Is SaaS eCommerce Really Ready for You?

July 24, 2019 | 7 minute read
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Considerations for moving from ATG (or IBM & hybris) to Oracle Commerce Cloud

This is the million-dollar question we’ve heard more frequently in 2019 from major brands and retailers with large IT teams that manage on-premise infrastructure and highly-customized licensed software.  Others license a “cloud” version and use a third-party hosting provider to offload some of the operational hassle and maintenance. But, all of them have struggled with their timeline of this inevitable decision. Some want to go headless and modernize quickly with APIs and services, others are looking to move to an all-new platform.

The increasing urgency of these conversations in 2019 is because the cost and time to manage the technology is creating technical debt. This debt is dragging down the speed of innovation and the basic delivery required to keep up with new, disruptive competitors.

So, when do you want to leverage a SaaS eCommerce platform like Oracle Commerce Cloud?

Having these conversations is not sales-y in nature. Instead, unique recommendations are given depending on the brand’s goals, the stage of their eCommerce platform, and what they want to keep and leave behind from their stack.  Many of them have made major investments in our on-premise platform, Oracle Commerce (ATG) over the last 5, 10, even 20 years. They want to know what to do next. Even if you’re not on ATG or you’re using other licensed eCommerce software like IBM WebSphere or SAP hybris, this framework can help you.

Your business chose the platform they did for a reason. It was stable and proven, flexible and extensible, and had powerful features and tooling. ATG in particular was a platform that propelled growth of the biggest brands on the planet, and they reaped the rewards from having a superset of capabilities.

Common challenges

Implementations were long and costly. Managing an upgrade schedule could be tedious and disruptive. Running the platform required expensive Java and ATG-specific expertise. And, the platform was designed during the first era of eCommerce, so the architectural model didn’t account for agility. There’s a lack of separation between front-end experience and backend capabilities. Limited architectural guiderails may have lead to overly-customized applications.

These challenges have become the guiding development principles of Oracle Commerce Cloud. We’ve built a services-based SaaS eCommerce application unlike any other, and use our proven heritage to revolutionize how our customers do business.

I’ll give you some insight to where we are, how we got here, and why leveraging Oracle Commerce Cloud may be the right move for you.

Guiding Principles of Oracle Commerce Cloud

1. Make the hard things easy. Build end-to-end features.

The on-premise product has a lot of great capabilities, but in many cases, it’s too hard to get them in front of the shopper. Personalization is an example of this in the on-premise product.  For example, it has a powerful customer segmentation engine. But, to actually build an end-to-end case, you need a range of skills, including database to extend the shopper profile to hold personalization data. You also need XML skills to update repository definitions, Java skills to capture interesting data, and front end JSP skills to put targeters on the page.  It’s too cumbersome.

In Commerce Cloud, we do this a lot better.  It’s easier to extend data objects like the profile. It collects useful personalization data out-of-the-box and adding personalized content to a page is a drag-and-drop operation. Common tasks that took weeks to implement in on-prem can literally be done in minutes.

Why is that important to us?  Obviously, it makes it easier for you to manage the day to day changes in your online experience.  But just as importantly, it frees your development teams from a lot of these day to day changes and allows them to focus on strategic differentiators.

Personalization is one example. Built-in AI can supercharge your personalization to known and anonymous shoppers. Building experiences is now drag-and-drop in a beautiful business user UI. Preview is unified. Managing search is drastically streamlined. The notion of Projects is gone.

We’ve also consolidated technology that used to require third party apps in to the single Commerce Cloud subscription cost. Features like AB testing, AI, SEO, CDN, image scaling and more are done in a single place within a single UI. You can also run B2C and B2B experiences in a single platform. Not only does Commerce Cloud reduce cost and complexity of your site, unification delivers better results for less work, informed by a single source of data.

2. Keep what’s worked, replace what hasn’t.

Commerce Cloud is not just the on-prem product slapped onto an Oracle server and called a cloud solution, but it does share many underlying components with its on-prem sibling.

Foundational code for services like catalog management, order, shipping, and payment structures, pricing, and promotions has been used extensively by high-volume customers and been battle-tested. We know these systems work. They scale so we can quickly build new capabilities on a rock-solid foundation, which contributes to the pace of innovation in the roadmap. 

But, we’re not afraid to re-architect and re-implement parts of the system that need it. We put a premium on modernizing the interfaces between the product and our customers.  That’s why everything in Commerce Cloud is API-first. It’s also why;

  • We provide Web hooks as integration points all throughout the product.
  • The out-of-the-box customizable Storefront and Agent Console tools are based on open source JavaScript libraries.
  • We support PCI-compliant extensibility through an embedded Node.js server.

3. Extensibility Everywhere

We wanted to build a system that developers can love.

The Oracle Commerce (ATG) on-prem product is a giant Lego set for developers. Almost every part of it is open and accessible, and you can make it do practically anything. That sort of extensibility is integrated on the Oracle Commerce Cloud Development team. While we don’t believe mucking around inside the JVM is what teams should be doing for real value, the goal of Commerce Cloud is to provide as much extensibility as possible and to bring the same kind of flexibility to Commerce Cloud as we have in on-premise.

Commerce Cloud has a unique flexible model where its API-first architecture is natively headless and supports microservices architectures, if desired. Storefront customization is done via Server-side extensibility leveraging Node.js, to maintain upgradeability with our frequent push-updates.  We leverage standards-based frameworks like HTML5, CSS and JavaScript. And, we have adapters with plug-ins for low-code integrations to Oracle and third-party applications.

Evolving the extensibility of Commerce Cloud will always be a key part of our roadmap. We already we have extensibility at the data layer, the business logic layer, and at the user interface layer. And yet, we always strive for more.

4. Eliminate barriers to adoption

Lastly, we want to do everything possible to accelerate adoption of the platform and new features. Our push updates offer the opportunity to get releases into customers’ hands far more quickly than we could with on-prem. We want to make sure they can adopt them as quickly as we release them.

Some of that revolves around making features easy to use and some of it involves a borderline fanatical focus on backward-compatibility. A lot of it comes down to making upgrades far easier than they are in on-prem today. One of the big advantages of cloud is we can apply patches and upgrades for you.  Another is that Oracle teams have access to customers’ pre-release and production environments.  That means we can do pre-release testing with select customer environments, giving us sanity checks to make sure an upgrade isn’t going to break your extensions or customizations.  It also means that if a problem does show up in production, we can often clone the production environment to investigate, which makes the process of reproducing and fixing issues far more efficient.

Commerce Cloud is a true SaaS application offered in a flexible subscription model that allows customers to get going fast without the massive CapEx budget of the legacy days. Implementations are much briefer, business users have more control and access, IT has more ability to  impact the day to day business and get kudos for real innovation. We’ll call that a win-win.

In a nutshell…

These guiding principles help our customers change how they deliver and grow their business. With Oracle Commerce Cloud, you can:

  • Run headless with services or leverage the entire platform.
  • Enjoy total freedom to customize and extend the experience while maintaining upgradability.
  • Enable business with all-new drag-and-drop UIs.
  • Reduce cost and stack clutter with out-of-the-box features included in subscription.
  • Gain more insight, control and automation with built in AI, AB testing, and reporting.
  • Deliver mobile-first experiences with Responsive / Adaptive.
  • Support B2C and B2B experiences in one unified platform, with a single toolset.
  • Offload all security, compliance and performance requirements to Oracle.
  • Shorter implementation times and elimination of upgrade management with push updates.
  • Make finding expertise easier with modern, open standards-based development (HTML5, CSS, JavaScript).

The results from our customers who have moved from ATG to Oracle Commerce Cloud speak from themselves. Check out some of their stories here, and reach out at any time if you’re interested in starting a conversation about what Commerce Cloud can do for you.



Ian Davis

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