IBM emerges as No. 1 choice for B2B eCommerce

October 21, 2013 Written by NetSphere Category: B2B
IBM emerges as No. 1 choice for B2B eCommerce
In a recent study conducted by Forrester, IBM was chosen as the top B2B eCommerce vendor when compared to other major providers. The report, titled “The Forrester Wave: B2B Commerce Suites, Q4 2013,” is the first of its kind, evaluating 66 criteria, such as community features, 24x7x365 ordering, real-time customer service, expedited shipping, mobile, integration with back-office systems, fulfillment workflows and inventory management.
“For B2B commerce, IBM comes to market with three core products: Websphere Commerce, Sterling CPQ, and Sterling Order Management,” Forrester explained. “Together these products represent a formidable solution that is proven in the market to serve complex, global B2B commerce requirements. Through the acquisition of Sterling as well as its own global business services (GBS) group, IBM possesses a deep understanding of the needs of its B2B clients — and this is well demonstrated in the strength of its solution set. Furthermore, IBM is well poised to augment the B2B capabilities of its solution with best-of-breed marketing, analytics, and business intelligence (BI) via integrations with Coremetrics, Tealeaf, and Unica.”
With a price tag of $2,495, the details of the Forrester report don’t necessarily come cheap. When vetting eCommerce vendors, it can be considered quite valuable, however. For a peek into the report, revealed some of the Forrester findings, including that “IBM was cited for its leadership in robust B2B commerce, order management and CPQ (configure price quote) capabilities.”
To further understand what some of those capabilities entail, an overview of a recent IBM enhancement found in its Feature Pack 2 for version 7 highlighted the price rules now available for B2B sites. “Feature pack 2 introduces a new pricing model that provides more flexibility in setting prices and reduces the need to reload prices for an entire catalog,” IBM states. “The new solution starts by combining the concepts of list price and offer price into a common schema using the existing OFFER tables. This allows for multiple price lists to be created and managed in Management Center including importing and exporting lists. A price list represents a list of products with associated prices.”
The IBM editors continued by explaining that once price lists are defined, users can create price equations to calculate the actual selling price. For frequently used values, users can define price constants, such as a fuel surcharge, to be used in the equations. One way to implement the IBM solution is through the use of starter stores, which come with a laundry list of robust tasks that buyers can perform on seller eCommerce sites. A handful of those features include:
  • Logon page (shopping that is restricted to registered customers)
  • Buyer and buyer organization registration and approvals
  • Guest catalog browsing and shopping, which is configurable
  • Multiple account shopping
  • Entitlement-based catalog browsing
  • Contract-based purchasing, pricing, shipping and payment methods
  • Backorders, saved orders, order history or order status
  • Future orders and scheduled orders
  • Expedited orders
  • Order approvals
  • Requisition lists
  • Express checkout flow
  • Support for large shopping carts using multiple pages
  • Multiple payments per order and partial or complete releases
  • Available-to-promise inventory
  • RFQ requests
  • Single or multiple shipping methods and shipping addresses
  • Weight-based shipping
  • Shipping charges and instructions
  • Taxes
  • Account-based marketing campaigns, promotions, e-Marketing Spots and a new e-Marketing engine
  • Product search capability (simple and advanced search)
  • Defining attributes and an attribute dictionary
  • Tiered pricing display
  • Merchandising associations and portlet-like configurable store display elements
  • Customer care

Apparent in IBM’s ever-growing list of site features, B2B eCommerce is finally able play catch-up with B2C sites that have long since delivered on positive shopping experiences. And as CMSWire gleaned from the Forrester report: Although the B2B eCommerce market in the United States alone is more than twice that of the B2C eCommerce market, B2B is "far less mature" and less robust in terms of the online experience. To make up for that lag, however, IBM is making major strides – as seen in the Forrester report as well as in its offerings.

To talk to an eCommerce expert about whether the IBM solution is the clear choice for your business, feel free to schedule a consultation. The team at NetSphere Strategies would be more than happy to help.

Trackback URL for this blog entry.

Abbe Miller is the marketing manager at NetSphere Strategies, located just outside Chicago. NetSphere Strategies is a boutique eCommerce company positioned to help businesses transform their online presence by providing a full complement of services that starts with our strategic consulting and creative design teams, then continues with building innovative solutions and providing ongoing post-project support.