They still exist, the blank spots on the map of software products. Applications for which there is a demand but no simple, workable solutions. One such black hole is B2B commerce. There are solutions in the proprietary area that are targeted to this submarket, but no solution has really established itself by now – whatever the reason. OroCommerce has stated its goal as no less than conquering this market – and the chances are pretty good. The first Alpha version was recently published. Observations on the status quo.
I think that Oro Inc. doesn’t need further explaining. The first products, Oro Platform and OroCRM, are used in many projects and are growing continuously. The new addition to the family is OroCommerce. A family with many renowned parents: We know Yoav Kutner, Jary Carter, Dima Soroka and Roy Rubin from Magento. I summarized background information and my assessments regarding OroCommerce in this article back in April.
B2B role concept aka “Master-Slave-User-Configuration”
A truly traditional B2B pain point: One or more customer groups are to comprise different companies. The companies hold various users, of which a few can create new users independently and also should be able to view specialized rights such as discount price lists (Master), other users are to be administered from the outside, e.g. only be able to prep orders or view products (Slave).
I’ve come across these requirements in dozens of B2B projects during the past few years and have yet to find a system capable of easily solving these problems with a modular approach. Usually, some kind of customization is necessary. OroCommerce solves this completely and with elegance. In addition several locations can be displayed. Another item that heretofore was rather tiresome.
B2B Shopping Frontend
Even if the B2B sector is becoming increasingly influenced by B2C E-Commerce, there are still fundamental differences in “Procurement Shopping.” In the OroCommerce demo we can see a clean, simple frontend integration.
Features such as a tree-based navigation, simple filters and the possibility of adding several items to the shopping list at once – these typically make the job of the purchase manager easier. And yes, all of you marketing types out there, the integrator – if so inclined – can surely restyle the whole thing so that you will think it’s “sexy.”
À propos shopping list: The traditional “Add to Cart” logically doesn’t exist in OroCommerce. Items are added to a shopping list and these can be managed and converted into an order.
This solves a number of typical B2B shopping scenarios in which orders – as a rule – must pass through various workflows, approvals and verifications. OroCommerce has all the features need to implement even the most complex B2B requirements.
Good demo available
To do the OroCommerce justice in all of its complexity and broadness isn’t possible in article format. I therefore will only address three important points. I can only encourage everyone to spend an hour playing with the OroCommerce demo. It is really good and has preconfigured roles that you can select directly.
While testing OroCommerce during the past few days I had similar feelings to some extent as I had when I tried Magento the first time. Here you finally find the mix of functionality you have waited for for so long and the knowledge, that all of this is available Open Source. You realize of course, and this is as sure as the rising of the sun, that there will be an Enterprise Version, but the majority of the many SMBs now has a tool at their disposal for the first time with which they can execute B2B E-Commerce in one fell swoop. And on a functional basis that is equal to many of the large vendors. Therein lies the core of this disruption, the same already applied to Magento. It enabled SMBs to level the playing field.
One result of this development will be that the big companies will also deal with OroCommerce in due time. These are exactly the companies that, until now, used Hybris and Co. Whereas Magento has a hard time keeping up with, for example, Hybris in the B2B segment (though in the final analysis it is usually the better choice), it triggered a veritable revolution in B2C.
This was already at the expense of Hybris – it’s only thanks to a booming market that, despite the situation, all could (will) grow (or be able to). But, OroCommerce is aiming exactly at this core USP of the legacy vendors. For them, the Magento debacle might simply repeat itself with OroCommerce. Paradoxically, with the same key persons at the helm. That the traditional manufacturers don’t go ballistic and use radical methods to oppose these developments can be explained by the fact that the pie is big enough for everyone – as already mentioned.
Magento will probably lose a few B2B projects. On the one hand they can handle it. On the other hand, I’m convinced that Magento would rather lose B2B projects to the Open Source product OroCommerce rather than to Hybris – simply because this is a good thing for Magento. The reason is simple: If the path has been paved into a company in things Open Source then usually other Open Source products follow. Viewed in this context OroCommerce and Magento are door openers for each other, for the number of companies that run B2C and B2B shops concurrently is large, especially in retail.
It follows that the next months will be exciting ones for E-Commerce, particularly in Europe. The chances that this disruption, that Yoav and Co. are attempting, will actually succeed are very high.