Ecommerce Evaluation Results
We want to address whether or not these ecommerce frameworks provide not only the basic functionality, but also if they can be capable of serving these growing trends. The need for an ecommerce framework or application that is stable, reliable, consistent, and simple could be the difference in improving customer experience, driving sales opportunities, increasing organisational agility, and overall functionality and services offered through it. What functionality do I need in my ecommerce application so that it can respond to these trends? We know there’s more out there than enterprise ecommerce solutions (the Big Five). We want to be at the frontlines, the moment before the CIO makes that fateful decision that will determine the next steps of his/her organisation’s future. Our goal with the evaluation is to illustrate opportunities that go ignored!
Why do we care?
The world of software development is changing, improving, adapting to new conditions and approaches that have challenged our previously held paradigms of software development. Having witness years of software development, and its changes, we have come together to stand at the frontiers of software development in order to open those doors and inspire our clients towards future-oriented solutions, an out-of-the-box approach, to realise a world beyond the monolith.
We want to present clients and customers a perspective that doesn’t rely solely on enterprise solutions, or a generic solution just because it’s ”easier”. What we want to show clients is actually an opportunistic approach that better reflects business intent rather than a large, complex solution involving years of modification and customisation before it can actually be used. Our idea is: why not develop a solution based on the highest possible development standard while offering the B2B functionality, catering to your business user’s needs while avoiding unnecessary application clutter and performance issues.
You can still have it all without sacrificing your ecommerce software architecture
At Sly GmbH we develop software using microservice architecture. While service-oriented architecture might be the preferred solution approach for some, offered by the mainstream Big Five, an alternative path exists, one that reduces complexity and cost, improves maintainability and resilience, and a solution that is not as robust but equally powerful.
From our analysis and experience with the material these ecommerce application provided, and our review of those functions they’ve offered (see page 10), we created this diagram to illustrate those findings.
Using Pearson’s correlation we identified the z-score points those ecommerce applications had and plotted them respectively on the quadrant. This allowed us to normalise the distribution and to understand the distance between one point and another, and their relatedness. Pearson’s correlation allows us to standardise the variables and their distribution between -1 to +1. However, because of the various functionalities reported (and those that aren’t reported by the ecommerce provider), the distribution has shown some outliers. The distance between the variables is quite large, which could account for the available points that could be rated when acquiring data to populate the solution. Some have extensive documentation and functionality description (Oracle, ElasticPath, and Hybris) whereas others not so much (squarespace, shopify, moltin).
With millions of dollars invested in software architecture and development, the Big Five have reached a state of great complexity while offering high functionality to go along with it. Our findings report consistently that The Big Five have held a solid ground and built great traction and momentum to their solutions. With the impending rise of microservice approaches, we are finding that few of them are taking the leap and modifying current architecture to suit the changing paradigm. The Big Five are mostly SOA-oriented whose purpose is to leverage existing technical power built into its layers. They are partly microservice-oriented as well, having single-piece functionalities that can, technically, be deployed in isolation from the rest; however, their tight coupling makes it a little bit difficult to navigate causes and build updates to those pieces.
The Big Five is moving towards greater system autonomy, by encouraging the use of microservices and even opening the environment for developers to build them (for example, Hybris YaaS, a marketplace providing microservice applications for Hybris solutions). Others have made big leaps in developing microservices from the get-go, like ElasticPath, who (for better or worse) is leveraging microservice-oriented functionality (despite the single database). Unfortunately, not all of the functionality can be turned off.
What about the others? The others are closer to our preferred solution: microservice-based. We rate those as having high functionality because of their flexibility to be developed accordingly. Opposite of The Big Five are those listed, unbeknownst to many software developers: commercetools, react commerce, unchained, and cezerin.
Our analysis and ratings showed that high-cost players traditionally offer most functionality out-of-the-box ready for use. The challenge is to activate, and deactivate, all functionality that is irrelevant to your business, otherwise you may risk having those functions operate in the background and make unnecessary calls that would inevitably produce exceptions, since there is no data to retrieve. After many hours of consultation and development work, those functionalities may become decoupled from its monolith structure and thereby deactivated (be careful that others are not affected by this decoupling). Decoupling may not even be necessary at times, the Big Five may provide a toggle function that lets you deactivate and activate functionality as needed. Nevertheless, those lines of code are still there and stripping them (after toggling to deactivate) might harm other functionalities that depend on those lines of code. Oftentimes it’s difficult to discern when functionalities begin and end, the dependencies can be too great and the risk too high when deactivating those components that are unnecessary for your business.
Out-of-the-box solutions might sound promising at first glance, but we know all too well the cost of minification and simplifying processes such that the customers needs are at the forefront rather than the functionalities that customers typically don’t need.
Is it cheaper in the long-run to have an out-of-the-box solution or is it more expensive to customise it, and to strip it down to your requirements?
On its opposite are those that can provide higher functionality at lower cost. This is because of their flexible development that allows functionality to be integrated in the same way, but geared to the needs of the customer. There are very few out-of-the-box functions provided by React Commerce, Cezerin, Nemesis, Broadleaf, and Unchained, but they are nowhere near as comprehensive as Oracle Commerce, Intershop, and Hybris. This is intentional, because a bloated enterprise solution might not end up meeting your needs--it’s easier to create a tailored solution than it is to deactivate one and then customise it for your needs.