eCommerce SaaS

I’ve recently had the good fortune to be deeply involved in a strategy project where we’ve engaged many of our best consultants and members of Centric’s professional network to think broadly about how a mid market manufacturer should embrace Internet technologies to further their sales and marketing initiatives.

Our deliverable for this work is quite robust.  It includes a review of their existing web properties, and their sales and marketing goals and how they might be furthered via the use of Internet technologies.  Our deliverable lays out a 2-year execution roadmap that results in regular delivery of business value and an every-improving technical infrastructure (i.e. classic Enterprise Architecture approach).

One component of the strategy is to develop a new B2C brand selling directly over the Internet.  Our client is interested in identifying an eCommerce platform provider that can deliver it’s services via a hosted model while at the same time providing a complete suite of functionality including product management, product catalogs, check out process, payment gateways, merchandizing, customer account management, and all related site admin tasks.  To gather budgetary pricing numbers we’ve reviewed about half a dozen SaaS eCommerce vendors.

When someone mentions SaaS everyone’s mind immediately goes to salesforce.com.  For good reason, they are the gold standard and helped legitimize the concept of SaaS.  But I’d propose that there is another gold standard out there in the SaaS space – eCommerce providers.

It has been some time (5 years) since I took a close look at this space.  I was amazed at the breadth and depth of the market, especially the mid market defined as companies that want much more than Yahoo Stores but don’t want to take on the integration and development necessary to implement an ATG-like solution.  Vendors like DemandWare, Venda, Bx.Com, MarketLive, and Truition all have very robust offerings that would allow businesses to launch a first rate, best of breed eCommerce store for $250K – $500K with monthly recurring costs in the $10K per month range.  These costs include first class creative work, some back end integration (order data to ERP), and the loading of product data.

If you’re a mid market company looking to refresh / re-launch your eCommerce offering, or if you’ve finally decided to start selling direct on line, these solutions are absolutely ready for prime time.  Check them out.

I welcome your comments,
Mike Brannan