As stated on our partner page we work with 4 main CMS platforms. We offer a range of technical platforms as there is no ‘best fit’ for all projects.
We’ve recently been involved in a number of .Net eCommerce pitches and as part of this we have been asked to do a number of system comparisons. This article summarises that research and should act as a guide for anyone looking at developing an eCommerce platform using Microsoft Technologies.
Sitecore has long been established as a leader in CMS and is used by large SME’s up to FTSE top 100 companies. eCommerce is only a small part of the Sitecore product. Where it really comes into its own is in marketing automation and personalisation which are really important for pushing people towards buying decisions.
From a pure eCommerce perspective there are a few options for Sitecore customers. There is a simple shopping cart available through the standard CMS product but Sitecore themselves would admit that this is most suitable for selling small multiples of products rather than large volumes.
An established integration with uCommerce is another interesting option to consider. It is a well featured product based on Umbraco which has a similar feature set to pure breed eCommerce platforms like Magento. The integration is, by the sounds of the developer community, fairly comprehensive and well supported. This has been a popular route for Sitecore eCommerce customers over the past few years.
The last option is the forthcoming integration between Sitecore and CommerceServer. Sitecore purchased CommerceServer around 18 months ago and plans to integrate it fully into its core product. This process has understandably taken some time but when completed should give Sitecore a truly enterprise eCommerce/CMS offering. It should be ready relatively soon (comfortably inside 2015) but it won’t be for everyone. The rumoured license fees will probably mean that it is a premium product than a mass market offering.
Another reason to consider Sitecore is its proven integration with a range of ERP systems and Microsoft Dynamics Navision. This can be a big decision making factor especially for businesses who have a heavy reliance on CRM/ERP systems for order fulfilment or for managing interest free credit agreements with customers.
Suitable for: Well established eCommerce businesses doing good volume especially if the platform feeds in to a wider combination of systems.
Kentico has done particularly well since Q4 2012 when a wholesale update to their platform released a similar set of marketing automation and personalisation tools to Sitecore. Where Kentico potentially has an advantage is that its eCommerce platform is an established part of the product having been included since 2008.
Where we have found Kentico has a particularly good fit is for clients with non-standard eCommerce requirements. Specific examples include individual customer pricing and configurable product costs/ checkout (E.G delivery costs built into the price at checkout).
It is fair to say that Kentico does particularly well in the .Net eCommerce mid-market (eCommerce projects between £50K and £150K). At this level and for a license fee of below £20K Kentico does offer really good value for money.
Although Kentico doesn’t have as many established CRM or ERP integrations as Sitecore there are a number of useful resources to help establish new integrations such as the Kentico REST Service (https://docs.kentico.com/display/K82/Kentico+REST+service). This and the technical support service Kentico offer has helped us to develop connections between two or more systems relatively easily.
Suitable for: Any mid-level eCommerce project particularly in selling processes which have non-standard or configurable ordering.
Sitefinity (Telerik) entered the Gartner Magic Quadrant in 2014 and after a takeover of parent company Telerik from Progress Group they may well be in a position to really push on in the next few years.
Its major selling point as a platform is on the CMS side. Although in recent years other CMS vendors have massively improved their User Interface (UI), Sitefinity is still popular with non-technical users looking to make regular page updates. It is easy to use and by being a lighter option than some of the other platforms on the market customers can be comfortable that they will use 100% of what they have paid for.
The areas where Sitefinity is slightly lacking by comparison to Sitecore and Kentico is in marketing automation & personalisation and eCommerce. In both of these areas Sitefinity’s offering is only a few years old and therefore doesn’t have the maturity of the other systems. That said, it still has a really good fit with businesses who want a clear division of content management and eCommerce/marketing. This is an approach taken by a number of large businesses where the lines between eCommerce ordering and ERP fulfilment are blurred into one system. In many cases it is impractical for these businesses to bring in an off the shelf eCommerce system that does everything. In these cases Sitefinity is worth considering as it offers good content management controls that can plug into their existing systems.
Established integrations with Marketo, Optimizely, Salesforce and later this year Microsoft Dynamics are further options for integrating offsite customer data into onsite experiences.
Suitable for: Anyone looking for a CMS that can plug into an existing eCommerce framework.
Although the community edition of Umbraco does not offer out of the box eCommerce the uCommerce platform which has been built on Umbraco is a really good system.
It is much like Magento in that it is a purebred eCommerce system honed for sales. It has good quality reporting and a lot of the checkout functionality and other practical things you need to run an eCommerce website are available out of the box. Where it struggles is that it does not have any of the marketing automation or personalisation tools that exist in the other platforms. There are integration projects going on with systems which provide these functions but there is to our knowledge no case study which shows this successfully competing with the features on offer especially in Sitecore or Kentico.
Having demonstrated some of the limitations of uCommerce it is important to remember that if you are selling large volumes of product that do not require interaction with the customer to push customers through the sales process then uCommerce is potentially a great fit. It is powerful and will deliver conversions.
Suitable for: eCommerce businesses doing volume who do not require interaction with the customer to increase conversions.
The CMS system you choose needs to be easy to update in the back end, for your sanity if nothing else. If you’re tech driven and will be the main content manager, then a more complex content management system could be the one for you. If, on the other hand, you wouldn’t describe yourself as a techie, a more elegant back-end system would be a good choice.
As we always say at Quba there is no one platform for all projects and all of these systems have a fit depending on client requirements. The question is, which is the best CMS for your business?