I will confess: today’s category is my personal favorite retail category, that category of stores where you buy stuff to fill your empty house with. You know, the Williams Sonoma, Pottery Barn, Bed Bath and Beyond type of stores. While many other retail categories I personally have no interest in (I personally choose to not wear makeup excluding all my Hollywood appearances, for example), I spend my weekends making my home look nice. In fact, having lived abroad for years, one observation I’ve come to make about Americans is that Americans love spending their weekends making their homes look nicer (while non-Americans, much less so, in my experience. By an order of magnitude.)
But there’s a pressing question about this category – home furnishings, home decor, homeware, whatever you want to call it – that I know has been keeping you up at night: what ecommerce platforms are the major retailers in this category using?
Well, ladies and gentlemen, and those who choose not to have a gender (hey, we gotta be modern here!), we did an analysis and have some interesting conclusions.
|Salesforce Commerce Cloud||12|
|SAP Commerce Cloud||2|
|IBM Websphere Commerce||2|
|RevCascade (Dropshipping platform)||1|
And here is the data, per company:
|American Signature Furniture||BluePort Commerce|
|Bed, Bath & Beyond||Oracle Commerce|
|Crate and Barrel||RevCascade (Dropshipping platform)|
|Haverty’s||IBM Websphere Commerce|
|IKEA||IBM Websphere Commerce|
|My Bob’s||SAP Commerce Cloud|
|Pier 1||SFCC; Oracle Commerce; Shopify|
|Serena and Lily||SFCC|
|Sleep Number||SAP Commerce Cloud|
|Sur la Table||SFCC|
There were some unsurprising and some surprising facts about this list. Let’s go through them; I love surprising facts!
Before we dig in, I want to observe on a technical note that one company (Pier1, whom I love) seems to be using 3 platforms for different parts of their site (Salesforce Commerce Cloud, Oracle Commerce, and Shopify) so we’ve grouped them in all three, so when you look at the numbers, take that into account and if it doesn’t add up, that’s why.
Now, let’s dig in.
Here’s what’s unsurprising: Salesforce Commerce Cloud wins, hands down, far and away, up up and away, as the most common – by a wide margin.
This isn’t surprising because Salesforce Commerce Cloud is far and away the leader for high-end and complex ecommerce sites. And lots of these stores have complex requirements: in-store pick-up? Integrating with many different legacy systems? Different credit card processors depending on intricate rulesets? Yikes, I get shivers just thinking about it. Soooo… many… potential… points…. of…. failure.
What’s also not surprising is that the third most common solution is custom. Ten years ago, custom solutions made sense, so there’s a lot of legacy ones around. But even still today – just last week, as a matter of fact – we talk to large companies with requirements that in their view are so unique that they think custom solutions make sense.
Now, here’s the fun-part: let’s dive into what’s surprising about this list.
The most surprising part is what is not on the list: entirely absent is Magento. I’ll admit it: I was shocked. As recently as 5 years ago, they were seemingly the market leader, and 10 years ago, definitively so.
What happened? Magento lost its luster, in a way that, say, PHP, Perl, and possibly now – gasp – Ruby has as well. It was the leader who didn’t keep up with the times. Adobe’s purchase was Adobe buying a ship headed towards an iceberg, as compared to, say, Facebook’s purchase of Instagram before Instagram conquered social media.
More specifically, Magento is just painful to scale, and painful to customize. So in today’s world, the only reason it makes sense to choose it is for legacy reasons.
The second surprising fact is that Oracle took the number two spot, behind Salesforce Commerce Cloud. Oracle is an old-time legacy player, whose strength was in the era when the web was just born. They run lots of in-store, behind-the-scenes systems; but less so on the web. My guess would be that the stores that chose to use Oracle Commerce were those already married into the Oracle infrastructure and universe, so it was the easiest and most natural choice. If you’re not already in Oracleland, then Oracle Commerce probably doesn’t make sense for you; and today, I’m not sure Oracleland would be the first destination you may want to steer your boat towards.
The third surprising fact is that WooCommerce and Shopify each make an appearance in the top 20, with one install for each! What’s interesting about this is both of those shine brightly (albeit in different ways) on the small and sometimes even mid-sized scale; but rarely on the large scale. I would have predicted that they wouldn’t have shown up at all.
Why did they show up at all? Well, I interviewed one of UV’s best WordPress and WooCommerce experts (reminder: WooCommerce runs on top of WordPress; so Sleepy’s, which runs WooCommerce, must also run WordPress), and this expert – known within our company merely by his initials, JJ – pointed out to me that WooCommerce and WordPress can both be endlessly customizable and made to be lightning fast. (He used much more colorful language to make this point.) But the key, he observed, is to have a top-notch team that knows what they’re doing and how to do precisely this, because the ways that 99.9% of everyone will try to customize and speed it up will fail, and it will end up crawling painfully slowly. (Insert more colorful language to make this last point.) So Sleepy’s, I don’t know who built your site, but I hope they know what they’re doing.
Shopify likely showed up for a different reason. Remember they’re one of the three platforms that Pier1 uses. Why would anyone possibly use so many different platforms? My guess would be they’re using Oracle as a commerce front-end to some legacy Oracle databases, and Shopify for their smaller, more agile tests. Big brands often test out smaller ideas and smaller concepts. And that is where Shopify shines: you can launch and scale quickly a Shopify site, one day to the next, for literally a handful of dollars. Which is great for doing “MVP” tests.
The third surprising fact is that Blueport Commerce showed up one time. Blueport Commerce is a platform that has been trying to focus on the furniture space for years. The challenge with Blueport Commerce is that the benefits of a platform specializing in merely furniture don’t outweigh the benefits of the massive budgets, teams of thousands of developers, and the huge universe of extensions/plugins/cartridges developed by tens of thousands more developers, all backed by massive budgets – that the other huge platforms have to create much more complex and sophisticated functionality. The other challenge is that they are their own integrator; so as compared to any other platform where you have thousands of integrators to choose from, with Blueport Commerce you have only one.
The fourth surprising fact is that Znode shows up as well. Znode is an old platform that has focused on B2B, not B2C, so it is not an obvious choice for any sort of retailer. The main reason to choose Znode would also be for legacy reasons.
The fifth surprising fact is that the long-tail shows up so widel here. IBM Websphere Commerce. SAP (hi, Germany!). CSN, nopCommerce, Revcascade. I haven’t heard some of these names in years, and some I’ve never heard of (CSN?).
In retrospect, this shouldn’t be surprising: there will always be a long tail, and there will always be a micro or nano tail of the obscure, semi-forgotten platforms. I just wouldn’t want to use them for any business critical system I need.
If you’re a home decor or home furnishing company looking to figure out which is the best platform for you to use, you should speak to The Experts on the subject: us! Happy to have a call any time, just send a note to: firstname.lastname@example.org