B2B eCommerce Platform Comparison: Episerver B2B Commerce Cloud (formerly Insite Software) vs. Four51 OrderCloud

December 15, 2020

Categories: B2B eCommerce, Headless eCommerce

Continuing our eCommerce platform comparison blog series, we’ll be comparing and contrasting Episerver B2B Commerce Cloud, formerly known as Insite Software, to Four51 OrderCloud.

As another eCommerce platform with a B2B-focus, Episerver B2B Commerce Cloud solves many of the challenges that B2B organizations face when implementing eCommerce. The bulk of their customer base are small- to mid-sized distributors who wish to create efficiencies in their order management process.

There are a few key differences between the Episerver B2B Commerce Cloud and OrderCloud that make them suitable for enterprises with different types of needs:

1. Headless vs. Monolithic

From a technical perspective, the OrderCloud platform is very different from the Episerver B2B Commerce Cloud. OrderCloud is built using the most modern, MACH architecture (Microservices-based, API-first, Cloud-native, Headless). On the other hand, Episerver’s B2B Commerce Cloud is built on a monolithic architecture that was historically on-premise. 

Traditionally, eCommerce software like Episerver’s B2B Commerce Cloud, was built as a full stack: the backend capabilities must serve a well-defined front-end, or “head”, and are built just for that. This traditional architecture model is known as monolithic architecture. API-first, Headless eCommerce platforms, on the other hand, completely separate the front-end user experience from the commerce functionality that exists in the backend. 

Headless architecture allows the developer to extend any and all commerce functionality of the platform to any sort of user experience. They can create a completely customizable front-end experience from scratch that is unrestricted by any of the back-end functionality, or utilize the APIs to enhance existing front-end user experiences of any kind. This also has important implications on integrating with other back-end office systems like a PIM, CRM, CMS, etc. API-first platforms generally make these integrations easier, as the commerce data and functionality can be pushed and pulled to other existing interfaces.

Legacy monolithic eCommerce products, like Episerver B2B eCommerce Cloud or Insite, limit the level of customization possible and can make it more expensive and difficult to achieve. In many cases, this means businesses have to adopt the software’s built-in processes and workflows, rather than building the workflows to adapt to the business.

2. API-first vs API bolt-on

Four51 OrderCloud was built, from the ground up, to be consumed via API. In other words, it is an API-first platform. This provides customers with many different benefits, such as: ease of integrations, faster deployment times, fully custom but affordable solutions, and much more.

An API (Application Programming Interface) is a set of programming code that enables software programs to exchange data. APIs have many benefits when it comes to software development. They can simplify and speed up software development, and can allow developers to add functionality by integrating with other technology vendors (i.e. tax, shipping, payment processing).

Unfortunately, not all APIs are created equally.

And while Episerver has made updates to the architecture by adding various APIs and cloud-hosting options, it’s important to understand that those are only options. As traditional platforms like Episerver realized the need to add functionality or provide ways to exchange data, APIs were added – or bolted on, in a brute force manner. When APIs are bolted onto a platform like this, they are generally built to perform a specific function. 

The degree of customization you need should help you determine the type of API you need. It is possible to get customizations with both types of platforms; Bolt-on APIs and API-firs. However, it’s important to weigh the amount of work it will take to get the customizations you need. Using an API-first platform generally results in faster project completion times and fewer workarounds than using a platform with bolt-on APIs. 

3. Cloud-native vs Cloud-hosting option

Hosting options are important to understand when vetting eCommerce platform options. Today, most businesses are moving towards the cloud and away from on-premise hosting standards of the past.

OrderCloud is a cloud-native platform, meaning that it was built to be hosted on and consumed from the cloud. Episerver B2B Commerce Cloud and Insite Software, on the other hand, originally offered on-premise hosting. As businesses realize the benefits and efficiencies that come with cloud-hosting, platforms like these have added cloud-hosting options.

In a recent post written by Four51 CTO Steve Davis defining cloud-native, Davis describes the key differences between cloud-native SaaS and cloud-hosted SaaS:

“The differences in true modern SaaS offerings versus architectures masquerading as SaaS,” Davis explained, “can be referred to as “cloud-native” vs. “cloud-hosted”.”

True, qualified cloud-native software vendors are able to leverage resource pooling, rapid elasticity, on-demand services and many other tools to create the best product for the end customer. 

And the end customer benefits, too! Their concerns over managing complex software systems are eliminated and they can get back to devoting attention to their core business.

Understanding the difference between cloud-native and cloud-hosted is important in determining if the technology has the scalability you need – and should expect! – to support your long-term growth.

With OrderCloud, both software development and delivery are entirely cloud-based. Built for high performance, OrderCloud scales automatically. Unlike on-premise solutions, server infrastructure and data security are taken care of for you. You can start small and scale up only as your business usage grows, offering another way for you to control costs.

Qualified cloud-native software vendors, like OrderCloud, leverage resource pooling, rapid elasticity, on-demand services and many other tools to create the best product for the end customer. The end customer reaps these benefits through eliminating the concerns of managing complex software systems (that’s on the software provider) and devoting all of that attention and resources to their core business.

We often hear from current Episerver B2B Commerce Cloud or Insite Software users who, like most customers using monolithic software, are now realizing the effort and financial investment that will be involved in migrating from their initial on-premise hosting option to their vendor’s cloud-hosting option. Keeping in mind your business’ future architecture and hosting preferences is important in determining a future-proof platform that has the longevity you’ll need as your business grows and evolves, and as the technology landscape does, too. 

4. Best-of-Breed Strategy vs. Suite

The last point of comparison is especially relevant due to Insite Software’s recent acquisition by Episerver. Since Insite was added to Episerver’s B2B Commerce Cloud, it is now part of a suite of services offered by Episerver. Cross-selling of their other offerings is to be expected, and capabilities are built in such a way to support the integration of other Episerver services over alternative best-of-breed services. 

Historically, suites were the go-to option when considering commerce platform options – think Adobe Commerce Cloud, Salesforce, and SAP Commerce. (Check out our detailed pros and cons of technology suites vs stacks for more detail.)

Many current Insite customers we’ve spoken to who have ridden with them through the acquisition noted the difference in customer service experience following the acquisition. Naturally, with a larger vendor, the relationship you have with your account manager(s) differs greatly to what they were used to. When signing with a new eCommerce platform provider, make sure you understand their support standards and offerings, and hold them to those.

When vetting B2B eCommerce platform options there is a lot to consider: technology and architecture, hosting options, ability to deliver on the experience you’re looking for, and even support and general customer service. Be sure and contact us if we can help in your platform comparison process.

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