NBS System Exclusive: Choosing the Right eCommerce Platform

Philippe Humeau

Philippe Humeau, CEO of NBS System

Expert interview with Philippe Humeau, CEO of NBS System:


How did you do the well-known Benchmark of e-Commerce Solutions?

Our Benchmark of e-Commerce Solutions version 2 was a 7-month project. We interviewed the platform editors, customers and system integrators using the platform, and agencies working with the editor. We also tested the platform ourselves and did technical benchmarks.

With this study, we aim to help e-retailers decide on the right e-commerce platform to meet their needs.

By the way, about 15,000 people all over the world have downloaded our benchmark version 1. We aim to have 25,000 downloads for version 2. Version 3 will be available this year with additional 4-5 e-commerce platforms.

Click on the E-Commerce KPIs table
What framework is needed to implement the omni-channel strategy?

Retailers must connect the physical, online, and mobile stores (via tablets and smartphones) with proper tools. The retailers’ omni-channel strategy and its deployment will only be successful with the use of proper tools between multiple channels.


There are two ways to get this done, Out-of-the-box or Framework:

1. Out-of-the-box solution is a ready-made platform or package that meets the needs of the retailer without requiring development efforts from scratch. Features are almost complete, the retailer must adapt or convert its process in order to fit in the solution’s configurations. There’s less software development efforts, thus cost is lower.

2. Framework-oriented solution is a toolbox with no pre-defined features. The retailer will customize the features, and leverage the framework to totally adapt to the needs of all their stores. Development cost is definitely higher but it’s 100% tailor-made to the retailer’s system.


The Right E-Commerce Platform


PHP or JAVA e-commerce platform?

The 4 most known Java platforms on the market are:

  • IBM WebSphere Commerce
  • Oracle ATG
  • Hybris
  • Intershop

The PHP-based platforms are:

  • Magento
  • VirtueMart
  • RBS Change
  • Drupal Commerce
  • Oxid eShop
  • Prestashop
  • Opencart
  • Zencart


Consider Java platforms based on these conditions:

  • Retailer has a turnover of over 10 million euros / year
  • Retailer has over 500,000 product references. Java infrastructure has the capacity to handle massive number of references (SKU). Amazon for example, has over 50 million references so they have to use Java infrastructure
  • E-commerce site has 250,000 to millions unique visitors per day, Java scales better
  • The site has more than 10,000 orders per day (not the average but 10,000+ orders everyday)
  • Development, licenses and services are more expensive but the possibilities are often superior
  • Highly-efficient resource consumption when handling large volume of data


Consider PHP platforms based on these conditions:

  • Retailer has a turnover of less than 10 million euros per year
  • Retailer has less than hundreds of thousands product references (SKU)
  • E-commerce site has less than 250,000 unique visitors per day
  • The site has less than 10,000 orders per day
  • Less development cost but requires more servers if you have high volume of visitors (i.e. 30 managed servers per month is about 20,000 euros to handle 600,000 unique visitors)
  • Open source solution offers large and inexpensive extensibility
  • Technical support from several PHP communities, forums and blogs


Advantages of PHP-based platforms:

  • Magento is a good out-of-the-box solution oriented platform and can be customized to meet customer needs. They have enormous choice of extensions to complete the build and manage a lot of aspects. However, its omni-channel capabilities are quite limited.
  • Prestashop had a difficult year in 2012 but now they’re revitalizing like a phoenix with a neat version 1.6! They’re still not fully equipped with omni-channel features but they have very powerful web service capabilities, meaning interface with third-party systems, e.g. ERP or logistics system. They now provide multi-currency, multi-store, and multi-stocks features. Prestashop is a good platform for shops with tight budget. Prestashop is probably considering an evolution to SaaS.
  • Drupal Commerce is a good start for mid-size retailers having a turnover of between 2 and 20 million Euros. They provide framework-oriented solution so you can have tailor-made features. They have a very robust and legendary CMS which is of course Drupal embedded. They’re still not equipped much with native omni-channel capabilities. They’re also considering an evolution to SaaS.
  • RBS Change is the only PHP-based solution with a good rating in omni-channel capabilities. They provide framework-oriented so you can customize your features and create tailor made process adapting to every step of your business, from the warehouse to the front end. On top of that, the solution is super-fast.


Which platform has native omni-channel capabilities?

Hybris and IBM WebSphere Commerce have the best omni-channel capabilities on the market and worldwide for Java solutions. They also have very good out-of-the-box solution to leverage most of your business aspects.

In addition, IBM has a highly developed Precisions Maketing tool that perfectly completes the omni-channel capabilities.

Oracle ATG, Intershop, and the PHP-based RBS Change have as well robust omni-channel features.


Which platform has good customization capabilities?

Among the platforms we benchmarked, Oracle ATG has the most advanced searchandising (mechandising of on-site search results) and user personalisation capabilities, along with a neat Back Office. Oracle’s ambition is to deal only with Top 500 retailers in the world. ATG can do almost any customization features (even extremely complicated ones) upon request of the retailer. Of course, the retailer must pay the price for such customization! It could cost 1 million Euros but you will get exactly what you want.

Sephora’s e-commerce and mobile sites are built on technology from Oracle ATG using framework-oriented solution. As a result, they use tablets in their physical stores to manage in-store sales and have orders ship to home.

Good news for retailers who are not in the Global Top 500! IBM Websphere Commerce, Hybris and Intershop can also do excellent customization features with less development costs.

Intershop focuses on multi-touchpoint which is the philosophy of their product. They customize experience and embed different touchpoints for the customers to get in touch with the brand.


What can you advise for small-, mid-size retailers who want to become omni-channel?

If the retailer has less than 50 physical stores, it’s not advisable to implement the omni-channel strategy because of high development costs. However, the omni-channel strategy will develop the “brand” very quickly. The retailer with initial 50 stores can go as much as 100 stores very quickly. I think retailers can start with 50,000 euros of investment to become omni-channel.


How come Demandware wasn’t included in the benchmark version 2?

Demandware was in the E-Commerce Benchmark version 1. For version 2, they sent us the information too late, just a week before the release of the report.

Demandware is a good Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) based e-commerce platform, even though if it currently lacks some cross channel capabilities.


Interviewer: Stephany Gochuico




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