paradigm B2B Combine and was awarded the most medals (17) across both reports. Among the strengths highlighted in the report were: an impressive partner ecosystem, rich extension marketplace, a sizeable Magento customer base you can reach out to, a “rightsized” pricing model and an easy ability to customize the solution via partners.
As you build out your criteria, consider the categories Andy reviewed in his Paradigm B2B Combine reports.
Ability to Execute – We’ve all been there… the sales pitch was great, but can the vendor really deliver? Evaluating a vendor’s ability to execute and live up to their promises is critical to ensuring that you can create a commerce experience that will differentiate your business and drive growth. You need to know if the company is laser-focused on meeting the needs of B2B companies, if the management team is seasoned and has domain expertise, and if they have adequate staffing and resourcing levels to continually advance their solution. Ask the tough questions during the sales process and check with existing customers and analysts to confirm.
Partner Ecosystem – Having a great platform isn’t enough, especially in today’s rapidly shifting business and competitive environment. You need to make sure that a platform is backed by a global ecosystem of technology developers and implementation partners who can drive platform innovation and make customizations to fit your exact needs. Breadth AND depth are critical when evaluating an ecosystem. Are there lots of solution partners and developers in your region with expertise in B2B commerce, your existing business systems, and your industry category? How many developers are certified? What add-on solutions, connectors, and extensions are available for the platform that will allow you to get to market faster?
Vision and Strategy – When choosing a vendor, you should evaluate what they offer today, but also what they can do for you in the future. You are making a multi-year commitment and need to be sure that the vendor can provide you with the features, functionality, and support needed to stay ahead of your competitors and react to changing market conditions. It is important to dig in and find out their 3-5 year vision, what new capabilities they will deliver in the next 18 months, and if they are seeing growing sales and partner momentum that will help spur additional investment and innovation. You want to make sure that you have the right team backing your business.
Promotions Management – B2B buyer expectations are sky-high. Not only do they want dead-easy online purchasing, they expect their vendors to really “know” them and create experiences that are personalized to their needs. This means having custom catalogs and prices, thoughtful product recommendations, content designed for specific buyer roles and interests, and targeted promotions. It also means adding intelligence to the process with reminders of when to reorder or offering subscription services, so buyers can essentially set it and forget it.
Transaction Management – At its core, commerce is all about transactions. So, you need to make sure that your vendor has the best solution for taking, managing, and reporting on quotes and orders. Take time to evaluate their shopping cart and checkout process. Are they pre-integrated with a range of payment and shipping options? How easy is it for buyers to submit and negotiate quotes or configure products online? Look at their order management capabilities, too. Can you manage inventory and orders across multiple channels in one place and use business intelligence to optimize how each order is fulfilled? Can you offer your customers the ability to buy-online and pick up in nearby branch locations? And finally, make sure your commerce solution has ready-to-go dashboards for critical business, product, and customer metrics. This will ensure your team can manage day-to-day business and surface critical insights, without having to rely on a data scientist.